Pattern Hack: Adding a Zippered Pocket to a Legging Waistband

Pockets. Oh, pockets.

There great scandal of the lack of pockets in women’s apparel is still raging in the ready-to-wear world but how lucky are we as sewists to get to add pockets to literally anything we desire!? Even to leggings, a traditionally pocketless garment that is so lovely in so many other ways.

Today I wanted to share with you how I quickly, and easily add a zippered pocket to the back waist band of your very favorite legging pattern, perfect for keeping keys safe and secure when you are exercising (or shopping, I don’t judge!). The only thing besides your fabric and pattern you need for this hack is a 7″ zipper in a color of your choosing! Let’s get started!

I am using the Patterns for Pirates contoured waistband for the Peg Leg pattern in this tutorial but this technique would work for any legging pattern you may have.

Begin by finding the center point of your back waist band both vertically and horizontally. Mark that point with a washable marker (I still use crayola, it has never failed me!).

Draw a box 5 inches long and 1/2 inches tall around that center point with your washable marker and a point 1/4 of an inch in from each short edge in the middle of the box.

Using small fabric scissors cut a line straight down the middle of your box stopping at the 1/4 point marks. From those points, make small snips at an angle toward the corners of your box.

With your zipper open, place the right side of one zipper half against the cut slit and pin in place. Flip the zipper to place the edge of the other zipper side against the other edge of the slit and pin in place. The teeth of the zipper should be facing down and outwards.

Stitch the zipper to the waist band piece using a straight stitch down the middle of the zipper tape. Flip the zipper ends and pull to the wrong side of the waistband, tucking in the end tabs of the waistband as well. Press well (but be careful not to melt any of the zipper teeth).

Top stitch around the entire zipper 1/8 of an inch from the folded under edges. Be sure to secure stitches at beginning and the end.

Continue to assemble both your inner and outer waistbands as instructed in your pattern through attaching them together with a top seam.

Once joined, flip your waistbands so that both the inner and outer waistbands are facing outward and press the upper seam. Use your washable marker to draw parallel lines equal distance from the ends of your zipper, mine are 1 1/4 inches out for reference. using a stretch stitch on your sewing machine (a small zig-zag or the lightening stitch work)sew down those two parallel lines and finish your leggings as your pattern instructs!!

See how easy was that!

I am wearing my new olive supplex leggings (with zippered pocket!) with a winter white Rayon Spandex Madelyn Top, both fabrics are two of my favorites from Phee!

The Madelyn has a straight hem option included but to give it a sportier vibe I added a a multi length curved hem,another super quick hack you can find here!

Phone Sized Pockets

GreenStyle Creations Brassie Joggers are a quick sew with a comfortable fit.  But they have a small problem- modern technology!  Most women will comment about clothing that “Pockets are life!”  Ready to wear women’s clothing rarely has pockets.  Or if they do, they are tiny little decorative pockets.  About the only RTW clothing item that consistently has pockets are denim jeans.  Real women need pockets!

Menswear has pockets, and I get it that men have to carry wallets, and most women carry purses.  But you can’t carry your purse around all day.  When I go for a walk, I take a house key and my phone (and my water bottle, I get thirsty!)  So I need pockets for my stuff.  And if you have little ones, pockets are a necessity.  “Mama, look at this pretty rock.  Hold it for me.”  Toy cars, snacks, rocks and sticks, you name it, Mama is expected to carry it in her pocket.

The real necessity of course, is your cell phone.  Modern technology has conditioned us to feel lost without our mini-computer.  And if you prefer a larger screen so you can see all those cute photos on your Facebook feed, forget it!  That phone isn’t going to fit in most pockets.  And adding a phone case makes it even more of a challenge to fit.

The Brassie Jogger pocket is a decent size, it just doesn’t feel deep enough to hold my phone securely.  Altering the pocket may sound challenging, but really, it’s an easy modification.  The opening at the top of pocket pieces is around six inches, to give you room to take your hand (and stuff) in and out of the pocket.  So however you alter the shape of the opening, you need to maintain that six inch opening.

I wanted the pocket opening to start about two inches higher than it does.  The purple pocket edge line shows the original shape.  I lined the pocket pattern piece up under the pants front to maintain the proper hip curve.  Then I took my measuring tape, held one end two inches up from the original spot and curved it up toward the waist.  I maintained the six inch opening for my hand, and traced my new pocket opening.  The new opening is shown in turquoise.

Since I also wanted a higher rise (I am tall, and low or mid-rise pants don’t fit well) I added an inch at the top of my pattern pieces.  The pattern currently has layers for low and mid-rise.  I think I’ve read that GreenStyle plans to update the pattern to add a higher rise, but I want to make this pattern now.  I could have used the slash and spread method to add an inch to the rise, but adding it at the top worked.  Bonus- it also made the pocket an inch deeper!

I also traced my new pocket curve onto my fabric and made a one inch wide pocket facing.  I prefer a facing to just turning the top edge under and stitching.  I think it adds crispness and stability to your pockets.  I lengthened the inseam of my shorts to six inches, as it’s a good length for me.  Other than these simple modifications, I simply followed the pattern directions.

Brassie pocket

When Phee Fabrics started carrying Polartec, I wanted to try some.  It is an interesting fabric, NOT the bulky polar fleece stuff you might be visualizing.  It’s a technical anti-microbial fabric with a moisture wicking “power grid”.


The power grid design also makes it super easy to see your grainline and ensure that you are laying out your pattern pieces properly!
power grain

The Polartec Powerdry fabric is lightweight and breathable, so I knew that I would be able to make cute and comfortable shorts out of it.  I hope I have enough of this fabric left to make some joggers or lounge pants, because it is comfortable!

If you’re interested, the top I am wearing is made of Phee Fabrics rayon/spandex using the P4P Essential Tank pattern with the curved hemline.

Brassie tank

So go ahead and add some pockets to your life! 🙂