Introduction: Making Real Vest Pockets From Fake Ones

About: I live on a small homestead in western New Mexico, in a small light-straw-clay house I built with much help from friends. My spare time is filled with house and land projects, writing fiction, gardening, singi…

Vests with fake pockets – just a doubled piece of fabric sewn onto the face of the vest – are all too common. I like real pockets, for keys or handkerchiefs or a shopping list. Real pockets are useful and satisfying things. Luckily it is not too difficult to turn fake pockets into real ones with some scrap fabric and a little time.

Step 1: What's Needed

-Vest with fake pockets

-sturdy, tightly woven cloth for pocket(s)

-scissors (both regular sewing scissors and embroidery scissors)

-measuring tape and/or ruler

-pencil or chalk

-needle & thread & thimble


-seam ripper (optional)

-sewing machine (optional)

Step 2: Measure and Cut Out Pockets

Measure the width of the horizontal seam that secures the
fake pocket strip to the vest. Then determine how deep you want your pocket to be. If you want to secure the bottom of the pocket to the vest, measure from the hem of the vest to the horizontal seam that secures the fake pocket strip to the vest. If you are making pockets for both sides of the vest, measure both sides. Don't assume they are the same.

To get the dimensions of your pocket blank, add 1/2” to the width. Double the depth and add 1”. For example, the measurements for this vest (both sides) were 4 3/4” wide, and 3 1/4” from the seam to the hem. That meant I needed to cut 2 rectangles of cloth 5 1/4” wide by 7 1/2” long.

Step 3: Sew Pockets

Fold the cloth in half to make the shape of the pocket, and pin together.

Mark the seams (1/4” from the edge of the cloth) using pencil (which is easy and just visible, and will wash out fairly well) or chalk.

Sew up each side, ending 1/4” from the pocket top. You can use a sewing machine for this part of the job, though for myself I find that too much trouble.

Step 4: Prepare the Vest

Working from the inside of the vest, mark a line 1/4” above the horizontal seam that holds the fake pocket strip on the vest. Cut along this line. The embroidery scissors are better for this task than the larger sewing scissors. A seam ripper can also be used, being careful to keep the cut straight.

Mark another line, 1/4” above the cut. This is where you will attach one side of your pocket. You may want to mark a corresponding line on the inside of the fake pocket strip (1/2” inch up from the seam), though it's awkward to do.

Step 5: Attach the Pocket to the Vest

This process may seem a little backwards, but keep in mind that once the pocket is sewn in place, you will be tucking it all the way in, so that the fabric edges are inside the pocket.

Working from the outside of the vest, tuck the open end of the pocket through the cut you just made. Line up the places where your pocket seams ended (the 1/4” from the top mark) with the line you marked 1/4” above the cut, and pin (or baste) the pocket in place. Sew one side of your pocket to the vest (see picture, above), and the other to side to the inside of the fake pocket strip.

Step 6: Finish

Tuck the pocket all the way through to the inside. You can stop at this point if you like and go on to the other pocket. I decided to reinforce my seams by adding parallel seams about 1/8” lower than the first seams. Then I tacked the pocket to the hem and the facing.

Repeat for the other side.

Now put your vest on and admire the satisfying reality of it!

Before and After Contest 2017

Participated in the
Before and After Contest 2017