Inseam pockets

Pockets are essential for me these days. Inseam pockets are the kind I use the most but it’s always bothered me how most patterns instruct you to sew them. Generally it goes: sew a pocket piece right sides together to each of the body front and back pieces, press them outwards, lay the front on the back and sew up the side seam of the garment making a detour around the edges of the pocket bag. It’s simple to construct but I’ve always found it a pain in the neck to finish the seam edges neatly afterwards. And if I finish the pocket edges before sewing the pocket I have to overlock around all four pocket pieces individually and that’s really tedious. If you look at inseam pockets in RTW they aren’t constructed like that.

Recently I’ve been using a method I came across in Burda instead. It’s harder to explain but I think it gives a nicer finish and it also means you can put a zip alongside the pocket or make French seams fairly easily. I keep forgetting the steps so I took some photos and am writing it all down here so I can refer to it later.

Sew the front pocket piece right sides together with the front dress piece. Start sewing at the raw edges of the fabric level with one end of the pocket opening. Sew inwards at right angles to the raw edge until you get to the side seam seam line. Pivot, sew along the seam line, and at the end of the opening pivot again and sew out to the raw edge. The stitching should look like three sides of a rectangle with the fabric edge being the fourth side. Clip into the corners of the rectangle.

Close up shot of a clipped into corner.

Turn the pocket to the inside and press. Here’s what it looks like from the wrong side of the dress.

And here’s the right side.

Finish the seam that was just sewn. In this picture the little triangular flaps you get from clipping into the corners are just about visible at the two ends of the seam. I’ll come back to those in a minute. This picture also shows a strip of interfacing. I always fuse a bit along the pocket opening edge on the dress front piece.

Understitch the seam.

Now place the back pocket piece over the front one, right sides together. The wrong side of the back pocket piece will be facing up. Sew just the pocket pieces together around their edges. At the two ends catch in the folded back triangles from the clipped corners.

Finish the edges of the pockets. This can be done by whizzing them through an overlocker.

From the right side it now looks like this.

Baste the pocket bag to the dress seam allowance above and below the opening.

Now the side seams can be constructed as normal, in theory as if the pocket wasn’t there, and finished however one likes.

In practice it’s possible to accidentally sew the pocket shut if you don’t sew very accurately. I find it helps to rub a piece of chalk over the back of the pocket opening on the wrong side of the dress front before sewing. It gives a very clear outline of the pocket edges so I know where to aim.

After I made the samples above I sewed a Vogue designer pattern which has yet another method for doing the inseam pockets, where the pocket bag ends up French seamed and the side seam is bound. I didn’t love the method but it’s a useful variant to add to the toolbox. I’d be interested to know about other methods too.

23 thoughts on “Inseam pockets

  1. Haa. This is the way I construct a hidden coin /credit card pocket hanging from the waist seam (in straight skirts where side seam pockets would be too bulky). Never thought of doing side seam pockets like this, but it does make it much easier to do seam finish. Like you said, great care is needed not to catch pocket front in side seam but still sew right up against it. Rubbing chalk over it is a good idea. Pressing on wrong side would probably do the same thing.

  2. This is how a sew all my pockets…I learned this method on the soho coat at sewing workshop

  3. Thanks for showing this method. Was this shown for one of the sewing lession/sewing course patterns. Trying to imagine how this would be explained in Burda pattern speak without illustrations!.

  4. Thank you for showing this method – I’ve added it to my tutorials bookmarks.

  5. Very neat finish with this method – and not really more difficult than the basic in-seam pocket. Thanks for sharing your photos.

  6. Thanks so much. I have tried befoe to do this method but your instructions were the clearest I have ever followed. I love my pockets and someimes say the H with it and just let them flop. I will be saving these and using forever.
    Sometimes a message just clicks and the “Aha” moment is glorious, This is one of them.
    Again thanks

  7. This makes so much sense! Thanks for posting pictures – it’s something I would probably have generally been confused by in Burda and gone my own way… It will definitely reduce serger time!

  8. That is a brilliant method simple but effective. It would work really well in French seams which is usually where I end up omitting inseam pockets because I can’t get me head around how to keep them!
    Thanks for taking the time to include pictures they make the instructions so clear (I read them without pictures this morning and couldn’t quite envisage what you were doing – I’m such a visual learner).

  9. Catherine, Did my first pockets from your tutorial. Great outcome. Simple but you cleared the fog of why mine never laid flat.Will be using this from now on. Thanks again Pegeth

  10. This is my favorite way of sewing inseam pockets. If anyone has the book “Sew Any Set-In Pocket” by Claire Shaeffer @1994, it is called the Sonia Rykiel Pocket and it is described very thoroughly.

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