June 22, 2022
This tutorial will walk you through one of my favourite types of pockets. This pocket is used on our Valerie raglan dress and the Natalie gored skirt, and creates a lovely diagonal line that makes an elegant style feature.
You might be tempted to cut your fusing tape to the pocket slash length, based on the paper pattern, but beware. This is one area where the bias can be tricky. For most fabrics, you will be fine doing that. So, if your fabric is cooperative, you can skip the Bias tip section! But if your fabric is drapey and fluid and stretches a lot on the bias, read on for a little tip.
Bias tip: You might find that your fabric grows on the bias as soon as you cut your pieces out! In the past, I've cut my fusing to length based on the paper pattern and then eaaaased all that bias growth into the tape, shrinking it along that edge by manipulating by hand, and then fusing it in place to permanently shrink it back to shape. The problem with doing that is that the rest of the skirt will still grow on the bias, leaving the pocket looking overly taut. So it's best to actually let those super-drapey fabric grow just that little bit before you apply the fusing tape. I hope that makes sense! This is just one of those nuances of sewing you learn as you sew with different fabrics. Now, if you notice that tautness to the pocket when you try your garment on, don't fret. You can always open up the middle section of the slash pocket seam. Even if your whole garment is complete, it's still very accessible! Simply unpick the centre of the slash, cut the fusing, and let the fabric grow on the bias a little (I let it grow 1cm (3/8")), to reduce that tautness. I have done this before and it works well. Once the tautness is released, I simply fuse a little bit more interfacing in the gap, and close everything back up.
Okay, now back to the pocket fun!
So our first step is to simply fuse the strips of interfacing onto the wrong side of each pocket opening. Make sure that when stitched, the seam will go through the fusing. That way, the stitches will secure the fusing into the seam so it stays put!
Tip: I always cover my tape with a press cloth before I fuse it with the iron. You never know when you might accidentally put the tape glue-side up and get a sticky mess all over your iron! (Yes, this HAS happened to me).
Place the skirt right side up. Place your pocket facing right sides together with the skirt. The diagonal edges should match perfectly. If your fabric is less stable, it's possible that your pocket facing will have stretched out a little along that bias edge, causing it to grow and become longer than your interfaced skirt. It's okay if it's stretched a little, but if your bias edge has stretched a lot (2.5cm or 1"), refer to the bias tip in the previous step.
Sewing tip: Whenever possible, I sew with the interfaced layer on *top*. This is a subtle yet impactful handling tip! The layer underneath is not interfaced, which makes it more prone to stretching out during sewing, by being pushed by the presser foot. By having it underneath, the feed dogs pull this less-stable fabric along, keeping the layers balanced.
Here's what it looks like from the wrong side of the skirt after the first line of stitching (below). You can see the stitching goes through the tape. Nice and secure!
Understitching is a wonderful technique! This line of stitching will roll the pocket facing toward the inside of the skirt.
Smooth the pocket bag away from the body of the skirt, and smooth all the seam allowances towards the pocket facing. Here's what that looks like from the wrong side.
Now, flip your work over to the right side. We will be stitching on the *pocket* side of the seam. Sew a line of stitching 1mm (1/16") away from the seam. This line of stitching goes through all layers of the seam allowance. As you sew, hold the fabric taut from either side, so that the seam is held nice and flat, and keep the seam allowances pressed in the direction of the pocket facing.
This is what the understitching looks like from the right side (see picture below). Your stitching will not show on the outside of the garment (so don't worry if you went a little wonky... no one will know!)
Understitching tip: I never bother pressing the seam I'm about to understitch. I know that I'll be carefully smoothing the seam open as I sew, so no need to press ahead of time. By all means, press before understitching if you feel that makes your sewing easier, though!
Now we can create the pocket! Place the pocket bag piece right sides together with the pocket facing (see below).
Their outer edges match perfectly, which makes life easy. This is a simple step. Just sew around the rounded edges of the pocket bag. Just be careful you only sew through the pocket layers; ignore the skirt and don't catch it into your seam! The other thing is to make sure you don't get carried away and sew around all edges of the pocket. Just sew the rounded edge, leaving the top and straight edge of the pocket open.
Then, you can finish the edges of the pocket along the seam that you just stitched. In this case I have overlocked (serged) the edges. Finish the two layers together in one pass.
Here's what the skirt looks like with the pockets assembled to this point:
And here's another picture showing what the skirt looks like with one of the pockets opened up (below). Note that the top and side edges of the pocket are not attached to each other.
Now is the exciting part where it all comes together! Fold the pocket to the wrong side of the skirt, so that the pocket facing is wrong sides together with the skirt, and the pocket bag will peek out the top to finish the outline of the skirt! The top and side edges of the pockets will align to the waistline of the skirt and the side seam of the skirt. Time to press it and make it all crisp and beautiful!
When you press it, let the understitched seam roll to the inside as it will naturally want to do.
Below is a picture to compare an unpressed pocket to the pressed pocket (I think you can figure out which is which!).
The final step has been done on the pressed side: Simply secure those waistline and side seam edges with a line of stitching to keep it all sitting neatly in place. Stitch within the seam allowance, so that these stitches don't have to be unpicked later.
Note: For the Valerie dress, you can ignore the notch on the waistline, as this is for matching to the bodice's bust dart, not anything to do with the pocket.
And that's it! This is a really fun and satisfying pocket style to sew! I hope you found this tutorial helpful. As always, write any questions in the comments...and enjoy your sewing!
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