I love on-seam pockets so much that I could sew one with my eyes closed. Simple, yet extremely functional, on-seam or in-seam pockets (whatever you want to call them) work with almost all garments without altering them aesthetically. As you'll see below, they are also very simple to sew and will elevate just about any design. I like to add my own spin on it by making the pocket bag a contrasting color or print. It's a great way to add character and a pop of color to the garment without overwhelming it!
On-seam pockets are composed of two parts: the underlayer, which is sewn to the front piece of the garment, and an identical layer sewn to the back garment piece. When put together, the two layers form the pocket bag. Conventionally, these two pieces are identical in shape and are the mirror copies of each other. This facilitates the process of cutting and matching them to each seam edge.
The easiest way to draft a sewing pattern for an on-seam pocket is to use your garment's front pattern piece as a guide. Using the seam that the pocket will be sewn into, sketch out the shape of the pocket bag. Mark all the appropriate notches for matching and sewing the pocket pieces later. For a full tutorial on drafting this skirt pocket pattern, check out this tutorial: How To Make A Sewing Pattern For A Skirt On-Seam Pocket. Seeing the pocket pattern being drafted should hopefully help you visualize how each piece fits into the finished clothing item.
For the past few weeks, you've seen glimpses of this lined crop top go through some of its development stages. From a simple sketch to the more complicated sewing process in between, this blouse's construction progressed with minimal hiccups along the way. When all is said and done, it is so rewarding to see everything come together into a garment that fits and functions exactly as I envisioned it. I can certainly attest to that as I got the chance to wear the blouse (paired with a matching skirt to come soon!) at this year's Heart To Heart Gala.
As you go through the video sewalong and the steps below, you'll be able to access related tutorials that give you a detailed look at each process and sewing technique.
Designing And Sketching The Blouse
It all started with a sketch. Or rather, two yards of fabric I came across at the fabric store while browsing for something completely unrelated. I didn't have the design in mind at the time but this blue-gold abstract print reminded me of my undying love for classically full, structured skirts of which you'll see more in the skirt sewing tutorials to come. The medium weight nature of this fabric provided the perfect canvas for finally taking on the project.
For the design development and sketching video, check out: The Start Of A Sewalong- Sketching And Conceptualizing A Two Piece Cocktail Dress.
As is true for many elements in the sewing process, the starting point of drafting a sewing pattern from scratch really depends on you. Mainly, how you like to work, and what basic patterns you have on hand to use for generating the updated patterns. The more basic the original sewing patterns are, the easier it will be to draft the new design (depending on what said design is, of course).
Drafting a Sewing Pattern From Scratch: Where And How To Start
I personally work from a very basic set of patterns called blocks or slopers (in the industry). These are very simple, basic patterns that are form fitted to size (a Medium is usually a good starting point). Conventionally, slopers include darts, a high unaltered neckline and separate matching sleeve patterns. You can then manipulate these basic blocks into whatever design you want either by the slash and spread method or simply generating new seamlines from the existing ones.
When I first started sewing years ago, I was completely perplexed (and intimidated) by the idea of finishing and sealing lining edges. You know the lining style I'm talking about? The kind where the lining is sewn shut without a visible sign or obvious opening. It used to confuse me to no end! Fast forward 10 years later, and sewing lining has become one of my favorite finishes due to both its simplicity and clean quality. Although this tutorial deals specifically with enclosing and sealing lining edges into a zippered blouse, it is imperative to first learn how to attach the lining itself. If you are unfamiliar with the process, check out this tutorial- Video Tutorial: How To Sew Full Lining To A Fitted Blouse With Darts
The blouse I'm working with is fully lined and has a hem facing. Before finishing the blouse hem itself, I attached the hem facing to the lining layer at the bottom. As an alternative, if you have a hem facing, you can sew it into the bottom of the blouse first after which you can connect it to the bottom edge of the lining. Some may argue this is a better technique, but I find that sealing the lining to the very bottom edge of the blouse hem is a bit more simple
On that same note, if your garment has a zipper, whether along the sides seam (like in this case) or any other seam (center back, center front, etc.) make sure the zipper is fully stitched into the blouse layer first before finishing the lining to the zipper tape.
On-seam pockets are a staple of functionality. Whether used on casual garments or formal styles, they are undeniably a valuable asset to the garment's versatility. I find myself adding pockets to any design I sew from scratch, any chance I get. They are fairly easy to pattern and sew, elevating the garment with the addition of just a few simple steps. On-seam pockets have now become somewhat essential to me. I don't know about you, but I'm always instinctively searching for pockets to house my keys or phone when I'm out and about (doing a million things at once).
The simplicity of sewing on-seam pockets is often contingent on your sewing pattern. If you start off with a good, clear pocket pattern, the rest is easy to complete. There are a variety of different pocket bag shapes and styles you could choose from, but in this tutorial, I'll work from a skirt pattern to draft a simple, round pocket bag.
When drafting pocket patterns, it is easiest to use the main pattern of the clothing item (you are adding the pocket to) as a blueprint. You will be using the actual seam (on the pattern) to generate the pocket pattern. My skirt will have a pocket on one side seam, thus I'll draw the actual pocket bag pattern directly on the main skirt pattern using the skirt's side seam as a guide. This technique works for any clothing item whether a skirt, dress or pants as long as you work directly on the seamline of the main pattern, at the exact desired location of the pocket. To get more clarity, follow the steps in the video tutorial above and/or the step-by step breakdown below.
By the way, stay tuned to learn how to then sew this pocket in a video tutorial to come!
Deciding The Pocket Location And Marking Its Opening
First and foremost, let's decide on the pocket's location. Although you could technically place it just about anywhere along the seam, keep in mind the pocket's optimal functionality. You want to be able to comfortably insert your hand and easily retrieve (or place) items in without any discomfort.
The best way to measure how far down to place an on-seam pocket is to measure its opening in relation to the waistline location on the pattern. This rule applies specifically to pockets sewn into the side seam, which technically is the most common application.
As a general rule, the side seam pocket should open starting at about 3-5" down from the waistline. For optimal comfort, the pocket opening itself should be about 5-5 1/2" inches long, although that varies depending on your specifications (and type of pocket).
Every time I do a tutorial about invisible zippers, I spend the first paragraph talking about their convenience and how much I love using them. This time around, I'll (try to) spare you the long praise- well, aside from telling you that invisible zippers are probably one of the best inventions in dressmaking.
In a previous sewing tutorial, I introduced you to the basics of sewing an invisible zipper using a regular zipper presser foot on your sewing machine (not invisible zipper foot). In this video tutorial, I'll walk you through an actual application of an invisible zipper into the side seam of a lined blouse. This application is widely used with form fitted woven dresses, especially those that are more formal and tailored. While my invisible zipper will be sewn into the side seam, you can use the same technique to apply it to any regular seam.
It is called invisible for reason- When closed, invisible zippers blend into the seam, becoming essentially unnoticeable on the outside of the garment. This characteristic makes it ideal for a quick, clean garment closure that doesn't alter its design.
Its simplicity doesn't require any special seam manipulation aside from the necessity of a seam allowance that matches the invisible zipper tape. In most cases, the seam that will house the invisible zipper should have anywhere from 1/2" to 5/8" seam allowance, depending on the width of the zipper tape being used. The reason seam allowance is important with this type of zipper application is that for best (easiest) results, the zipper tape edges should be aligned with each corresponding seam allowance edges such that when closed, the zipper blends evenly into the seam without altering its fit or size.
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A designer by trade and dressmaker at heart. I spend most of my days obsessing over new fabrics and daydreaming new ideas.
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