Intro: How to Extend Your Pants' Pockets
The pockets in women’s jeans are not expanding fast enough to keep up with the increasing size of cell phones. I hate keeping my phone in my back pocket or purse, so it usually ends up sticking halfway out of my pocket and falling out when I sit down. I decided to extend the length of one of the pockets (the one I usually keep my phone in) so my phone fits all the way in.
I suggest you first do this on some old jeans you don’t wear to get the hang of it, especially if you’re not very comfortable sewing. That way, if you make any mistakes, you don’t ruin your favorite pair.
Edit: After doing this five or so more times, I discovered a couple more tips I'd like to add. First, if your jeans are tight on your leg when you wear them don't make the pockets too long. I recommend making sure your phone can still peep out of the top of your pocket like in the first picture above. This makes it easier to get your phone out of your pocket, but makes sure it still says in when you sit. Making the pockets any longer looks a little weird. Second, after a long time, the seam at the bottom of the pocket starts to get holes. I found that folding the fabric over the bottom edge instead of folding it on a side edge works better and needs no repairs over time. It also means less stitching.
Step 1: Materials
- Jeans that have a pocket that is too small
- A needle and thread - The thread color doesn’t matter, since it won’t show on the outside. You can buy this at your local CVS, craft store, or even on amazon for a few bucks. Plus, once you learn the basics of sewing, you can mend your clothes!
- Some fabric - The fabric color also doesn’t matter, since it won’t be showing. If you don’t have any fabric you can get some at your local craft store. You can also cut up a bandana or an old t-shirt, although stretchy fabric is much harder to sew with.
- A ruler
- Straight pins, or some other thing to keep one piece of fabric attached to the other before you cut it - I've used binder clips or tape before but straight pins are ideal.
Step 2: Plan Before You Start
Turn your pants inside out and find the pocket you want to extend. You can only do this to the typical front pocket (where one corner is “free”, i. e. not attached to a seam of the jeans).
Put your phone in the pocket and decide how much longer you want the pocket to be. I wanted to add about 2”, because that’s how much my phone extended out of my pocket before the project. I added about 0.5” to that length to compensate for some overlap when adding the new fabric on to the old fabric. Remember it’s better to over-estimate than under-estimate because you can always cut off excess later.
Step 3: Cut the Fabric
Mark 2.5” from the top of the fabric. Use a pen to make a line where you’re going to cut. Cut and discard the excess fabric.
Cut the width of the fabric so it’s a bit longer than double the width of your pocket. In the end you will want the width to be the same, but it doesn’t have to be exact. Discard the excess fabric.
Step 4: Cut the Original Pocket (AKA the Point of No Return)
Now it’s time to cut the bottom of the old jeans pocket open. This is the point of no return. Make sure you really want to do this. I claim no responsibility for you ruining your favorite jeans.
The first time I used a stitch-ripper which works best, but the second time I didn’t have one so I used scissors to cut just enough that it opens up. Try to preserve as much of the original pocket as possible. Try to cut as straight as possible. I’m terrible at this.
Step 5: Prepare for Sewing
Take straight pins and pin the edge of the new pocket material to the edge of the old pocket material. Push the rest of the new pocket material inside the old pocket. This way when you finish sewing, the rough seam will be visible to you (when your pants are inside out) but you won’t feel it when you put your hand inside your pocket.
If you don’t have straight pins, that’s fine. In the past I’ve used mini binder clips or tape for this purpose. Do not skip this step though, because pinning the fabric together makes it way easier to sew properly. If you’re new to straight pins just remember that you want the pointy end of the needle to end up on the outside, where you can see it, otherwise you’ll stick yourself as I did a million times before I learned that very obvious trick.
Step 6: Start Sewing
First, thread your needle. If you're new to sewing, check out Step 2 of this wonderful instructable. I always use double thread and I recommend you do as well because we want to make sure our pockets are very strong.
Now we’re going to start sewing. I used a loop stitch where I stick the needle through in one direction and then loop the thread around the rough edges and stick the needle through again in the same direction. I'm not sure whether that description was enough, but just check out my pictures. Don’t stitch too close to the end of the fabric, or the stitches might slip off once the fabric frays. My stitches are awful, but try to make them as close together and tight as possible. Have patience, this will take a while, but if you spend a good amount of time on it your stitches will last longer than the jeans. Once you pass a straight pin, you can take it out so you don’t stick yourself with it.
Start on edge and go around in a loop around the pocket and you'll end up where you started.
If your stitches are small enough, you’ll probably run out of thread before you finish the pocket. Just tie off the thread at that point and then start again from there.
Once you’ve finished tie off the thread and turn the pocket right side out again.
Step 7: One More Seam!
Pin the bottom edge of the pocket and start sewing on the side. Have patience, you're almost done!
Step 8: You're Done!
When you’re finished tie it off and take a look at your brand new (extended) pocket! Turn it inside out and try them on. You’re done! Clean up the scraps and know that you are no longer beholden to outdated ideas of how large women’s pants pockets should be.
The seam might be a bit rough on your skin at first, but after a day and a wash it'll feel fine.
There is a little ridge where the seam that you can feel through the jeans, but it shouldn't be noticeable if you made your loop stitches small enough.
If this was your first sewing project, congrats! Now you have the tools, experience, and confidence to go out into the world and try other sewing projects.