Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One Pattern, Seven Bloggers - How To: In-Seam Pockets

Are you still following along with the "one pattern seven bloggers" project? All of last weeks posts are linked in the bottom of my last post here.

This weeks post will be a "how to" for something we did when making the dress. One thing that I knew I definitely wanted to do with the pattern was add pockets into the side seams. I find it very frustrating wearing clothes without pockets, so find pockets in my dresses an essential design feature these days.

For this dress I decided to add in-seam pockets into the side seams. I put in-seam pockets into my "twin spruce knock-off dress", except in that dress I put the seams slightly further forward than the side seams (In the two seams made when I split the entire skirt into thirds), however they feel a bit weird when there's stuff in them and I'm sitting down, so this time i'm going to stick with the traditional side seam pockets.

Below is a photo tutorial for how to sew together the skirt pieces for these in-seam pockets. My pocket pattern piece was kind of fudged from looking at a few pockets in different garments and has turned out quite a good size (including for an iphone, as mine lives in my pocket). I was hoping to be able to scan the pocket pattern piece to include in this post but haven't been able to get my hands on a scanner this week. I will endevour to scan it in the future if there's interest though.

If you want to make your own pocket pattern piece I would recommend looking through your wardrobe for an item with an inseam pocket and using that as a starting point, and then checking it will fit the most common things you will put in it (eg your phone). In the pictures below you can see the general shape of the pocket.

One thing to take note of before following this tutorial is that I have moved the zip from the side to the centre back as I don't like side zips. The burdastyle pattern has a side zip, so you would need to put the side seams together slightly differently with a side zip (it's possible and i've done it for a skirt, and if there's interest I can make a tutorial for that too).

So, onto the tutorial.

First you need to assemble your pieces of fabric - you will need the following:
- 1x skirt front piece (in this case as the skirt is gathered it's just a big rectangle)
- 2x skirt back pieces (this is the same as the skirt front piece but cut in half to make two pieces)
- 4x pocket pieces

Here you can see one pocket's worth of pieces laid out - if you want two pockets you'll do exactly the same thing twice, on either side of the skirt front.

One important thing you need to decide is at which height to put the pockets. I put my pockets at 10cm from the top of the skirt pieces - which means they'll be about 10cm below my waist. I know that this height works for me based on my previous dress. For reference I'm 5'4, so if you're taller you might want to increase this distance a bit.

Measure down  the side seam edges of the skirt pieces 10cm (or whatever distance you chose) from the top. For two pockets you will have FOUR edges to measure - both sides of the skirt front and one side of each of the skirt back pieces.

Make sure the skirt backs are the opposite sides and not the same side - you can pin together your centre back seam if that will help prevent you getting confused. Alternatively, if you have the space, lay out all your pieces of fabric so you can see which seam is which.

Now pin your pocket piece to the edge of the skirt pieces RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.
You will need to line up the straight edge of the pocket with the straight side seams of the skirt, and put the top of the pocket at the 10cm mark you measured before.

(I have outlined the pocket pieces in a dashed white line as it was tricky to see because of my fabric)

Here you can see one pair of pockets pinned on - the skirt front is on the left, the skirt back on the right, and they are a mirror image of each other with RIGHT SIDES FACING.

Now sew along that straight line you just pinned with a 1.5cm seam allowance (5/8 inch) from just above the pocket to just below.

Now finish that seam allowance, eg by zig-zag stitching along the raw edge.
You only need to finish the bit you just stitched, the rest will be done later.
(I forgot to do this on my first pocket so I had to go back and do it by hand at the end)

Now press the pocket pieces outwards, pressing the seam allowances towards the pocket pieces as in the photo below: 

Now place the skirt front and skirt back together RIGHT SIDES FACING and pin down the side seams, and around the edge of the pockets. The edges should be identical and should all match up nicely, as shown here:

Now you sew the side seams and the pocket bags all as one long seam. Start at the top of the skirt, stitch with a 1.5cm seam allowance (5/8 inch) along the side seam until you reach the pocket. When you get to about 1.5cm (5/8 inch) below the top edge of the pocket stop with your needle down and rotate the skirt so that you can sew around the edge of the pocket pieces. When you get back to the side seam stop again, rotate the skirt and sew down the side seam to the bottom of the skirt pieces.

To demonstrate what I mean I have marked your stitching line with a white dashed line in the photo below: 

Once you've sewn this seam, finish the edges along the same line as you just stitched.

Press the pocket and seam allowances FORWARDS:

(in this photo the skirt front is on the right hand side)

And now you have a pocket!! Hurrah!

The next (and last step) is optional, but I prefer it. I like to topstitch my pocket along the front edge to help the pocket stay facing forwards.

I hope this this tutorial has been clear. If you have any questions please comment below and I will do my best to answer them. If you're interested in the pattern piece, please comment saying so below so that I know there's interest - that way I will have more incentive to get off my arse and scan it.

Again, remember to hop along to the other lovely ladies taking part in their projects to see what they've decided to show:
Reana Louise:


  1. Welcome back from your retreat! I can't wait to hear how it went, I imagine it was pretty productive :)

    I love how simply you've laid out the instructions for the pockets, so clear. I'll definitely be using this one day!

  2. Great tutorial. An all purpose in seam pocket pattern would be fab, as I agree with you, I can't have dresses without pockets!

  3. Excellent tutorial, thanks so much for sharing!!!

  4. Dresses with pockets are the best!

  5. Love your topic. simple and easy of inserting vertical seam pocket. A uestion for you though; which of the pocket is called high Hip Pocket? looking forward for your answer.


  6. Hello, thank you for this tutorial. It was the best and easiest instructions for me to add pockets to my boys shorts.


Comments make me smile :)

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