Duplicate stitch is not only for adding colourful stitches!

patch pocket sewn on with duplicate stitch
Finished patch pocket seamed with duplicate stitch.

Although a patch pocket is simple to knit-up, sewing one neatly in place can be an exercise in frustration. I’ve discovered that using duplicate stitch, an embroidery technique to sew a patch pocket onto a garment makes a secure, almost invisible seam. I recently finished a cardigan and used duplicate stitch to sew the side edges of the pocket in place. Here’s how to do it.

What is duplicate stitch?

Duplicate stitch is a type of embroidery, usually used to add colours to knit pieces. Because duplicate stitch covers a knit stitch, it works best on stockinette. It is practical when adding small details with coloured yarns, and fixing minor mistakes. The diagonal lines of an argyle pattern work well in duplicate stitch; otherwise you would have to work one narrow line of stitches (usually one stitch) as you are knitting. Duplicate stitch should not be used for large areas of colour, because the fabric will become too thick. And duplicate stitch is perfect for seaming a patch pocket in place, the how-to of this post.

How to Work Duplicate Stitch

Simply bring up a threaded tapestry needle below the knit stitch to be worked, leaving a 6 in(15cm) tail on the wrong side of the work, to weave in later. *Insert the needle under both loops from right to left through the “V” (knit stitch) one row above, and pull the yarn through. Insert the needle back through the first hole you came up, and pull the yarn through to finish the duplicate stitch. Bring the needle up at the base of the next stitch and repeat from *.

Applying a Patch Pocket

I made my patch pockets by picking up stitches at the lower edge, rather than knitting separate pocket pieces. All I needed to do was sew the side edges in place, following the method described above. I worked the duplicate stitch seam with the same yarn used to knit the cardigan. Depending on the project, a contrast coloured yarn is a nice detail, and should be worked around the bottom and side edges.

Because of sewing through a double layer of fabric, I only went through both layers when inserting the needle at the base of the knit stitch to be worked in duplicate stitch, and not when pulling the yarn through both loops of the stitch in the row above (see image below). Inserting through the base of the stitch is enough to secure the pocket firmly in place.

seaming a patch pocket with duplicate stitch

working duplicate stitch to seam pocket

A duplicate stitched seam is a great option, rather than using an overcast stitch to seam a patch pocket onto a garment. The seam is secure with no gaping areas, and is almost invisible. It is really that easy, and your fingers won’t poke through the pocket!

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