Whether you’re making your own camouflage pants, or you just want to add more pockets to a pair of your favorite shorts, expandable pockets are the way to go. The pockets aren’t as complicated as they look and there are a couple of techniques you can use to make them. Ordinary pockets lie flat against the shirt, and don’t hold too much, but expandable pockets expand to hold all sorts of things. They aren’t much harder to make than regular pockets and even a beginner can create them.
One way to make pockets that expand is to cut them extra wide, like an envelope. The short part of the envelope shape will be the vertical look of the pocket; the long end will be the horizontal part of the pocket. Cut the envelope shape making the height of the pocket as tall as you want. The taller you cut the pocket the deeper it will be. Make sure to allow an extra inch to hem the top. Cut the width of the pocket long, like an envelope, so that you can allow for the expandable pocket.
Lay the pocket shape on the table so that the long side is going from left to right. Mark the pocket by drawing a line, from top to bottom, straight down the center. Now take the cloth on the right side of the mark and fold it over to the center mark. Press and pin it in place. It’s up to you how much fabric to fold over to the line but keep in mind that, the less you fold over, the wider the pocket will be. On the left side of the center line do the same thing: fold the cloth over to the center making sure you fold it the same width as the cloth on the right side of the line. Press and pin. You should now have a pocket shape that has two folds, facing each other, going down the center of the pocket.
Stitch across the top and bottom of the pocket so the folds you’ve made will stay put. Now fold and pin the top then hem it. Position the pocket on the shorts or pants and stitch around the two sides and bottom. Remember to back-tack when you start and when you stop to secure the pocket. Now when you reach into the pocket, the pleats will expand and allow you to carry bulky items.
Create a flap that goes over the top of the pocket by simply cutting two shapes for the flap. Place the fabric so that right sides are together. Measure across the top of the pocket and cut that size – but just a hair wider – to make the length of the flap. Now decide how wide you want the flap to be and cut that size from the cloth. If you want to leave the edges of the pocket flap squared, that’s fine. Or, cut the corners so they have a more rounded appearance. Stitch around three sides of the flap but leave the part that will be sewn to the pants unstitched. Turn the fabric pieces right side out and stitch across the open end. This end will then be sewn to the pants just above the pocket. If you want, sew a strip of velcro onto the underneath of the flap, at the edge, as well as to the top of the pocket. The velcro will ensure everything stays in the pockets.
Use the above pocket design, or a regular pocket shape, to create a different expandable pocket. Make the above pocket or cut out any square pocket shape. Now measure down the side of the pocket, across the bottom, and up the other side. Add an inch to this figure and cut a strip that’s an inch or two wide. The wider the strip, the more the finished pocket will expand.
After cutting the strip fold it in half, lengthwise, with right sides facing each other. Stitch straight down the fold keeping the stitches right beside the fold. It’s very important that the stitches be straight and be just next to the fold. Open the strip of cloth, fold each small end over a half-inch, then hem. Now pin the strip around the perimeter of the pocket. Stitch with right sides together.
Pin the strip of cloth, with pocket attached, to the intended area on the shorts or pants. Stitch around the band while folding it under a quarter-inch. Back-tack at the start and when you stop. This expandable pocket really holds a lot if you use the pleated pocket shape rather than a flat pocket. Add a flap to this pocket, too, or leave it as-is.
Expandable pockets are great for shorts and pants but can also be attached to coveralls, jackets and coats. They’re perfect for wearing while camping, fishing or hiking. Kids love the pockets because they can hold all their palm systems and games. You’ll love how easy it is to make the expandable pockets and just how helpful they are.