Fashion Futures Update: T-shirt Hack Tutorial

Fashion Futures is a 2014 Collaborative Community Project led by the Textile Museum of Canada in partnership with SKETCH, the AGO’s “After 3” Program and the Toronto Public Library. For more details, visit the Fashion Futures’ project portfolio.

This blog originally appeared on the Textile Museum of Canada’s Tumblr.


How will fashion respond to global issues such as climate change and vulnerable economic conditions in the future? How can you transform an everyday garment, like the ubiquitous t-shirt, to be more responsive to a wide range of situations through innovative design?

These were questions posed to a group of young women at SKETCH during our most recent Fashion Futures workshop. Inspired by Lucy Orta’s Refuge Wear, participants transformed t-shirts to be more adaptable to changes in weather. Sleeves and hoods were added; button bands allowed for the t-shirt to be worn open or closed; tabs were added to hold rolled up sleeves in place; pockets were added to store precious and necessary items.

This post illustrates one of these transformations: adding hidden side pockets. Follow these instructions to hack your own t-shirt!

Step 1:

Decide how big you want the opening of your pocket to be. A good reference is the width of your hand to ensure you can reach into your pocket. Add an extra inch to this measurement (A).

Step 2:

Draft your own pocket pattern on scrap paper and referring to the image below. The number you calculated above (A) will be the length of the straight line that marks the opening of the pocket; the image below gives you a general idea of the shape of the pocket. Cut out the pocket pattern.


Step 3:

Choose the fabric you want to use for your pocket. Fold the fabric in half, pin your pattern to the fabric, trace and cut out. You should have two identical pocket pieces.

Step 4:

Lay pocket piece along the right seam of the t-shirt to decide on its placement. Using contrasting thread, handstitch across the seam to mark the placement of the top of the pocket and the bottom of the pocket. Repeat on the other side.


Step 5:

Turn t-shirt inside out. You should be able to see the contrasting thread on this reverse side. Unpick stitches connecting the front and back of the t-shirt together between the two pieces of contrasting thread. You may want to stitch along the seam away from the contrasting thread markers to reinforce the existing seam.


Step 6:

Turn the t-shirt right side out. Pin first pocket piece to back of the t-shirt, along the edge that you just created by unpicking the stitches. Line up the top and bottom of the pocket with your contrasting thread markers and sew together. (You may find it easier to handstitch this seam than use a machine!) Fold pocket into t-shirt and press seam. Repeat with second pocket, attaching second pocket piece to the front of the t-shirt in the same manner.


Step 7:

Turn t-shirt inside out. Pin both pocket pieces together along the edges, and sew together. Turn T-shirt right side out. One pocket is now complete! Repeat on the other side of t-shirt if so desired.