Pocket, that is. Although, a raised, stinging mark on the flesh might not be too far off, either.
Yesterday, I took the plunge and cut another set of Ellen pants from my grey pinstripe wool. There’s actually quite a bit of this fabric—the pants only used about half—so doubtless there’s a blazer in my future.
The pattern comes with instructions to line the front piece to the knee (underline, actually, if you read the instructions). I did want to line, as I’m a bit hesitant about having wool trousers to begin with, never mind against my legs. So I cut out lining pieces front and back out of some of the leftover lining from my coat. Yes, these are going to be winter trousers. (Somehow the term “trousers” seems much more natural when I’m not talking about casual attire.) If any of you have any advice for how to line trousers with a fly, I’d love to hear it. My usual tutorial for installing a fly is Debbie Cook’s, but that, of course, doesn’t involve any kind of lining, and the only advice I could find in my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (my one and only sewing tome) was to construct separately and slipstitch around the zipper; nor did a quick google yield anything more specific. Maybe I’m over-thinking it, but I have this sinking feeling that I’m going to end up with a bulky mess right at the front of my otherwise-sleek trousers.
Someday I should really invest in a good book on tailoring. And in pinking shears.
Anyway, I decided I wanted welt pockets on the rear. Now, I have always thoroughly avoided welt-anything to date (including the related technique, bound buttonholes). Not out of dislike, but out of pure chicken-shit-edness. There are any number of excellent tutorials on making welt pockets out there, which I have read over at various times. My tome has a description as well. Most recently, Gigi went over the process briefly, so that was the one I turned to, though it’s not particularly in-depth. Two admonitions stuck out in my mind: practice and precision.
Neither are my forte. Especially when it comes to sewing.
Nevertheless, I dutifully sorted through my scraps and started ironing and interfacing etc. After the first test welt, I decided to interface future welts. It looks fine, but it feels more sturdy with the interfacing, a little less likely to sag and expose the pocket lining.
Note: this is not intended to be a tutorial. I pretty much still suck at this. This is mostly intended to remind me of what I did (and maybe what not to do next time).
Drawing the future-welt box on the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric was easy. Figuring out the relationship between the box-size and the welt (especially depth) took a little more mental gymnastics. I eventually settled on a welt that was 2cm wide (including a .5 cm seam allowance) and a box that was 7mm on either side of the line (the line being about 1mm wide, it all added up to 1.5 cm, the same width as my welt. Oh, good!
Next, how do you orient this? The whole thing gets flipped through and around, which is quite dizzying to my little, spatially-challenged brain. So, to start, your folded welt goes on the outside, pointing DOWN away from where the pocket will be. Its seam line goes along the bottom edge of the box, the raw bottom edge of the welt (currently pointing up) goes roughly along the middle of the welt. Well, technically 2mm off, in my example, but what’s a mm or 2 between friends?
(And dear lord, imperial people, I can understand inches in the macro range—I use them myself, to my shame—but how on earth do you wrap your minds around measurements like “5/32″ of an inch? Mind-boggling! Give me my millimetres any day.)
I pushed pins through the fabric to locate the corners of my box on the right side, pinned the welt in place, and then basted it in for my sanity’s sake. Next the pocket lining goes on TOP of this (yes, on the right side of the fabric!) I used a single piece for my samples but two pieces sewn together for my actual pants. The single piece was a better idea. Probably there’s a different way to do it if you’re going to use two pieces, but what ever. Position the pocket lining over the welt on the right side of the fabric, facing down. I got this right the first time (unlike the welt…I had to rip off my first one)
Stitch around your box from the wrong side, so you can see your lines. Be achingly, brutally, precise.
Did I mention that I am lacking in precision?
People suggest counting your stitches along the short sides. I tried. Usually it took 7, sometimes 6, once only 5. This had less to do with my boxes being uneven than me not letting the fabric feed through evenly.
Then… you cut. I love my little dissection scissors as they’re sharp, pointed, and tiny, but I think I need a new pair to keep dedicated for sewing. My husband has been using these to trim his hair and they’re not as sharp as they used to be :P.
The trick is to clip right into the corners, without clipping through your stitches. I did pretty well on the practice welts, actually, but not quite as well on the real thing; I blame it partly on my heavier lining fabric, and partly on being nervous about clipping my stitches.
Once your box is snipped open (cut on an angle into the corners, making little triangles at each short end), you flip the whole shebang—that prolapse of pocketing and weltishness blighting the right side of your fabric—through to the inside, where it properly belongs. The edges of the welt itself show, which flummoxed me a bit when I first did it. For the next one I trimmed the edges on an angle (as you can see in the image above of the welt pinned in place), which seemed to make for less bulk at the bottom corners when flipping through. I have not seen this in other tutorials, and it may very well be a bad idea in the long run).
Once you have it tucked through, you iron everything in place; Tug on those little side triangles and then stitch them down. This is supposed to make sure the welt lies flat and the hole’s edges are nice and rectangular. Sewing it down wasn’t actually as tricky as I had feared (I’m still scared of the button-hole-sized equivalent, though)
Stitch around the edges of your pocket bag, and voila! You have a welt pocket!
Well, in theory. I still have some issues getting the welt perfectly flat at the corners, not having it gaping, and other niceties. Precision, precision. I actually did slightly better on my second practice welt than on the pants themselves. /sigh. That being said, I think I’m more irritated with my inability to match the stripes properly (I tried! I REALLY DID!) than with the welts themselves. I may end up putting a small button in to keep them from sagging, as the shiny silver lining REALLY shows.
Also, it’s snowing again. Although seeing as it’s the end of October, I need to stop whining about that. At least it’s not sticking yet. :)