Learn how to sew a pocket of any shape to add style and functionality to any garment. Last tutorial, we learned how to clip corners and curves. What better way to put this into practice than learning about sewing pockets and making some lined patch pockets!
How to Sew a Pocket Tutorial
I love sewing pockets. Besides being functional, they add color and interest to clothing and are always a fashion favorite. Pockets can be added to skirts, shirts, jeans, pants, blouses and bags.
Today we will learn how to sew a pocket and make a lined patch pocket of almost any shape you can imagine. The best part of making patch pockets is that they are easy, and the inside doesn't fray in the wash. You can add them to a finished garment in your cupboard or add them to your latest sewing project.
More Pocket Sewing Tutorials
This tutorial shows you how to make a patch pocket, but there are other types of pockets you may like to make.
- How to Sew Zippered Pockets
- Types of Pockets
- Inseam Pockets (side seam pockets)
- Welt Pockets
- How to Sew Cargo Pockets
Sewing Pocket Supply List
For making pockets, you will need:
- Paper and pen for making the pocket pattern
- Fabric - Light to medium weight cotton, denim or linen.
- Sewing basics - sewing machine, ruler, pins, ironing board
How to Make a Pocket - Instructions
There are 7 steps to how to sew a pocket, starting with making a pattern. These DIY pockets can be used for clothing, bags, and absolutely anything you can think of.
Step 1 - Make the Pocket Pattern Template
Determine the pocket size and shape you would like and draw it on a piece of paper. The easiest way to make it symmetrical is to fold a piece of paper in half and draw one side of the pocket.
The simplest pocket to sew is a rectangle.
Step 2 - Add the Seam Allowance
Add a seam allowance. I like to add ¼ inch (6mm) seam allowances to pockets. Adding a smaller seam allowance allows you to get better accuracy when sewing curves. For a square pocket, you can add ⅜ inch (1cm).
Cut around your seam allowance line, and you have your very own custom-made pocket pattern! You can use simple photo editing software or even Microsoft Word to print different shapes and sizes.
Other shapes you could make include a traditional curved pocket, a tulip shape, or even a heart. The heart shape pocket is one of my favorites for little girls' clothing and features on several of my patterns.
Step 3 - Cut the Fabric
Cut 2 pieces of fabric from your pattern piece. The best fabrics to use are cotton or cotton blend since you can get nice crisp corners, and they are easy to iron.
Stay clear of thick fabrics that can't easily be pressed.
For thin fabrics, the addition of a layer of fusible interfacing can help give your pocket some body and shape. Always interface the piece that will be the inside of the pocket so that any wrinkles caused by the interfacing are not visible on the outside.
Step 4 - Draw the Stitching Line
The greatest stitching accuracy can be obtained when you draw in the stitching line of the pocket. This will give you a really nice finished shape, particularly when you are making fancy shapes such as the tulip and the heart. It is not so important for square pockets.
Take your pattern piece (the paper pattern and not the fabric) and cut it back to your original stitching line.
Flip one of the fabric pocket pieces to the wrong side and draw around the stitching line with tailor's chalk or a removable pen. This helps you to stitch really accurately and get a nice shape at the end.
Step 5 - Sew the Pockets
With right sides together, stitch the pocket and pocket facing pieces all the way around, leaving a 1 ½ to 2 inch ( 3.8-5cm) gap at the side or bottom. The bigger the pocket, the bigger the gap that is needed.
Try and leave the gap somewhere straight. In this example, I have left it at the side. Don't leave the gap at the top of the pocket.
Step 6 - Clip the Pocket
Clip the corners and curves. Read clipping sewing corners if you are new to this. If your pocket has a greater seam allowance than ¼ inch (6mm), then trim it back, leaving the gap untrimmed.
I used pinking shears to cut around the curves as an alternative to clipping those areas. I still needed to clip the top corners.
You don't need a serger or overlocker to finish the seam since it will be hidden inside.
Step 7 - Turn Right Way Out
Turn your pocket the right way out and press well. Make sure any curves are poked out, and the curves are smooth. Here is the pressed pocket.
Step 8 - Attach the Pocket
This is the final step in how to sew a pocket. Determine the pocket placement and pin the pocket in place on the right side of your clothing item, making sure it is straight.
I always find it is best to try the item on with the pocket pinned so I can check the placement. It can often look quite different on the body to laying it flat on your table.
Then stitch through all pocket layers, around the sides and bottom with a topstitch that is close to the edge. This will have the added bonus of closing the gap in the side or bottom.
A basting stitch first can help if you are using slippery fabric that moves as you sew.
Topstitching Threads - I generally just use my regular thread, but you can also use a thicker topstitching thread. If you are a beginner, I always recommend a matching color, but as you get more advanced, try switching to trendy contrast color. (How to Topstitch). Topstitching can be done in a longer stitch length.
Reinforcing the Pocket Opening - It is really important that you backstitch the beginning and the end of the stitching for extra strength. If you are putting your hands in and out of a pocket, it has quite a lot of wear and tear. Reinforcement can also be done with a very narrow zigzag stitch.
Pocket Decoration Ideas
Pockets don't need to be plain. You can add a line of ric rac or pom pom braid into the seam for a pop of color. Another great idea is to embellish them with sequins, beads, and even rhinestones. They can be used individually or worked in with some hand embroidery.
A pocket flap can be made from 2 rectangles sewn together and stitched above the pocket. Add a button and buttonhole or snaps for some extra interest.
These photos are from my apron pattern and you can see how the addition of lace and ric-rac or pom-poms really makes the pocket pop and stand out from the background fabric. This pocket is a patch pocket in the shape of an oval. If you leave the top open, the excess fabric folds over, leaving you with a pop of color. Clever, isn't it?
How to Sew Pockets FAQs
What is the best stitch for sewing on pockets?
A straight stitch is best for sewing on pockets. Make sure you backstitch at the pocket opening to add strength. Although a zig-zag stitch could be used, this is rarely seen on clothing.
What is the best fabric for pockets?
The best fabric for pockets is one matching the outside of your garment. For inseam pockets you may need to use a thinner fabric for jackets and thicker fabrics. Cotton is always the easiest to sew.
How to Sew a Pocket - In Conclusion
Perfect! Now you have learned how to sew a pocket, you can make almost any novelty pocket shape for your clothing. Individuality is always in style! Do you have a favorite novelty shape pocket or an extra tip? Please share it below.
How to Sew a Pocket with a Zipper
If you are making this pocket for a tote bag or purse, you might want to add another type of pocket to the inside. You can easily add a zipper pocket with my easy tutorial.
Zipper pockets in a bag pattern keep your valuables safe and can be made to fit your phone and keys. By varying their depth, you can use them to store different items.
Further Reading: How to Sew a Zippered Pocket
More Sewing Embellishments
Pockets are not the only way to embellish sewing projects and make them interesting. Here are a few more for you -