Pocket Drafting Tutorial: Adding Pockets to Pants Part I

I like to have pockets in almost everything, well at least one piece of my outfit, so I wanted to learn how to add pockets to pants. I tried a few different methods before settling on one. I tried putting them in the side seam and they just opened all the time, yuck. I also hate how pockets can get bunched up in your pants.

A word about tutorials: Thank you for taking the time to read mine. I advise trying to read at least 3 tutorials before trying a technique you are learning about. Each one is written a little differently and the more instructions you get the more depth of understanding you get.

Now back to pockets. I happened upon a great article in Threads for drafting pockets that include a front stay. Front tummy stays are great because even if you don’t have a belly you are trying to smooth they just make the front of your pants nice and flat. I put them in most of my pants. I think you could do this in skirts with a back or side zipper as well if you are adding pockets to those.

IMG_0561First get out the front pant of your favorite pants pattern. Mine is McCall’s 5941. Fold in and tape any darts the front has. Place on top of the paper (2 sheets).  (Ignore my red lines from a previous pocket draft.) I use heavier craft paper because my patterns get a lot of use.

Trace around the top of the pattern from the hip line, usually right below the notches. Mark all notches and the center front. Also mark 5/8 inches from the center front (towards the fly). Then free hand your desired pocket shape, curving up towards the center front. Mark your seam lines so you can figure out the slant opening. Draw two lines parallel to the fly, one on the center front and one on the 5/8 mark. (If you are doing side zip pants you will place your pattern on the fold at the center front line. If you are using the fly front like I am, you have to have seam allowance. If you are using a side zip pattern you can just mark the center front at the seam line where the two front pieces will meet.)


Cut out the pattern and transfer the markings to the second piece. This will be your pocket back and cut out of your pant fabric. Some people cut front and back of the pockets out of the lining fabric and then cut a triangular overlay for the opening. I like the smoother look of the single layer of fabric.

IMG_0563Now go back to you initial drafting piece and trace another pocket pattern on another piece of paper. Copy all markings. Measure 1.5 inches from the side seam along the top seam line and mark.   Measure 1.5 inches up from the notches at the seam line and mark. Put your hand down and make sure it is the width you want.  The smaller it is, the less it will gape.


IMG_0566Using a ruler draw a straight line. Then draw 2 more lines parallel to this one 3/8 inches apart. Connect the farthest one to the pattern edge with perpendicular lines. The outer most line is the cutting line if you are going to wrap your lining fabric around the edge of the fabric. I do this when I have a fun lining and can add a little flash to the project. Usually my shirt will cover the pockets anyway but they are fun. The second line is for if you don’t want to show off the lining.

Now you have your pocket pattern. Cut two of the main pant fabric and two in your lining fabric. Do not use lining material for the pocket, it won’t hold up. Trust me I learned the hard way. Use a heavier satin poly fabric (with light interfacing) or a fun calico. I think you can get away with a fat quarter but I am not sure. Good luck adding pockets to everything!

See part II for how to put it all together.

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