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In-seam pocket Tutorial

Hi there! Welcome to our in-seam pocket tutorial! I DO LOVE a side seam pocket, I find it very annoying not having somewhere to shove my hands!

MAVEN PATTERNS_THE FRENCH DART SHIFT The French Dart Shift is a tunic style dress PDF sewing pattern that has In-seam (side seam) pockets that are concealed and it took me a little while experimenting and researching to get a technique I was really happy with.


So, here’s the thing… you may look at the pocket bags on this pattern and think…Mrs M, really what the ???? I’ll admit they may look a little unusual, with the curvy bit added, but I do have a very good reason: I feel this method gives a much better result.

My problem with the usual way of making pockets that sit at the side seam is you can’t overlock around the pocket bag in one easy motion, so you need to overlock everything separately or end up having to pull the seam ‘straight’ to catch all of it in the awkward little angle created, which is a pain and eventually, as I’ve been finding, the overlocking just pulls away in the wash leaving a raw fraying edge exposed. Mmmm…messy.

And the other problem, with some methods, was sometimes having to snip into the seam allowance to get them to lie flat in the direction you want. It’s a pet hate, I don’t like doing ‘the snipping’ unless I REALLY have too because it makes a weak point on your seam.

So what I wanted was a pocket bag I could overlock everything easily and together so it is stronger, and NO snipping into the seam. Oh, and so the pocket bag is set back a little from the side seam so shows less when being worn. And I wanted to press the side seam open. I thought I was really easy-going until I started writing sewing instructions 😉

NOW, if you want to make your pocket bags the traditional way, without the curvy bit, just chop off the extra on your pattern piece and carry on with your usual method, the whole point of making and sewing is to enjoy the process and what works for me may not work for you. But this is my method and I like it!


Firstly cut out your garment, make sure you cut 2 PAIRS of pocket bags (so you have 4 bags in total). Transfer the marker dot positions to your garment (chalk, tailor tacks – whatever works for you. I’ve used neon orange pen so it would show in the photos – I don’t recommend it!)  Fuse the strip of interfacing to the pocket mouth on the FRONT body.



Place the pocket bags to the front and back garment, with right sides of the fabric facing each other, and so the notches on the pocket bags line up with the side seam notches and stitch together with a 6mm seam allowance. Overlock (or neaten with your usual method) the raw edge of the pocket bag and garment together, starting and finishing about 3cm either side of pocket bag – (shown in green thread).


On the back seam – rather than starting the overlocking just above the pocket bag – start at the underarm and overlock the entire seam right down to the hem.  It’ll save you having to go back and overlocking the rest of that seam later. Which means you’ll have 1 less process to do and save at least 30 seconds – you’re welcome! 🙂



Press the pocket bags AWAY from the garment and understitch on the front pocket bags.



SIDE SEAM: Pin with right sides of fabric facing each other, line up the marker dots on the front body with the corresponding one on the back body. Take a 1cm seam allowance, start at the underarm and stitch down to the first marker dot, PIVOT * and stitch from the dot across the pocket bag until you are back at a 1cm seam allowance on the pocket bag. (The stitch line is marked on the pattern piece, so you could transfer the line across with chalk and a ruler if you wanted). Carry on around the pocket bag, and stitch TO the next marker dot, PIVOT again and continue down to the hem.

It’s a good idea to reinforce each of the corners at the pivot point as in-seam pockets can take quite a lot of stress. Set your machine to a smaller stitch length and just stitch a second machine row DIRECTLY ON TOP of your first row of stitching about 3cm either side of each marker dot. Don’t forget to put your stitch length back to your normal setting!

 *TO PIVOT: stitch to the marker dot, leave your machine needle IN your garment, lift your machine foot and turn your work in the direction you want to stitch, drop your foot back down and continue to stitch – makes a nice tidy corner!



Press the pocket bags towards the front body. Press the side seams OPEN above and below the pocket bag, as far as you can. Overlock the front side seam first, all the way around the pocket bag – it’s easier because of the curved shape!!!

THIS STEP IS THE ORIGINAL METHOD: (you can skip this step if you are following the updated method!) On the back side seam: overlock (shown in pink) from the underarm down to the pocket bag and overlap the new overlocking (pink thread) over the original overlocking (green thread), so there are no raw edges. Restart the overlocking below the pocket bag, again being sure to overlap as before, so the entire seam is neatened.

And from the right side…


Ta Da! ‘Tis a thing of beauty!

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How to Stitch in the Ditch Tutorial

The French Dart Shift pattern has a lovely roll collar that needs to be finished at the neckline so it is neat and secure to the inside of the garment. I could have finished the neckline with a facing, but it would have annoyed me flapping about, so instead it’s held in place by a row of machine stitching called ‘Stitch in the Ditch’.

I’ve always called this technique ‘Sink Stitching’, but in an incredibly unscientific poll on Instagram consisting of at least 4 comments, ‘Stitch in the Ditch’ came out top as the preferred name – so I’ll try to remember to stick with that for this ‘How to Stitch in the Ditch’ Tutorial.

I’ve touched on the ‘Stitch in the Ditch’ technique before in the binding tutorial. It’s a very handy little process that can be used to stitch down waistbands and facings, as well as bindings, and often used in quilting too. It’s perfect when you don’t want any topstitching to show from the front of your garment. I’ve based this tutorial as if you are stitching the collar on the French Dart Shift so you have a folded edge to cover your seam with, but you could just stitch in the ditch at side seams to hold down a waist facing, or in a shoulder seam to hold a neck facing, or just overlock the bottom of a waistband and stitch in the ditch through the waist seam to secure in place. 


DENIM = garment, PRINT = collar ( *could be binding, waistband, facing…you get the idea…)



Press all the seam allowances AWAY from garment. Cover the machine stitching by about 2mm with edge of collar (*waistband, binding, facing…) and tack to hold in place.

DSC_03502. Now you get to stitch in the ditch…

With RIGHT SIDE of garment facing you, line up your machine needle with the groove (the ditch) of the seam and stitch right IN that groove. That’s it, easy peasy! It’s all in the prep, as long as you stitch IN the groove and to the right of your tacking thread the back will be caught and your stitches will be virtually invisible as they will ‘settle’ into the groove of the seam.


3. Stating the obvious here: I’ve stitched in red, but stitch in the same colour as your main fabric even if you are using a contrasting topstitching colour so those stitches do actually sink in to the groove and disappear.

Also it doesn’t look SO great if your needle jumps out of the groove! I did that on purpose, just to show you – honestly, the sacrifices I make 😉