Posted on

Zero Waste Sewing: Pockets

zero waste scrap busting fabric ideas pockets

Pockets are the perfect project to use up small pieces of fabric for zero waste sewing. Fun and practical! Add a patch pocket as a design feature or an in-seam pocket to hide things in.

tote bag pattern and instructions fabric scrap busting
Patch pocket on Betty Tote Bag uses up a small pieces of vintage fabric

How to make patch pockets

Add a patch pocket in a contrasting fabric to skirts, tops and bags.

  • 1) Measure the size of pocket you would like and draw on a piece of paper with a ruler.
  • 2) Add 1cm around 3 edges and 2cm to the top edge.
  • 3) Cut out of fabric
  • 4) Zig-Zag stitch or overlock around all four edges. 
  • 5) Fold over the edges of the pocket right side to wrong side by 1cm and press. The top edge should be turned over by 2cm.
  • 6) Tack the seams to hold them in place.
  • 7) Place onto the item and pin.
  • 8) Top stitch around 3 sides, leaving the top edge open. Stitching should be 5mm away from the edge.
  • 9) Undo tacks, give it a final press and your pocket is good to go!

I upcycled an old T-shirt by turning it into a skirt and adding a little patch pocket. My top hack is to cut off the sleeve, use the existing hem for the top of the pocket to reduce the amount of sewing needed.

This project was for Fast Fashion Therapy, a clothes mending workshop that I run with my friend Eleanor. We shared 5 tips on how to reuse a T-shirt rather than throwing it away.

How to make in-seam pockets

Inseam pockets are also really handy and easy to add when dressmaking. Tilly & The Buttons have a good free pattern to download here. My favourite inseam pocket shape is from the Barcelona dress by Maven Patterns (first photo above). I traced it onto card then if I make a sewing pattern that doesn’t have in-seam pockets I use this as a template. If there is enough fabric left from the original piece then I use that, otherwise I find a coordinated piece. This is what I did with the Tilly and the Buttons Safiya playsuit and the Sew Over It Poppy jumpsuit.

If you are adding pockets without a pattern, measure where you want them to sit and make sure each side are equal. When you lay them flat, before sewing the larger pattern pieces together. The second Poppy jumpsuit I made, the pockets ended up being lopsided so I had to unstitch them and start again. I’ve now created notches on the pattern so I don’t make this mistake again.

I’ll be sharing more scrap busting ideas at The Knitting and Stitching Show this October. Thursday 6 October, 4pm at the Creative Living Theatre. It is free with the price of a ticket. Get £1.50 off the price of a ticket using the code WT22. I’m also teaching a workshop on how to make a vintage style pinny, this is a paid for workshop, book here. Scroll to about half way down, the workshop is Thursday 6th October at 2pm.