Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Make it Better: Add Pockets to a Skirt or Dress DIY

Three years ago today my oldest friend married her wonderful Canadian husband. They had a beautiful and classic New England summer wedding, with a fun (there was a wild conga line) reception at their country club. She wore a very beautiful dress, and I was blown away by the idea that her wedding dress had pockets! How brilliant: what a perfect place to stash a handkerchief or anything else a bride feels she may need at any moment without being burdened by an unruly clutch on such a special day.

I adore pockets in dresses and skirts. I have been more than temped to purchase otherwise lackluster dresses and skirts boasting pockets. But with an easy way to add pockets, any dress or skirt can offer a shelter for Chapstick, a nervous hand, or a smartphone.

Supplies Needed
-Seam ripper (Can also be done with a pocket knife and a lot of patience.)
-Brown paper bag
-Lightweight fabric scrap pieces
-A dress or skirt with side seams (A full skirt will be more forgiving than a pencil skirt, so I suggest choosing a full skirt for the first time, in case any errors are made.)
-Sewing machine and thread (When I first moved to New York and had no space or money for a real machine, I bought this machine, and it worked fine for simple projects like this one.)

1) The first thing needed is a template, so I used the pocket from another dress, and traced around it on the brown paper bag, marking where the opening should be placed.

2) This gave me a very large pocket. If I were better at freehand drawing, I could have traced around my hand. Also, it does not need to be this big -- just big enough to fit one's hand, with a little extra for seam allowance.

3) Cut out two pieces from the pocket fabric, and sew them together right sides facing. Be sure to not sew the opening closed.

4) Put on the skirt or dress and decide where the pockets will be placed. Mark where the side seam needs to be opened on the skirt or dress to line up with the opening on the pocket.

5) Carefully open the seam. Do not rush like I did, or the fabric may tear.

6) When picking the color of the thread, if an exact match is not possible, go for a slightly darker color, not lighter. The eye is drawn to lighter colors, so in order to hide the stitching, a darker color should be chosen. I used black thread on a navy and white dress.

7) The fabric in the opened seam rolled over on its own for me, but other fabrics may require being pressed into place. Reinforce the ends of the seam that was just opened so that the rest of the seam does not unravel.

8) Turn the skirt inside out, and line up the edge of the skirt and the pocket, folding the pocket over the skirt's opened seam slightly. For reference, the pocket will dip down towards the hem of the skirt, and when finished and inside out, it will look like the dress I made the template from. I slid the opening around the sewing machine (as one would do when sewing a sleeve or a pant hem) to be sure I didn't sew through too many layers of fabric. I was sewing on a knit fabric, so I used a zigzag stitch to work with the slight stretch in the fabric.

9) This is the only tricky part -- when sewing the final side of the pocket to the skirt, one may need to try a couple angles so additional layers of fabric are not accidentally sent through the machine. Since there is no longer an opening, sliding over the machine as in step 8 will not be possible. But once the best angle is found, it's a simple stitch.

10) Repeat process on other side of the skirt for the second pocket, and enjoy a new spot to tuck small items.

Cost: $0, as I used scrap fabric from another project.

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