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Adding Hidden Side Pockets to Anything (skirt, pants, shorts, etc.)


A friend asked me a few weeks ago how to add side pockets into a skirt that she had. I tried explaining in words…..but I could tell the verbal explanation just wasn’t making sense. It was sounding way more complicated than it needed to be.  I could see that if I had fabric in my hands to show her, she’d be able to see just how simple it really was.


So, I figured there may be others out there as well, who would like to see the simplicity of adding in basic side-seam pockets.  Because really, you’ll love how easy they really are.





You’re going to especially LOVE this if you’re one who feels lost without a simple little pocket to drop in some chapstick, a few tissues, or maybe a cell phone.




Elli didn’t really NEED pockets in this skirt (she’s not necessarily a “pocket” kinda girl) but it was just easier to show you in small form.  (And she has like 39 skirts to choose from, haha…… it was easier this way.)




But then, Elli decided she liked having a place to put her little hands.  And her “treasures”.  (Because the only other pockets are on her jeans…….and she said those are “too tight” on her hands.)  And, HA, now she likes pockets………go figure. ;)




As long as your skirt, pants, shorts, capri’s, culotte’s, gauchos (are you catching my drift??) have side seams, you can add in these simple set of pockets in NO TIME AT ALL!




Ready to insert a pair of pockets??


First of all, cut out a piece of paper that will serve as your pattern piece that is in a pocket shape.  Remember, the bottom of the shape falls down deeper, to keep stuff down in there……..while the top part is angled down and out of the way.  It’s kind of like a tear drop shape with a straight side.  Or you could make it square at the bottom….both work.  If you have a hard time eyeballing a shape and making it work, try tracing around a pocket in an existing skirt/pants.


Then, lay your pattern piece down on your skirt/pants and see if it looks like the right size.  It may also help to try on your article of clothing and the place the pocket pattern piece in position and imagine sliding your hand down in there.  Is it big enough?  Too big?  Wide enough?  Etc.?  Adjust if needed.


Then fold your fabric in half (so that wrong sides are together, or right side together….doesn’t matter which) and cut around your pattern piece, adding a 1/4 inch all the way around (for seam allowance).


Then you should have 2 identical pieces that are mirror image to each other.  This will be enough for one pocket.  Repeat and cut out 2 more for your other pocket.


Then, hold our pattern piece up to your skirt/pants and decide where you want your pocket to be.  (Ooops, my pattern piece is upside down in the photo but I just needed the length of that straight edge.)  Then place pins at the top and bottom of that straight edge… mark where your pocket will sit.  (Trying on your clothing may help with determining placement as well.)


Use a seam ripper to pick open the seam between the two pins.


Adjust your pins so that they’re out of the way (but still marking the top and bottom of pocket placement) and continue ripping open the seam a bit past each pin.  You’ll need some room to insert those pockets, so maybe up to an inch past each pin?  Whatever works best.  (And keep those pins in there so you’ll know right where to place those pockets.)


Now, turn the skirt inside out and place the “right” side of one of the pocket pieces down and line up the straight edge with the side seam you just opened up.  See how the pocket is laying over on the right side of the opening?  But it’s actually lining up with the opened edge of the fabric from the left side??  (Use the pics below to determine which pocket piece to attach to which side.  That can get a little confusing…..but hopefully the pics will help.)


The fabrics are pinned together with right sides together and the pocket is centered between those two pins that you first placed there to mark placement.  See that?


Here’s another peek if you lift up the pocket piece.


Now, sew the pocket to the skirt, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  However, if your side seam was more or less, you won’t use a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Just match whatever your skirt/pants has……so that the side seams will match up correctly once the pocket is in.  (I forgot to do this and had to go back and do it later…….but zig-zag these raw edge together.)


Then repeat with the other half of the pocket……inserting it on the other side seam opening.  Just be sure that the top and bottom of each pocket piece are lined up with each other.  (And again, zig-zag the raw edges of where you sewed the pocket to the skirt, just like I mentioned above…….but forgot to do myself.)


Then, press the two pocket pieces together matching them up evenly.  Starting at the top of the pocket, line up the pocket pieces, right at the top where the seams are where they were attached to the skirt.  Pin in place.  (This just holds them together evenly……if you don’t need the pin, skip it.)


Then, fold up the side seams of the skirt, over the pocket.  Make sure they’re flapped up on both sides.


Keep it pinched in place and then slide out the pin that was there in the last step and then re-insert it so that it now holds the pockets nice and even AND keeps the flaps up from the fabric from the skirt.


Then, do the same thing at the other end of the pocket pieces where they meet the skirts’ side seam.  And then add pins all the way around the pocket pieces…….keeping them together evenly.


Now, start above the pocket (left side of pic below), and ABOVE where you ripped open the seam and back-stitch a few times to re-secure that side seam.  Then begin sewing right along where that side seam was (and use the same seam allowance) and then begin sewing past where the pocket begins, by a 1/4 inch.  Then keep your needle down, lift up your presser foot, adjust your fabric, and then begin sewing all the way around the pocket……using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Do the same thing at the other end……sewing past the point where you opened up the side seam and back-stitch several times to secure it closed.  Then, zig-zag around the pocket edges to keep them from fraying.


Now, turn your skirt/pants right side out and iron flat……..making this pocket more or less, invisible.





That wasn’t too bad, was it?  Now go and add pockets to whatever you’d like.


Good luck!




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Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. Sue Brown says:

    I have had it with women's clothing not having pockets. My mother would make my clothes and would put what she called secret pockets in my dresses. .I am glad to find a way to add "secret pockets" to ready made clothing. Thank you.

  2. Chris says:

    I found your article after looking for a better way to carry my phone – not a fan of the front or back pocket approach. I'm going to try this on some khaki's and make the pocket in the back middle ( carry my phone there but if it slides down, you look a bit weird trying to fish it out lol).

    Thank you!

  3. Pingback: 7 Unique Ways to Use Your Monogram at Your Wedding – FamilyAid
  4. Ayelén says:

    You’re an awesome teacher! I can’t wait to add pockets to everything. Thanks!

  5. TRFERF says:

    I have an urgent question. If I want to add pockets to a dress that has side seams but is already fully lined (with the lining attached) what would you recommend? Should I open up the lining from the bottom hem? Or should I fiddle with the seam at the side only? Should I add the pocket so that it is inside the lining (attaching it to only the outer layer of cloth) or should I create the slit for the pocket on both the lining and the outer fabric (the lining has the same side seam)?

    I am coming up with so many clunky time consuming solutions, but didn’t want to reinvent the wheel if you had an elegant solution, or more familiarity with altering lined garments.

    Please help!! I’ve already used your tutorial several times on more simple garments (skirts and dresses), so I’m fairly quick at it at this point. Thank you for the great, easy to follow directions. I just need some advice on lined dresses.


  6. Katie says:

    Oh my goodness! I am putting pockets on everything!

  7. madge says:

    Thank you so much I love putting pockets in my PJ and cover ups thanks sooooo much! Great Job

  8. Janet Daly says:

    I won’t buy a garment without a pocket any more. I was about to give away some capri’s because they don’t have a pocket, but now I’ll try this first, I also have a bathing suit cover up that could use a pocket. You make it look fairly easy to do. Will give it a try. Thanks.

  9. Jody Raines says:

    Love this idea to add hidden pockets. When I am in the show ring handling my Champion Belgian Malinois, having pockets is definitely handy for holding treats. I will be adding pockets to my skirt suits – and I think that if I shorten them, there may be enough material to create the pocket too!

    Very helpful article with some excellent pictures making it easy to follow. Thank you!

  10. aynge says:

    I have passed on SO MANY pants simply because they do not have pockets. It’s a deal breaker. Now I can buy those cute pants and add my own pockets. Deep ones! I hate those stupid shallow ones! What’s the point if you can’t even put anything in them? Thanks!

  11. Jojo says:

    Thanks so much for this.

    Not really a sewing girl! But excited at the possibilities!!

    Thanks :)

  12. Kathy Morris says:

    THANK YOU< THANK YOU< THANK YOU. i havent put in side pockets since home economics! i thought i could remember how to do it , but i did it backwards the first time and the second time (same pocket) i sewed it down on the wrong side of the dress!! talk about careful ripping.

    your article was amazing! the second dress will be a breeze to do. so THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

  13. DAISY says:

    Hi Ashley I, Just finished my hidden pockets in pajamas . Looks great ,thank you for tutorial.

  14. Chris Oram says:

    Thankyou SO much for this! Step by tiny step, just what I needed. Only went wrong once which is really really good for me…

  15. Fiftarina says:

    Thank you for the great tutorial. I have been intending to add pockets to my skirts, but don’t know how to start. You tutorial makes it easy!

  16. jane says:

    i seem to be the only person who can’t do this. In instruction [pcture no 7 you say that the right side of the pocket is on the right side of the skirt. In fact the picture shows the right side of the pocket against the WRONG side of the skirt. Please help!

  17. nia says:

    i woud like to share it..thanks for great tutorial!!

  18. ain says:

    hey thanks for the tutorial…i would like to share it on my blog….i found this tuto really useful ^-^ ..well actually i want to add pocket to my trousers XDD

  19. mary says:

    so many comments, didn’t think you needed another one, but here it is, great tutorial, thanks.

  20. Barbara says:

    My friend has a dirndl (German) skirt that does not have side seams. There are wide pleats that I thought I could slit to add a hidden pocket. What type of material should I use for the pocket? The skirt is black so I thought black for the pocket also.

  21. Ellen says:

    Great tutorial. It was so helpful with ALL the pictures. :) In Christ, Ellen

  22. Erin Smith says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I bought a skirt from the salvation army that just needs pockets =P This is a perfect explanation

  23. Laura Altes says:

    Now, I’d like to see a tutorial on adding an “in the waistband” hidden slit style pocket to my slacks. I’ve purchased some from JCP that have this style pocket and it’s just perfect for hiding an iphone!. (and I’m lazy and I want someone else to make a cool tutorial about it!) Thanks for your pocket tutorial, it’s great!

  24. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for this tutorial. It is really a lot easier then I thought. Can always use some extra pockets.

  25. Michele R says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial! I am a beginner at sewing, and I was able to add pockets to three skirts following your terrific instructions and photos. I love pockets, so I really appreciate this!

  26. zoe says:

    Thank you for your tutorial, I’ve just used it to add pockets to my daughter’s new handmade coat I had finished when my little girl requested pockets. It’s easy to follow and has great photos.

    Zoe xx

  27. Mary says:

    That’s a great tutorial. To sort of answer the questions about putting one of these pockets in a garment with no side seam….I’ve done that also. I recommend a strip of iron-on stabilizer (I used about 1 1/2″ wide) centered on the place you plan on cutting the slit. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same procedure.

  28. tunmise says:

    Hello. I’m a new visitor to your site and you’ve already helped tremendously. I’d like to know if one can add pockets to a skirt that has no side seams. I just sewed a pleated skirt but put in no side seams, only a zipper at the back. Can I slit the sides of the skirt (if I iron the sides properly) and add pockets? Will it spoil the beauty of the skirt?

  29. jo says:

    this was way more complicated than it really it

  30. Zanne says:

    Thank you so much for the visuals! Hadn’t sewn in years, and couldn’t recall how this went.

    Adding pockets into an item without seams (and therefore seam allowance to work with) will be a bit like adding a dart. If the item is loose enough, the pocket and top/bottom ‘darted’ areas around the pocket shouldn’t be a terrible issue.

    Pocket might gap a bit more than one inserted at a seam, and the ‘dart’/angled pocket starts might change the fit more than expected. Mark the shorts while he is wearing them, so you know how big the pocket part of the slit needs to be, and then cut a good bit beyond in both directions.

    It might fit/look better to simply add a seam in where you want the pocket, or a ‘dart’ that is from waist to past the bottom of the pocket, and work from there. (This is assuming it’s a really loose item.) I’ve done this in gathered full skirts and the ‘darts’ weren’t really all that visible.

  31. Jen says:

    So my Brother in Law wants me to add pockets to a pair of shorts that don’t actually have a side seam to remove… what is you recommendation on what to do to be able to add the pockets? Do I just cut a slit?

    1. jax says:

      I would make patch pockets instead, something like a cargo pocket might work. Unless you want to try adding a welt pocket, but that is slightly more complicated.

  32. karen says:

    Thank you so much! I was making a jacket for my granddaughter and I realized the jacket had no pockets and wanted to add some. They were so easy to insert.!

  33. K T says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! I was working on a Goodwill upcycle and decided that my “new dress” needed pockets! Your tutorial was detailed and the pictures were very helpful. I’ll be a regular visitor in the future.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I had a pattern I loved but the directions were not there anymore. I hadnt sewed for me in years! I wanted pockets and could not even remember how to do them. I read a book and it was so confusing– so I thought go online! Theres always neat things on here to help! Wow, thanks to you I remember it all clearly now! Thank you so much for your time. I m sure it helps many even if they dont take time to thank you!!

  35. Brandhyze says:

    Thanks so much for this detailed tutorial…..I needed to see a visual because I want to add pockets to a shift dress I’m creating. Awesome job!


  36. Christine at Quilters Diary says:

    Thanks for a wonderful tutorial. I am making my daughter some pajama pants and this has given me the courage to try putting pockets in them. I hate that most women’s clothes don’t have any pockets!

  37. Lauren C says:

    Thank you so much! I always want pockets in all my dresses/skirts. Thank you for detailed description of how to do it!

  38. Mary says:

    My “how-to-add side pockets” search led me here. Perfect!!!!

  39. Olivia Rosen says:

    I love this skirt!! So cute! And the pockets are great! Could you do a tutorial for how to make this skirt (with or without pockets)?

  40. Amy says:

    I love all of your tutorials! They’re so easy to follow.

    So I just made a skirt out of a maxi dress and decided to add pockets. I followed your instructions but I cut me pockets too small so I can’t out my hands in them! Haha. Thankfully, I only attached one. I will have to fix it tomorrow.

    Thanks for making sewing so easy! I’m very new to it!

  41. Alison says:

    Thank you! My new favourite denim dress is now even better with its pockets.

  42. Paige says:

    Thanks this was really helpful today!

  43. Kristina Noall says:

    I had to tell you–I did it!!! I just added a pocket to a white skirt that really needed a pocket, if you get my drift. I’m so proud of myself right now! Thanks for this! (And I love that you said “hot dog!” up there. You’re so cute. :))

  44. ruby says:

    Ashley love this tutorial, so happy I found it. Been wanting to know how to add pockets!!!

  45. Natasha Rodricks-Naidu says:

    u’re fabulous at explaining both, complicated and simple things. thank you.

  46. Emily says:

    I used this in my first project adding pockets and can’t wait to add pockets to every item I can. Great tutorial!!!!

  47. Jacquelyn says:

    This would be so super cute on some shirts too! And EVERY DRESS I own…I LOVE pockets, I’m the one who is so excited for like a week when I discover a dress I’m wearing has them lol!

    Thanks for the tutorial, I’m self taught & not good at all…but I might even be able to do this!

  48. Melissa R. says:

    Oh my gosh this was SO helpful! Thank you for taking the time to post this!

  49. Heidi says:

    This is a super great tutorial…thanks so much for sharing! I’ve been sewing a few skirts this week…now I need to add some pockets.

  50. Tabitha says:

    Wow, this is so much simpler than I was making it. Next step: pockets everywhere! (If by koolots you mean those flowy skirtlike shorts, though, it’s spelled “culottes”. Not that the spelling makes them any less of a target for this tutorial!)

    1. Ashley says:

      Ha…….I had no idea how to spell it. I just typed Koolots into google to see if some sort of spelling would come up and my spelling came up with a definition. So I thought, “Hot Dog! I actually spelled it right!” Ha……..but thanks, I’ll go and change that!! :) -Ashley

  51. Brittany K. says:

    I can’t wait to try this!! It’s really simple and straightforward, but it’s still nice to have a guide to all the little things (placement, direction, where to sew, etc.) that can go wrong along the way. Thanks for laying it all out!

  52. Aly says:

    Thank you so much! My husband wears scrubs at work and has a couple pairs that dont have pockets in the pants. Since he doesn’t carry anything to put his wallet and keys in he hates to wear those. Now he wont have to complain about those anymore.

  53. Anonymous says:

    great tutorial, definately going to try that!

  54. Hana Maroo says:

    Hey ashley.. thanks!!! i’m gonna do it for myself. it’s easy n nice. cheers

  55. Kelly says:

    Funny that you posted this today, because I just added pockets to some pants this same way. But do you know how to get them to stay pointing forward? Mine keep pointing to the back even though I sewed them to the front seam allowances to avoid that… If you have tips for that I’d appreciate it!

  56. Kristina Noall says:

    How do you do that?? I have totally wondered how to add pockets like this, and was SO excited to read this post! (Seriously, when I was nine months pregnant and wearing my husband’s pajama pants, I was going, “So unfair! Why can’t women’s pants have pockets like these?!”) You rock, as usual. :)

  57. nisha says:

    Wow… that was so amazingly simple. Thankyou for the tut !

  58. Emily says:

    Love the contrasting fabric you chose. Great tutorial! Did you make the skirt too?

  59. Tatiana says:

    Very useful lesson. Now sew pants for my daughter, she loves pockets ^ _ ^

  60. Ashley says:

    I was just doing this yesterday for a pair of shorts for one of my boys! I did pretty much everything wrong! lol Wish I had have seen this before I started. Would have made life much easier. :-) Great explanation!!

  61. Anonymous says:

    These pockets would be even easier to add in if you’re making the garment yourself :-)

  62. Alice S. says:

    Super cool tute! Love the pink contrasting fabric with the grey. Getting ready to make some summer shorts, skirts and gauchos for my girls and might try the pocket on some of those. Also wanting to try a skirt with a waistband (without elastic) and a [gasp] buttonhole! For some reason, that seems like it’ll be so hard. Do you have a tutorial for buttonholes, or is it so easy to do? P.S. A friend and I are getting together on Monday to make your zipper pillows.

  63. Cindy {crazloucreations} says:

    I don’t sew, but I tell you–I’m a HUGE fan of hidden pockets! I have 7 months pregnant for my BFF’s wedding and our bridesmaid’s dresses had hidden pockets–it was amazing! That was by far my favorite dress–too bad it was 5 sizes bigger than I normally wear thanks to my little guy, but it was all because of the pockets! Seriously–it came down to 2 dresses and another bridesmaid and I were like “look–these have pockets–how cool is that–this is THE dress!”
    What fun!

  64. Tiffany says:

    Awesome!!! Thanks!! I love that skirt! I need to learn to make one like it. All I know so far is the elastic waist kind.

  65. fitri says:

    Hi Ashley, thank you for the tutorial – cant wait to make for my daughter. I love your grey polkadot fabrics , may I know where you get those ? I live in Midwest :)

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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