Side seam pockets

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Hello everyone!

Here I will show you how to sew a pocket into a side seam. This pocket can be added to anything made with a side seam, like dresses, shirts, shorts, pants and skirts.

My number one advice is (if possible and you know how to do it) to move the side seam a little bit forward, as this type of loose hanging pocket adds a bit of volume, or bulk, inside your garment and most of us don’t want that added right at the side of the hipbone. A side seam moved forward ( let’s say 5cm or 2in) also makes it easier to comfortably get your hand into the pocket.

Before you start, finish your dress ( or whatever you’re making) up until it’s time for the side seams.

If you don’t already have a pocket pattern, my pattern can be downloaded from here,     ( one paper to print only) and use it cut out 4 pieces from the fabric.

When you cut the pocket pieces, don’t forget to match the fabric’s pattern, in this case the plaid. It will not be highly visible, but it’s a nice touch!

The top of the pocket opening is at a comfortable height at 28 cm / 11 in  below the sleeve seam. For a petite size, this may feel too low, in that case just place it a bit higher.

From the top end of the pocket the next mark is 15 cm, or 6 in, further down along the side. This is the pocket opening.


Mark the two points on front and back piece, as well as on all 4 pocket pieces.



Pin all 4 pocket pieces right side to right side, and stopping points on stopping points. It’s between these points you will sew the pockets, and it’s smart to mark the sewing line using a ruler and chalk, or a chalk pen. Sew between the stopping points, and back stitch carefully.


To be able to turn the pocket under you need to make small cuts in the seam allowance of the front.

The clip goes all the way into the seam end points. Use pointy and sharp scissors.

The pockets on the front pieces need to be pressed under, and you can either top stitch them in place ( visible) or under stitch them ( invisible )

But start with edging the seams you just made, I used overlock/serger.


Here you see the understitching on the front, from the inside of the pocket. You sew the seam allowance and pocket together, not including the front piece.


Here’s what top stitching looks like. Here you stitch all the layers together from the visible side. I like to start and stop out in the seam allowance, and turn in a smooth line, to follow the edge of the pocket.

The back piece is pressed flat, with the pocket extending from the side. No stitching is needed.


Time to sew the side seams.

Pin the sides together, carefully matching the stopping points of the opening. The small clips make it possible to sew the sideseam and around the pockets, all in one go.

Whats important is to sew straight until the stopping point, leave the needle down but lift the presser foot, pivot the fabric around, lower the presser foot and keep on sewing in the new direction.

Make sure to stay inside of the clips you did earlier, on the front side.

When the side seams are done, finish the edges in a way that you like. I overlocked/serged the seams together.

The clips make a small gap in the seam allowance, I just serged/overlocked right over this gap.

The pocket is almost finished, but I feel that a side seam pocket always need a bar tack at both ends of the opening. Especially as we have made the small clips in the fabric, it’s more prone to fraying!

There are many ways to make a neat and pretty bar tack, here I’ll show the simplest and most basic!

At the bottom and the top of the opening, I sew a few stitches back and forth a couple of times, across the side seam, through all the layers of the seam allowances and the pockets.

Here’s the place:

And this is what it looks like:


Naturally you can make it with a dense narrow zigzag seam, as on jeans.

A hand sewn arrowhead tack would be awesome too, here’s a tutorial from the Colette blog!

A tack is something I almost always include somewhere in a garment. Being a classic men’s tailor, I guess it’s second nature? As the way to get excellent shape and finish on your sewing usually is to make clips, or small cuts, in the seam allowance, the tacks fill an important role as reinforcement.

They are used to prolong the life of the clothes, and are natural companions to, for example, french seams ( also created to make the garments withstand years of harsh washing methods, including boiling with lye!)

But strangely enough, french seams are all “oohed and ahhed” about, but tacks, not so much. Odd, isn’t it?


So, as a finishing touch, have a look at this handmade beauty! From Tailor Made London!

Tailor made London Bar tack















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