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A typical rough linen lining

My son’s pockets used to be full of acorns: he collected them at the bus stop, but I don’t know if it was because he planned to feed the squirrels, or if he thought he was a squirrel. Later, he moved on to rocks. Now, rocks, fish hooks, a pocket knife, change and a hankie fill the pockets of his 18th century breeches.

We’ve had some moments of unhappiness when things have gone missing from the pockets, though we’ve usually found them again. When you look at the contents list, you wonder how the linen stands up as well as it does.

There’s a clever way to upgrade pocket bags in menswear, and it’s authentic: leather bags, instead of linen. Original garments have leather bags, probably deerskin, and they’re deliciously soft and very durable. Stuff all the heavy, sharp things you want to in that pocket, and it will probably take it.



Based on a suit in the RIHS Collection, I decided to modify the pocket bags on the Young Mr’s new workman’s jacket-in-progress, which I plan to have finished by March 11 for HSF #5, Peasants and Pioneers.

Made of a heavy, rough-finished brown broadcloth (possibly manufactured in New England), both jacket and breeches pocket bags are made of deerskin.

Pocket bag in progress.

To recreate this, I took a trip to the auto parts store, and purchased a large chamois.  Instead of cutting the bags from linen, I cut them from the chamois and trimmed the seam allowances: chamois won’t ravel, so the seam won’t need to be folded over at the top.

A little fuzzy, but you get the idea

I backstitched the bag seam, and in general, I’m pleased with the way it has turned out. I think I’ll look into additional leather options, but otherwise, it seems like a fairly successful experiment.

The real test, of course, will be user testing. How many sharp, heavy things can the kid load in a pocket before it gives out?