How to Add Pockets to a Pattern

Hey y’all, welcome to pattern hacks month on the blog, where all month long I’ll be sharing ways to get more out of your favorite sewing patterns. Today we’re going to be talking about different ways to add pockets to patterns. Because everyone needs a place to put their phone, amiright? So let’s dive in.

Side Seam Pockets

These are an easy way to add pockets to skirts or dresses and even pants as long as there is a side seam without a zipper in it. I even have a free pocket pattern piece you can download here as part of the Boatneck Dress Hack I’m wearing in these pictures.

The example below is sewing pockets onto a dress, but you can do the same to sew them into a skirt or pants.

To sew the pockets, line them up just below the waistline on each side of the skirt back and each side of the skirt front. Stitch along the straight edge.

Step 4 - Make a boatneck sundress with this pattern hack - 30 Days of Sundresses - Melly Sews - bateau neck dress - ballet neckline dress

Fold the dress right sides together, matching lining side seams, bodice side seams, pockets and skirt side seams. Stitch down the side seams and around each pocket. The stitch another seam from just above the pocket seam to the bottom of the skirt.

Patch Pockets

Patch pockets are probably the easiest to sew, and they can be added to pants, skirts, dresses and shirts. They’re a great design detail, and you can make them in pretty much any shape. I show two ideas below.

For the patch pockets I sewed on the kids shorts above, you can  download the pattern piece I used here; this worked on the size 5 shorts I sewed. You will want to enlarge it slightly for larger sizes and shrink it slightly for smaller sizes.

Start by pressing the top edge about 1/4″ to the wrong side (left). Then fold that 1/2″ to the right side and sew it down, 1/2″ from each side edge. (Note: If your fabric is fraying badly you can finish the edges with an overlock or faux overlock stitch before beginning to sew).

patch pocket tutorial step 1

Turn the top of the pocket to the wrong side, pressing out corners. Fold under sides of pocket, press. Fold up bottom edges of pocket and press. Topstitch top edge of pocket so the hem stays in place.

How to sew patch pockets

Pin the pocket onto the shorts, and topstitch in place around 3 sides, making sure to backstitch at beginning and end. You can also add a bar tack to reinforce the corners.

sewing on patch pockets

Another method to sew patch pockets is like this

Drawstring Skirt Tutorial - Easy to Make in Any Size!

To make these, follow the instructions in the photos. Though I sewed them onto a skirt in this example, there’s no reason you can’t sew them onto a dress or pants if you’d like.

Step 7 -Drawstring skirt with pockets - Melly Sews

If you want to cheat, you don’t have to make the buttonholes here. You could just sew the buttons through the pocket and flap to keep the flap down.

Step 8 - Drawstring skirt with pockets - Melly Sews

Sew your pockets onto your skirt front.

Step 9 - Drawstring skirt with pockets - Melly Sews

Welt Pockets

Welt pockets can be added to any flat expanse of fabric, though you most often see them on jackets and pants. Here’s an example of how you would sew them on a vest; the process is the same for other applications.

How to sew a welt pocket - Sew a vest - Boys Holiday Vest with Free Pattern - Melly Sews

Start by cutting a welt pocket piece that is the width you want plus at least 1 1/2 inches (for side seams) and double in length of what you want you final pocket to be, plus 1 1/2 inches (for the welt and the top seam). 3/4 inch down from the top of the pocket piece, mark out the welt width you want, centered on the pocket piece and 1/4 – 1/2 inch high (depending on how big you want the welt).  The ends of the welt should be at least 3/4 inch from any edge.

Place the welt pocket pieces right sides together with the vest fronts, matching the welt markings (I use pins through the corners to do this).

Step 3 - How to sew a welt pocket - Sew a vest - Boys Holiday Vest with Free Pattern - Melly Sews

Sew right on the welt pocket outline, stopping with the needle down to turn the corners. Then cut through the center of the welt and into the corners through all layers of fabric. Cut all the way to but not through the stitching lines at the corners.

Turn the pocket to the wrong side of the vest front. The pocket and vest are now wrong sides together. Press the pocket opening.

Fold the lower part of the pocket up to cover the opening. Press.

Step 4 - How to sew a welt pocket - Sew a vest - Boys Holiday Vest with Free Pattern - Melly Sews

On the right side of the vest, stitch around the welt to hold it in place, stitching very close to the pocket opening edges.

Step 5 - How to sew a welt pocket - Sew a vest - Boys Holiday Vest with Free Pattern - Melly Sews

On the wrong side, fold the pocket in half and sew around the three raw edges, folding the vest out of the way so you are only sewing on the pocket.

So there you go – 3 ways to add interesting and functional pockets to your patterns!

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