How to Open Sewn Shut Pockets Easily and Safely: A Step by Step Guide (2023)

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how to open sewn shut pockets

Common Reasons Why Pockets Might Be Sewn Shut in Clothing

There are several reasons why pockets might be sewn shut in clothing. One common reason is to maintain the shape and appearance of the garment during transportation and display. Sewing the pockets shut prevents them from becoming misshapen or stretched out during handling, shipping, and hanging on store racks. This ensures that the garment looks its best when it reaches the customer.

Another reason for sewing pockets shut is to prevent items from falling out or getting lost during production or storage. If a garment is being manufactured or stored in a factory setting, sewing the pockets closed can help prevent small objects, such as buttons or thread, from accidentally falling into the pocket and causing damage to the garment.

In some cases, pockets may also be sewn shut to create a more streamlined silhouette. This is often seen in formal wear or tailored garments where designers want to achieve a clean and polished look without any bulges or distractions caused by items placed in the pocket.

Determining If Your Clothing’s Pockets Are Sewn Shut or Temporarily Closed

To determine if your clothing’s pockets are sewn shut or temporarily closed, you can perform a simple inspection. Look closely at the top edge of the pocket opening on both sides of the garment. If you see a line of stitching running across the top edge, it indicates that the pocket has been sewn shut. The stitching will usually be close to the fabric edge and may be done with a matching thread color.

If there is no visible stitching across the top edge of the pocket opening, it means that the pocket is temporarily closed using temporary stitches or basting stitches. These stitches are easily removable and intended to keep the pocket closed during transportation and display but can be easily undone by pulling on one end of the thread.

If you are unsure whether the pockets are sewn shut or temporarily closed, you can also feel for any stitching inside the pocket itself. If you feel a line of stitching running along the bottom or sides of the pocket, it indicates that the pocket has been sewn shut.

Tools and Materials Needed to Open Sewn Shut Pockets


  • Seam ripper or small scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • Iron and ironing board (optional)


  • Matching thread
  • Sewing needle or sewing machine
  • Tailor’s chalk or disappearing fabric marker (optional)

Techniques and Methods for Opening Sewn Shut Pockets

There are several techniques and methods you can use to open sewn shut pockets. The method you choose will depend on your skill level, available tools, and the type of fabric used in your garment. Here are a few common techniques:

Using a Seam Ripper:

This is one of the most common methods for opening sewn shut pockets. A seam ripper is a small tool with a sharp hook-shaped blade that can be inserted under stitches to cut them without damaging the fabric. To use a seam ripper, gently slide the pointed tip under the stitches holding the pocket closed and carefully cut through them. Take care not to push too hard or pull on the fabric excessively to avoid tearing or stretching it.

Cutting Stitches with Small Scissors:

If you don’t have a seam ripper, you can also use small scissors to cut through the stitches. Insert the tip of the scissors under the stitches and carefully snip them one by one. Be cautious not to cut too close to the fabric to avoid accidentally cutting into it.

Using a Sewing Machine:

If you are comfortable using a sewing machine, you can also use it to open sewn shut pockets. Set your machine to a straight stitch and carefully sew along the line of stitching that holds the pocket closed. Use a seam ripper or small scissors to remove any remaining stitches and thread.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Opening Sewn Shut Pockets Without Damaging the Fabric

  1. Inspect the pocket: Examine the pocket closely to determine if it is sewn shut or temporarily closed. Look for visible stitching across the top edge of the pocket opening or feel for any stitching inside the pocket itself.
  2. Gather necessary tools and materials: Collect all the tools and materials needed, such as a seam ripper or small scissors, matching thread, sewing pins, and a sewing needle or machine.
  3. Select an opening method: Choose a suitable technique for opening your sewn shut pockets based on your skill level, available tools, and fabric type.
  4. Prepare the garment: If necessary, iron the garment using a low heat setting to remove any wrinkles or creases around the pocket area. This will make it easier to work with.
  5. Start removing stitches: Begin removing stitches from one end of the pocket using your chosen method (seam ripper, small scissors, or sewing machine). Take care not to pull on or stretch the fabric excessively while cutting through stitches.
  6. Continue removing stitches: Work your way along both sides of the pocket until all stitches holding the pocket closed have been removed. Take your time and be patient to avoid damaging the fabric.
  7. Press the pocket open: Once all stitches have been removed, use an iron on a low heat setting to press the pocket open. This will help remove any remaining creases and give the pocket a more natural appearance.
  8. Optional: Resew the pocket (if desired): If you want to secure the pocket opening or reinforce any weak stitching, you can choose to sew it back together using a needle and matching thread or a sewing machine.

Precautions and Safety Measures When Opening Sewn Shut Pockets

When opening sewn shut pockets, it is important to take certain precautions and safety measures to avoid damaging the fabric or injuring yourself:

  • Work in a well-lit area: Make sure you have sufficient lighting to clearly see what you are doing. This will help prevent accidental cuts or damage to the fabric.
  • Use sharp tools: Ensure that your seam ripper or scissors are sharp. Dull tools can make it difficult to cut through stitches cleanly, increasing the risk of accidentally cutting into the fabric.
  • Be gentle: Avoid pulling on or stretching the fabric excessively while removing stitches. Excessive force can lead to tearing or distorting the fabric.
  • Take breaks if needed: If you find yourself getting frustrated or tired during the process, take short breaks. This will help maintain your focus and prevent mistakes caused by fatigue.

Resewing Pockets After Opening Them: Techniques to Use

If you want to resow your pockets after opening them, there are several techniques you can use depending on your skill level and desired outcome:

Hand sewing:

If you prefer hand sewing, you can use a needle and matching thread to sew the pocket opening back together. Choose a suitable stitch, such as a slip stitch or whip stitch, and carefully sew along the edge of the fabric to secure it. Take small, even stitches to ensure a neat and secure finish.

Machine sewing:

If you have access to a sewing machine and are comfortable using it, you can use it to resow your pockets. Set your machine to a straight stitch or zigzag stitch (depending on the fabric type) and sew along the edge of the pocket opening. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching for added durability.

Alternative Methods or Hacks for Accessing Contents of Sewn Shut Pockets

If you need temporary access to the contents of sewn shut pockets but don’t want to fully open them, there are alternative methods or hacks you can try:

  • Use a seam ripper or small scissors to carefully cut only a portion of the stitches holding the pocket closed. This will create a small opening that allows you to retrieve or insert items without fully opening the pocket.
  • If your garment has a lining, check if there is an opening in the lining that allows access to the pocket from inside. You may be able to reach into the lining and retrieve items without having to open up the pocket itself.
  • In some cases, you may be able to gently pull apart the top edges of the pocket without cutting any stitches. This can create enough space for accessing small items without fully opening or damaging the pocket.

Time and Difficulty Involved in Opening Sewn Shut Pockets

The time and difficulty involved in opening sewn shut pockets can vary depending on factors such as the type of fabric, stitch density, and your skill level. In general, it is a relatively straightforward process that can be completed within a few minutes to an hour.

If you are a beginner or unfamiliar with sewing techniques, it may take a bit longer as you become accustomed to using tools like seam rippers or small scissors. However, with practice and patience, you should be able to open sewn shut pockets without much difficulty.

Tips and Experiences for Successfully Opening Sewn Shut Pockets

  • Take your time: Rushing through the process can lead to mistakes or accidental damage to the fabric. Take your time and work carefully.
  • Practice on scrap fabric: If you are unsure about using a seam ripper or cutting stitches with small scissors, practice on scrap fabric first to gain confidence and improve your technique.
  • Use caution with delicate fabrics: Delicate fabrics such as silk or chiffon require extra care when opening sewn shut pockets. Use sharp tools and handle the fabric gently to avoid snags or tears.
  • Test thread color: Before sewing the pocket back together, test the thread color on a small inconspicuous area of the garment to ensure it matches well.
  • Inspect for loose threads: After opening sewn shut pockets, check for any loose threads or remaining pieces of cut stitches. Trim them carefully to maintain a neat appearance.

In conclusion, opening sewn shut pockets can be easily achieved by carefully removing the stitches using a seam ripper or sharp scissors. By following the steps mentioned in this guide, individuals can successfully access and utilize their pockets without causing any damage to their garments.

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