Learn all about the different types of pockets you can use when purchasing or sewing clothing. Pockets are made in many different designs and combinations and have evolved over several centuries to be part of designer outfits and utility clothing alike.
Main Types of Pockets
The patch pocket is a basic pocket design that has evolved into many other variations and may be transformed into a flap pocket. The secretive side pocket is another basic and very common pocket style. These three designs of pockets are the most common styles of pockets. Different additions and creative designs and touches have added to the variety of pockets used in the sewing world today.
Where are Pockets Found?
Everywhere!! Pockets decorate all sorts of outfits and accessories. Jeans have them and men’s wear, skirts, shirts, dresses and even bags have pockets. The list of pocket uses is extensive and endless. Pockets are not purely functional, they are also decorative.
13 Types of Pockets
While I have broken the types of pockets into 13 different categories, it is worth noting that a lot of designers combine styles to create individual and interesting looks.
The patch pocket is the basic pocket. It can be a contrasting color or just top stitched to show it has some style. The patch pocket is seen on shirts and many other fashion styles. It is literally what its name suggests – a patch of fabric sewn to make a pocket. Using different techniques the basic patch pocket can become more decorative and appealing.
The Patch Pocket with a Pleat:
This design allows for a pleat in the center of the pocket. The pleat adds to the design and to the size of the pocket. Extra fabric is included in the pattern and the pleat, an inverted or box pleat, is visible on the outside of the pocket. Sometimes called a bellows pocket or a safari pocket, this pocket is a simple version of the normal patch pocket.
Patch Pockets on Shirts:
The shirt patch pocket is made extra stylish by shaping the tip of the pocket into a triangle. Denim fabric pockets are stitched with a double-needle to add strength and style.
Further Reading: How to Make Patch Pockets
Side Seam Pockets
This pocket is part of the side seam. It is often known as the ‘secret pocket’ because it does not show or have a decorative purpose. The pattern of the item to be sewn will have a pocket piece to cut and sew into the seam.
Further Reading: How to Sew Inseam Pockets
The flap pocket, as the name suggests, is made with a flap that covers the opening of the pocket. Flap pockets are part of suit jackets and the flap is usually rectangular but can also have a pointed or curved bottom. Some flap pockets have a buttonhole and button fastening. Double flap pockets are used in some styles of shirts and jackets but single is also popular.
Flaps may be combined with a patch pocket underneath or a hidden pocket.
Pockets with zippers to close the pocket at the top, or even the side, add a secure pocket closure and some decorative interest at the same time. The zipper can be inserted into the top or side of the normal patch pocket.
Further Reading: How to Sew Zipper Pockets
These pockets are made intentionally to hide or conceal something of importance. Travelers often use concealed pockets for their documents and important travel items to keep them safe. Many men's suit jackets have concealed inside pockets.
Expanding Pockets and Cargo Pockets
Some pockets may have tucks or pleats, folds or gathers, to add volume to their size and allow them to hold more. An accordion pocket is a well known expanding pocket. The pleated sides give more space to the pocket.
Cargo pockets are an expandable pocket with a flap and may be layered with other types of pockets. This pocket is found on the cargo pant design.
Kangaroo pockets are a large pouch type of pocket found on the front of tracksuit tops or as a utility pouch with different divisions for carrying tools. Some jackets may use the kangaroo-style of pocket split in half as the zipper goes through the center of it.
The cowl pocket is a draped style of pocket. Different folds of fabric are draped around the opening of the pocket. The extra fabric for the draping would be part of the pattern cutting to allow for a draped effect round the opening of the pocket.
Slit Pockets or Set in Pockets
The slit pocket shows no pocket on the outside and is usually placed vertically on the garment but can also be horizontal. The opening of the pocket is neatened by the fabric of the pocket that hangs on the inside of the garment.
Welt pockets and jetted pockets are types of set-in pockets.
This pocket is found at the front of pants, jeans or skirts. Slash pockets start at the waist and follow a diagonal line to the side seam. The line may be straight or curved, but will always be cut and sewn at a slant. It is also known as a cutaway pocket or a scoop pocket.
Bias Bound Pockets
The bound pocket uses binding, cut on the bias, to form a secure edge to the opening of the pocket. This is usually part of the slit style of pocket and the slit is bound to give a decorative edge.
Jeans have a variety of different pockets. Different brands of jeans may have their own signature arrangement of pockets to show off their brand names.
Most jeans have patch style pockets, curved side pockets, flap pockets and even a very tiny pocket called a ticket pocket. This was used for holding a train ticket in the days when such things were bought! Nowadays it is more of a decorative tradition for a pair of jeans.
Faux pockets do not open, they are purely for decoration. False pockets in other words.
Types of Pockets - In Conclusion
Pockets are a very common addition to the clothes we wear. They can take the center stage of an outfit or be modestly tucked away in a side seam. Pockets are most useful, attractive and can be just the place for keeping hands warm on a wintry day.
Here are 2 tutorials from my blog on sewing pockets