Pocket Series: Side Seam Pockets

The in-seam pocket, or pocket lining, as it is often called, is perfect to add to the side seam of a pocket-less skirt or dress. You can add this pocket to any pattern, or garment in your wardrobe, that has a side seam.

Be sure to see how to make other pocket options on our Pocket Series blogs. Have a look here to learn how:  Pocket Series: Make a Welt Pocket and Pocket Series: Patch Pocket.

Choose a pocket fabric lining much like the fabric of the garment you are adding the pockets, or a lighter-weight fabric. A lightweight woven cotton will typically work well as a pocket lining for any woven fabric. Silk pocket linings are particularly nice in wool garments. If using a knit fabric, stick with a knit fabric for the pocket lining too. The idea is to choose a fabric that is similar in weight to the fabric the garment is made of, but have some fun and use a pocket fabric that might add a bit of the unexpected.

Using a tape measure and decide how far down you want the the pocket to sit below the waistline. This measurement should be situated so that your hand finds a natural feeling entry into the pocket. If the pocket is placed too high or too low it will feel awkward.

You can draw out your pocket shape freehand, or use our downloadable pocket (link at the bottom of the blog).  Cut four pieces to make the front and back of the pocket bag - two for each side of the garment.  

Using your predetermined pocket-placement measurement, mark the placement for the top and bottom edge of your pocket on the side seams of the front and back of your garment.  Align and pin one pocket piece to the front and back of the garment on each side of the garment. With right sides together stitch the straight edges of the pocket to the garment edge, matching the top and bottom markings for the opening, using a 1/4 inch (6mm) seam allowance. Using a 1/4 inch (6mm) seam allowance keeps the seam from being too visible, because it sits further inside the pocket.

Illustration showing pocket sewn with 14 inch seam allowance.

Press each pocket piece to the outside, then press the seam allowance toward the pocket.  You can understitch the pocket seam here if you want.  It can help prevent the pocket bag from coming out when being worn.  To understitch, stitch the pocket to the seam allowance just on the inside of the seam.  

Now with both pocket pieces sewn and pressed in place, place front and back of garment together (right sides together), and stitch the seams of the garment above and below the pocket. Use the seam allowance that already exists in your garment or the seam allowance indicated on the pattern.

Illustration showing the 1/2 inch side seams being sewn.

Stitch the pocket pieces together using 1/2 inch (13mm) seam allowance or the measurement specified, being sure the straight edges and notches align. Clip the back seam allowance at the corners where the garment and pocket seams meet. Press the pocket toward the front.

Trim the the pocket seam allowance if you like. Depending on the weight of your fabric, will in part determine how or if, to finish the raw pocket edges. The idea is for the pocket to not be visible and create a smooth finish that will not be visible from the right side of the garment. Using a pinking shear finish or trimming the pocket seam allowance will suffice in most cases.

Illustration showing the sewing of the 1/2 inch seam allowance of the pocket bag
You are welcome to down load the free PDF pocket pattern below. Use this side seam pocket pattern as is, or adjust as you like.
Free pdf pattern for a side seam pocket

Remember when making your next project that nearly all side seams are made better with pockets!