Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

DIY Secret Pockets

So I have been alarmed at the increase in reports about pickpocketing and theft on the Camino.
I have tried various types of money belts and secret pockets and in the end I had decided I liked the kind that threads onto a belt (which goes around your waist) and hangs inside your waistline. But there is always the threat of someone cutting that off and grabbing it and what do you do with it at night, etc.

So I decided to sew some secret pockets into my Macabi Skirt.

This project would work on any skirt or hiking pant.
You just need to be aware of beltloops, and not sew over them.
I did that the first time around, and had to remedy it.

This entire project (with mistakes and corrections) took me a total of 20 minutes.
Here's how I did it.

First, you will need a "secret pocket" of some type.
I had several old neck versions like this:

You will also need some strong but flexible fabric 
to make the little extra "tab" that the pocket hangs from.  
I think some strapping or strong ribbon would work great.
However, I felt old wool clothes, and had some interfacing fabric I'd cut out of some pants
and so I used that.
You can see it under the pocket.

The first thing I did was cut the straps off the pocket.

Next, I folded a piece of the interfacing into a strip 4 thick.
It was very thin and I wanted it to be strong.
I serged this strip onto the top of the pocket,
being VERY careful not to cut the pocket itself.
If you don't have a serger, you could just zigzag this a couple of times.

Here is the pocket with the strip serged on.

Here is the front with the serged strip folded up.

Next, I serged the sides of the strip.
Here is where I made a mistake and serged down the closing tab of the pocket. 

Luckily it was easy to fix when I found it.
I just used a seam ripper and took out those stitches.

Next, I topstitched the strip onto the front of the pocket.

Here is the finished pocket with the strip sewn on,
and the mistake stitches removed.

It still opens nicely.
You have to be careful and be SURE you catch the top of the pocket
but stay VERY close to the edge so it will still open.

Here, I've placed the pocket on the inside of my skirt.
NOTICE the opening FACES THE inside of the skirt.
This is so when you flip it to the outside,
the pocket is facing outside.
You'll see...

This part is tricky.
You must sew the pocket onto the waistband of the skirt or pants.
You must be careful to stretch the waistband if it is elastic.
In my case, on the Macabi, the waist is elastic.
In some pants and skirts, it is not such an issue.
When stretching the bottom layer, 
you must hold BOTH layers and pull them apart,
and at the same time, keep your pocket in place.
It takes some sewing practice.

Here is the pocket sewn into my Macabi skirt.

This is what it looks like from the outside.
You can't even tell it's there.
I did make a second mistake and sewed across one of the belt loops.
I fixed that by sewing two short lines DOWNward on each side of the loop,
then removing the stitches going across.
Does that make sense?

Here is the pocket from the inside of the skirt.
The soft part is toward your body and the "pocket" part is facing the skirt.

Here is the pocket flipped to the outside.

Here is the pocket flipped to the outside when I'm wearing the skirt.
I'm so stoked!

Remember, this is NOT how you wear the pocket.
It should always be INSIDE your skirt!
I just flip it out to get into it when I'm in private, like in the bathroom.
NEVER in a public place.

* * *

After I finished, I rounded up another pocket I had laying around
and I put it into my black Macabi skirt.

I measured out some lining fabric and doubled it.

Here, I have made the Strip (using my serger)  from which 
the pocket will hang.

Here is the back of the pocket:

And here is the pocket flipped out for access.
I can't believe I haven't done this until now!

Again, this is just to show you how the pocket flips out.
NEVER take it out in public.
Access it in the privacy of the bathroom or your bedroom.
I'm going to put pockets in EVERYTHING!
Next, I have a blog on putting pocket in my HAT!

Of course, what this means is that I will have to 
remove everything from these pockets at night
and put them into the pockets I"m going to sew into my night clothes,
or ..
just wear the skirt or pants to bed and be dressed for morning!

Think it through,
but whatever you decide to do,



  1. Very cool! I'm jazzed to have just gotten my Mother's 1910 Singer sewing machine figured out I started tailoring the skirt I bought from you and it's SO FUN!

  2. I think this year I'm going to put one more secret pocket into my Macabi, maybe midway between waist and hem, on the inside, where I can keep a second credit card in case of emergency.

  3. I went through love/hate stages with this pocket and in the end I loved it more than I hated it.
    One thing I learned was NOT to fill it up until after going through security.
    The only other thing is having a place to put things when you wash the skirt, but I only have to wash the Macabi once or twice on the Camino, so it's not that big of a deal. I just bought another Macabi for 2016 and I'm putting a secret pocket into it. No more waist belt driving me crazy!

  4. I'm picking up my RFID money belt today and hope to sew it into one of my garments using your technique. Thanks, Annie!!!

  5. Which orientation do you prefer? The original "portrait" or the newer "landscape"? I have an older Eagle Creek like your first one that I think I'll try but I'm thinking I might like the second one better!

    1. I thought about that too kitkatnit, but I only have the wide version. It'll be interesting to see what you do and think, as well!

  6. I actually found the first one to be more comfortable, Kat.

  7. This year, 2017, I put a secret pocket in my leggings so when I wash my clothes, I can transfer my cash/passport to the clothes I wear in the albergue.


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