Until the feminist revolution, we must make our own pockets
June 4, 2019 6:28 PM   Subscribe

My partner wants some way to carry stuff when they wear skirts. Purses are not an option. What can I DIY?

Partner has just bought some skirts for the first time in their life and loves them. They don't love the lack of pockets. I don't love carrying their stuff in my purse and standing there stupidly because I forgot I'm the one with the keys now and need to unlock the car. They don't want a purse, and would likely constantly forget it everywhere anyway. We saw this and thought it was perfect... except it's $30 with shipping. For $30, they could just buy a skirt with pockets.

I'm crafty, and figure I could rig something up similar (with the benefit of being able to make multiple different colors without breaking the bank). I thought there must be a pattern or tutorial for something like this but no dice. Am I right in thinking that all I have to do is sew a pouch that has a little flap that goes over the waistband of the skirt and has magnets strong enough to secure through the skirt fabric? Or are there risks to credit cards/phones, and the company has engineered some special magic formula to make sure the magnets are strong enough to secure but not damage things? If that's the case, could I just use some sort of clip? What kind of clip? What kind of fabric would be best? Please brainstorm with me!

Pertinent details:
- Partner would want to carry a Pixel XL, electronic key fob with a couple keys on it, a thick bifold wallet, and chapstick (all fits in their current pockets, would be open to double wielding if it wouldn't all fit in one pocket)
- They don't do any jogging or anything that would put heavy strain on whatever is securing it
- I have a sewing machine and have made a few basic things, though don't know any of the fancy techniques like buttonholing
- These skirts don't have belt loops, or they'd use one the many options for that use case
- A running belt is too much space/bulk in comparison to what they need
- Style is not a significant concern

Bonus: I would LOVE to be able to make some sort of Pokemon-related version of this for when they play PokeGo--I assume a Pokeball would make the most sense?

Yes I'm aware of how to put pockets in skirts with side seams, but I don't want to do that every time they get a new skirt.
posted by brook horse to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (32 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I would check out SPI belts. They are rather small when nothing is in them but hold a surprising amount. They don’t require any belt loops as they are often worn by runners.
posted by raccoon409 at 6:48 PM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I would love to make myself a successful pocket belt but so far I have not really managed to make one that works well. I have seen patterns for sporrans/pocket belts in the historical costume section of pattern books, but I don't know if you can consistently find one--you'd have to check a Joann's or something.

I would actually recommend that you buy some premade belt (try Etsy or maybe hippie stores) over trying to DIY, or at least practice for a while because these things have a lot of zippers and snaps and ties and whatnot and are pretty tricky to make AND fit on the body well AND hold up to the abuse of being worn a lot. They are usually way more than $30, but worth it to me.

As for magnets, I would not trust that a magnet would not slip or wiggle on me while I wore it, which is why I have not tried a gadget like this so far.

As for "for $30 you can find a skirt with pockets"--well, I have a lot of skirts and finding any with pockets, especially ones big enough for phones, is very goddamned difficult. I think paying for a pocket belt or gadget or whatever is actually worth the money because I use them all the time.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:50 PM on June 4, 2019 [19 favorites]

If the problem is that purses read as too feminine for their tastes, there are small bags that don't do that at all, e.g., Travel Cubelet (in Nebulous Grey or similar "masculine" color). The TC is what I use in summer when wearing a skirt and not wanting to lug my bigger bags around. Sounds like it would hold the load you describe. Anything you clip directly to your waistband is likely to chafe you, and I don't think magnets are reliable enough.
posted by praemunire at 6:58 PM on June 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If style isn’t much of a concern, I’d consider adding pockets to a belt. Not sure if that’s what jenfullmoon was getting at, but you’d need to make a pocket with something like belt loops on it. You could slide on any number of pockets to the belt. Of course, this assumes your partner could keep a belt up without belt loops. I lack the hips to manage that. This may be easier with belts that don’t use holes or have some stretch so you could make sure it was tight enough.
posted by advicepig at 7:14 PM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is my go to great for beginners pattern here. You can do this!
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 7:16 PM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Mini Waist Pack
a full fanny pack
a smaller belt bag
posted by soelo at 7:17 PM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Festival belt, utility belt, fanny pack, hip bag are some search terms. Something like this minus a couple of the pockets. If carrying a thick bifold wallet, I think you'd want something with a gusset.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:19 PM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I second the SPI belt linked by raccoon409. My 5yo uses one to keep a medical item on her person at all times. Hers is low profile and stretchy, fits snugly to her body, and doesn’t seem to interfere with any activity. The stretch seems able to accommodate a fair amount of stuff. I believe there is an adult version with two pouches on the waist strap, if you need to increase capacity. They aren’t super cheap but I feel like we are getting our money’s worth.
posted by telepanda at 7:44 PM on June 4, 2019

I thought these Bandi belts were cute.
posted by cda at 7:49 PM on June 4, 2019

Best answer: This might be weird, but reading your post, I was thinking about how women used to do pockets back in the day in some countries, or so I have heard -- there was a layer that was basically a waistband with pockets attached in that went under the skirt, which then had slits cut in the folds that one could reach into to access those pockets. Obviously this only works for fairly voluminous skirts, and you'd probably need a zipper on the slits, but I've considered doing something like this for myself before (loving skirts with pockets, not loving the way even fairly light items tend to mess with the way the skirt moves) so I figured I'd mention it.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 8:15 PM on June 4, 2019 [13 favorites]

Fanny packs/bumbags/belt bags are really "in" right now and don't require belt loops. There are various sizes. I agree with buying something versus DIY. Tiny zippers and tight corners aren't beginner friendly. If $30 will solve the problem then it's $30 well spent. (As an aside, Eshakti items often come with BIG pockets.)
posted by Crystalinne at 8:17 PM on June 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I'm not a big fan of purses. I have the Baggallini Bryant Pouch which I use a lot for this purpose. Check out how the strap clips on -- I wear it around my waist and that kind of clip is perfect. I actually have several bags that have that kind of clip. Struggling to get something on over your head is a huge pain, unclipping it and putting it around your waist is much better.

You can get clips like that at the craft store.

If it was me I would mock up your dream pocket in duct tape. Actually you can get super-strong magnets at the craft store too, so you could probably make a decent copy of the magnet pocket you linked to using duct tape. Just make sure you only have a single layer of tape over the magnet so it's not too weak.

You could make a really cool pokemon pocket pouch using colorful duct tape.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:22 PM on June 4, 2019

Best answer: I found this pattern on etsy for a minimalist festival belt, and find it so fetching I might have a go at it myself! Pluses: very sleek, with a form that won't go wandering all about the body. One would sling the fest belt slightly lower/looser than the top of the skirt, thus eliminating the need for loops.

I think the reason you are getting so many belt and crossbody recs is that something needs to bear the weight of the pouch's contents, and there are a million skirts out there that don't have the underlying structure to satisfy these weight-bearing requirements.

I could see placing buttons or a short strap onto every skirt that a pouch could latch on to; I'm really partial to strap and d-ring systems. But on anything stretchy or flowy, or less than a mid-to heavy weight, or that just has alot of ease at the waist area, that area is just going to be prone to sagging, even with reinforcement on the back ... unless you do a whole yoke, at which point you might as well just add pockets! Good luck!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:39 PM on June 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

Forgive me, but if the skirts are suitably sized, would it be possible to simply add pockets? Slit the skirt waist in suitable locations, hand-stitch (machine would be better, but probably not necessary) an empty pocket to the back side of the slit. Wouldn't work for very tight skirts, I expect.

For some materials I expect you'd need a reinforcing band stitched around the waist first.

If you do not trust yourself to do the sewing, tailor-type person (the ones that advertise they do alterations) should be able to install pockets for a reasonable price (not free, however, so if it's an H&M skirt then it's probably not worth getting it altered).
posted by aramaic at 9:22 PM on June 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

Best answer: This is also weird, but as a person who exclusively wears skirts, I’ve been experimenting with another way skirt wearing people historically added pockets—aprons. Waist aprons with flat front pouch pockets don’t add bulk to your hips, which can look or feel awkward, and are pretty easy to make in a variety of fabrics, and with dark colours and flat pockets aren’t very noticeable. Buttons for the ties make them swappable for different skirts and bra hooks to secure in back avoid that “server on break” look.
posted by zinful at 10:34 PM on June 4, 2019 [9 favorites]

Need for portable storage caused the birth of the fanny pack. Unfortunately, not a look to go with all outfits. (Or all waistlines.)
Best advice: complain loudly and often in stores that sell women's clothing that has no pockets! Nothing will bring on change as quickly as large pocket-less remainders.
Squeaking wheel and all that. If you demand change, change will happen.
posted by Cranberry at 1:10 AM on June 5, 2019

If that product is perfect you should spend the $30. The argument that you could buy a skirt with pockets doesn’t really hold water. 1) I think it’s actually difficult to find skirts with appropriately big enough pockets for your needs or else you wouldn’t be here asking this question 2) let alone for $30 and 3) if you buy this thing now ALL your skirts have pockets.

The effort you have to go through to find the right kind of fabric, probably more than you think in case you mess up and have to make more and your time spent on it. It’s not worth it. Just buy the pocket thing.

Plus once you have it in your hands you can better reverse engineer it to make custom ones if you still desire to do so.
posted by like_neon at 1:51 AM on June 5, 2019 [12 favorites]

I tried a money clip belt, sort of a similar design to SPI belts linked above, for running. I am not a huge fan -- aside from the aesthetics, which are weird whether you wear them over or under your clothes, dealing with the zipper is annoying. My solution for the lack of skirt pockets is a combination of paring down what I really needed to carry on a daily basis -- turns out that 99% of the time I need one credit card, not my entire wallet -- and wearing a hoodie or other light jacket with pockets. Of course, I live in a climate where wearing a hoodie or light jacket is seasonally appropriate year-round. YMMV.
posted by phoenixy at 1:51 AM on June 5, 2019

If rummaging around through a pocket from the top of the waistband wouldn’t be an issue, you could make a pocket with a long flap and attach it to the inside of the skirt, flap open, machine stitching it through the flap and “stitching in-the-ditch”, where the waistband meets the skirt. Then the flap could be flipped over on the inside to protect the pocket contents. Of course, this assumes that the skirt is full enough to camouflage the bulkiness of the pocket contents at that location.
posted by sarajane at 3:52 AM on June 5, 2019

In your shoes, I would buy the Pocket Plus and then carefully examine it and try to figure out how to duplicate it. That way, your partner will have access to something that they know works right away, and you'll have time to work on further options in a range of colors etc.

I have to concur with the people saying that trying to DIY this without a template will likely cost you more than $30 if you factor in mistakes. In particular, the prospect of trying to duplicate the magnetic attachment without having seen/used anything similar before would make me really uneasy - suppose you guess wrong about the type/strength of magnets needed, and your chosen magnets fail while your partner is hustling across a crosswalk to beat a red light and their phone gets wrecked on the pavement?
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:04 AM on June 5, 2019

FWIW, if I needed to carry a phone, thick wallet, and keys without a purse or pockets, I would almost certainly go for a fanny pack over something like the Pocket Plus. That's a lot of bulk for a flat fabric bag, and even if fashion isn't a concern I would think it would get uncomfortable, and likely pull down on half the waistband of the skirt.

If your partner is someone who's used to carrying stuff around exclusively in pockets, I get why their default solution to the skirt problem is "just add an aftermarket pocket" - but a fanny pack is fundamentally the exact same concept in a sturdier, less fiddly form.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:13 AM on June 5, 2019 [9 favorites]

My tailor (the lady at the dry cleaners, not terribly fancy) will add pockets to skirts for $5, so it might be worth dropping by your local dry cleaners/tailors and seeing if they can just add them for a small fee.

She adds the pocket by picking the seam and inserting a little cloth pouch and I have the option of open pockets or zippered closed pockets for $2 extra per pocket. I've added pockets myself onto my kids clothes using this method and it's super easy.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 5:54 AM on June 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Adding the described items to side pockets in a skirt material will likely result in the skirt hanging strangely unless it is made with unusually sturdy fabric. So that is another thing to consider. Your best bet might be a belt bag. And at that point buying the linked one would be your best bet, if you’re all sure it’s big enough. She can use it with all the skirts including future ones.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:06 AM on June 5, 2019

Agreeing that you've hit a stroke of luck that fanny packs/bum bags are super in right now. This is really the best solution -- holds itself up, doesn't require a belt, shouldn't chafe you (that Pocket Plus looks like a nonstop trip to Chafetown), and will hold all the things you require. And right now, you can find them in literally any material or style you desire and at any price point.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:19 AM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

(Examples if you require proof that this shit is hot right now. Way, way out of your stated price range though.)
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:29 AM on June 5, 2019

FWIW, if I needed to carry a phone, thick wallet, and keys without a purse or pockets, I would almost certainly go for a fanny pack over something like the Pocket Plus. That's a lot of bulk for a flat fabric bag, and even if fashion isn't a concern I would think it would get uncomfortable, and likely pull down on half the waistband of the skirt.

Agreed. This is why I like non-purse-like purses. "Men's purse" is a decent keyword. So is "crossbody" because then the strap goes across your body rather than constantly sliding off your shoulder. (I personally like stuff shaped like this.) The bonus is, you don't have to move your stuff out of your pockets at night and into your pockets the next morning, and you only have to keep track of The Bag rather than the four singular items (keys, phone, etc.) individually. I find it all pretty functional.
posted by salvia at 12:59 PM on June 5, 2019

One way I have convinced myself to always wear a waist pack is by never ever even thinking of it by the odious terms "fannypack" or "bumbag." I call them a name I learned in Jamaica, "Wrap Kit." I find the belt packs that are made flat instead of the rounded outward thrust style look a lot nicer. In a pinch, if you don't want to be caught wearing one, you can sling it from your shoulder or wear it crossbody.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 2:21 PM on June 5, 2019

I bought the Running Buddy XXL Buddy Pouch at Target and it works very well for holding large phone, keys etc. while exercising. It uses extra strong magnets (4 on the front flap and four on the back flap). I’ve never had a problem with credit cards. It costs $26 plus tax so out of your price range but maybe you could go in a Target (cell phone accessories department) and analyze the construction.
posted by LiverOdor at 5:10 PM on June 5, 2019

Response by poster: Thanks for the input all! "For $30 I could buy a skirt with pockets" was mostly a joke, I just have sooooo many random-ass craft materials lying around (and have a deep fashion for fucking around with said materials until I get something that works) that it made more sense to try and make something. The problem with purses was back and shoulder pain + ADHD, not femininity, and fanny packs were out because, I quote, "I don't care if they're in fashion, I think they look dumb as hell." Y'all are probably right that magnets would have not been a good solution, though.

I winged a combination of this (thanks tipsyBumblee!) and this (thanks soelo!) and this is what I came up with. Fabric and zipper I already had, I had to buy the clasp and elastic for a total of $6 (though it came with three clasps, so I've got two left over to make more). Partner adores it and it served them very well during a Florida vacation, including a Disney trip. Unexpectedly, it also perfectly fits their Kindle, so they've been using it even when wearing jeans for extra pocket space. It's been a month and they still tell me how much they love it multiple times a week so y'all can call this one a success, Metafilter. You're the best.
posted by brook horse at 2:32 PM on July 18, 2019 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: Missed the edit window: I have a deep passion but that was an appropriate slip.
posted by brook horse at 2:50 PM on July 18, 2019

I don't care if they're in fashion, I think they look dumb as hell.

So, you made a rectangular fanny pack?

I kid, I kid.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:38 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The photos may not make it clear, but they wear it on the side, so technically it's a hip bag. ;)
posted by brook horse at 4:36 PM on July 20, 2019

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