Friday, June 22, 2007

Me v. Welt Pockets

After seeing the beautifully sewn welt pockets on Erica's Simplicity 4135 white linen pants (see her June 11 post), I decided to try welt pockets on my "Old Maid Capris". Coincidentally, Nancy W. and Debbie Cook were also working on welt pockets. These women inspired me in my battle to conquer my fear of welt pockets. I have several books that cover welt pockets. I made samples using Peggy Bendel's Sewing for Style from the Singer Sewing Library series, Sew Any Set-In Pocket by Claire Shaeffer, and Palmer & Alto's Pants for Real People.

Bendel's Patch Method
This sample was not good, but I don't blame Peggy Bendel. I had the wrong attitude when working on this sample. This was only the second or third time I've attempted welt pockets in my life. I kept wishing the process didn't take so long. This pocket is just sloppy! The corners had folds that I could not press out. The welts are not the same size. What a mess!

Shaeffer's Strip Method
Shaeffer's book details several different methods for welt pockets - I tried the "strip method" and had much better results. Rather than a single patch, welts are formed with two thin strips of fabric. By this time, I realized there are no shortcuts when making welt pockets. Every one of my books gave at least 12 steps in the welt pocket process and it's best to follow every single one of them. I set my machine speed for slow so that I could control where the stitches were going. The resulting welts were much neater.

Next, I wanted to make a sample using the actual fabric .

Palmer & Alto's Patch Method
Pants for Real People is much more than a book on pants fitting. It contains directions for welt pockets and several other design details. Basically, this method is identical to the Bendel method. I took more care and the results were better. I also included a button loop and, since the pants had darts in the back, I included a dart in my sample. By this time, my attitude had changed and the resulting welt pocket is one I am proud of.

  1. Welt pockets require careful marking and sewing. I even used hand basting to mark placement lines in the Shaeffer Strip Method.
  2. Slow is the way to go. I set my machine speed for 'slow' so I could sew carefully and stop precisely.
  3. It's best to follow the directions (all 12 to 15 of them!) to the letter. Maybe a more experienced seamstress knows and uses secret welt pocket shortcuts, but I'm not there yet.
I learned a lot during this little Welt Pocket Clinic and I'm ready to make the pockets on the real pants, now. Well, maybe I'll practice one more pocket.


  1. I am so inspired! I've never even tried one. I've been looking at all these pockets thinking I should try one too. That's just too good. Love, love, love the button flap.

  2. I've never tried welt pockets before, but I think bound buttonholes are similar? I've just learned those. They may take a lot of time, but the welt pockets really elevate the look of your garment!

  3. Thanks for showing us your progression and your comparison of the different methods.

    It looks like you're coming along very nicely with them.

  4. Those look great! Next I'm going to try the bound buttonholes.

  5. I think the trick to welt pockets is to make at least one sample with no pressure. As long as you follow the steps, they really aren't hard at all. Yours are looking mighty fine.

    I hope you don't mind me pointing this out ... the loop/tab on the third sample should really come from the inside and be stitched so the stitching doesn't show. PFRP has a good illustration of this, but you have to look at it carefully to realize that in one step there is a pin, not stitching.

  6. Debbie,

    Actually we are both right. PFRP (p. 149) gives separate instructions: (1) for tabs, which emerge from between the welts as you describe and (2) for loops, as in my sample, which go over the upper welt rather than under. When I do the actual pants, I may combine the two and have my loop go under the top welt. Isn't it great that we sewers can do that! :)

  7. Wow! These look great. I'd love to try that version. I guess that's one more book I'm going to have to break down and buy. Great work!

  8. Elaray,I love the progression and the fact that you've conquered the skill. Kudos! (or props as the kids would say ;)
    and, you're right, no shortcuts on this one. It's all in being precise in the measuring and marking and stitching.
    Great job!