How to add pockets to any pants (or skirts) pattern

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Don’t your kids love pockets? No matter what they are wearing, without pockets to gather stones, shells, snails and other mysterious matter, it just isn’t complete. Not every pattern for pants or skirts comes with pockets though. However, adding pockets isn’t very complicated and for my kids, pockets alone are a guarantee for successful sewing. So, here’s a tutorial on how to add pockets to an existing pattern. I used it for a pair of basic shorts for my little man, but of course you could just as easily add pockets to a skirt.

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First, you need a pattern to add pockets to, of course. Trace the pattern, so you can work with it without running the risk of ruining your good pattern. Most patterns have a seam allowance included in the pattern pieces. I like to mark this seam allowance when I draft into a pattern, to know how large the actual pattern pieces will be. This way, I get a better feeling of the finished size of the pocket. I marked the stitching lines with dashed grey lines on my pattern, by measuring the seam allowance at a few different points and then connecting the dots.

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Now, draw the shape of the pocket you want onto the pattern piece. If you’re unsure about sizing, you can check the measurements of pockets on an existing pair of clothing. Check the size of the pocket entrance, plus height and width of the pocket and draw your desired shape.

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Now trace your new pattern pieces! I used blue marker to trace the lines, then added seam allowance with a red marker. You will need to trace three pattern pieces: first the original pattern piece of the front leg, but minus the entrance of the pocket, second the front part of the pocket, shaped a bit like an L, and third the back part of the pocket, which is almost a rectangle. Cut out your three pattern pieces along the red lines.

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Use your new pattern pieces to cut your fabric. Besides the pattern pieces that we haven’t changed, such as the back of the pants and the waistband, you’ll need to cut each of your new pattern pieces twice. Make sure you cut mirrored images, so that you don’t end up with two right legs… (yes, I did that more than once)

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Pin the front pocket part (the L-shaped part) to the front of the pants, along the opening of the pocket. Right sides together and raw edges of the curved opening aligned. Sew along the curved opening of the pocket with a straight stitch and the seam allowance you used in drafting, 3/8″ for me.

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Trim the seam allowance to prevent bulkiness and make some snips in the curved part. These tiny cuts in the seam allowance of a curved seam make sure the seam allowance will lie flat after turning and pressing. Be careful not to cut through your stitching though!

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Press the pocket piece towards the wrong side of the pants and topstitch along the opening of the pocket.

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Now pin the back pocket piece onto the front pocket piece, right sides together. You only pin the pocket pieces, so two layers of fabric, not through the pants itself.

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Stitch back pocket piece onto front pocket piece along the long curved sides, as pictured above. Finish the seam allowance with serger or zigzag.

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I like to neatly align all three layers and zigzag or baste right along the outer edge at the side seam and at the top, to keep all layers in place when I continue sewing.

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Now continue sewing your pants or skirt, as usual. Just use this front pattern piece with pocket as you would use the regular pocket-less pattern.

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Now there’s a pair of shorts ready to go on adventures!

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