Add patch pockets to a skirt | The Great British Sewing Bee

Are you watching The Great British Sewing Bee? I’m addicted! The Alteration Challenge for Week 2 is to add patch pockets to a skirt. If you fancy having a go yourself, try this fab and easy project by Marion Elliott, taken from Get the Most from Your Sewing Machine.

Add patch pockets to a skirt … in the style of The Great British Sewing Bee!

I’m usually good at getting rid of old clothes, but sometimes I find a piece of clothing whose colour or fabric is so fabulous that I can’t bear to get rid of it. When this happens, I put it to one side, ready to be transformed into something new.  This funky floral skirt started life as a smock top, but courtesy of my trusty sewing machine, a one-off design was soon created. To breathe new life into a second skirt, I simply added a narrow pleated edging in contrasting fabric around the hem.

add patch pockets to a skirt in the style of the Great British Sewing Bee

Patch Pocket Panache

You Will Need

  • Old item of clothing and matching thread
  • Pencil and metal ruler
  • Scissors
  • 2m (2¼yd) ric rac and matching thread
  • Fabric glue
  • Dressmaking pins
  • 2 buttons
  • Iron
  • 18cm (7in) skirt zip
  • Tacking (basting) cotton and needle
  • Skirt paper pattern
  • Hook and bar fastening
  • Sewing machine


1 To make the patch pockets, fold your old item of clothing in half, right sides facing, and mark out a rectangle measuring 16.5 x 16cm (61?2 x 61?4in), using the original hemmed edge for the pocket tops (the shorter edge) if possible. Cut out through both layers to make two pockets. Press under a 1.5cm (5?8in) hem at the sides and bottom of each pocket. Cut a length of ric rac to fit the top of each. Attach with a little fabric glue, then machine stitch in place with matching thread.

The Great British Sewing Bee | Add pockets to a skirt

2 To attach the patch pockets, pin in place to the skirt front, spacing them evenly. Using the zipper foot and matching thread, machine stitch to the skirt, sewing as close to the pocket edge as you can. Sew a button to the centre of the top edge of each.

The Great British Sewing Bee | Add pockets to a skirt

3 To finish the skirt, press under a narrow double hem around the lower edge and machine stitch in place, again using the zipper foot to get close to the folded edge. Add a trim of ric rac, as in Step 1. Press under the seam allowance at the side. Pin and tack (baste) the zip into the side seam, following your pattern instructions, then machine stitch in place using the zipper foot. Add a waistband according to your pattern and sew on a hook and bar fastening.

The Great British Sewing Bee | Add pockets to a skirt

Upcycling buttons

I’ve topped off the decoration on the patch pockets of my ‘new’ skirt with contrasting brightly coloured buttons, and used sewing thread in the buttonholes to match the pink of the ric rac trim for a coordinated look. The four-hole variety will give you the chance to sew a bold cross stitch in contrasting thread. Second-hand clothes are an ideal source of unusual buttons – garments that you may otherwise reject may have wonderful buttons, so grab them when you get the chance.

The Great British Sewing Bee | Add pockets to a skirt


This project was excerpted from Get The Most from Your Sewing Machine by Marion Elliott.

get the most from your sewing machine

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Blog, Sewing, Upcycling

About Ame

Ame Verso is the daughter of legendary cross stitch designer Jo Verso and has been cross stitching since the age of 10. She also sews and crochets and is the face of the SewandSo YouTube channel.