Sew Skillfully: Welt Pockets 3 Ways

Sew Skillfully - Welt Pockets 3 Ways by Allspice Abounds

Have you ever sewn a welt pocket?  I hadn’t until recently, and let me tell you, they’re not nearly as tricky as I thought!  If you can follow directions and sew precisely, you can make a beautiful welt pocket.  As part of my ongoing Sew Skillfully project, I tried 3 different welt pocket techniques in an effort to (a) teach myself the general approach, and (b) compare and contrast a few different methods.  And as usual, I had so much fun in the process!  Today I’ll share with you what I did and my thoughts on the various techniques.

This won’t be a detailed tutorial, but a quick Google search for “welt pocket tutorial” will lead you to an absolute plethora of options.  If you’d like to follow along with exactly what I did, you can find complete directions in the Reader’s Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing, my favorite sewing reference book (no affiliation, I just love that book!).  All right, let’s dive in!

Method #1 – Bound pocket

The basics: This method makes a double welt pocket (i.e., a bound pocket, just like a bound buttonhole).  The welts and under pocket (the piece nearest to your body) are formed from the same piece of fabric, with a separate piece for the upper pocket (the piece nearest to the garment).

What I did: I cut out 3 pieces of fabric: the garment (dark pink), the under pocket and welts (orange), and the upper pocket (light pink).  I interfaced the pocket area on the garment, marked the pocket outline with chalk, and hand basted around it.

Bound pocket 1 - pieces to cut

Laying the under pocket on top of the garment, right sides together, I machine stitched a rectangle around the pocket using a 1 mm stitch length.  Just like sewing a bound buttonhole, I cut the pocket open through all layers and flipped the under pocket to the wrong side, leaving a finished “hole” in the garment.

Below you can see how the under pocket is folded to make the two welts on the wrong side of the garment.  I thought this was pretty clever!

Bound pocket 2 - attaching the under pocket and forming welts

After hand basting the welts in place, I attached the upper pocket (the light pink piece below).

Bound pocket 3 - attaching the upper pocket

Then I folded both the upper and under pocket down and sewed them together around the edges, forming the pocket bag.

When I flipped the garment back over, my double welt pocket was complete!

Bound pocket 4 - finished pocket front

For reference, I made this pocket 4 inches wide and 1 inch tall, so each welt is 1/2 inch tall.  This is much taller than I’d make a real pocket, but I wanted to err on the side of larger pieces for my first try.  I suspect a good height would be 1/2 inch tall total, with each welt being 1/4 inch tall.  Does anyone know – is this the standard height?

The back of the pocket shows the under pocket piece, as expected, with the upper pocket sandwiched between the under pocket and the garment.

Bound pocket 5 - finished pocket back

You can see below that the orange welts are indeed made from the same fabric as the under pocket.  Note that the raw edge of one of my welts is showing – oops!  The book assumes you’re using an actual pattern piece, and since I wasn’t, my guess on the size of pieces to cut was a little off.

Bound pocket 6 - interior view

What I liked about this method:

  • I love the look of a double welt pocket, and I’m glad I know how to sew one now!
  • Folding the under pocket to form the welts was pretty clever and a good way to save some fabric and reduce bulk.

What I didn’t like:

  • I found it difficult to perfectly align the welts and ensure they’re equal in height and perfectly centered in the pocket opening.  Although forming the welts by folding is efficient, I don’t think it’s the most accurate way of doing it.
  • If this were a real garment and you wanted the welts to match the fashion fabric, you’d have a layer of fashion fabric as the under pocket.  This might be bulky depending on your fabric choice.  I suspect this method would work well for lightweight fabrics.

Method #2 – Single welt pocket with separate welt

The basics: This method makes a single welt pocket.  Unlike the bound pocket, the welt is cut as a completely separate piece.

What I did: I cut out 4 pieces this time: the garment (orange), welt (also orange), under pocket (light pink, the taller piece) and upper pocket (dark pink, shorter).  I interfaced the back of the garment in the pocket area, as well as the welt (taking care not to interface the seam allowances, to reduce bulk).  Once again, I hand basted around the pocket opening.

Single welt pocket 1 - pieces to cut

The next step was to form the welt – I folded the welt piece in half with right sides together, sewed the side seams, and flipped it right side out.  I then attached it to the pocket opening along the bottom edge.  Note that the welt is exactly the same width as the pocket opening.

Single welt pocket 2 - welt attached

Like the bound pocket, I then placed the under pocket (light pink) on top of the garment, right sides together, and sewed around the pocket opening.  The welt gets sandwiched in between.  I then cut the pocket open, flipped the under pocket to the wrong side, and flipped the welt up into place.  Next, I sewed the upper pocket (dark pink) along the bottom edge of the welt and folded it down.

Single welt pocket 3 - pocket pieces attached

Like before, I then folded down the under pocket and sewed both pocket bag pieces together along the bottom and both sides.  On the right side, I slip stitched the sides of the welt to the garment by hand, to secure the welt.  And voila!  Another beautiful welt pocket complete.  🙂

Single welt pocket 4 - finished pocket front

And the back view, with the under pocket showing:

Single welt pocket 5 - finished pocket back

When you look inside the pocket, you can clearly see the 3 distinct components: welt (orange), under pocket (light pink), and upper pocket (dark pink).

Single welt pocket 6 - interior view

What I liked about this method:

  • Because all the pieces are separate, I felt I had much better control over placement of the welt.
  • The interfaced welt feels very substantial and secure.
  • If this were a real garment, you could choose fashion fabric for the welt and lighter weight fabrics for the pocket bags.  You really have complete control over all the components of the pocket.
  • This was definitely my favorite of the 3 methods I tried!  I think the pocket came out beautifully, considering it was my first time using this method.

What I didn’t like: 

  • This method was the most complicated and time-consuming.  However, as often happens with sewing, the more effort you put in, the better the finished product comes out!

Method #3 – Easy self-welt pocket

The basics: This method makes a single welt pocket.  The welt, under pocket, and upper pocket are all formed from the same piece of fabric.  Whoa nelly!

What I did: I cut only 2 pieces this time: the garment (light pink), and the all-in-one welt and pocket piece (dark pink).  Like before, I interfaced the back of the garment in pocket area, and I hand basted around the pocket outline.

Easy self-welt pocket 1 - pieces to cut

I placed the pocket piece on the garment, right sides together, and stitched around the pocket opening with the usual 1 mm stitch length.  After cutting open the pocket, I flipped the entire pocket piece to the wrong side, leaving a finished hole in the garment.

Easy self-welt pocket 2 - pocket piece attached

Next, I formed the welt by folding up the bottom half of the piece (what will become the upper pocket), being careful to perfectly align the welt in the opening.

Easy self-welt pocket 3 - welt formed

Then, as usual, I folded down the top piece (the under pocket) and stitched the pocket bag pieces together along 3 sides.  When I flipped the garment over, the pocket was complete!  The welt is automatically secured, no need for any hand stitching.

Easy self-welt pocket 4 - finished pocket front

A view of the back:

Easy self-welt pocket 5 - finished pocket back

When you look inside the pocket, you can see that everything is made from the same piece of dark pink fabric: both sides of the pocket, and the welt itself.  You can also see the stitching line (in white) from sewing the original rectangle around the marked pocket opening.  Something to keep in mind for a real garment.

Easy self-welt pocket 6 - interior view

What I liked about this method:

  • This was definitely the simplest of the 3 methods and the quickest to sew.

What I didn’t like:

  • Like Method #1, I found it difficult to perfectly align the welt in the pocket opening.  I think the “folding” methods are just a bit too fiddly for me, and I prefer having the separate welt in Method #2 to ensure I get an accurate placement.
  • For a real garment, this could result in a pretty bulky pocket, assuming you wanted the welt to match your fashion fabric.  This method would probably only be good for lightweight fabrics.
  • I’m not crazy about the visible stitching line inside the pocket.

Final Thoughts

Call me a perfectionist, but I’m willing to put in the extra effort to achieve a really professional-looking result.  Method #2 is my clear winner!

Welt pockets - comparison of 3 methods

You can see from the photo above that none of my pockets came out perfectly rectangular or pucker-free, especially around the corners, but it was my first try after all.  I have a feeling that welt pockets, like everything in sewing, take a lot of practice to perfect.  Nothing wrong with that, I guess I’ll just have to keep on sewing.  🙂

I’d be curious to apply Method #2 (with the separate welt piece) to a double-welt pocket.  Also, I’d like to try basting the welts together down the center before inserting them into the pocket, like I did with my bound buttonholes, to ensure a perfect fit.  Lots more to learn!

Finished welt pocketDo you have a favorite method for sewing welt pockets?  If you haven’t yet tried it, give it a shot!  🙂

20 thoughts on “Sew Skillfully: Welt Pockets 3 Ways

  1. This is seriously useful. You explained it really well and the colors in the photos helped to. I’m going to master this one too! Thank you.

    • Thank you so much, I’m so glad you found it useful! In retrospect, I think I should have used colors that contrast even more, but I’m glad you can still distinguish them in the photos. I hope you decide to give welt pockets a try – they’re totally do-able! Who knew? 🙂

  2. Such a great summary and explanation. The color coding made it so much easier to understand. Just super! Thank you for the time and effort it also took to photograph and share with us.

    • Thanks Lyrique! And you’re welcome, I really enjoy sharing my sewing adventures on this blog. Posts like this really do take forever to prepare though. I can only imagine how much time it would take to prepare a full tutorial! I am in awe of people who do it on a regular basis.

  3. Ahh… I’m one of those nerdy welt pocket lovers who has soooo many opinions on the topic! I have a completely different method, and my favorite does involve the folding that you didn’t like so much. To get those folds more accurate, I mark the pieces and sometimes press the folds before constructing them. I find that being able to fine tune the welt lip during construction is helpful. Also, I don’t use the welt fabric for the pocket bag, but rather add pocketing to the bottom of the welt… Hard to describe, but it cuts down on the bulk considerably. And I think the standard for a single welt pocket is 1/2″, double welt 1/4″ each (1/2″ window). I’ve wanted to write up a tutorial on the topic for ages, but just haven’t sat down to do it! One of these days… 🙂

    • Ah Lisa, thanks for much for all this great info! When I was Googling for welt pocket tutorials, I realized that there are about a million different ways to make them. It’s quite amazing, actually. I was thinking that I want to try adding a fashion fabric facing behind the welt, but then switching to pocketing fabric halfway down the pocket. My RTW pants incorporate this feature, and I think it would cut down on bulk, as you mentioned. I assume this is similar to what you were suggesting?

      • Yes, I do that also. I cut my pocket bag to attach to the bottom of the welt, then it forms the pocket bag, is folded up and attaches to the top of the pants (or the top of the welt “window” if you’re doing a jacket). So I position a facing out of the fashion fabric so that it is directly behind the welt, plus an inch or so. I just zig zag the edges directly onto the pocketing so you’re not dealing with extra seams. I also french seam the pocket bag… but that’s a story for another day! Can you tell I’m a wee bit obsessed? haha!

        • Haha! Great idea to avoid extra seams – I’ll have to try that. I’m not going to try to wrap my brain around French seaming a pocket bag, and instead I’ll just remain in awe. 🙂

  4. Thank you for doing this! Your post is exactly what I needed this fall when I was trying to add welt pockets to corduroy trousers. I wasn’t happy with the method or the results — and probably won’t do a single welt pocket on wide wale cords again (too bulky!). I have some brushed twill trousers in my future and will come back to this post. You’re in Boston – do you ever shop at Winmil Fabrics? I bought some great yellow wool there for a coat when I was in graduate school.

    • I’m so glad you found this helpful! As I mentioned above, there are so many ways to sew welt pockets, and this post only covers a few of them. I can imagine it would be tricky on such a bulky fabric, and I have yet to try that out. I bet you’ll have much more luck with the twill.

      And yes, I shop at Winmil! That store is really hit or miss, but when you find something good there, it’s glorious. Plus, going there is a good excuse to grab some dumplings in Chinatown. 🙂

    • Thanks Teri! I definitely need more practice too, and I also need to apply them to a real garment. Maybe if I ever figure out the fitting on my pants… 🙂

      Did you follow a tutorial when you made your pockets? I’m curious if the method was similar to any of these.

      • I used the welt pockets from the Sewaholic Thurlow trousers and I followed the tutorial that LLadybird has on her website for the Thurlow Sewalong. I think you linked to it in your big welt pocket tutorial post– which I loved, by the way!

  5. Great post.
    I love that with sewing there are so many different techniques for the on part of a garment. I really like your samples, great idea using different colours. So what are you going to do with your pockets? 🙂

    • Thanks Vanessa! I agree, the great variety of options and never-ending list of techniques to learn is one of my favorite aspects of sewing. I don’t see myself getting bored anytime soon! I want to try welt pockets on my pants, whenever I get around to figuring out the fitting issues. For now, my colorful samples are sitting on my sewing table and taunting me. 🙂

    • Thanks, I hope you find it useful! There are a bunch of great tutorials out there too, with more detail than I’ve included here. It’s all the same basic concept though – you have to be brave and cut a huge hole in your garment, LOL!

  6. Quite an interesting post and very informative, I have not sewn any welt pocket yet but I find the 2nd method more appealing. You made this test just for the learning part or are you sewing a jacket? I have a few sewing technics / coture books and have been thinking on trying these technics but due to luck of time have not done it yet.

    • Thanks so much! I made these samples simply to practice the technique; they’re not part of an actual garment. With techniques I’ve never tried before, I’ll often practice on scrap fabric first, just in case I make a huge mistake. Plus, when sewing welt pockets, I’ve read that it’s a good idea to make a practice pocket (or two) using scraps of your garment fabric, even if you’re comfortable with the technique. All fabrics behave differently, and you don’t want to cut a huge hole in your garment and then regret it! Or so I’ve heard. 🙂

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