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I need pockets, and generally the clothes that I like at second-hand shops don't have any (or enough, or they're fake, or...). So I poked around Instructables hoping for some guidance, and didn't find much. Here's what I did, largely based on this tutorial I found.

[EDIT : I later found this Instructable, which is has excellent action shots! ^_^ ]

Step 1: Pocket Shape

To make the pocket shape, I traced around my hand on a piece of card because I don't have any similar garments with pockets to trace instead. (If you do, it'll work like a dream!)

  1. Put on the garment, and hold your hands where you want a pocket.
  2. Slide a piece of paper under your hand, and trace carefully.
    - Make it bigger than your hand, but only a little, if you want it to be super-stealth.
    - Be aware of the angle at the back (at your wrist) - it needs to match the angle of the seam!
  3. Turn your garment inside out and lay the pocket along the seam to make sure it's a good size and angle.

I recommend marking where you want the pocket to be at this point. Put a pin through the seam at the top and bottom of the pocket so that you know where to open them.

Step 2: The First Cut Is the Deepest

Ultimately, I'd like to make two pockets for this skirt which means I'll need four pieces of fabric. I had a very large piece to cut from and didn't want to waste much. I also only wanted to cut the shape once; if you have more patience than me, you can just cut each one individually. I folded the fabric over four times at a width that was just a little more than the seam allowance for my pocket, and cut from that.

  1. Remembering to leave enough width for a seam allowance (at least 1/4in or 3/4cm), cut squares around the pocket template.
  2. Pin the template straight through to the fabric to prevent the layers from moving too much while cutting.
  3. Remembering to leave the seam allowance, cut around the pocket template.
  4. If you've layered the fabric, and especially if you're making two pockets, separate the fabric stack into pairs.
  5. Pin around the edge of each pocket, leaving the opening free.

At this point, it's probably also a good idea to at least baste the pocket(s) along the pinned edges. I didn't for the first one and ended up juggling pins until the very end. (I basted the second pocket before cleaning up for the evening.)

Step 3: Pinning In

If you haven't marked the seam for opening, let's do that now. Turn the garment inside out, and lay it flat. Put the pocket shapes onto the garment, and put pins through the seam at the top and bottom just to mark where it goes.

  1. Open the seam of the garment between the pins.
  2. Open another inch in each direction beyond the pins, too - this will make the pocket more secure.
  3. Pick one of the sides of the pocket to do first, and line up one of the outside edges with the edge of the seam.
    - This is slightly confusing geometry. What you want is the inside edge of the pocket piece touching the outside (right side) of the garment fabric along the seam. Pin it and fold it around until you understand what's going on, and you're sure you've got it the right way around!

Is your sewing machine set up and ready? The next step is the first of the sewing!

Step 4: The First Seam

Get ready... get set... sew!

  1. Sew along that pinned edge!
    - I used a basting stitch to make sure that everything was lined up before finishing the edges and stuff.
    - Look at where you've pulled out the original seam stitches, and try to follow that line. It'll lay more nicely if you can match it.
    - You only need to go a little past the edge of the pocket here. Just enough to hold the corners in place.
  2. Once you're happy with that seam, go back and finish the cut edges with a zigzag stitch of some sort so it doesn't unravel.

At this point, if your pocket pieces are still just pinned together, you'll probably want to at least run a basting stitch around the edges. I was losing pins left and right as I fed it through the machine.

Once that's done, or if it already is, go back to Step 3 and repeat with the other side of the pocket. When you're done, both sides will be attached, but there'll be a little bit of a hole at the top and bottom along the garment seam.

Step 5: Final Seam / Finishing

Now that everything's where it should be, and most of your pins are out, it's time to actually secure the whole thing and make it look finished. Pay attention to the corners of the pocket to make sure they're not sticking out on the right side of the garment.

  1. Pin down the corners of the pocket securely.
  2. Starting at one end of the opened garment seam, go up and around the pocket, and close the garment seam.
    - There should now be one continuous line of stitching from just above the pocket, around it, to just below the pocket. Your opened seam should now be closed.
    - Follow the purple line in the photo.
  3. Turn your garment right-side-out and make sure the pocket works.

Step 6: Iron and Wear!

Depending on the fabric of your garment, you might want to iron the pocket and seams flat so that it lays nicely. This skirt and pocket are jersey, so it doesn't make much of a difference.

Congratulations you have a pocket! Now go out and be awesome!

<p>Very easy to understand tutorial. Thank you!</p>
<p>Thanks for the kind words. ^_^</p>
<p>Very clear tutorial! </p><p>I have done this in skirts, dresses and shirts. Pockets are a must! </p><p>It took me a while to figure it out on my own when I first started and I am guilty of attaching pockets upside down and inside out a few times. I'll be consulting this as a refresher every time I need to tackle this. Thanks. </p>
Thanks! I was very glad to have found another tutorial - I was concerned about getting the pockets upside down, too! But it wasn't on Instructables, and I figured it needed to be here. ^_^
<p>When I have time I'd love to do this to all of my skirts! </p>
<p>I know! I think it took me about two hours from start to finish, though the next one will definitely be faster. But why can't the industrial manufacturers take /five/ minutes to do this so that we don't have to?!</p>

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Bio: UX Designer in all things. Grew up making, still making. It's so much a part of my life that I forget to document projects ... More »
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