Make a Travel Scarf With a Hidden Pocket
By Samina Mirza
Dear Masalamommas, are you getting buried under a pile of “pashminas” these days? Back in the day when pashminas began to be a thing in fashion, they were made with real Kashmiri goat fur. I had never touched anything as soft as those real pashmina scarves/shawls.
Years later, they’re still called pashminas but they’re made with synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, etc. If you have a collection of the ubiquitous synthetic pashs, pull one out and make it into a travel scarf with, wait for it — a hidden pocket! The pocket holds boarding passes, IDs and other lightweight essentials.
Supplies you’ll need: a “pashmina” scarf (select the one you won’t mind cutting up), matching thread, white thread, matching 9 inch zipper, lightweight lining fabric (I used Bemberg rayon) which can be a contrast because it’s hidden, sewing tools (scissors etc), a sewing machine with a zipper attachment (aka zipper foot). Since I am such a sewing enabler, I will say this: if you do not own a sewing machine but can do hand sewing, make this scarf by hand!
Audition the scarf! Fold the scarf lengthwise, and wear it to determine where you would like to add the hidden pocket. I wanted mine to begin about 5-6 inches above the fringe.
With a tailor’s chalk, or any other removable fabric marking pen, mark a line horizontally. Measure 10 inches above this marked line and draw another horizontal line. The area between these two lines is where the hidden pocket lies…
Cut the scarf in half vertically into two long pieces. Cut two squares from the lining fabric, each equal to the marked pocket area, plus 1 inch. In my case, 11 x 13, and it includes ½ inch seam allowances. Place the lining pieces on the wrong side of scarf pieces between the chalk lines. Pin them down.
The zipper: When attaching the zipper remember that: a) the zipper is installed between the horizontal chalked lines on the side edge of the scarf (, b) it’s advisable to install the zipper on the selvedge side (the non-ravelly side).
Sew a line of machine-basting (long machine stitches) ½ inch from the edges where the zipper will be attached. Fold back ½ inch on these lines toward the pocket lining and press down. Unzip the zipper, pin down the zipper tape on folded edges, 1/8 inch or so inside the zipper teeth. The zipper teeth should have enough clearance to avoid hitting the needle. Hand baste with white thread – because you will be able to control the zipper installation better when it is basted down. Attach the zipper foot on your sewing machine and sew down one side of the zipper tape, making sure zipper teeth and the metal pull do not hit the needle. Zip up the zipper, and sew down the other side. There are many videos on YouTube showing how to install a zipper. You may want to check them out if this part of making the scarf seems difficult.
With white thread, hand sew with long running stitches (also referred to as basting) along the seam lines on the remaining scarf/lining side, top and bottom. The white basting should show on the right side of scarf (you’ll see why, later).
From the wrong side, sew the two scarf sides together in a long seam above the zipper opening and the short seam below it (this can be a little fiddly). There, one side done!
Sew the other long side of the scarf with a ½ inch seam. I finished the seam with a serger to keep the fabric from raveling. If there is no serger available, sew another line close to the cut edge. Pashmina fabrics are loosely woven and tend to ravel, so some kind of seam finish is advisable.
Now you have a tube of fabric with the pocket fabric showing. Turn it inside out – we’re almost there. Give the scarf a good press.
The final step is what will actually create the pocket; machine sew both scarf layers together at the pre-basted (horizontal) lines and sew from one side of scarf to the other. The lining fabric will be enclosed on the inside in the stitching. Do the same on the lower marked line. Tie up loose threads on all sides, and remove all white basting thread.
Give the scarf a good press; and we have a travel scarf with a hidden pocket!! I hope you’ll give this scarf a try; please feel free to ask questions. Bon Voyage…
PS – There are other versions of this scarf you can see online. Here is one version I love, which inspired me to make my own with a pashmina. http://westzenstudio.com/2015/09/04/now-you-see-it-now-you-dont/
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