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Bodice + Breast pockets // A Matilda dress tutorial

Matilda - How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets

As you know by now, I love pockets – so of course i’m extra excited about the fact that Matilda includes two kinds of pockets! I love the utilitarian edge that these pleated breast pockets add to the Matilda dress.

One of the things that makes them really special is the box pleat in the front. This works really well given that we are placing the pockets over the curved princess bust seam, which means that the pocket is able to mould over the bust, rather than have to sit awkwardly above it to avoid messing with the bust shaping. I love features that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but are also smart.

They’re also much easier to accomplish than you’d imagine! I’m going to walk you through how to sew them neatly and line them up perfectly, and you’ll be all ready and set to sew your own!

If however you are opting to leave off the pleated breast pockets, you can simply follow the instructions for how to sew the bodice seams. Easy peasy!

Ok lets get sewing!

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Before you begin sewing mark the pocket alignment markings on the fabric with tailors tacks, chalk or washable fabric pen. This will help later when lining up the pockets.

Staystitch just under 5/8” (1.5cm) from the raw edge along the notched seam lines of the Front [1].

Clip along seam allowance at regular intervals from the top to the notch.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Place the Front [1] on the Side Front [2] with the right sides together. Ease the seam of the Front [1] into the curved seam of the Side Front [2]. Ensure that the notches line up.

Sew 5/8” (1.5cm) from the raw edge.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Finish the raw edges by your preferred method. Press the seams open or towards the centre front.

Repeat on other side.

If you are choosing to topstitch all the seams (you don’t have to, but i am), then topstitch along the princess seams of the front bodice panels.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Repeat the same steps to put together the back bodice. And again, if you are topstitching all the seams don’t forget to topstitch along the princess seams of the back bodice panels.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Before you begin sewing mark the future button and button hole placement on the Pocket [7] and Pocket Flap [8] with a tailors tack, chalk or fabric pen, and do not forget to mark all your notches, you will need them!

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

To make the box pleats, fold outer notches on the top and bottom of the Pocket [7] towards the wrong side of the fabric so that they butt up against the centre notches.

Don’t forget, we are creating a box pleated not an inverted box pleat. As such the pleat should sit on the right side of the fabric.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Baste the pleat along the top and bottom edge to keep in shape, and I also used this opportunity to sew 5/8” (1.5cm) around the raw edges of the pocket. Press well.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Fold ¼” (0.6cm) along the top edge of the pocket towards the wrong side and press. Fold ¼” (0.6cm) towards the back again to enclose the raw seams and topstitch. Press.

I added an extra step here which is sewing on the buttons. The reason i did this is because i like to sew all my buttons by machine and realised it would be easier to do so right now, before the pocket is attached to the bodice. you don’t need to attach the button now, but if you are like me and using a machine to attach your buttons, it’s a good time to do it!

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Fold the raw edges in along the line of basting stitches and press. I really recommend you spend some time carefully pressing and turning in your corners here to ensure that your curves are even and neat before attaching to the garment.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design DiaryPin the pocket to the bodice front using the markings on the pattern as a guide. The top edge of the pocket will line up with the pattern markings, and the bottom edge should be centred over the bust seam.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Even though you have the pattern markings to help, i highly recommend you get a ruler out and maker sure that your pockets are even before you sew them to the bodice. It’s really easy to make the two sides very slightly different, and its much better to catch any issues before sewing.

I like to measure from every corner to the side seam, centre front, and down the princess seams. If the pockets are not quite even, maker your adustments.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Carefully topstitch around the edges of the pocket to attach to the bodice.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Don’t forget that fusible interfacing should be attached to the back of two Pocket Flap [8] pieces.

Place two Pocket Flap [8] pieces (one interfacing, and one not) right sides together. Sew 5/8” (1.5cm) from the raw edge around the sides and bottom edges.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Trim back the seam allowance, or notch carefully. I’m going to add in one of my favourite tips, which is using pinking shears to trim back the seam allowance. This will result in a nice even curve, and it’s fast!

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design DiaryHow to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Turn the Flap the right way round, reshape the curved sections and press well. If you are topstitching all the things, don’t forget to topstitch around the outer edge of the flap.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Sew a button hole on the flap in the indicated position on the pattern piece. As with the buttons, you don’t have to do it now, you could do it at the end with the placket closures, but i just find it’s so much easier to do it at this point when they are small easy to manoeuvre pieces.

Don’t forget that the interfaced panel of the flap will be facing outwards once the garment is completed, so it should be on the top when sewing your button holes.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Place the flap on the bodice with the interfacing side facing the right side of the bodice and so that the flap is pointing away from the pocket opening. Line up the raw edges of the flap with the top edge of the pocket.

Attach the flap to the bodice by sewing 1/2” (1.3cm) from the raw edge of the flap and the top of the pocket.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Trim back the flap seam allowance to roughly 1/8” (3mm).

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Fold the flap down to enclose the seam allowances and topstitch ¼” (0.6cm) from the top folded edge of the flap. There should be enough room that this isn’t an issue, but be careful that you are not sewing the pocket itself, you are only enclosing the raw edges of the flap.

How to sew the bodice and pleated breast pockets on the Matilda dress pattern // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Press well. Repeat for both pockets and flaps.

// LOOKING FOR MORE MATILDA POSTS? //

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About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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Karey
Karey
3 months ago

I am size 6 high bust with size 14 full bust, so will need to do 2″ FBA. This makes the curve of my bust sharper and over larger area than pattern. The pocket pleat will pop right open sewn over my bust. Do you have any tips for getting it to sit right?

Karey
Karey
3 months ago
Reply to  Meg

Thankyou. The dress looks lovely but in the absence of larger busted testers who have needed FBAs it’s hard to judge what it will look like, or how easy the fix would be.

Kathy
Kathy
2 months ago

What are suggested ways to finish princess Seams without a serger? I’m using French Seams for the rest, but I haven’t tried that technique on a curve before. I just want to make sure the seam lies flat. Thanks!

Naomi
Editor
2 months ago
Reply to  Kathy

Hi Kathy, Thanks for the great question! Depending on your fabric, there are a couple of other options – one of which is binding. Binding your seams can give your garment a beautifully neat finish that will go well with your french seams! While it is on a very different application, Holly’s recent tutorial on binding the seams & edges of the Hovea jacket is a great reference on how you could do that (https://blog.megannielsen.com/2021/09/hovea-sewalong-how-to-make-and-sew-bias-binding/). We also have another great tutorial on other ways to finish seams which may include a different option that suits you if you’re not keen on binding (https://blog.megannielsen.com/2013/03/tutorial-six-seam-finishes-and-when-to-use-them/). I hope that helps! :D