Adding a pocket to a shirt

Ok, so the computer is still being weird and I have a jillion photos to edit.

Anyway, recently I had to add a pocket to a friend’s tuxedo shirt so he could put his cigarette case that he uses as a wallet in the shirt pocket so it wouldn’t be in his pants pocket, accessible to pickpockets.  If you have to add a pocket to a shirt or need to make a bigger one (the case is wider than some pockets), here’s what to do.

First measure the pocket of another shirt and make a pattern.  A shirt pocket is a square with a triangle added to the bottom.  The hem is sometimes a straight extension at the top but usually another triangle.  Draw this to the dimensions you got from the shirt, adding anything extra to compensate for what might be going into the pocket and add a 1/4″ seam allowance all around.  I notched it where the fold line for the hem is.  Here’s the pattern.

Shirt pocket pattern laid on the fabric

Now weight the pattern down and trace around it with chalk, china marker, ball point pen, or whatever either doesn’t bleed or will disappear.  Here the pocket is marked on the fabric.

Pocket pattern marked on shirting fabric

Sorry it’s blurry.

Next, cut out the pocket, cutting off the line and snip where the notches are less than the 1/4″ seam allowance.  Make sure you cut off the line, as you don’t want it on the pocket and you certainly don’t want it to show.

Press and sew the hem.  Yes, the iron is your friend.  Press along the line indicated by the notches, then press under the 1/4″ on the triangle part.  Stitch along the triangle.

Hem is pressed on the pocket

How the pocket should look when the hem is sewn

Then press the stitching and press under the sides and bottom of the pocket by that 1/4″ seam allowance.  Pin it to the shirt in the right spot.  Either compare to another shirt or have the person try on the shirt and mark where it should go.

Pocket pinned to shirt (really it is flatter than it looks)

Starting at the top of one side, stitch the pocket to the shirt.  Press.  (Pressing seams and hems helps the thread meld with the fabric.)

Pocket sewn to shirt

Now you’re done.  See how easy that was?  I mean, I hope it was easy for you.

I’m sure this wasn’t the most exciting thing about sewing for some, but there are some who don’t know as much.  It’s ok.  I should probably do one about facings, since some don’t know anything about them or know that they make a garment look and hang right.

Until next time!

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Adding a pocket to a shirt

  1. did you sew this by hand or with a machine

  2. I have added pockets to all my boyfriend’s work shirts, because they only come with one pocket. He is a propane driver and wanted the extra pocket for dog cookies. Since he tends to wear out the shirts quite fast, I had a few that were scrap and could take the pocket off of the old ones, without compromising a shirt and also they made a better worn match. Recently they switched to a new color and one of his co-workers cuts the sleeves off of his shirts. I got the sleeves and easily made the shirt pocket pattern with tracing paper and Now…I am thinking another business idea…..
    Since I designed cloth dolls with clothing and remove-able clothing for years, this came very easily to me….I saw an article somewhere, where a person commented best to take the garment back and chalk it up to a picky husband…to that I say EH…easier to do than most might think and You did an excellent job!!!

  3. Rene Neville

    I have noted that on better men’s casual printed shirts the pockets match the front design EXACTLY. Do you have a method or know of a template source for achieving this effect by matching up the pattern with the placement of the pocket?

    • If you are making a shirt from scratch, you’ll need to mark the front and the pocket with a “match stripe” line. Then, when you’re cutting, you line each piece up with the same color or width of stripe so that when you sew, it’ll match. If you have a shirt already and have found some fabric to add a pocket, you can make your own pocket pattern and mark the same line and write on it “Match up to ____.” This isn’t just for casual shirts. Dress shirts match this way, too.

  4. Margaret

    Thank you this was very helpful, much easier than all my patterns show.

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