Introduction: Zipper Pocket Underpants With Bottom Loading Zipper

Picture of Zipper Pocket Underpants With Bottom Loading Zipper

Back by popular demand... it's version 2.0 of Zipper Pocket Underpants! Some of you may have already made version 1.0, and if you're like me, you've been sort of wishing you'd have figured out how to make this awesome 2.0 version... with double the zippers. It really doesn't matter if you're putting pockets like this in your boxer briefs, your fitted athletic shorts, yoga pants, or a pair of Spanx. If you want pockets, here's a way to do it.

These zippy pockets give you an easy way to stash your cash, keys, phone, passport, secret love notes, gum wrappers, grocery store receipts, or even a big cache of Napoleon's tots* in from the top zipper and then sneakily access them later from the bottom zipper.

Dress-wearers of the world, I'm talking to you: now when you're sitting at a table and need to sneak out your cash or ID, all you have to do is flip up your bottom hemline, unzip your sneaky shorts pocket, and voila! Ohhhh yeah sneaky pockets! This is where it's at.

Boxer brief wearers, it's your turn. We all need a secure place to stash our valuables. Travelers know you carry your mugging-loss money in a different pocket (wallet in pants) than your other money (secure pocket or belt). Why not make your undies serve more of a purpose than just covering your bum?

But seriously, these secure underpants are a big win for travel days -- or even just city walking -- when you want to keep your important stuff secure and out of sight. I went with a borrrring old navy blue for this pair. I'd love to see what you all come up with!

*Not recommended. Grosssss.

Quick side note: I’ve been wearing my version 1.0 pair since February 2014 and I loved them so much, I’m trying to get them produced through Betabrand. Yay! If you dig them too, please help me to make this happen by voting for them on the Betabrand page: https://www.betabrand.com/travel-underwear-shorts...

Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Materials

Picture of Gather Your Tools and Materials

Here is a list of the things I used. There are links below for your convenience -- none of them are affiliate links. Also, all of these things are suggestions. Like with anything in life, you do you. I've simply laid it out for you to play it out.

Tools

  • measuring tape or ruler
  • scissors
  • sewing needle
  • straight pins
  • a fabric pen (or sharpie, or whatever you'd use to make a couple of dots)
  • headlamp if you're using dark fabric and have a dim workspace (like I do. SMH...)

Materials

  • 1 pair of body-fitting shorts that fits work well for you under your clothes like these. I bought a 3-pack because they were inexpensive and it gave me a buffer in case I royally messed up a pair.
  • 1/2 yard of meshy fabric for your pockets like this black English netting
  • 4 YKK 6.5" nylon coil closed end zippers like these
  • standard sewing thread

Step 2: Let's Talk About the Shorts

Picture of Let's Talk About the Shorts

Let's talk about shorts for a moment. You'll want to find a pair of lightweight, form fitting, athletic shorts. The most important factors to keep in mind are:

1. Length You’ll want these to be long enough so that your phone or passport rides below your hip crease when you’re sitting. A good way to test this is to sit down on a chair and put your phone on your thigh. Slide it up to your hip crease. Two inches longer than the bottom of your phone is the absolute shortest you’ll want to go with your shorts. Keep in mind, we're going to plan on a solid 10" inches of pocket length from the top edge of the top zipper to the bottom edge of the bottom zipper.

2. Lightweight & Comfortable Since these will be worn under clothing, you’ll want to make sure the short isn’t too bulky but also not too constricting. You don’t want to be fantasizing while you’re wearing them about taking them back off.

3. Easy Fabric You’re going to need to rely on these shorts to be sturdy and machine washable. Choose a stretchy cotton blend or something lightly spandexy. No linen, no silk.

If the shorts you choose are highly stretchy, the zippers will look a little puckered when they're not on you. That's totally normal. They'll still look super on you.

Step 3: Measure Your Mesh Fabric and Cut It to Size

Picture of Measure Your Mesh Fabric and Cut It to Size

This is is the part that throws people. Your pockets are going to be 2-ply. This means each pocket will actually use 4 sheets of mesh fabric.

SO, when you're measuring and cutting, make sure you've folded your fabric in two first.

Each pocket has a front panel and a back panel.

  • Front panel: 6.5" wide x 8.5" high (qty 2)
  • Back panel: 6.5" wide x 10" high (qty 2)

Step 4: Optional: Secure the Layers Together for Each Panel

Picture of Optional: Secure the Layers Together for Each Panel

Since we're doing 2-ply on the mesh fabric, it can get a little wild on you if you don't secure it together first. You don't have to do this step, but I found it to be useful.

So if you choose to do this step, you only need to do the long open edges. You won't need to do the short edges because they will be attached to a zipper right away. Your stitches don't need to be strong or pretty for this stabilizing stitching. They're simply meant to keep the long edges together.

While I sewed my layers together, I sat on my front porch and waved hello to neighbors... because that's what you do here in New Orleans.

Step 5: Stabilize the Open Ends of Your Zippers

Picture of Stabilize the Open Ends of Your Zippers

Run a couple of stitches across the open ends of all of your zippers, just past the metal stoppers. This will stabilize your zippers and make your life easier when it comes to installing them in the shorts.

Step 6: Attach the Zippers to the Front Panel

Picture of Attach the Zippers to the Front Panel

Now that you've got your stabilized front panel (6.5" x 8") and stabilized zippers, it's time to put them together.

  1. Place the zipper upside down on the mesh fabric, centering it with the metal zipper stoppers.
  2. Secure it in place with straight pins.
  3. Stitch along the outer edge of the zipper, attaching the mesh fabric to the zipper securely.
  4. Be careful to make sure you're attaching both layers of the mesh securely.
  5. Remove the pins and set up your other zipper.
  6. Line up the second zipper on the other edge, again, face down.
  7. Make sure the open ends of the zippers are facing the same way.
  8. Pin it into place and stitch it together.

Once you've finished both zippers for this pocket, lay it down next to the back panel. You'll notice the front panel + zippers is now the same height as the back panel. Neato! If it's not exactly the same, that's okay. The mesh fabric is stretchy and so are your shorts.

Step 7: Measure and Cut the Shorts

Picture of Measure and Cut the Shorts

This is the scary part! The point of no return! This is the part where you cut the shorts! Gasp!

First, put your shorts on. I'm sorry I didn't take a pic of this part of the step for you. Frankly, it was awkward, and I was feeling distracted by the craziness of the world. SO, here we are, pictureless...

Nevertheless, with your shorts on, hold up your newly assembled front-panel-with-zippers to where you want it to be on your body. Make sure the zippers are closed and that the zipper pull is on the outside (hip) side of the shorts.

Take mental note of where both the top and bottom zippers fall. Practice sitting with the pocket in place and make sure the top zipper isn't too far in the crease of your hip or that your bottom zipper isn't too far down your leg.

Since your shorts are a little or a lot stretchy, it is important that you're wearing them while you do this. This is because zippers don't stretch and you need to determine your slit size while the shorts are stretched as far as they'd normally stretch while you're wearing them.

That said, make a little mark on your shorts at the starting and ending stoppers of your zippers. You'll be cutting the slit to fit just to the outside of those stoppers.

Take your shorts back off and cut the slit between those two marks.

Step 8: Line Up Your Pocket Face Inside the Slit

Picture of Line Up Your Pocket Face Inside the Slit

Slide the pocket panel into the leg of your shorts, making sure the zipper pull side is facing the outside (hip) side of the shorts.

Pin the two ends of your zipper in place.

Stretch the shorts out along the zipper until everything is flat. (Yes, this part is a little bit of a pain in the butt, but it's important.)

Then working with only the bottom edge of the slit,

  1. find the center of the zipper
  2. fold the raw edge of your shorts seam under about 1/8"
  3. pin it into place

Now recenter yourself between an end of the zipper and the center pin. Stretch the zipper out and do this again. Depending on how finicky your fabric is, you may need to use more or fewer pins to secure the zipper in place. Pin the whole zipper seam this way.

We will not be sewing the top edge of the zipper in this step. To all of you overachievers out there (I'm talking to you Ms. Granger, annnnnd myself here): don't try to get ahead of yourself here.

Step 9: Stitch the Bottom Seam of Top Zipper Into Place

Picture of Stitch the Bottom Seam of Top Zipper Into Place

Stitch the bottom seam into place. You'll start to notice the shorts are getting a little puckery. That's fine.

Step 10: Cut the Slit for That Bottom Zipper

Picture of Cut the Slit for That Bottom Zipper

Hey! You get to put your shorts on again! And this time, I've got a pic for you.

First, pin the top of the top zipper into place so that it's stabilized while you caaaaaaarefully slide your shorts on.

Then, reaching inside your shorts, adjust the pocket so that it feels straight, smooth, and lined up well. Make sure the zipper is flipped correctly so that the zipper pull side is facing up.

You'll be able to feel the zipper through your shorts. This is awesome because you can now just put dots with your pen along the zipper (of course, marking both exact zipper stopper ends as well), which is a lot easier than the eyeballing you did for the first zipper.

Pop your shorts off and cut that slit!

Step 11: Line Up the Bottom Zipper and Stitch It Into Place

Picture of Line Up the Bottom Zipper and Stitch It Into Place

This step should feel pretty familiar because you just did it with the top zipper.

This time, you're only pinning and stitching the top seam, not the bottom seam.

Pin the two ends of your zipper in place. Stretch the shorts out along the zipper until everything is flat.

Then working with only the top edge of the slit,

  1. find the center of the zipper
  2. fold the raw edge of your shorts seam under about 1/8"
  3. pin it into place

Now recenter yourself between an end of the zipper and the center pin. Stretch the zipper out and do this again. Depending on how finicky your fabric is, you may need to use more or fewer pins to secure the zipper in place. Pin the whole zipper seam this way.

We will not be sewing the bottom edge of the bottom zipper in this step. Again, don't try to get ahead of yourself here. Put your hand down, Hermoine, we'll get there.

Step 12: Attach the Back Panel to the Pocket

Picture of Attach the Back Panel to the Pocket

Flip your shorts inside out! Wee! Look at that meshy, zippery goodness staring back at you. Life is so close to being more pocketful, you can almost taste it.

Grab that back panel (6.5" x 10"). If you haven't stabilized the 2 layers, now's a great time to do that.

Line it up to the top of your top zipper and line up the side edges to the sides of the front panel mesh. This should fit like a dream.

Pin it into place and stitch securely along the top edge of the zipper. Again, be careful to make sure you're sewing both layers of the mesh back panel.

Once you've done the top zipper, take out the pins and swing on down the right side of the panel.

Pin the bottom right corner into place on the bottom zipper and put pins evenly down the right side and bottom zipper edges.

When you're going down the side, unlike when you stabilized the 2 layers, this time you're actually creating the pocket seam. Make sure your stitches are strong and small. You don't want your future pocket contents to snag on a loose seam or come popping out of a seam hole.

When you cross over the back of the zipper, you'll need to tack the mesh to the zipper as well.

When you finish up the bottom, pin and stitch up the left side. You're soooo close to being finished with this pocket...

Step 13: Sew the Finishing Seam on the Top Zipper

Picture of Sew the Finishing Seam on the Top Zipper

Just like you did with the two other seams, take a little time to carefully stretch your fabric, pin the ends, fold down the raw edges, and pin the whole seam into place. Then stitch away and you're finished with the top of the pocket!

Yes, Hermoine, now you can sew the other seam.

Step 14: Sew the Finishing Seam on the Bottom Zipper

Picture of Sew the Finishing Seam on the Bottom Zipper

OMG you're almost done! Only one more seam to go for this pocket.

Follow the usual drill of pinning and stitching for the bottom seam of the bottom zipper, and you're done with this pocket!

Step 15: Do It All Over Again for the Second Pocket

Picture of Do It All Over Again for the Second Pocket

Well, not all of it. But you get the idea. The good news is, now that you've done it once already, the second pocket will be easier.

Just remember that the zipper pulls go on the hip side (outside) when you install your second front panel.

Step 16: Celebrate!

Congrats! You did it! You now have an awesomely functional wardrobe piece that will work as:

  • secure underpants!
  • modesty shorts under skirts
  • a replacement for carrying a purse
  • killer athletic shorts with room for the essentials
  • secure surf or water sport shorts
  • freedom from carrying stuff in your hands

Hooray!

Slide these babies on and take'em for a test drive! What will you carry in your pockets? Do share!

A little while ago I submitted my original 2-zipper prototype to a Betabrand competition. If you're a fan, please take a moment to vote for them so that they'll be produced and be available to buy. Thanks friends!

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