Pocket-Sized Travel Tip

POCKET-SIZED TRAVEL TIP

Fellow lady travelers, this blog post is for you!!

At the end of last month I attended a mandatory three-day Fulbright pre-departure orientation in Washington DC. One of the group sessions, led by a panel of former scholar and student Fulbrights, covered a range of topics related to health and safety. During the session, a former Fulbright who was working in Uganda provided a lot of great advice on how to safely carry money when you are out and about. He talked about dividing up amounts and separating them into various pockets, that way you only show taxi drivers and street vendors small amounts of cash. Also, if you are forced to pay a bribe, you can pull out a small wad and say, “Look, this is alllll I have!!”

As this savvy Fulbright explained, on any given day, if you tipped him upside down and shook him you would make a fortune! Otherwise you’d only ever see him pull out about five dollars at a time. Very clever advice!

However, the entire time I was listening to all this great safety advice I just kept thinking, “Wow, wouldn’t that be nice!” Ladies, you probably know exactly where I am going with this, right?? Um…..I don’t have any pockets!! I know some of you may be getting ready to tell me that major travel brands like Eddie Bauer, North Face, Columbia, and Patagonia actually do make pants for women that have lots of fancy pockets. Don’t worry, I know.

Here’s the problem: in the part of Africa where I will be living and working, it is culturally unacceptable for me to wear pants. I will be spending the next 10 months in long skirts and dresses with, you guessed it, no pockets. This is something I’ve been worrying about a lot. It’s not just about carrying money carefully. Hello, what about my phone? My passport? Even just a tube of chap stick! Forget about it. Women’s skirts and dresses are not designed with the savvy traveler in mind.  

But wait!

With the help of my mother (who is a magical, crafty mermaid), I found a creative solution! I bought some cheap, fuller bodied skirts at Burlington Coat Factory and then we found a simple pattern online and added pockets right into the seam! This is a very simple solution to a girl's pocket problem and it can be done to work with any skirt or dress that has a side seam. If there is no seam, you will have to settle for an external pocket, and that is not as safety-savvy compared to a hidden, in-seam pocket.

Here's what you need:

  • skirt or dress (fuller body is better to conceal the pockets)
  • cotton blend fabric for pockets (any color works, we used black)
  • sewing machine
  • seam ripper of scissors
  • paper (for tracing a pocket before cutting fabric)

Here is a great blog post on adding in-seam pockets: How To Sew Inseam Pockets to a Skirt/Dress. I summarize how my mom added the pockets below; it pretty much follows the advice from this blog. If you need to see a video, there are tons out there, just google! 

 1) MAKE A POCKET: You want to use the shape of your hand as a guide for the size of the pocket (remember: you need two pieces of fabric to make the pocket). You can start by tracing on paper, then pin the paper to the pocket fabric and cut from there. Splay your fingers a bit to give the pocket more room. Be sure to angle the pocket downward, think more of a teardrop shape, so it is more natural for the stuff to stay down in the pocket. 

1) MAKE A POCKET: You want to use the shape of your hand as a guide for the size of the pocket (remember: you need two pieces of fabric to make the pocket). You can start by tracing on paper, then pin the paper to the pocket fabric and cut from there. Splay your fingers a bit to give the pocket more room. Be sure to angle the pocket downward, think more of a teardrop shape, so it is more natural for the stuff to stay down in the pocket. 

 2) SEW IT IN: Rip the seam about 8" from the top of the skirt and rip it a bit beyond the actual size of the pocket. You will sew each pocket piece to the skirt, right sides together, then go back over the seam before you go around the pocket itself to seal the two pocket pieces together. My mom went back over the edges of the pocket using a zigzag stitch, just to give it a little more durability. 

2) SEW IT IN: Rip the seam about 8" from the top of the skirt and rip it a bit beyond the actual size of the pocket. You will sew each pocket piece to the skirt, right sides together, then go back over the seam before you go around the pocket itself to seal the two pocket pieces together. My mom went back over the edges of the pocket using a zigzag stitch, just to give it a little more durability. 

 
 VOILA! Perfect pockets!   For extra security, you could even add a little piece of velcro or a button to keep them shut! 

VOILA! Perfect pockets! 

For extra security, you could even add a little piece of velcro or a button to keep them shut! 

 

A few pieces of advice:

1) Don't place the pockets too low! If they are too low, you will not be able to get your hands down into them. When in doubt, always add them a little bit higher than you think is natural so they sit on your hips, rather than down by your knees! 

2) Use a durable fabric! Don't use a fabric that is too stretchy or silky for the pockets. I recommend a cotton blend that will be more durable. 

3) Angle the pocket down! Your pocket will work best and keep everything in if you angle the shape down. Don't just trace your hand; trace it at an angle as if it were angled down into an actual pocket. 

Happy crafting, savvy traveler!