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Side Seam Pockets

sewelegant | Posted in General Sewing Info on

For the past few years I have been using a technique picked up while watching Loes Hinse make a pair of pants on a sewing show.  I even bought one of her pants patterns to have a written copy of how to do this.  It is her way of making a hidden side seam pocket.  I always put side seam pockets in every dress I make so adapted part of what she does and am very pleased with how my pockets now stay in place and do not make the side seam gap.  I thought I would share this with you all, especially if you too find daily life a lot easier with a pocket!  Of course, many of you have probably already been doing this, but it was new to me and none of the patterns I ever purchased mentioned doing this.

I keep the patterns I use over and over in large manilla folders in a black plastic box made for holding files that I found at Office Depot.  One of these folders I labeled “Pockets” and keep two side seam pocket patterns that I have traced off from a pattern that I particularly liked.  (that gives me the ability to see how I can get two pockets from my current project scraps without guessing like when you only have one pocket pattern).  I take this generic pocket pattern and lay it on my dress pattern and make matching placement marks so I’ll know where to attach them.   When I start sewing, I attach these pockets with a 3/8″ seam.  Sew all 4 and make sure they are placed properly.  Take it to the iron and press each pocket toward the seam allowance.  Back at the sewing machine, with right sides up, top stitch the pocket down to the seam allowance with a 1/4″ seam.  This is the “secret” I learned and wonder why I didn’t think of it myself!  From here I just go back to making the garment in the recommended fashion and when it comes time to sew the side seams I sew around the pockets just like most patterns direct you, with a 5/8″ seam. 


  1. rekha | | #1

    I have a feeling that the concealed pocket is achieved by proper fitting; of course, this is not to say that the method you describe doesn't contribute to its  appearance

  2. Josefly | | #2

    I appreciate your suggestion. I usually put in the pockets in the same way. But I especially liked your idea of duplicating the pocket pattern and keeping it in a separate envelope - I always have to search through my patterns to find a pocket pattern, then I have just unthinkingly returned the pattern to its original envelope, only to have to search for it again the next time. I put this style pocket in almost everything I make - pants, shorts, skirts, dresses - so why didn't I think of that? Duh!

    On the subject of pockets, this past Christmas I made lounge pants for the men in my family, out of a soft, comfortable, Tencel fabric. The pattern I used had no pockets, and I wanted to add a side-seam pocket but I wanted a light pocket that wouldn't be too stiff or too noticeable. I looked at the pockets in my husband's athletic shorts and saw that they were made from a knit mesh fabric, and that they were cut on the fold on the inside edge, eliminating that seam. The pocket shape is straighter and more squared-off than the ones usually found in patterns. (The patterns I have for pockets are all one long J-shaped seam for the inside and bottom.) The edge of the pocket that is sewn to the sideseams was first sewn to a strip of the shorts fabric, the strip about 2 inches wide, so that the pocket fabric doesn't show at all. I searched for and finally found some mesh fabric I could use, and I liked the outcome - a very light pocket with only a seam at the bottom, and almost no added bulk. I think this idea could be used easily in regular skirts and pants, where we usually don't want additional bulky fabric across our tummies.

    1. sewelegant | | #3

      I like your plan for the mesh lined pockets.  I too have seen something like that in RTW but never think to look for that fabric while out shopping.  I have made denim clothing and that is heavy enough without the denim pocket I have put in.

      As for the previous poster's note about everything lining up properly being the key to the pocket lying properly... hmmm.  There's not much to line up in a dress without a waistband!  I think the reason this works is the same reason most patterns now direct you to press the facing toward the seam and sew the facing to the seam 1/4" away from the neck edge.  This technique has been in the pattern directions for a long time, but I just never applied it to pockets.

      1. Josefly | | #4

        Well, you know, though, in tighter fitting clothes like pants or a slim skirt, even well-stitched or top-stitched pockets will sometimes pull or gap open, especially when sitting - some people avoid pockets just for that reason, especially if they like close-fitting clothes. I prefer clothes with enough ease to skim my body, some wiggle room - even pants - so if the garment "fits" me, the pockets don't usually gap. If they do, it means the garment's too small.

        Edited 3/29/2008 12:32 pm ET by Josefly

        1. sewelegant | | #6

          Maybe my use of the word gap is wrong.  I am thinking of the pocket actually working its way out of the seam and exposing the "secret" that you have a "hidden pocket".  By using this stitching technique I find my pockets do not do that anymore.

  3. Pattiann42 | | #5

    Sounds pretty much like the Sally K. Silver's method.  I first saw and used this method in 1998.

    Gatherings # 7037.1




    Edited 3/29/2008 2:49 pm ET by spicegirl1

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