Welt and paper jig

As I mentioned yesterday, you’ll need a pattern for a paper jig into which you’ll stick the welt and press it. This is to compensate for the machine folding. Here you’ll see the inner jig is 1″x9″. The length of it isn’t that important but it should be a bit longer than the welt which is 8″.

The outer jig is 3″x 9″ and it has two folds. The center section should be 1″ plus a tad (I’ve used 1/16th here) because of something I call “bend allowance”. I’ll write about bend allowance at the close of this post so just trust me for now.

The pattern pieces for the welt and interfacing is shown here. You’ll notice these pieces are color-coded.
The shell pattern piece is written in black ink. Black ink means shell or self. The red pattern piece is the interfacing, that’s what red means. In production, you need both pieces, hacking off the shell piece Will Not Work. The last patternmaker I knew who tried to fly that one by, had the air let out of her tires by someone more digruntled than she was. And she thought I was picky. The dimensions of the welt are 3″x 8″. The canvas piece is 2 3/4″x 7 3/4″; it’s smaller by 1/8″ on all sides. You’ll also notice that the black piece has a red outline too. Well, that’s the way you “tell” other people that an interfacing piece goes there so if they don’t have an interfacing piece they need to find one and while they’re at it, check for whatever other pieces they may be missing because when somebody does sloppy work, they’ll do all-around sloppy work and you can’t guess which part of the job they’ve decided to do or not do.

You’re also supposed to show where the pocket lies on the garment on the pattern. The one shown below shows the cross hairs of the welt and the interfacing needed to stabilize it. I realize that the pocket marking on the garment is green rather than black. A green pocket (or any green detail) means that the pocket is not cut of the same fabric as the shell; it’s a contrasting fabric. Green (or purple, these are interchangeable) means contrast fabric. While I have your attention, pattern pieces marked in blue are linings. That is all.
For this exercise, you’ll need 1 shell welt and 2 interfacing pieces. One of the interfacing pieces is for the welt. The other one is for the shell, the front or whatever you’re applying the pocket to. So go ahead and cut and interface those pieces.
Back to the paper jig. Cut it out (cutting all the lines away) and nest the smaller piece into the larger one and staple one end of it just like you see here. Fold one side of the jig over the welt, then the other, pressing creases into both sides as shown below.
Now you need to mark the stopping and starting positions because I don’t think any of you have any laser sights on your machines. As tho I did. So, I mark these. You can draw a line all the way across but I’ve restricted my marking to just the left and just the right but not the center. You can do whatever you want as long as you mark off 1″ from either end.
Here both ends are marked and this piece is ready.
Now you have to mark the shell piece for the pocket placement. Normally I’d use white chalk or wax pencil but that doesn’t show up very well so I’ve used pencil instead. These dots or drills should be 1/8″ shy -on either end- of the finished welt pocket dimensions. Since our pocket finishes at 6″, these drills would be 5 3/4″ apart. My sample is marked at 6″ because that’s my preference at home but I wouldn’t make a pattern for a customer like that. You can do what you want but you have to mark it correctly if it’s for production which means marking it shy of the finished dimensions. Okay, that’s enough for today, do all this and we’ll sew tomorrow.

Now, back to bend allowance. First off, you’re not going to find those words linked together in any pattern making books. It’s a term I use to describe the creep of materials when they’ve been joined in the same space. If you only work with dress weights, you don’t notice creep as much but I’ve worked a lot in leather and wool coats so creep can be a real problem and you should adjust for it on lighter fabrics anyway.

This situation of the paper jig is that the inner piece is exactly 1″. The outer jig cannot fold at that same point relative to everything else especially once you’ve stuck a wad of fabric in there. It needs some bend allowance. That’s why the center portion of the larger paper jig piece is wider than the center paper jig piece.

Once you stick your welt into your paper jig to press it, you’ll notice the fabric hangs out, extending past the lip of the larger paper piece and that’s okay, that’s creep. If you made the center of both paper jig pieces the same size, you wouldn’t be able to fold them, especially once you had the fabric welt in there.

I’ll talk more about bend allowance (aka “turn of cloth”) as we go along because it’s critical when dealing with collars and facings. A lot of people have trouble with facings and they never have a clue why. Usually it’s because they did what the book said and made the facing to match its companion piece exactly. Well, exactly may be right in the book but it doesn’t allow for bend allowance. One of these days, I have got to write a production pattern making book.

Entries in this series (links open in a new window):
Zippered welt pockets
Welt-Reece machine operations
Marking & Cutting
Welt and paper jig
Welt pocket construction

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  1. Liana says:

    I am SO enjoying all your very helpful info. The color coding is great, and I plan to incorporate it into my own personal patternmaking. I agree that you should write a book. Just the cutting off the lines or not is a real controversy among some home sewers.

    On a related note, I know what you think of home sewing pattern accuracy, and I agree entirely, especially since I have used a Marfy pattern. Have you ever tried them? I found the accuracy to be unbelievably good, compared with anything I’ve used before. I am wondering how you would rate them.

  2. Jess says:

    I think I understand what your doing with the paper jig. Could you explain it exactly what the paper jig does? When I figured out welt pockets similar to the reese machine. I just found the center (on double welts) of the slit and folded it over and pressed. With a single welt I just folded it to the top of the slit and pressed. It seemed to work ok without a jig. It seems very fussy.

  3. Jess says:

    Ugh Oh. I just read the last post, ehee. Now I sound like one of those creepy home sewers, lol. I think I’m just going to admit that even me an industrial sewer for 12 years has preconceptions about how clothing manufacturers would sew something.

  4. Josh says:

    I really have no idea how most of these things are done correctly, Reece pocket included. I’m a new born baby on industrial techniques. So if Kathleen says they are done a certain way I’m going to believe her. I have no reason to doubt her. I do and have thought about how they might be done, but always thinking in the back of my mind, that I could be doing it wrong. But having no other source to help me, that’s the only way I was able to it. I’m very happy Kathleen is taking the time out to explain some of these things.

    I have no home sewing experience. So my slate is clean. I would hardly brag about my industrial sewing experience unless it’s dealing with time and motion skills and being able to operate an industrial sewing machine (and repair it if need be). Most of my sewing experience is with disposable garments (not designer threads) and cushions that go in tree stands.

  5. Jess says:

    Ok, I did my first double welt with the jig and I’m just pondering things. First I added 1/16 to the smaller jig piece, big mistake, hehe. I was thinking shouldn’t 1/16 be subtracted from the smaller jig piece? Does’t fabric add thickness? For instance I did my welt in a denim and it was fairly thick wouldn’t that add even more thickness? The second problem I had was cutting out the corners I messed them up and went too far. I think when I get some applique scissors that will help a lot. Wobbling while I was trying to sew the straight lines was another problem. I guess it’s like anything I’ve ever sewn, always thinking that it’s impossible and I’ll never get it right and then after I’ve done it enough times it gets easier and easier. Here’s a picture of my first welt, a little (maybe a lot) botched up, hehe.
    There’s also a pic of another welt that I was trying to think how it could be done. The pocket is sewed once and then turned out and sewn again. Could that be possible with this method?

  6. kathleen says:

    Regarding Liana’s comment and my opinion on Marfy patterns. In general, I like the foreign patterns very much although I’ve never tested a marfy specifically. The quality standards for foreign patterns is much higher than the US domestic ones :(

    I started a vintage pattern thread on the bulletin board and I’d be happy to start a similar topic area for foreign patterns if people wanted to discuss those. I’ll be writing more about these on the blog in the future.

  7. kathleen says:

    Re: Jess comment
    First I added 1/16 to the smaller jig piece, big mistake, hehe. I was thinking shouldn’t 1/16 be subtracted from the smaller jig piece? Does’t fabric add thickness?

    Yes, fabric adds thickness; that’s what the “bend allowance” thing was all about. The inner jig shouldn’t be changed unless you’re changing the width of the opening or the width of the lips.

    For instance I did my welt in a denim and it was fairly thick wouldn’t that add even more thickness?

    The alteration has to be done to the outer jig. I’m thinking of showing a jig for a 6oz leather for comparison purposes.

    The second problem I had was cutting out the corners I messed them up and went too far.

    Did you fuse the pocket area first?

    Here’s a picture of my first welt, a little (maybe a lot) botched up, hehe.

    I think your pocket looks pretty good! And especially for a first attempt. Weren’t you happy with it? It certainly looks better than my first attempt :).

    There’s also a pic of another welt that I was trying to think how it could be done. The pocket is sewed once and then turned out and sewn again. Could that be possible with this method?

    I don’t see why not. There’s endless variety to using this process. One could also use it for bound buttonholes. The applique scissors are great.

  8. Jess says:

    I didn’t fuse the pocket area cause the fabric was so heavy I didn’t think it needed it. Do all fabrics need interfacing on a welt pocket?
    Thanks! My latest attempt worked much better so I’m getting the hang of it, hee. What I’m interested in doing next is putting together about 20 welt pockets and timing myself to see how fast I can do them.
    Here’s what I was trying to say. When the innner part of the jig is exactly 1″ the thickness of the fabric has to make a larger welt center, doesn’t it? After the fabric was pressed around the inner jig it would be 1″ plus fabric thickness. So when you sew 1/4″ on the sides they wouldn’t meet correctly in the center, they might be off by 2 layers of the thickness of the fabric, wouldn’t they? For heavier fabrics but lighter fabrics wouldn’t be noticeable if what I’m thinking is true.

  9. kathleen says:

    The pocket area needs to be fused anyway. Trust me. You wouldn’t notice the difference with one jacket but you’d notice over 5 of them. The fabric body becomes destabilized once you slice into it. You need to keep it’s strength up, on par with the rest of the body. Fusing does that. I was a leather coat maker for many years and I didn’t get it at first either so I know how you’re thinking.

  10. Thanks for the awesome tutorials. At the time you posted I couldn’t use it, but now I need to do some welt pockets, so I’m ecstactic I could (and did) search for it!

    On “bend allowance”:
    I DID larn about this from some book or the other, except it was called “turn of cloth.” I make sense of it this way (warning: my grasp of geometry is very strong, so this might not make sense to non-math types):

    Think of the top and bottom surfaces of fabric as parallel straight lines. When you fold over any fabric, but especially a thick one, you are making it into two concentric half-circles. the radius of the inner bend is less than the radius of the outer bend. So, depending on what it more important to you, the inner dimension or the outer dimension, you have to add or subtract some “bend allowance” to account for it.

    The inner jig is made smaller to account for the smaller inner radius, the outer jig is sized for the outer radius.

    My question to Kathleen:
    Doesn’t the finished folded piece need to fit inside a 1″ window? So why isn’t the inner jig ~7/8″ wide so that the final folded piece will be 1″ instead of ~1 1/8′ the way it turns out with the jigs as you do them??

    random, but slightly related rant:
    For those of you who have ever worked in a fabric store ( I did)–remember how hard it was to put that damn polar fleece (or subtitute another really fat fabric) stuff on a bolt without the ends becoming totally offset and the fabric becoming skewed? Well, that’s because we foolishly fold the fabric in half first–one half of the fabric needs a much larger radius to go around the bolt, but it’s attached to the other, inner half of the fabric. This sucks for the fabric buyer, because after a while, the fabric gets distorted to compenstae for this discomfort and it’s really hard to get the fabric grained up again. Another reason why buying fabric wholesale is nicer–they keep it on the tubes. (not that it’s always on grain off the tube, either…)

  11. Deb says:

    OMG Thank goodness for your knowledge on this topic of welt pockets. I have been searching the internet all day for easily understood instructions on how to do this. I believe I can now at least practice this technique. My question is what type of paper are the jigs made out of? And then the fusing part, do I iron on interfacing to the wrong side of my fashion fabric to be used for the welt pocket? How would you attach the pocket pieces inside the welt?

    The above comment mentions there is a book you wrote, can I purchase a copy, how much and is it mentioned online anywhere?

    Thank you so much.

  12. Deb,

    There’s a button to click to buy the book near the top right of the page. (Below the scissors in the banner; below the little ad; below “Archives”; below “Categories”… aha! There it is!)

    It’s a great book, but it isn’t primarily a sewing book. It’s mostly for entrepreneurs – which is you! – though I’m not an entrepreneur and I bought it anyway. When you buy it, access to the Forum comes with it. Very, very worth it.

  13. Hi Debbie

    Generally, most of your questions would be answered in the course of reading all of the entries in this series as were listed at the close of the article. Some of those links may not work, I’m slowly editing the correct links but you can find the complete list with good links by going to “Tutorials” from the top of the page and looking under that section.

    I wrote this entry very early on, in 2005. In those days, based on my limited experience (and in those days it was mostly professionals visiting) I just assumed that everyone would know to use pattern paper to make patterns. I didn’t realize I needed to mention the paper needed specifically because I showed a picture of it (pattern paper). It is difficult for me to write material that is specific to the gamut of possible experience and skill level of site visitors. Other entries in the series mention you should use a manila folder if you do not have pattern paper. This entry on tools and supplies may be helpful. I have recently rewritten the entry to make some points clearer.

    The one question about how to attach the pocket pieces inside… I’m fairly certain this is one of the other entries. If not included in this particular one, this is my failing because my thinking was that anyone who is motivated to make a welt pocket is at the level where they see once getting to that stage, that the solution is self explanatory.

    The book I wrote is on every single page of this site off to the top right. You can also find it by clicking “products and services” at the top of the page.

  14. Marco says:

    “Now you have to mark the shell piece for the pocket placement. These dots or drills should be 1/8″ shy -on either end- of the finished welt pocket dimensions.”

    Is there a good reason for moving the placement dots inside or is this just some convention ?

  15. Kathleen says:

    You say “convention” like it’s a bad thing. Conventions are useful; they often prevent someone from posing a danger to themselves.

    The manner of marking drills is a convention specific to production pattern making. There’s a section on this in my book pp 176-180. And yes, doing it conventionally will prevent holes in the shell/self where you least want them.

  16. Marco says:

    Clinging to conventions (“because we’ve always done it that way!”) is what cost taxpayers $125 millions when the Mars orbiter got lost in space ;-)

    Anyway, the source of my confusion was why the pencil marks were offset by 1/8″. With your drill explanation it makes sense though- you would not want to drill right on the edge of an opening. So the idea probably was to just move away from the outside point by something a bit larger than the drill diameter. Thank you Kathleen.

  17. Kathleen says:

    I’m 100% with you on that one but NASA isn’t exactly an apropos comparison, not encumbered by NIH culture around here. Hang around awhile, you’ll see I kill plenty of sacred calves. Much to the dismay of many.

    The more common problem visitors have in their businesses is that they are unaware that best practices exist or if they suspect they do, they don’t know of them. Many develop myriad practices on the fly (better described as work arounds) that are elevated into SOP conventions (I write a lot about that too). I’m pretty selective of conventions I use and promote. With everyone constantly inventing their own new way to do something, we can’t communicate not having a shared system standard. Best to understand the basis and then tweak it from there. One particular entry I wrote on standard work may interest you (make note in particular of the section: simplicity in work improvement).

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