How to sew a single welt pocket

As I promised, a holiday gift tutorial for you. This one is about how to sew a single welt pocket. I realize the sample illustrated below isn’t gorgeous but I’ve used muslin and scrap so you can see the details easily. I also deliberately used mis-matched thread so you can see the stitch lines. Believe it or not, people have complained my thread and fabrics don’t match. Go figure. In my opinion, gussying it up is your job, I’ll stick to mechanics. Here is the finished sample so you know what I mean.

By the way, if you are interested in learning to do the more common double welt pocket, the links below are to the generally acknowledged best tutorial on the web (or in print). For flawless results that even the greenest of sewing operators can accomplish, see -in order- Welt and paper jig (pattern piece) and Welt pocket construction. To get an introduction to basic concepts, it wouldn’t hurt to read those before reading this one.

You’ll need the same pattern as for the double welt pocket, namely a piece measuring 8″ X 3″ for each pocket. You need two pieces of fusible backing per pocket. One piece goes on the back of the welt and the other piece goes on the wrong side of the welt inset area.

Unless you’re working on light colored fabrics, it wouldn’t hurt to make the following markings as shown. This (below) shows all of the dimensions.

Place the pocket welt onto the shell piece, lining up the center most line of the welt with the drill holes. Yes, the length of the line between drill holes is 1/4″ shorter but that’s a safeguard for the production environment when they actually drill holes through fabric to mark pocket placement.

You need to sew the two parallel horizontal lines. Be sure to stop at the vertical line (below). Of this whole affair, this is the most critical part. The lines must be exactly parallel and exactly the same length.

Below I’ve shown the stitching completed from the underside. Please note the box ends are not stitched. I didn’t make a mistake or forget.

For optimal effect, I like to do some pressing that wouldn’t normally be done in production. For what it’s worth, it’s not needed either because the pressure of the machine is so great it melds the stitches compactly. If you’re working with home machines, you might want to do this too. First I fold one side up to match the other and press that line. You’ll notice the pocket folded is half and half even.

Then I press the other side down (below).

At this juncture, you need to cut a center slit. This is shown below but a better view of the cutting process and in more detail, can be seen here too. It is critical to get right into those corners.

Now you want to turn the pocket (below), there’s no trick to it.

Once you’ve turned it, I like to do another extra pressing step, pressing the seam of the stitching open (two photos below).

Now comes the only tricky part. You need to fold up the longer side of the welt to match the opening (below). That previous pressing you did will come in handy now as a guide.

Be careful not to go overboard. People will make the welt fold too wide to force it to match the opening. The thing is, it’s going to sag there for now, there’s a big gash in the center of it so how can it not? It’ll be okay once it is stabilized with an underwelt (not shown for obviousness reasons but the dimensions are 2 1/2″ X 8″).

Anyway, once you’ve pressed that pleat into place, you’re ready to stitch the ends of the box (below). And don’t worry, get right up on that line and catch those triangle ends.

Below the final stitching is shown.

Now you flip it and it’s all done.

All that’s left is to stabilize it with an underwelt, again, that measures 2 1/2″ X 8″. You’d sew the pocket bag on to one horizontal end of the pocket itself and the other end of the underwelt, sew up the sides and you’re done.

One last mention. I see this in home sewing books and I want to cringe, don’t trim off that 1″ of each side of the pocket welt that’s left. Just leave it there. Having the extra length stabilizes the pocket slit. If manufacturers are cheap but cut a pocket to be 2″ longer than finished, you should too.

I hope your holidays are joyous ones!

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