How to Add a Zippered Pocket to Your Favorite Hiking Top

comments (6) April 11th, 2009     

Pin It

JenniferStern Jennifer Stern, contributor
Love it! 6 users recommend
I decided to be fancy and follow the design in the weave of the fabric. Normally, Id use a red zipper on a red top, but I wanted it to show up in the photo, so I used gray.
Now I can run around the woods with my tunes securely stowed in my new zippered pocket.
Decide where you want to position your zippered pocket. I suggest the side back, so its out of the way.
I decided to be fancy and follow the design in the weave of the fabric. Normally, Id use a red zipper on a red top, but I wanted it to show up in the photo, so I used gray.

I decided to be fancy and follow the design in the weave of the fabric. Normally, I'd use a red zipper on a red top, but I wanted it to show up in the photo, so I used gray.

Photo: Jen Stern

As it gets warmer outside, my hiking outfits lose their pockets. All winter I have a fleece vest that I wear over everything. It has plenty of pockets for my iPod, phone, and the kitchen sink if I wanted to bring it along. When it's time to shed the vest, I don't bring my phone (or the kitchen sink), but there are days I need the music. Most of my spring and summer shorts and tops don't have pockets. I've tried to be clever, sticking my music in my waistband or under a bra strap. Needless to say, I've caused an untimely death to two iPods. (Even worse, I lost my favorite collection of tunes because I didn't back them up.)

The other day I was trail-running, and my iPod kept dropping out from under my bra strap. I would have to stop and tuck it back in place. I occurred to me that I could put an end to the nonsense with a simple zippered pocket. Because my budget is tight, I decided to sew one into my favorite top and try it out. I love it.

Here's how to make a quick zippered pocket so your workout tops can be iPod-friendly (or able to hold phone, keys, pepper spray, or whatever you need to bring with you). Don't worry, you don't need to know how to sew in a zipper to create the pocket.

Here's what you'll need:

  • A workout top
  • Scraps of lightweight knit (moisture-wicking polyester fabric works great for this; check out the selection at Rose City Textiles-they also have a good selection of organic cottons!)
  • Two small pieces of fusible interfacing (1-1/4 inches wide by the length of your zipper opening plus 1 inch)
  • Pins
  • One 7-inch invisible zipper to match your top
  • Small, sharp scissors or rotary cutter
  • Thread to match your top
  • Wonder Tape (1/4-inch double-sided sticky tape)

Start by making a pattern piece for your pocket bags. I customized the size so that either my phone or my iPod would fit nicely. 

  1. Draw the pocket.
  2. Draw in the zipper opening 1/2 inch from the top edge of the pocket (3/8 inch wide by the length of your zipper opening). Make sure your pocket is wide enough so that there is at least 1/4 inch between the ends of the opening and the stitch line.
  3. Add a 3/8-inch seam allowance all the way around the pocket bag.
make a pattern
Begin by making a pattern piece for the pocket bags.

Cut out two pocket bags from a lightweight polyester knit. I purchased my fabric at Rose City Textiles, which specializes in tech fabrics for outerwear. Cut two pieces of fusible interfacing that are 1-1/2 inches wide and 1 inch longer than the zipper opening. Fuse one piece of interfacing centered 1/2 inch from the top edge. Draw the zipper opening on the interfacing with a ballpoint pen.

interface zipper opening
The interfacing will stabilize the zipper opening.

Decide where you want to position the pocket. I like my pockets to be in the back of my top so that whatever is inside isn't jiggling around in the front. Because this top has a design weaved into it, I decided to put my zipper opening along the edge of one of the "strips."

Mark Position for opening with pins
Use pins to mark the ends of the zipper opening so you can use the markings as a guide to position the second strip of interfacing on the wrong side of the top.

Fuse the second piece of interfacing on the wrong side of your top, centered over the pins.

interface zipper opening
This top is really stretchy, and I didn't want it to pucker or distort while I was sewing the zipper opening.

Position the pocket bag, right sides together, with the top. Center the zipper opening with the markings. Shorten the length of your straight stitch to 2.0 mm. Stitch all the way around the zipper opening.

Sew interfacing
Take your time and stitch directly on the line so you end up with a nice, crisp zipper opening.


back view
Here's the back view showing the stitching on the interfacing that was fused to the wrong side of the top.

Slash down the center of the zipper opening with a rotary cutter or small, sharp scissors.

Cut opening
I know it's scary because you're cutting a hole in your favorite top. It will be OK, I promise.

Use small, sharp scissors to clip into the corners.

Clip into corners
Clip close to the stitching without clipping through the stitching.

Pull the pocket bag through the opening. Finger-press around the edge of the opening, rolling the pocket bag to the wrong side. Press the pocket flat.

Press pocket to wrong side
If you clipped into the corners, they should be nice and crisp.

Stick two pieces of Wonder Tape (double-sided sticky tape) along the edges of the twill on the right side of your zipper. Center the tape in the middle of the zipper. (You'll trim the ends after it's sewn into the opening.)

put wonder tape on twill of zipper
On the right side of the zipper, place two pieces of Wonder Tape along the edges of the twill.

Center the zipper in the opening. Press down along the edges of the opening to stick the zipper to the Wonder Tape.

stick zipper, centered, in the opening
Don't forget to peel off the protective paper from the Wonder Tape.

To finish the zipper opening, stitch all the way around the edge. The zipper should be completely zipped up and the zipper pull should be out of the way. Start stitching along the edge on the zipper pull side of the opening.

Start sewing along the edge of opening.
Lengthen the straight stitch to 3.5 mm. Use a narrow edge foot with a guide if you have one.

Stop sewing about an inch from the end where you started. Sink the needle into the fabric, lift the presser foot, and unzip the zipper. Continue to sew around the final end of the opening.

Stop when you get around to unzip zipper before sewing over the end
If you forget to unzip the zipper, you'll sew the opening shut! If you want to reinforce the opening, stitch around again.



Trim zipper
Trim the ends of the zipper close to the stitching.

Pin the pocket bags together along the edge.

Pin pocket bags together
Be careful not to catch the top with the pocket bags.

Stitch all the way around the pocket bags. Be careful as you stitch along the sides where the zipper opening is.

sew all the way around pocket bags
Place the pocket so that it's against the feed dogs, to make it easier to keep the top out of harm's way as you sew the pockets together.


Press pocket flat
Press the pocket flat and you're done.


posted in: sewstylish feature, zippered pocket for your iPod

Comments (6)

UHWO writes: Wow - that was great! I've been looking around for clothes with pockets to hold my keys and cell phone and they're incredibly hard to find so your post will come in extremely handy. Thank you!
Posted: 3:22 pm on April 28th
AUDWALK writes: Thank you! You just saved me like $75. I am turning one of my favorite workout tanks into a bike jersey by adding a pocket in the back instead of buying a whole new jersey.
Posted: 5:37 pm on April 25th
cairopatchwork writes: This is great. I use it to make zippered pockets in the linnings of my hand woven purses. Works like a charm.
Posted: 7:33 pm on September 7th
Stillsewing writes: Thanks that's a great idea.. it could be used to insert a pocket into the lining of a coat or jacket for a security pocket as well. You can never have too many pockets!
Posted: 7:52 am on April 15th
JenniferStern writes: Thanks!
Posted: 5:10 pm on April 13th
Knittingrid writes: Thank you. This was really clear - well described and well documented. I just feel bad that you're stuck with a grey zipper in your red shirt!
Posted: 12:56 pm on April 13th
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.