Tag Archives: in-seam pocket

Tutorial: Adding an in-seam pocket

In-seam pocket

In-seam pocket

Today I want to show you how to modify a sewing pattern by adding the easiest possible pocket, a set-in-seam pocket. This tutorial will work for hand- and machine-sewing alike; I will assume you have a pants or skirt or tunic or coat sewing pattern that you like except for the vexing lack of pockets, and show you how to go on from there. For reference, the pants shown are made from Simplicity 2860, a pattern I can heartily recommend due to multiple fitting options and solid design, despite indeed the vexing lack of pockets.

Well-behaved in-seam pocket: no bulge, even with my wallet and keyring inside

Well-behaved in-seam pocket: no bulge, even with my wallet and keys inside

In addition to being dead easy to make, in-seam pockets are very professional-looking, since they basically disappear into the existing seams of a garment. The downside is that they can gap open, creating an unflattering bulge at your hip or belly, but if you a) choose a seam that is not going to be strained (so, don’t do this in tight clothes) and b) limit how much stuff you put in them, it’s not a big deal—see photo at right for a well-behaved in-seam pocket. It helps, also, to take your time over the construction, and make sure everything is really lined up and pressed flat. Stiffer fabrics will do better, too.

Because my most recent project was a pair of slacks, the photos will be for setting a pocket just below the waistband of pants, but it’s mostly the same procedure for other garments and the instructions are all-inclusive. Regarding interpreting the photos, my main fabric is matte black twill, and the pocket lining is dark gray with a curlicue pattern on the right side and much lighter (kind of a black and white hash where the printing is only sometimes bleeding through) on the wrong side. As always, click for larger photos. If you have questions, please ask in the comments.

Cutting fabric:

  1. sizingChoose what size to make your pocket. You can judge a good size by splaying your hand out over a piece of fabric; make sure to allow for seams all around your hand. I recommend at least 8″ tall and 6″ wide for a pants pocket; shirt pockets can be shorter. Mine is nearly a foot tall and 8″ wide, including seam allowances.
  2. Choose a piece of fabric at least as tall as you want and double the width; fold it in half, and if necessary cut a flat edge perpendicular to the fold for the bottom edge. You can use scraps of the main project fabric, or a complementary fabric; for the most part this fabric won’t be visible but it may peek out, so don’t use anything hideous.lineup
  3. Place the pattern piece that you want the pocket to rest against (usually the front or center-front piece) over your fabric such that the overlap is the size you want. Line the fold up with the vertical line of the pants—parallel to the grain line, unless it’s bias-cut, or perpendicular to the hip line or hem. This is not super important, just a good guideline.
  4. Cut wherever the fabric emerges from under the pattern piece, transferring markings on the side that the pocket opens on.
  5. If you are making a tunic/coat pocket, or anything where the upper edge will not be made by the waistband, cut a straight or downward-sloping line for the top.

Sewing:

  1. pocket_labelStitch the bottom edge of the pocket closed, right-side to right-side, leaving a seam allowance width unstitched at the loose edge. Don’t turn it; right-side will face right-side in the finished piece. Finish the seam however you like.
  2. If you are making a tunic/coat, do the same for the top edge; if you are making pants/a skirt, leave it for now.
  3. Baste the section of seam that you are setting the pocket into, and stitch the rest of the seam, reinforcing the ends of the seam. Make the basted section at least 5″ long, more if you have big hands—measure the circumference of your hand at the widest part and divide by two to get the minimum length. If you are making pants/a skirt, remember that the top half-inch or so of the side seam is seam allowance for attaching the waistband, so add length accordingly. Press the basted section open (for now).
  4. seams_annotatedOn the inside of the basted seam, put the pocket and the seam allowance fabric right-side to right-side, matching edges and lining up markings.
  5. Sew each side of the pocket to the corresponding side of the garment seam, about 1/8″ inside the basted seam; sew the entire height of the pocket (not just the basted section). Finish your seams however you like.
  6. Press each of these seams towards the pocket and press the whole mess flat against the main-garment piece that you want the pocket to lie under. Note that the 1/8″ offset in the previous step means the top line of the pocket and garment won’t quite line up any more, but they should be close enough together that you can proceed.
  7. If you are making pants/a skirt, attach the waistband, holding (or pinning) the pocket together with the garment panel.
  8. Unpick the basted seam, opening the pocket.

Note: the 1/8″ offset means that the lining doesn’t come right up to the pocket opening (photos above). I recommend it because it gives a much more professional look, and it allows contrast linings to be suitably hidden. On the other hand, it makes it more difficult to match weirdly shaped garments or to make kangaroo pockets, and I love me a kangaroo pocket, so feel free to disregard and sew as close to the basted seam as you can without picking up the other fabric. If you are committed to the 1/8″ offset and want to make something complicated or a kangaroo pocket, just cut 1/4″ off the sides of the pocket lining before sewing it on, and measure both the cut and the offset carefully to avoid wrinkles or puckers.

Journal: 23 May 2014

Beautiful lace-weight yarn

Beautiful lace-weight yarn

Today I get to celebrate both my birthday and some long-overdue UFO [UnFinished Object] busting. First, for my birthday I finally convinced my folks that a) I really want and b) they are completely capable of picking out crafting supplies such as yarn. As a result, I got some really beautiful lace-weight wool, shown at right; the dark blue is a silk/cashmere blend that I am having trouble stopping myself from handling constantly, and the multi is 100% wool that will be lovely to work with. If any of you are trying to train your folks to buy you yarn, try a) pointing out that it’s no different than buying off-the-shelf clothes, in terms of taste in colors and feels, and b) specifying fibers and weights. I actually did not specify weights, so I kinda lucked out that they got me lightweight yarns while I am on a lace-knitting kick.

Gypsy skirt as of a year ago

Gypsy skirt as of a year ago

Second, I finally got around to mending (read: replacing the entire top half) of a gypsy skirt that I made at least a half-dozen years ago. The top tier of the skirt tore badly about a year ago, and it’s been sitting in my mending queue since then, waiting for me to find a matching fabric and then waiting even longer for me to actually get around to it. Well, some of my friends convinced me to join a website called habitrpg the other day, which is basically a to-do list with amusing RPG trappings, and it gave me just enough extra motivation to bust my mending queue and get this skirt back into commission.

Mended skirt

Mended skirt

I’m very pleased with how it came out—while I was at it, I replaced the yoke, which was starting to wear out and had been climbing my expanding midsection for a while; I added two huge pockets; and because the yoke sat lower I removed the awkward extra tier (matte black in first photo) which I had had to add a few years ago to make it reach the floor. For the curious, this skirt is based on Simplicity 4549, but over the years I’ve made a bunch of alterations—adding a tier (or two!) so it’s floor-length, replacing the closure with a laced closure, adding various forms of pockets…I’ve made a grand total of six of them and helped a friend with a seventh, and replaced the top tier and yoke of two of them now, so it’s fair to say this is one of my favorites. The huge pockets are made by cutting the fabric for the top section about 24″ longer than the pattern calls for (larger diameter, not height), then folding two (on

Skirt flared around me picnic-blanket fashion

Skirt flared out on the floor

opposite sides of the skirt) 12″ sections into 6″ folds right-side to right-side and stitching halfway up. Then, press the two pockets forward, and work the pockets together with the top layer of fabric for the rest of the seams. I’m a bit worried at the state of the fabric—I have committed the Biblical sin of mending old fabric with new, and suspect the second tier is going to give out ere too long. When it does, maybe I will replace the bottom half and have a my-grandfather’s-axe situation with this skirt, which would amuse me more than a little.

I’ve been chugging away on my new shawl, and hit to halfway mark (by stitches, unless I’m doing the math wrong) the other day. I’m still happy with how the colorway is knitting up, and the pattern continues to be both lovely in effect and pleasant to work with. I did choose to omit the nupps, because they are a little scary and don’t appear until late enough in the pattern that it would be seriously traumatic to screw them up and have to rip out my work; I replaced them with k1’s and am hoping for the best. And yes, I know I could practice on scrap yarn and then come back to the shawl, but that sounds like work. Anyway, photos:

Finally, I finally finished the slacks I’ve been working on for the last few months. Note to self: never again with the super-heavy-weight almost-canvas material, at least not by hand. I’m surprised I didn’t break any needles in this endeavor. Anyway, all’s well that ends well, and the slacks did indeed end well. I made an invisible (and also hidden) zipper closure with two buttons in the waistband, slightly extended the waistband vertically, added a deep in-seam pocket, and fully cased all my seams and tacked down the inseams and crotch seams for greater durability. Because of how heavy the fabric is, I made the pocket and waistband linings out of patterned black/dark gray cotton scraps I had laying around, which I think I am even more pleased with on aesthetic grounds (even though it’s hidden from everyone but me) than I am on not-having-to-sew-six-layers-of-canvas grounds. Photos: