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Mitered Welt Pockets Workshop

By Judy Barlup, Unique Techniques

Welt pockets, both functional and decorative, are used on many types of garments including jackets, coats, slacks, blouses and dresses. Because they are not the easiest pockets to apply, especially on thicker fabrics, problems may arise when using traditional methods. Seams at the welt end are usually bulky and difficult to conceal. The method presented here eliminates those seams by mitering the ends. Perfect pockets are assured because corrections can be made at various points in the construction process before cutting into the fabric.

Welt pockets placed at the hip are generally rectangular in shape (corners at right angles) and may be placed horizontally, vertically or at any angle into the garment. Welt pockets in the chest area are placed at an angle and the ends are parallel to the center front. This means that the finished welt is a parallelogram (corners are not at right angles) rather than a rectangle.

Patterns for a 5 1/2" x 1" rectangular welt pocket and a 4 3/4" x 1" slanted chest pocket are included. These patterns can be altered to desired size. To understand the construction, it may help to cut out the pattern and fold it the way the fabric will be stitched.


pocketlegend.jpg (6953 bytes)1.     Cut the following from the pattern pieces and directions included here. Do not use the pattern piece or the instructions included in the commercial pattern:

Welt: Cut from garment fabric using the attached pattern. (See Below.)

Pocket Facing: (overlay for inner pocket bag)
Cut from garment fabric with the shorter side on lengthwise grain.
Note: If fabric doesn't have an obvious pattern or design, cut with the longer side on the selvage.
Dimensions: (length of pocket opening plus 1 1/2") by 2"

Pocket Stay:

Cut from firmly woven fabric (prewashed muslin or light- to medium weight cotton) with the longer side on the lengthwise grain for greater stability.
Dimensions: (length of pocket opening plus 1 1/2") by 2"

Pocket Bags:

Cut two bags for each pocket from lining or light- to medium weight woven fabric.
Cut 1 outer bag: (length of pocket opening plus 1 1/2") by desired depth.
Cut 1 inner bag: same as the outer bag but 1" longer.

Before cutting the pocket bags, read the Slick Trick at the end.

Note: For pockets placed on the garment in a horizontal position, the pocket bags are rectangles. When the pocket is placed at an angle, cut the top of the pocket bags at the same angle as the pocket placement line. To determine depth, measure from the lower point of the pocket and not the higher.

Suggestion: Make the pocket bags longer than you might need, then determine the final length at the time you sew the pocket bags together.


Cut fusible interfacing the size of the finished welt from fold line to fold line. Include seam allowance on the lower edge. Note: Make sure interfacing for slanted welt is cut with fusible side up as marked on the pattern.


Illustration #12.     Mark pocket placement line (pocket opening) on right side of garment. The attached pattern is for a 5 1/2" pocket opening. Suggestion: make the welts first. Baste the jacket together and try it on. Determine the pocket placement by positioning the welts where you want them rather than where the pattern places them. Be sure that any seams intersected by the pocket are adjusted for fit before applying the pocket.


3.    Place a straight pin through each end of pocket placement line.See illustration 1. On wrong side, position pocket stay over pins with about two-thirds (1 1/2") of stay toward garment top and one-third (1/2") toward hem. Pin pocket stay in place.


Illustration #24.     Prepare welt: Fold welt in half with wrong sides together. Press on fold line. Apply interfacing to the section that will face outwards when pocket is completed. See illustration 2.

Fold short diagonal ends of welt on fold line with right sides together. Stitch these seams with a 1/4" seam allowance. See illustration 3, stitch #1. Press seams open on a point presser. It is essential that you don't skip this step! See illustration 4.

Illustration #3

Illustration #4

On the slanted welt only, trim seam allowance at the high end of welt. Do not trim any other seam allowances because corners will retain their shape better if left untrimmed. Turn and press again. Topstitch long folded edge if desired. Do not topstitch sides. (Note: Topstitching is a design feature that gives a sportier look to the garment.)


Illustration #55.     Mark stitching line on underside of welt. For greater accuracy, measure from folded edge rather than from raw edge. Note: Frequently an absolutely even welt gives the illusion that it is smaller in the middle. To prevent this, make the welt slightly larger at the center than at the ends. See illustration 5. For a 1" welt, place a clear plastic ruler over the welt with the edge of the ruler 1" from the folded edge. Push the center of the welt slightly so the folded edge is just beyond the 1" mark. Mark with a fine chalk marker or marking pencil.


Illustration #66. Place stitching line of welt on pocket placement line with right sides together and with folded edge of welt toward hem. (The opposite direction from the final position.) Stitch on line marked on welt. See illustration 6, stitch #2. Begin and end at edge of welt. Do not backtack. Pull threads to wrong side.

Accuracy Check! Turn welt up to finished position and measure it. Correct stitching if necessary.

On garment right side, center outer pocket bag over welt with the top of the pocket matching the unfinished edge of the welt. The pocket bag will lie in its finished position except on the garment's outside rather than inside (to be turned later). Pin or baste pocket bag in place. Stitch from wrong side over previous stitching line. Begin and end exactly at each welt end. Illustration 7, stitch #3 shows this step from the right side of the garment, Illustration 8, stitches #2 and #3, shows the wrong side.
Illustration #7

Illustration #8

For greater accuracy and to secure each end, stitch as follows: Shorten stitch length. Begin stitching 1/2" from end of welt and stitch towards the end. Hold tip of long pin or tapestry needle at end of welt so you can feel the end. With needle in fabric precisely at end of welt and with the needle on the upward swing, lift presser foot, pivot and stitch over previous stitching for about 1/2". (If needle does not hit exactly at the end of the welt, lift presser foot and reposition needle.) Reset stitch length to normal. Stitch to within 1/2" of other end, shorten stitch length, stop precisely at the end of the welt, pivot, turn and stitch over previous stitching for about 1/2".

Accuracy Check! Check stitching from right side of garment. Stitching must end precisely at the welt end, not one stitch more or one stitch less. Correct if necessary. This step is essential. If stitching extends beyond welt end, there will be a pucker. If stitching does not reach the end, there will be a hole. Correcting the stitching, even if it is just one stitch, will eliminate these problems.


Illustration #98. If you did not cut the pocket facing on the selvage, serge one long edge (optional). Overlay wrong side of facing to right side of inner pocket bag, matching unfinished edge of facing with top of pocket bag. When a pocket is placed at an angle, it is easy to make a mistake when attaching facing to pocket bag. Determine proper placement by positioning pocket bag on welt just as it will lie when finished except on the garment's outside rather than inside (to be turned later).

9. Stitch facing to pocket bag on the selvage or serged edge. In place of serging, if desired, zigzag facing edge to pocket bag. Note: Raw edges at top are not stitched together. See illustration #9, stitch #4.

Illustration #1010.   With facing right side against garment right side, butt inner pocket bag to outer pocket bag. Stitch through facing and pocket bag 1/4" from edge, beginning and ending about 1/2" shorter than lower row of stitching on outer pocket bag. Backtack at each end. See illustration 10, stitch #5. By making upper row of stitching shorter, seam will not extend beyond the edge of the finished welt.


Accuracy Check! Turn up welt to ensure that it is in proper position and that welt completely conceals the upper stitching line. Correct if necessary.

Hold garment up to the body as it will be when finished. Turn inner pocket bag down to be sure that pocket facing is on the outside. Edges of the two pocket bags should be in the same general position but they need not match precisely.

Illustration #1111. Cut through garment and pocket stay only between two stitching lines to within about 1/2" of ends. Be careful not to cut pocket bags or welt. Cut all the way to the end of stitching lines. Then clip an additional thread or two beyond the stitching line on the pocket stay only. This will form irregularly shaped triangles at ends. Do no be concerned if they look strange! See illustration #11.


Accuracy Check! Clipping must extend to, but not beyond, stitching line. Remember, not clipping far enough will cause a pucker; clipping too far will cause a hole.


12. Turn pocket bags to inside. Press upper seam allowance open on point presser. See illustration #12.

Illustration #12

Illustration #13

13. On right side of garment, turn welt down to expose triangles. Position triangles at ends toward center of pocket. Press. Note: Placing triangles flat rather than folding them under strengthens corners and reduces bulk. And besides, it's a whole lot easier!


14. Secure triangles by stitching back and forth to hold them in place. See illustration 13, stitch #6. This stitching won't show, so don't be concerned with how it looks.


Illustration #1415. To stitch welt in place, fold it up and stitch close to edge from bottom to top. Pivot, take several stitches across top, pivot again and stitch to bottom of welt. See illustration #14, stitch #7. Pull threads to back and knot. (For a dressier finish, hand-stitch welt ends in place from the wrong side.)


16.    Lay the garment on a flat surface with the right side up. Lift the garment up to expose the pocket bags. Pin the bags together as they lie. Do not force the edges to match. Now is the time to determine the exact depth of the pocket. For short jackets, make sure the pocket ends above the hem of the jacket. Stitch the pocket bags. See illustration 14, stitch #8. To avoid lint traps, round the corners rather than making them square. For an unlined garment, serge edges of the pocket bags.


Illustration #15Slick Trick

Do your pockets pull down when you carry heavy keys in them? If so, here is a solution that causes the pocket bag to expand rather than the pocket pulling down. Cut the two pocket bags according to the directions for the inner pocket bag (i.e., 1" longer than for the outer bag). Fold one in half horizontally and baste 3/8" from the fold. This piece becomes the outer bag. Construct the pocket according to above instructions. After the pocket is completed, remove the basting stitches. The pleat that is formed expands when a heavy object is placed in the pocket.

Good luck! Practice on scrap fabric before applying to your garment. After making several pockets, you'll be surprised how quickly you can apply them to a garment -- perfectly!

Making a Mitered Welt Pattern

Draw the finished welt with four straight sides. Dimensions are up to you, but the height of each end of the welt should be at least   5/8 ".

Trace a mirror image of the welt against the fold line (top of the welt). This becomes the back of the welt.

Measure in about 3/4" from each end of back of the welt. Draw a line from this point to the fold line at the end of the welt.

Cut on this line and pivot it so the original end on the back piece meets the end on the front piece.

Add 3/8" seam allowance to the top and bottom edges. Add 1/4" seam allowance to the ends.

 Mitered Welt Pattern

 Mitered Welt Pattern

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