Monday, July 25, 2011

Side Seam Pockets Method

Years ago, when I was dressmaking, a client brought me a RTW skirt to alter and I was intrigued by the pockets. They were side seam pockets but I could not see how they had been sewn into the seam. It wasn't until I found the method in a Kwik Sew pattern that I realised the pockets were sewn entirely to the front of the skirt. In most pattern instructions, you sew one pocket piece to the front, one to the back, then you sew them together when you sew the side seam and this means you must clip the back pocket seam allowance in order to turn the pocket to the front of the skirt.

This never made me happy as I really dislike clipping seam allowances. You never see this done in clothes that you buy; why should we do it in our own sewn garments?

With this method, one pocket piece is placed, right side down on the side of the skirt and you sew three sides of a square at 3/4" from the edge, as indicated on the pattern piece in the photo.

Then you trim out the fabric and clip into the corners, then turn the pocket bag to the inside and press. It is advisable to interface the edge of the pocket to provide stability for this pocket method.

Then place the second pocket piece, right sides together on the first piece, sew around the pocket bag and baste the top and side edges together. All that remains to do is to sew the side seams of the skirt, at 5/8" (which just skips past the pocket opening you made), making sure that you avoid catching the opening of the pocket in the seam. If you have done this well, the pocket is practically invisible until you insert your hand into it. Also, it rarely rips out with use as there is no strain placed on those clips that you didn't have to make!

The other beauty of this pocket method is that it doesn't gape. Have you ever noticed how those other side seam pockets pooch open and you can only see it from the back? not pretty, in my opinion. These pockets lie flat because they are all connected to the front which eliminates any possibility of gaping.

It is hard to see which piece is which, given this print, which is why I inserted the pocket pattern piece into the pocket to show where it is. The pocket really is as discreet as this photo, which is why I love this method. The more you do it, the closer you get the stitching of the pocket opening and the subsequent side seam, so that they are just a fraction apart.

Loes Hinse also uses this method on her Cruise Pants and she also top-stitches the edge of the pocket opening to reinforce it and keep it nice and flat, I suppose. But that is not really necessary.


  1. Julie - this is a very kewl technique! Will need to bookmark this page so that I can remember it in the future.

  2. I have seen this pocket application before, but had forgotten it. It is much better than the method for in-seam pockets that patterns typically show. Thanks for jogging my old gray cells. I love the print fabric you are using for this dress. It is so pretty.

  3. This is a great technique. I've used it in the past, but forget to apply it to all inseam pockets. Must remember.

  4. I made these pockets in a shirtwaister dress last week and I love them, really classy. Many thanks for the tutorial.