Thursday, November 18, 2010


Now that we've finished our drafting series, I am excited to introduce another series - Pockets!

One of the recurring questions I've been asked is how to sew certain types of pockets. I've sewn a lot of pockets in my sewing lifetime, but I don't always know their names. Or else I'd always called them something completely different from their official names. Particularly for children's clothes, pockets are one of the easiest -and most practical - embellishments. I thought you might enjoy learning about the different kinds of pockets and how to make them. And be liberated to take any plain old garment and make it your own.

We'll start in this post with some foundational stuff. Then we'll make some of the simpler pockets and move on to the more exciting pockets. All in, we'll be doing about 26 pockets, with photos and links to more for adaptation and inspiration. Sound fun?

Let's start with the basics. Here are some common questions I've been asked (and that I've sometimes asked myself in my head when I'm making pockets):

Q: What kind of fabric is best for pockets?
A: Whatever kind the garment is made of. Pockets are add-ons, but they will go in the wash along with the rest of the garment, so it's best to have them in the same or similar kind of material as the garment. So stretchy for stretchy, woven for woven etc. If the pocket has a lining, that can be made of a thinner fabric than the main fabric, especially if the main fabric is bulky. So, for instance, if you are making cut-in pockets for a corduroy skirt, you might want to use regular cotton for the lining. Sometimes a funky print for the lining can also liven up an otherwise plain garment.

Q: Do I need an interfacing?
A: It depends. Interfacing the opening of a pocket (to keep its crisp corners and lines) means you need to line the garment to hide it. I have used a very light interfacing for the folded yokes of pockets that have pleats, gathers or smocking. Example: the gingham sundress pockets. I have also used them for welt pockets and zippered welt pockets. I don't use interfacing for inset pockets or in-seam pockets.

Q: Where on the garment (like a skirt or a dress) should you position pockets?
A: The opening of the pocket varies in position/location, depending on personal preference, type of pocket, style of garment, whatever. But most often it is somewhere between waist and hip-height. Obviously if it's a set-in pocket that has one edge at the waistband, then that's where the opening is. Also if it's a breast pocket, then that's where it is. And chest pockets for things like aprons.

Q: How big should pockets be?
A: Big enough to fit the hand of the user/wearer. I often use the user's hand itself as a gauge of pocket size and shape. You could trace around the hand to get the shape of the pocket pouch!

Q: Do you need a serger to make pockets?
A: No. There are many ways to deal with raw edges in pockets. You could
  • use a zigzag stitch in place of an overlock stitch.
  • fully face/line the pocket so it is double-layered with all the raw edges tucked inside it.
  • do two lines of of top-stitching to enclose the raw edges between them, like a fake french seam.
We'll cover all these in the coming tutorials.

There are millions of pockets out there, but I'll group them into four categories for convenience:

1 Patch pockets - literally a patch of fabric sewn onto the outside of a garment.

2 Welt pockets - a slit that opens into an internal pouch.

3 Inset/ Set-in/ Cut-in pockets

4 In-seam pockets

In the next few posts, we will learn how to make each kind of pocket, where to put it, and some of its different variations. Enjoy!


  1. Ooh. This is exactly what I need. I've been making my daughter some sweatshirts, but she's been complaining about no pockets. My excuse is that I don't know how to make them.

    p.s. Your blog is so useful. I love it. Have you heard of kachingle. Its a way blog readers (who may be philosophically against advertising) can pay bloggers. I'm a member and would love to have some of my money go to you. I think I told them to send you an email.


  2. YAY! Thank you for starting a new series. I look forward to it. I lurk here almost everyday.

  3. Expecting anxiously this series on pockets!

  4. wow! Thank you so much for this =) This is going to be great.

  5. Awesome!!! I can't wait to read all about the pockets. 26 different kinds! I'm giddy!

    I linked to your getting started post over at Craft Gossip Sewing:


  6. I'm so excited! I was reading an older post that used welt pockets, and you had promised a tutorial. I looked all over the site and didn't find one. This was just a few days ago, and then today I got surprised that there really will be a tuturial series. Yay! Thanks a bunch.

  7. Awesome! I've only ever made one pocket, but they're such a nice way to embellish a garment! Looking forward to this series!

  8. Thank you sooo much! I just love your tutorials. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!


  9. Just now this tutorial was SO helpful. My 5 year old daughter has been asking me to make her "a purple shirt with pockets." Well, I drafted a pattern, I'm ready to go, but what kind of pockets, I wondered?? So I just called her over to look at the opening of your pockets series and she pointed at the one she wanted. That's one thing on my list greatly simplified. THANK YOU! Great blog all the time.


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