How to Add a Pocket to Your Civil War Uniform Jacket


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Adding a pocket to your shell jacket is not only useful but
very authentic also.   As I always say, look at original
photos of jackets with pockets. You decide which pocket

Adding a pocket will upgrade your jacket. I put one on the
left side of my jacket, and it is really handy. Check
original photos for pocket placements and styles. Pockets
were very common.

These simple tailoring techniques will upgrade a less
expensive jacket, making it more functional as well as
valuable while staying authentic.

In terms of a suitable jacket, a shell jacket is best
because in the heat, you have a little more ventilation.
I would get a 7 or 9 button jacket. I prefer the rounded
type collar like the Jenkins, Royall, and Greer jackets all
THE CONFEDERACY.   The reason I like the rounded collar is
that the square collar can dig into your neck in the heat.

For the generic Confederate, fit in anywhere, “lotta bang
for the buck jacket, " I don't think you can beat the shell
jacket.   I personally like the Royall jacket.   It has the
right look. I like the collar; it’s a little bit rounded.

For actual pictures of completed pockets on reproduction
jackets, go to
Below are instructions for adding a pocket to your shell

To see the sketches, go to

Figures 1 and 2 - Jacket with pocket on the left side.

Pocket is most common on left side because the majority of
people are right handed. But, if you are left handed, you
can put your pocket on the right side. Pocket can be
straight or at an angle. The material for the pocket can
be the same or a different wool as the jacket. Pockets
on original uniforms were usually handmade and not always
a good quality job.

Important note: adding a pocket took me about 4 hours, and
I have been making Civil War uniforms for years. I found
that this procedure requires advanced sewing skills. If you
don't feel up to it, get a seamstress or tailor to add the
pocket. You don't want to ruin your shell jacket.

Hopefully, at this stage in my reenacting and sewing
career, it would not take me as long, but it was a
definite learning curve for me when I first added the
pocket. Try putting a pocket on a sample of fabric before
actually putting it on your jacket.

Also, the easiest way to add a pocket is as you are making
the jacket - not after it is already made.

Figures 3and 4

Figure 3- sew cotton and wool pieces together. The size of
the cotton and wool piece should be about 6-7" deep - large
enough for you to put your hand in the pocket. The pocket I
made was about 5 1/2" wide and it extended almost to
within an inch or two of the bottom of my shell jacket.

The rows of letter “A" are the sewing lines. The forked
line is the clip line for the opening of the pocket.

Figure 4- Sew pocket to jacket front. Be sure to put the
two good sides together. Clip on clip line. Turn pocket
inside the jacket and press. Sew inside of pocket together.

Figure 5 shows three illustrations of the flap of the
pocket. The top illustration shows the folded piece of wool
that will be the flap of the pocket. Below this folded
pocket is the opening of the pocket. The placement of the
bottom edge of the folded flap goes inside the pocket
opening. The last flap picture shows the completed flap
with the hand stitching down the sides. Hand stitch here
because this will show on the outside of the jacket.

For actual pictures of completed pockets on reproduction
jackets, go to

For more information on Early, Mid, and Late war jackets,
send an email to

2004 permission granted to reprint this article in print
or on your Web site so long as the contact information is
included to

Coach McCoach has been a Civil War reenactor for 27 years.   He has recreated many of his own Civil War uniform articles by researching and recreating jackets, haversacks, suspenders, original reproduction stencils, and haversack items.   For more information email


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