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Free Hands: How to Sew a Simple Side Seam Pocket

Pockets add so much functionality to a garment. Have you ever thought your favorite party dress would just be so much better if it had pockets to stash your lip gloss and cell phone?

Hand Showing Pocket in Garment on Measuring Table

When you’re in the midst of sewing garments, it’s easy to incorporate a pocket into your construction. But the really good news is that it’s also super simple to add pockets in the side seam of any garment — even garments you’ve purchased off the rack — just get out your seam ripper!

Here’s how to sew a pocket:

Fabric Cut into a Pocket, Pinned

Step 1:

Fold your fabric in half and cut two pocket bag pieces.

Note: If you’re not using a pattern, you can easily draft a pattern yourself. The shape you are going for is slightly teardrop, but with one straight side. I did a Google search for a teardrop shape and then printed it out, but you can also freehand it. Just make sure it’s big enough to fit your hand and add a ½” seam allowance on all sides.

Although you can certainly make your pocket out of the same fabric as your garment (unless it’s super bulky), this is also a great time to use up scraps of fabric or play around with color and add something unexpected. If done correctly, the inside of the pocket design shouldn’t show when you’re wearing the garment.

Hand Demonstrating Finding Pocket Placement in Garment

Step 2:

Mark the pocket placement on the front and back pieces of your garment with a notch or chalk mark. This is where the top of the pocket will sit. If you’re adding the pocket to an existing garment, it’s a good idea to try the garment on and use a mirror to determine where the pockets should be.

Pocket Fabric Pinned to Garment

Step 3:

Take one of the pocket bag pieces and place it, right sides together, on your garment. Match the straight side of the pocket to the garment and the top of the pocket to the notch and pin in place. Repeat with the other pocket piece.

Pocket Fabric Sewn on Garment

Step 4:

Stitch the pocket into place with a ⅜” seam allowance. Using a slightly smaller seam allowance ensures that the pocket won’t show when the garment is being worn.

Pocket Sewn onto Garment, View of Inside of Pocket

Step 5:

Turn the pocket pieces out and press.

Step 6:

Place the right sides of your garment together, with the pocket pieces turned away from the garment. Pin the side seams together and around the pocket pieces.

Pocket Sewn into Garment, Seams Showing

Step 7:

Sew the side seam as usual, following along the curve of the pocket.

Finished Pocket in Garment

Step 8:

Press the side seams of your garment toward the front and turn the garment right side out. Your pocket should lay neatly inside. Finish the seams of the garment and pocket.

Want to learn more?

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I thought you were going to show us putting a pocket into ready made pants, not easily accessible cut pieces of fabric. It is a different story trying to actually put pocket into pants with seams and waistbands.


why can’t you just use a seam ripper to open that seam and add the pocket?


I don’t know how many times I’ve wondered if I could do this. Even going through it all in my mind but just never thought I could pull it off. This is something I am definitely going to try. Thanks for posting this!!


As far as matching colors go I think that would depend on what I was putting them in. Kinda like match it if it’s satin & add a splash to denim.


Thank you this is a great thing to have will be saving this

Abdul Fathweem

hope you enjoy your pocket mate.

Wendy Nickelsen

Great and easy tutorial.

Wendy Nickelsen

Great and easy tutorial.


Can’t never did anything. I have been adding pockets to RTW for several years without any problems.


Thank you! I’m new to sewing and have been struggling to get my head around this, this is the first tutorial that has made sense to me!

kemeja wanita

Linen is made from tthe stack of the flax planht and has long lazsting fibres.
Smaller on the top and bigger on the bogtom defines this body type.
Now a day a lot of universities are fulfilling the demand by offering these types of courses.The added
advantage iss that while dealing wwith staffs that understand the requirements, one willl acquire useful tis and suggeestions onn style, fashion and latest trends which look best on them.


Good tutorial. One other detail that would be helpful is a suggestion for how wide the pocket opening should be. Personal adjustments can be made, but it would be nice to know an average starting point.

Vernadine McAlpine

Need to be able to retrieve what you’ve put in the pocket. measure your hand palm flat on ruler including thumb , add 1/2 inch , about 4 1/2 inches is a good start. Also make pocket long enough for phone or lip-gloss etc.


Thanks for sharing. You made it so easy. Once again, thanks.


how do you suggest finishing the seams, particularly the seam created when sewing the pocket pieces onto the main piece.


How do I sew the pocket to the side seam when the side seam is curved? Do I align the edges and sew a seam that follows the side curve? This might twist the pocket so it does not lie flat. Do I just make the side straight where the pocket attaches? Help!

Francisca Waireri

After going through the explanations, I feel more inspired to go ahead and try inserting a pocket in an old dress for an initial experiment. I will give a feedback on my encounter ASAP. Thanks for the clear illustrations.


I like the way you did this! This is how I learned how to do it, however I am making some robes for a wedding a Vogue pattern and they have me so confused as to how they are doing it! The first one I had to rip out and do it the way I thought it should go and it worked but it did not work how they said to do it they left our steps on the back side. They did a french seem on them and they had a notched side for you to sew to the seem and they didn’t say to clip the back pocket no where did it do that and it wasn’t working to not do that!


Thank you so very much. I did the wrong thing yesterday and now I must use my seam ripper. Anyway, mistakes are good. They help us to gain experience…


This was great. It would be great if the team at Craftsy could add or expand on this tutorial for adding a pocket and zipper in the side seam simultaneously.


Able to easily sew pockets into a dress based on this tutorial. Thanks!!


I just used this for a current dress project. Thanks!


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