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How to Sew Pockets

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Do you know how to sew pockets correctly? If you are working on sewing patterns with pockets on garment, it can be intimidating at first to understand which piece goes on first and how to place them correctly. 

How do you sew pockets? From hidden to patch pockets, there are variety of pocket styles that require specific techniques to execute.

Whether you own a Singer or Brother sewing machine, the steps for sewing pockets are the same. Depending on the type of pocket and fabric being used, select the correct needle to start with and adjust the tension and stitch width to prevent any issues.

Pockets are one of the essential parts of the garments and are considered to be highly functional. Not only do they give aesthetic value to the garment, but also it gives professional look to your clothes. 

From dresses to pants, pockets are widely used and cannot be avoided. Let’s learn everything about sewing pocket, how each of styles are sewn and answer frequently asked questions about the process so you feel comfortable adding pockets to your DIY clothing.

welt pocket on silk blouse

What is a pocket?

In terms of sewing, the pocket is a place or pouch to hold small things and essential items. A pocket is fixed to a garment or accessory and is commonly found in garments including pants, shirts, skirts and dress, and also on purses and bags. 

Generally, it is a bag or envelope shape and may have a closure or inserted in clothing or bags. The process of creating pockets are simple and easy by following step by step instructions and simple sewing tips.

As a beginner, you can add pockets to existing garments to serve as a functional upcycle as well or create pockets from scratch with help from a sewing pattern. 

How many types of pockets are there?

There are countless options when it comes to selecting pocket styles.

Based on the visual and techniques, pockets can be differentiated into three primary categories:

  • Patch Pocket: The patch pocket is the most common type of pocket, and is widely used in shirt fronts and back pockets for pants. Also, it can be different shapes like square, rectangular, round and even triangular. This pocket style is simply sewn on the outside of the garment.
  • Set-in pocket: The set in pockets or slit pockets are made by cutting the opening part of the garment. The stitching is made inside of the garment or fabric and for that, and the opening part of the garment and the pocket lining is hanging inside. It can be placed vertically or horizontally depending on the garment. For example, welt pockets and jet pockets on the blazer or slack pants are set-in pockets.
  • Seam pocket: This is a type of garment in which the opening falls along the seams with the garment. Known as side seam pockets where you can find on side seam of skirt, loose trousers, or dresses. Most inseam pockets are found in side seams or princess seams of garment as well.

Other Types of Pockets

Apart from the three main categories of pockets, there are many more pockets to choose from.

Here are more pockets types to become familiar with:

  • Kangaroo pockets: It is a type of pocket used on hoodies and sweatshirts that is big enough for both hands to fit inside. Also, it has openings on both sides and is located on the lower front section of the garment.
  • Flap pockets: Known as welt pockets where there are two rectangles of fabric and one of them is flat. Some may have button closure to secure the flaps over the actual pocket. Generally used in jeans, pants, or outerwear.
  • Coin pockets: The coin pockets are the fifth pockets, they are functional and sit inside of the right front pocket. Mostly found in five pocket jeans and also known as match or watch pocket.
  • Accordian pockets: The accordion pockets are also called as expandable pockets that provide plenty of room to carry. You will find it in shorts, cargo pants or even wallets.
  • Welt pockets: This is a type of pocket commonly found on tailored garments. It is a bound and flat pocket that has been finished with a welt or reinforced border along the edge of the fabric. It is used in tailored blazers or on the backside of pants.
  • Jet pockets: The jetted pocket are referred as welted or besom pockets, and are partially decorative and supportive feature. You will find this pocket type on three-button tweed jackets or formal blazers. 
  • Zippered pockets: It is pocket with a zipper for closure. The zippers are located at the top or on the side of the regular patch pocket. 
  • Slash pockets: The slash pocket is found at the front of pants or skirts. Usually starts at the waist and has diagonal line to the side seam. Depending on the pattern, it may be a curved or straight line.
  • Jeans pockets: Most jeans pockets have patch style, curved side, and flap pockets. Depending on the brand and silhouette of the jeans, you will find a decorative and functional combination of pocket styles.

How to sew a pocket by hand?

If you are adding a pocket to any garment, the hand sewing method is great alternative technique to sew a pocket without using a machine. The patch pocket is one of the easiest pockets that can be sewn onto garments by hand. 

Here are the step by step instruction tosew a pocket by hand along the side seam:

  1. At first, measure the length and width of the desired pocket, measure the portion where you want to have the desired pocket.
  2. Then, cut the fabric according to the size of the pocket and lining for the pockets. 
  3. Use a sewing pin, safety pin or chalk to mark the pocket onto your dress or garment.
  4. Carefully rip the seam where your pocket will go and separate the side seam line with a seam ripper.
  5. Hand sew one side of the pocket.
  6. After sewing one side of the pocket, sew the other side of the pocket.
  7. Lastly, sew the sides of the pocket together and complete the seam.

Expert Advice: When hand sewing pockets to any clothes, make sure to use strong hand stitches, primarily backstitch, to secure the pocket lining inside. Also, finish the edges of the lining with a durable stitch type to avoid fraying.

How to sew inseam pockets?

A hidden pocket is an easy feature to add to skirts, dresses, or loose trousers to carry any of your essentials without carrying a heavy bag. The hidden pocket is referred to as in-seam or side seam pocket because they are invisible and have a clean finish when looking at the outer garment.

Whether you are following sewing patterns or making pockets from scratch, here are steps you need to sew hidden pockets. Beforehand, print out the free pocket pattern template, to follow along.

  1. Fold ½ yard of fabric in half, cut out the pattern and pin it to your lining fabric to create two pockets.
  2. Turn your clothes inside out, place the pocket pieces, and mark the top and bottom of the opening.
  3. Use a seam ripper to open up the side seams between the marks and flip the garment right side out.
  4. Open up the seam and place the right side facing down along the edge and pin the seam.
  5. Make a straight stitch, and always start and close with backstitch. Also, be sure to press the seams with an iron.
  6. Flip the clothes inside out and pin the pocket lining together.
  7. Sew around the lining and close the seams all around.
  8. Turn the garment right side out and tuck the pocket inside. Give a nice press along the seams to finish.

If you are adding hidden pockets to a dress, make sure to sharpen a seam ripper so that it is easy to open up the seam nice and crisp without damaging the fabric or the side seams.

Expert Advice: If you choose different fabric for the pocket lining to sew the inseam pocket method, for example acetate or slippery material, make sure to change the sewing foot to accurately sew the delicate lining.

How to sew patch pockets?

Patch pockets are one of the most common pockets, it is extremely handy and can easily be added to any garment. Perfect beginner friendly pocket to add to dresses, pants and even tops.

At first, you need to draw the pocket pattern, choose the pocket height and width as per your measurements. However, I prepared free patch pocket pattern template for you to simply print out and follow along the steps detailed below:

  1. Cut the pocket depend on the print and fabrication on the length of grain, crossgrain, or on the bias.
  2. Make a small slip on each side at the folded mark on the pocket.
  3. Fold the top edge about 1/4”-3/8” and press.
  4. Follow the slip mark and fold the fabric right sides together and pin.
  5. Sew around the pocket except the top opening with 5/8” seam allowance.
  6. Trim off triangle of fabric to reduce bulk at the top on both sides.
  7. Turn the upper fold right side out and poke out the corners.
  8. Next, press the top fold along the 2” across.
  9. Press the two sides into the pocket and use 5/8” stitch line as guide. Make sure to roll the stitch line barely hiding to the wrong side so it doesn’t show on the right side. Also, press the bottom using 5/8” seam allowance.
  10. Stitch the top fold close to the lower edge of the fold.
  11. Follow the markings on the pattern for placements and pin the patch pocket all around. Don’t forget to pin the top and center to stabilize and keep the pocket flat.

To make the pocket more polished and secure, add a small triangle of reinforcement at the top corners of the patch pocket. Not only will it serve as a decorative purpose, but also strengthen the top edges. 

Draw ¼” away from the pocket opening and create a diagonal straight line, follow the marked line to topstitch.

Complete the pocket by starting at the fold stitching, across the corner, down the right side, across the bottom, up the left side, across to you mark and end at the top fold stitching about ⅛” from the fabric edge.

As a beginner, utilize pins that can sew over the sewing machine to secure the pocket to the garment. By doing so you will have lot more control to create sharp corners instead of round corners when finishing the pocket.

tutorial on how to sew pockets

Sewing Pockets: Final Thoughts

From dresses to bottoms, pockets are very essential for all types of garments. If you do not have pockets in your garment then, you can add pockets in your favorite clothes. 

There are multiple types of pockets, and locations for pockets to be added. Discussed were the most popular pocket types, and also alternative methods for you to choose from. 

Now you know the multiple varieties of pockets and how to sew it regardless brand of sewing machine you have or if you want to hand sew the pocket. Simply adjust and prepare the sewing machine and practice these techniques for a finished pocket that is flattering and functional.

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