28 May 2012

Tutorial: Add In-Seam Pockets to a Dress

It’s finally warm and sunny outside, which means that I have ample opportunities and a not-so-subtle excuse to wear my summer dresses. And, of course, to go buy some more. However, I’m always so distraught to rediscover that the majority of my lovely summer-wear lacks any pockets. I’m a pocket girl, and I can’t imagine not being able to slip my phone, keys, chapstick, and/or wallet into my pockets and run out the door. 
A purse/bag has its place, but 1) I like knowing that my most important items are closest to me, and that 2) I don’t need a purse to accompany me everywhere I go. For instance, I’m a college student, and that means I carry a heavy backpack around. I often leave my backpack in study rooms, classrooms, and other places for a while to go get some campus food, visit the computer lab, etc. Therefore, I need somewhere to store at least my phone, money, and school ID. Pockets are really a wonderful solution for this! Why don’t all dresses come with pockets? Beats me. I added my own in-seam pockets to my first summer dress of the year, and wrote a tutorial for anyone else who wants to do the same:

In-seam pockets are great for a few reasons:
  1. They are essentially invisible because they lie on the seam of the dress.
  2. The work needed to add these in is practically minimal.
  3. You are only restricted by the size of your dress as far as how large you want to make your pockets.
  4. Pockets in a dress! It’s like bacon for dessert.
I made mine big enough to very comfortably fit my cellphone and a wallet on the other side with room for small extra things. And because they are in-seam pockets, you can basically choose whatever color/pattern of fabric to line your pockets with, because they will rarely be seen. I still decided on a muted, white fabric so that no attention is drawn to the insides of my pockets just in case....

See how much room there is in there? Large pockets are just so much more practical.

Ready to get started?




  • Scissors
  • Fabric for pocket lining
  • Fabric Marker or Tailor’s Chalk
  • Sewing Pins
  • Seam Ripper (craft knife or scissors can be substituted)
  • Sewing Machine (with thread)

1. Decide how big you want your pockets to be, and cut 4 from your fabric of choice (2 from the right side, 2 from the wrong side)

I drew my pocket pattern piece from an existing pocket I love. You can download the pattern I used here:Pocket Piece

You can also find/make your own pattern piece. Keep in mind that the actual finished size will be smaller because of seam allowances, so be sure to add an inch or two all around to however big you want your pockets to be.

Cut a front and back side of the piece for each pocket. You will end up with 4 pieces. I used a thinner cotton material, but if you want your pockets to be more resilient, be sure to use a thicker fabric.


2. Mark where to place your pockets

Use a fabric marker or tailor’s chalk to mark off the placement of your pockets. It helps to mark the pocket placement while wearing your garment. Get a good feel for where your hands would naturally migrate to locate a pocket, and mark this with a line.

Take off your dress/skirt, fold it in half and make sure the marks line up so that both left and right pockets will sit evenly. 

The lines you mark need to be just barely larger than the height of the straight line of the pocket piece. For my pockets, this meant that I marked off just larger than 8-inch lines.


3. Rip the seams

Use a seam ripper or craft knife to rip the seams right along the lines you marked off for the pocket placements. 

The length you seam-rip should be barely larger than the height of the straight line on the pocket piece (my pocket line height was 8 inches, so I ripped 8.25 inches).


4. Pin the pockets to the dress and sew them on

Pin the straight edge of one of the pocket pieces to the front edge piece of the dress with right sides facing. Do the same for the back edge piece of the dress.
Sew the pocket pieces to the dress by sewing in a straight line next to the straight edges of the pieces. I used a seam allowance of 1/2”. Use the dotted lines in the image below as a reference. Don’t forget to lock your stitches in by backstitching at the beginning and end of the lines.

I skipped this brief step, but I suggest that you press your seam allowances toward the pocket, and then press the pockets away from the dress. This will help them sit flat and inside your dress.


5. Push the pocket pieces to the inside of the dress and turn the dress inside-out

Push both of the pocket pieces to the inside of the dress.

Turn the dress inside-out.


6. Align the pocket pieces together and pin with right sides facing

Now that the dress is turned inside-out, align the pocket pieces together and make sure that the right sides are facing.

Pin the pocket pieces together.


7. Sew along the seam

Starting slightly above where you started seam ripping, sew along the original seam of the dress, then around the pocket, and back down the remaining seam of the dress slightly past where the seam was ripped. Sew this in one continuous line, and backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam. I used a 1/2” seam allowance.

If you need to, go slowly around the curves of the pocket to help keep an even line.


8. Finish the other pocket the same way, then iron the pockets to the front

If you haven’t already done so, go back and add the other pocket on using the same instructions.

Working on the inside of the garment still, use an iron to press the pockets to the front of the dress. This will make it so that the pockets will not have a tendency to fall toward the back of the dress since they are sitting in the seam. 

9. Turn your dress right-side out and ENJOY!

Go ahead and enjoy your pocketed garment! While you’re at it, just go ahead and do it to the rest of your closet as well. I know I will….


  1. Thanks for all the pictures!!! This is really helpful!

  2. Good stuff. Thanks for the tutorial, the pictures are very helpful. Been looking for this to add pockets to my pajama pants. Thanks!

  3. Thank you for the tutorial and helpful photos, I will be adding pockets to everything now!

  4. OMG! You are my hero! I will now be hovered over my sewing machine all weekend adding pockets to EVERY skirt/dress I own!

  5. Thank you I thought I had to buy the pockets but now I can make them myself! Thanks!

  6. this was a fabulous help to me...i will be adding these pockets to everything now. brilliant...thank you. hope that you have the loveliest day and an amazing weekend.

  7. I love it! I often wish that some of my garments had pockets! I'm so doing this to my favorite tops!

  8. You are my hero!! I'm literally buying a sewing machine just so I can do this to my summer dresses.

  9. So easy to stitch pocket is possible for me . i can do it very easily now

  10. """Every fashion-loving lady has the moment of exciting while wearing straight dress
    .The dress make the lady more beautiful in anytime. You are really good at discovering fashion.It is hard to find the fashion and budget dress.I found the cool website Gearbest sexy dress up is fashion and good.you can click to have a look.

  11. I'm attempting to make a maxi dress with pockets, and I intend to only have one seam. Have you attempted making a pocket where there isn't a seam? Any ideas, tips?

  12. This is great - do you have any insight for using stretchy fabric vs. not stretchy? Is it ok to mix stretchy and non-stretchy fabric?

    1. Oh, also, if it's possible to put up your pattern on a platform that doesn't require credit card info before downloading that would be awesome!

  13. Thanks for this article very helpful. thanks.

  14. Thank you so much! You made it so clear by using two types of cloth that both have right and wrong sides THANK YOU!!!!

  15. The shop online have all kinds of dress on sale www.haoyii.com