UPDATE! I’m in the process of getting these produced via Betabrand, but I need your votes to make it happen. Help me make these available to purchase!
How and Why I Made My Own Dang Pair of Pocket Underpants
Sometimes I feel like a sadly soft urbanite with no survival skills. I mean, who doesn’t want to know how to build their own house out of logs or make a canoe out of the trunk of a tree? Who doesn’t want nun-chuck skills?
Two skills I do have though — and I am glad I do because they’re really useful during travel — are 1) seeing solutions to rig my gear and 2) basic sewing skills.
About a year and a half ago I was enamored with the idea of underwear with pockets in them. How could this not be better than the standard money belt situation? And oh how they’d make wearing a skirt more feasible for a gal who hates carrying a bag. So I found a pair and ordered them. Sadly, they disappointed me in several ways (some of which I outline here) and have since become more or less dead weight in my bag. [gasp!] I hate dead weight in my bag… but I am still enamored with the idea of underpants with pockets in them.
So finally, I decided it was time to do a little clothing reconciliation in the shorts department. I have been carrying a pair of athletic shorts that are worn out and tend to expose my butt cheeks if I’m doing any inverted poses in yoga (i.e. headstands = me flashing you). And I’ve also been carrying that pair of disappointing pocket underpants. I decided could replace both of those things with one pair of custom-made shorts. And this is how I made that happen.
First, I decided on the features that I wanted:
- Thin fabric and body-fitting cut so that they can be worn under a skirt or pants
- Mostly cotton (breathability) and durable enough so the seams won’t tear
- Long enough to be appropriate as athletic shorts and to house long pockets
- Long pockets so that a passport can ride on the thigh and not the hip crease region
- 2 pockets in front with zipper closure
- Pockets made of mesh for better dry time
- Pockets tacked down so that they don’t get turned inside out when I pull a passport out
- Bonus feature: 1 horizontal back zipper (which I have not actually done yet)
Then, I gathered my supplies:
- Needle and thread that I bought in Guatemala
- Meshy fabric that I bought in Panama for another project involving soap and garlic… oh it’s a good one.
- Zippers from a sewing store here in Colombia — somehow they didn’t have black. Why? I don’t know. So I went with a purple/red that would go with my bathing suit top.
- And a pair of shorts made here in Colombia
- A safety pin
Then, I got to work. I laid the zippers down on the shorts to determine where to cut the slit for each pocket. Then cut the slit. Now I was committed. There was no going back.
I made the pockets out of the mesh fabric by making a pouch for each of the zippers. Since the mesh is kind of thin, I doubled it. I also wanted to make sure they were the right length — long enough to hold a passport in the right place and but not long enough to hang out of the bottom. Another feature is that the fold of the fabric is on the bottom of the pocket. This means there is no seam or weakness in the part of the pocket that would endure the wear. Pokey passport corners will not be a problem for these pockets and they’ll hold small coins or whatever I may pick up just fine.
Once a pocket was ready, I installed it into the shorts by setting it inside the shorts and lining the zipper up with the slit. Though my pocket-to-zipper stitching was not terribly neat, my pocket-to-shorts stitching was much neater. After all, these are the stitches that would be exposed.
Lastly, I tacked the bottom of the pocket into place along the cuff seam of the shorts. No one will notice the tacking from the outside and I won’t have to worry about turning my pockets inside out every time I reach in.
And here’s the finished product.
With my shirt down in its normal location, no one would ever know about the zippers.
I have to admit, this is really exciting to me. Not only have I solved the problems that I had with 2 differently-functioning pieces of clothing that I had been carrying, I condensed them in to 1 totally awesome and functional pair of shorts.
So hooray for sewing skills. And maybe, just maybe, the next time we meet, I will have picked up some awesome nun-chuck skills too. I already have fencing under my belt…