Introduction: Turn Fake Pockets Into Real Pockets!

We've all been there, you find, buy or already own an awesome pair of pants only to realize they have no pockets!

You know the ones...those deceiving jeans that look like they have pockets but when you go to put something away they're actually just sewn shut. It is the worst. I finally decided I'd had enough of avoiding those pocket-less pants in the back of my dresser. I took to the internet to figure out how to fix this, but alas could only find ways to lengthen my already-in-existence pockets. Nothing on how to add them from the start. After looking through some of these and a couple tutorials on adding pockets to sweat pants and pajamas, I figured I'd give it a go.

It took me a few tries and a couple pictures of the pockets of men's jeans but I finally got a pattern that I was satisfied with and that I could fit my whole hand or my scissors in! You could of course crop the dimensions to fit your fabric or pant size, that being said the pants I have used this pattern for are women's sizes 4-6, so if you're larger or smaller (kids/teen sizes) you may have more or less space to adjust your pockets accordingly.


  • Pocket-less jeans
  • Fabric scraps- About 6"x 6" 2 pieces per pocket.
  • Seam ripper-This can be done with scissors but a seam ripper works much better
  • Needle, thread and pins

Step 1: Make Your Pattern

I had a lot of cotton fabric left over from a project a few years ago so I had plenty to work with. If your pieces are smaller just scale down one of the dimensions. The first pocket I tried was about 6" long x 4" wide. That being said I wouldn't go any thinner than 4" or any shallower than 4", that'll give you a pocket about the size of the average women's jeans with pockets. For the pockets I added to mine...

  • Draw out a 6"x 6" square on one edge of your paper, leaving about an inch of space under and a couple inches above.
  • Curve the bottom right corner cutting about an inch off each edge.
  • Add a curve to the bottom of the square that connects the edge of the paper to the curve you just drew on the opposite corner, dipping down about an inch below the middle point of the square. This will give the bottom edge of your pocket a more hand-like shape.
  • Next line the top edge of your paper with the bottom seam of your pant's waistband. This may be easier if you cut the bottom curve and across the paper first.
  • Mark the ends of your pocket seam on your paper and draw a curve resembling your pocket seam. It may also work to lightly rub your pencil on the paper to reveal the pant texture and trace the seam from that. It doesn't have to be prefect.
  • Once the curve is drawn, mark an angle from the top edge (ideally 1/4" away from your pocket seam) down to the top of the bottom right corner.
  • Cut the curve off the top of your paper and compare the edges. It is okay if it's not perfect.

This will give you your pocket pattern.

Step 2: Making the Pocket

Now that you have your pattern (Shape C), lay it on your fabric scraps. If your scrap is large enough cut two pieces of your pattern. It doesn't matter if they are the same fabric or not since they will be in your pants and you won't really see them.

If your fabric is smaller than your pattern you will have to adjust it a little. There are a couple ways to do this. With my first pattern I made it longer and thinner, resulting in shape A (see picture). You could also make it shallower and just crop the bottom of your pattern to where your fabric ends (Shape B). The most important part is keeping the top curve of your pattern.

Once cut out, sew all the way around the pocket except the top curve. I used a backstitch and it took a piece of thread about 3x the length of that perimeter.

Step 3: Get Rid of That Terrible Seam

Use your seam ripper to rip out the "pocket" seam. The whole thing. This is a very satisfying thing. Don't worry if your stab through your pant its okay. Just rip the whole seam open from the waistband to the leg seam. On all of my pants there have been little metal circles that I stopped at on both ends. Once this is done you should be able to stick your hand through.

Once ripped out there will be a bunch of little threads all over the general pocket area. Take some time to pull these out and clean up the seam a bit, pull the tiny bits out and snip any strings left hanging off.

Do be careful if there is a belt loop near your pocket. I did end up ripping up a belt loop that I have yet to sew back on. If this happens I'm pretty sure stitching it back through one layer of the jean with a bunch of thread will work. But if you don't want to go through that just don't cut through a really large gob of thread directly opposite your belt loop.

Step 4: Pin and Sew Pt. 1

If you do not care about flipping your pocket inside out while wearing (perhaps to empty snack crumbs out) continue with this step. If you do want to be able to flip them completely inside out while wearing your pants, skip this step. The advantage to this step is I think it attaches the pocket with a little more strength. I don't think it will really be a problem to skip this step just make sure the next is really solid if you do.

Flip your pants inside-out I think this works best to flip them but don't pull the legs all the way through, makes it a little more manageable when turning and sewing.

Line up the straight edge of your pocket and the leg seam of your pants and pin so they line up. This will be easier for some pants than others. When I did this with my pants there was a very clear seam but my sister's was less defined. Just line it up the best you can.

Sew the two edges together, stitching directly into the seam. I used either a running stitch or a whip stitch. Either will work.

Step 5: Pin and Sew Pt. 2 Option 1

This is the trickiest step. You will need to pin your fabric opening to the pocket hole in your jeans, there are a couple ways of doing this. I will split them up by the front edge and inner edge. The outer method only matters if your pocket has a little folded over edge. My first pair I tried I used option 2 so I don't have as many pictures but I have outlined it in the next step.

Inner Method -This method is a little trickier but you shouldn't see any part of your fabric when done. You will need to slide the jean "back" piece inside the fabric pocket and pin the two back layers (fabric and jean) together, sew with jean in front of fabric.

Outer method -Trickier but with a little cleaner final look. If your pants have that little flap on their outer edge you are going to tuck the top of the outer edge of your pocket fabric inside that flap, creating a smoother connection and covering any pocket fabric that might've spilled out otherwise. To do this lift the flap and line your fabric with the crease caused by the fold. Pin fabric in place here. Stitch across the pocket going through the pocket fabric and the jeans, not the extra flap. Flip flap back down and pin together with rest of pocket. Stitch across through all three layers.

Step 6: Pin and Sew Pt. 3 Option 2

Inner method - This is the easier of the two, but you will likely see your fabric sticking out of your pocket when finished. When pinning your fabric line it up with the back layer inside the pocket. Pin to the front of the "back" jean pocket inside layer, stitch these together.

Outer method -Definitely easier than method 2 and depending on the seam allowance given you won't see the fabric. Line the front piece of pocket fabric with the top edge of the jean pocket front and pin in place. Sew together. Trim the top of the pocket fabric when done.

I organized these methods by difficulty but you can mix and match based on skill or amount of fabric you want seen in a place.

Step 7: Pockets!

Rejoice! You never have to accept pocket-less jeans again!

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