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Minoru Sew-Along: Side-Seam Pocket Tutorial

This winter I’m sewing along with Tasia at Sewaholic.net. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I are all making her Minoru jacket pattern, and here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

Friends, today I have a special post for you: a tutorial for adding side-seam pockets to your Minoru jackets.

This morning in the Minoru Sew-Along Tasia discussed sewing the collar onto the gathered neckline and then sewing up the side seams. Instead of simply sewing up the side seams, I decided to take a bit of a detour and add pockets.  I wanted a place to put my hands on chilly San Francisco days or to quickly store transit tickets or change.  If you’re also interested in adding pockets, then do join me on my detour.

Step one is to cut four pocket pieces out of your lining fabric.  I used a self-drafted pocket pattern and my Bemberg rayon lining.  If you have a pattern in your stash with side-seam pockets that you really like, then use it.  Any side-seam pocket pattern will do, really.  If you don’t have one on hand, I scanned the pattern I drafted for my Minoru pockets and uploaded it here.  I made my pocket pattern wide and deep so that the pockets would be cozy for my hands, but I’ve seen these patterns shorter and narrower as well, so feel free to make a pattern from scratch that meets your needs.

Step two is to pin one of the pocket pieces to the front side seam, right sides together. Loosely try on your jacket first to figure out the best pocket placement. I liked my pockets 2.5″ down from the thread tracing that marks the bottom of the waist elastic (the barely visible pink basting stitches around the 14″ line on my cutting mat).  I didn’t want the pockets to get in the way of the waist gathering, but I also didn’t want them to hit the hem.

UPDATE:  Now that I’m finished with the jacket, I realized that 2.5″ down from the waist elastic is probably a bit too low.  I misjudged the width of the hem.  I’ll likely put my pockets 1.5″ down from the waistband basting next time around.

Step three is to attach the pocket. The key here is to sew with a 3/8″ or 10 mm seam allowance, not the typical 5/8″ or 15 mm.

Step four is to press. Press flat, and then press each pocket piece to the outside.

Step five is to repeat step two, three, and four on the back side seam. Place your pocket piece exactly the same distance down from the thread tracing that marks the bottom of the waist elastic as you did on the front, and remember to sew with a 3/8″ or 10 mm seam allowance.

Step six is to pin the front and back side seam right sides together, matching the notches and underarm seam just as Tasia did. Pin around the pocket as well.  You’re now ready to sew the side seam.

Step seven is to begin sewing the side seam. Start sewing from the bottom of the jacket, with the traditional 5/8″ or 15 mm seam allowance, but instead of continuing all the way up to the underarm seam, you’re going to stop 5/8″ or 15 mm above the bottom corner of the pocket.

Step eight is to pivot and sew around the pocket with a 5/8″ seam allowance.  Stop once you get 5/8″ or 15 mm past the edge of the side seam. You’ll now be all the way around the pocket.

Step nine is to pivot again and continue sewing with a 5/8″ or 15 mm seam allowance through the underarm seam and down the sleeve, just as in Tasia’s post.  When you press your side seam, press it forward after pressing it flat.  You won’t be able to top stitch the side seam as Tasia did.  You’d sew the pocket shut if you did!

Step ten is to marvel at your fancy side-seam pockets.  You’re done!  Hooray!  And, because you sewed them with a smaller seam allowance, they’ll be nicely hidden in the side seam.

Thanks for joining me on my detour.  Let me know if you have any questions or any expertise to offer.  Happy sewing!

UPDATE:  Many have asked about the fabric.  It’s “Paint Me a ?” from FineFabrics.com.

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73 thoughts on “Minoru Sew-Along: Side-Seam Pocket Tutorial

    1. Thanks! Let me know if you do end up doing side-seam pockets. Welt pockets would be nice, but I imagine they’ll be more work than these simple pockets.

    1. Thanks! Your Minoru fabric was fantastic as well. It is a fun pattern to be creative with. Oh, and if you are interested in the fabric, I think it is still online.

  1. Yay, your jacket looks great! I couldn’t believe how easy it was to add pockets the first time I tried it– now I’m hooked and put them in everything! When I get around to making a Minoru, I think I will add pockets made out of flannel or something else really soft and warm. Great photo tutorial!

    1. Ooooh, warm pockets! Brilliant. Mine aren’t going to be warm or waterproof. But, I love them all the same. Will you be making the Minoru soon?

  2. Are you planning on laundering your jacket and did you prewash your Benberg lining? I have put it in a dress without prewashing and it shrunk making the garment unwearable…Most of the things I make are drycleaned and didn’t give it a second thought.

    1. Hi Linda! Yes, I prewashed both my fashion fabric and Bemberg lining. I like to be really rough on my fabrics before I sew with them so that I minimize issues like you mentioned once the garment is made. I edge stitched the lining before laundering to help minimize fraying, but I’m not sure if that extra step really made much of a difference.

      1. Thanks so much for the reply…and by the way, your jacket looks and fits you wonderfully. You are a total inspiration to make it in a print.

  3. Great tutorial. Thank you! I’m not taking part in the sewalong at the moment, but am hoping to order the minoru pattern with my Renfrew top this weekend. Will definitely be using this tutorial when I make mine up, so thanks again.

    1. Wonderful! If you order the patterns this weekend, then you’ll get free shipping on both. Smart move. I think you’ll be very happy with both.

    1. Thanks, Trice. And, I felt a bit of deja vu seeing your blog address – sewtell.wordpress.com. It’s just one letter different than mine!

  4. Hi, Amy! I just discovered your blog through Tasia’s link. I loved it so much, I just spent an hour and a half scanning all the way back to your first post. I consider myself to be an experienced sewer, but I am inspired by watching how you teach yourself new things by learning everything you can and doing it right. I should practice that more in my everyday sewing. Please come visit my blog! I’d love to know what you think! 🙂

    1. I’m so flattered! Thank you. I just checked out your blog as well. I love that you sew for others. I try, but as I’m still learning so much, it’s hard to push my garments on anyone other than my family.

  5. Amy, I love the fabric you’ve chosen!! I haven’t started mine yet, as I haven’t thought of what fabric I would use but now will be looking at fabrics in a different way when it comes to choosing for the jacket. Also, that was such a simple explanation of sewing pockets – thank you.

    1. Thanks, Evelyne. I should give most of the credit to the owner of FineFabrics.com for picking this fabric. I wanted to make a sweatshirt, but she thought otherwise. This fabric wasn’t the first she showed me, but once she pulled it out, I knew it was right. You always pick the best fabrics, too. I’m sure you’ll find something that will rock.

  6. Amy, the print looks fantastic! I, too, am participating in the Tasia’s sew-a-along and have been holding off on stitching those side seams. I couldn’t make up mind…pleated patch pockets with flap (much less functional for me) or hidden side seam pockets. Your picture wearing the jacket made up mind…. dropping items in the side seam pockets looks so effortless. Printing off your pattern piece now. Great tutorial and just recently found your site.

    1. Thanks, Marsha! Let me know if you notice anything funny when you’re sewing in your pockets. I’ve never done a real online tutorial before, and it’s hard to trust that I wrote everything clearly or scanned the pattern correctly. Hopefully it’ll all work out! But, check to make sure your hand fits in the pocket before you cut your fabric. I’d hate for the pattern piece to have shrunk in the process of uploading it. I tried to make it a bit oversized just in case…

  7. Thanks for posting this tutorial. I am working on a skirt with side seam pockets and ended up eliminating them because the way the sewing pattern wanted them inserted was too complicated. This helped a lot.

  8. Nice tutorial! That’s pretty much how I put side-seam pockets in my Minoru too. However, the bottom of my pockets are just long enough to be caught into the hem. I like it that way so they stay put and don’t slip around between the outer fabric and the lining.

  9. Thank you for posting this tutorial and the pattern piece. The steps (and photos) are really clear. I’m doing Tasia’s sewalong and have just added the pockets to my Minoru. It all worked beautifully (except for when I sewed the first pocket piece to the back of the jacket, but I’ll put that down to my kids getting up way too early on a Sunday morning!). Thanks again – I love how generous the people of the onling sewing community are.

  10. Thanks for this! I’m going to make the Minoru this winter (NZ summer is not the time to be sewing jackets!) and the only thing I didn’t like about the pattern was the lack of side pockets. This will be really helpful 🙂

  11. Thanks for the tutorial and the pattern piece. Put my pockets in today and love it. Also live in NZ and finding sewing out of season great as there is no pressure to finish, its way too hot to be wearing jackets just now. Love your fabric.

  12. i LOVE your jacket! what a fun piece. i haven’t looked at the pattern yet, but i would definitely opt for side seam pockets, so thanks for the tutorial.

    i can go look at your other posts, but i was wondering if you adjusted the pattern at all???

    1. I hope this means you’re hard at work on your Minoru right now. Hooray! I can’t wait to see your weekend progress, especially since you’re now working in such a cute space!

      1. Heheh yes indeed! Yesterday I got right up to putting the concealed zip in the hood. Hope to get up to step 11 or 12 today. Then I’ll be almost caught up! 🙂

  13. Thank you so much! Your tutorial was clear and easy to follow — I just used it to make side-seam pockets on a pair of lounge pants and it came out quite professional looking! Too bad I’ll be sleeping in them and no one will get to see my handy work! lol

  14. Absolutely FANTASTIC tutorial…I’m making a linen sundress and the pattern calls for gathered patch pockets…Love the style of the dress, but want it a bit dressier, so side seam pockets are ideal. I haven’t made them in years…knew the basics, but not sure I ever knew about using a smaller seam allowance for the pockets. This is the best tutorial I’ve seen!

  15. Thank you… I’m making my second Minoru jacket and definitely want pockets this time round and your tutorial makes this an easy task! Can’t wait for it to be finished! 🙂

  16. thanks for this, I am tackling my Minoru this week and a coat without pockets just wouldn’t work for me, so I will be using your tutorial to add some 🙂

  17. I love your version of Minoru! When I get started on mine later this year, I’m planning to use a kind of wavy, randomized directional print. Thank you for throwing the fabric recommendations out the window and making this in a stripe-ish fabric. Seeing how great yours looks is giving me the confidence to shell out for my dream stripey fabric and get to work on this jacket!

  18. Thank you – I’m tackling the Minoru jacket for the first time. It seems the perfect jacket pattern but I really really wanted side pockets!

  19. Pingback: Sewing Shenanigans

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