Not-so-instant Replay: Welt Pockets

I’m working on the Cosmopolitan dress right now, so I don’t have a lot to blog about. But I wrote a tutorial on how to do Welt Pockets a while back. That got turned into an article in Threads magazine Issue 122. If you don’t have access to that magazine, with its much clearer photos and text, here’s the original, raw data, if you will.

Welt pockets are a hallmark of a sharp looking tailored garment. Unfortunately, if they aren’t done well, they look like “Happy Hands at Home”, in the worst sense. The toughest thing about doing welt pockets is that most pattern companies give you instructions that, at best, are pretty difficult to follow, and at worst, can leave you with a gaping hole in your fashion fabric that needs to be patched up creatively. I know, I’ve done it. But a long time back, I learned a method from my local tailor, Luigi, that helped me immensely, and took the guesswork out of placement of the welts. So for your reading pleasure, here are the steps that I use to create welt pockets.

Step 1: Use interfacing to mark your welt opening
Prepare a length of fusible interfacing, 3 in. wide by the length of your welt plus 1 inch. Pink the edges of the interfacing so you don’t get any press-through in your finished garment. Using a pencil or fine-tipped permanent marker, draw a line lengthwise down the middle of the interfacing. Using a see-through gridded ruler, draw two lines parallel to this line, a scant one-quarter away on either side. Draw two lines perpendicular to these lines at the end of the welt
The center line will be your cutting line. The outside lines will be your stitching lines. Fuse your marked interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric

Step 2: Organza – the critical ingredient
Prepare a scrap of silk organza the same size as your interfacing. Pin it to the right side of the garment directly over the interfacing.

Step 3: Sewing the welt opening
Start in the middle of one of the long stitching lines. Start off with a stitch length of 1.0mm (20 stitches/inch) for several stitches, then lengthen the stitches to 2.5mm (10 stitches/inch). As you approach the corners, drop the stitch length back to 1.0mm. Sew right up to the corner, then with the needle in the down position, pivot and sew along the short line to the next corner. Pivot again, increase the stitch length to 2.5 and sew to the next corner. Repeat, then sew until you are almost at the beginning of the stitching. Drop the stitch length to 1.0 and continue to stitch until you reach (but not pass) the beginning.
Note that this will sew the interfacing, fabric and organza all together. Press on each side.

Step 4: Cutting the opening
Using Tailors Sharps scissors, or similar scissors with very precise points, cut along the cutting line through all thicknesses. Start at the middle and cut to about one-half inch from the edge. Then cut all the way to, but not through, the corners, forming a V
It is crucial that you use very fine-pointed scissors for this and be very precise in your cutting, or you will get a pinch at the corners. Very Becky-home-ecky. Avoid the pinch at all costs! For this operation, don’t use our regular shears. I recommend using either Gingher’s 5 inch craft scissors (FKA tailor’s points) or Kai’s 5 inch scissors. Both have very small, precise pointed tips.

Step 5: Turning the opening
Pull the organza to the wrong side of the fabric. This will encase the fabric in the organza. Pull the ends of the organza tightly and press.

Turn the fabric over and press from the right side. This will leave you with a precise rectangular opening

Step 6: Welt strips
Cut two strips of fabric and interfacing, each 1 inch wide and the length of your opening plus 2 inches. Fuse the interfacing to the fabric. Fold the welt strips in half lengthwise and press. Center one strip in the welt opening and baste
Repeat this step for the second welt strip.

Step 7: Attaching welt strips
Open out one long side of the welt opening. From the wrong side, sew through all thicknesses (interfacing and garment fabric in the welt opening, organza and welt strip), as close to the existing stitching as possible (use the needle in the left-most position if you can). Do the same on the other side of the welt. This will attach the welt strips to the garment

Step 8: Attaching pocket bag
Make the pocket bag by making a rectangle 10 inches long by the width of the welt opening plus 2 inches. Attach the pocket bag by lining up the right side of the pocket bags against the wrong side of the garment. Align the top edge with the edge of the welt opening
With the pocket bag against the feed dogs of your machine, stitch through all layers, close to the existing stitching. Turn the garment upside down and repeat on the bottom of the pocket. To close the sides of the pocket, fold the garment out of the way and sew across the triangles of the welts, as close to the edge of the welt opening as possible
Repeat on the other side.

Sew the lips of the welt together on the outside to retain shape until you press the garment.

The beauty of this approach is that you can use it on patterns that don’t include welt pockets, and you can position the welt pockets to suit your need and your figure. You can also use it to do shaped welt pockets that aren’t necessarily standard rectangles.

Try doing a curved welt with the welt lips cut on the bias. Or imagine a black wool jacket with bright red, lip-shaped welts. Very Elsa Schiapparelli! Let your imagination run, and you can have lots of fun without the fear of welts.

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