Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Presenting the portable pocket

One of my biggest pet peeves about women's clothing is that it so often lacks pockets. I understand the reasoning behind it: women are more likely to worry about looking fat, so they often prefer the slimmer profile of pants or skirts without pockets. But even full, voluminous skirts, like the one I bought for my local shopping challenge last spring, are often pocketless. I guess in these cases, the designers figure there's no need to go to the extra expense of adding pockets when most women carry purses anyway. But although I never go out without my purse, it really isn't a handy way to carry anything I need easy access to, such as a handkerchief. Although my current handbag is actually rather small by my usual standards, it still holds nearly as wide an assortment of stuff as Mary Poppins' carpet bag, and I'd never manage to hold off a sneeze long enough to find my handkerchief in amongst that lot.

I've seen various tutorials online on how to add pockets to a garment that lacks them, but with my rather rudimentary sewing skills, I've hesitated to try it for fear of ruining a perfectly good skirt. Besides, even if it worked, I'd still have to do it over again several times to modify every pocketless garment I own. What I really want is some sort of portable pocket that I can move from one garment to another, tucking it discreetly under the waistband. But how to hold it in place? Safety pins? Velcro? Hooks on the edge of the pocket that could attach to eyes sewed into the waistband of the skirt?

This morning, I found this idea niggling at me again, and I decided to go rummage through my bin of scrap fabric and see if any ideas struck me. What I originally had in mind was removing the pocket from an old pair of pants and seeing if I could rig up some sort of suspender for it, but when I came across an old pair of underpants that still had a serviceable waistband, I thought, "Hmm..." and I brought them upstairs to experiment.

First, I traced the rough outline of a U-shaped pocket onto the fabric just below the waistband. I made this one just big enough to hold a hanky, but you could do just about any size as long as you had enough intact fabric.

Next, I cut around the waistband and the outline of the pocket, giving me a circle of fabric with two attached flaps. I was in such a hurry to see how it turned out that I cut through both layers of fabric at once, and the resulting shapes came out a bit scraggly and uneven. If I attempt this again, I'll do it properly, tracing the outline on both sides of the fabric and cutting them separately.

I then sewed all the way around the edges of the flaps, making a little pouch attached to the waistband. At this point, the pocket was usable but not wearable, because the waistband was effectively sewed shut. But that was easy enough to fix... simply cutting across the top of one flap and then hemming it... produce a complete (if somewhat lopsided) pocket attached to a waist belt. Ladies and gentlemen (but especially ladies), I give you...the Underpocket!

This can be worn over top of my regular undies, underneath my skirt. It's not quite as accessible as a side seam pocket, but I can still slip my hand into it through the waistband of the skirt.

I wore this around all day and I found that it's not an ideal solution. Its waistband allows you to position the pocket anywhere you like, from right in front to over one hip, but that's not necessarily an advantage, since it makes it a bit tricky to find the pocket without looking. Also, even if I manage to locate the pocket with my hand, it's not that easy to fish anything out of it (though it's certainly easier than fishing in my pocketbook, which would probably require a rod and reel). So the design probably needs some modifications to make it more useful.

Still, it's far better than nothing, and as far as I can tell from Google, it's the only garment of its kind currently in existence. So unless someone else comes up with a better design, I'm going to keep fiddling around with mine, in the hope of one day bringing pockets to the pocketless masses.
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