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Mar 29, 2016

Ladies Tailoring: Double-Piped Pocket

Let's get back to tailoring!

In my Ladies Tailoring class at FIT, we've begun to work on the second skirt we'll be making this semester.  This one has two double-piped pockets, two back pockets, and a full (as opposed to half) lining.  As a result, seam allowances won't be finished with a Hong Kong finish but rather overcast by hand.

You may be wondering, what's the difference between piped pockets and welt pockets?   I've seen the names used interchangeably.  If you know what the specific difference is, please share!

I'm going to illustrate the technique we learned to make the pockets using two different samples, one in olive wool twill and one in navy wool flannel.  We start by marking the placement of our pockets on the front of the skirt using tailor's tacks and drawing a 6" chalk line (the length of the pocket) between them.  The ends of the line are marked with a 1/2" perpendicular mark.

Next, the top pocket layer is hand basted to the edge of the skirt, lining up notches.  Trust me, it's under there.

Now the pocket piping piece is laid atop the diagonal pocket line, right sides together.  This piece is already cut nearly in two, leaving approximately 3/4" intact at the top.  Please notice that one side is wider than the other.  The wider side should face the center of the skirt.  Along the cut opening, two 6" lines are traced, each 1/4" from the cut.   These will form the 1/4" seams that will become the 1/2" pocket opening.

Baste the piping piece to the skirt front, stitching inside the 1/4" piping lines.  You can now cut through remaining 3/4" of the piping piece.

Why, you may be asking, is the piping piece pre-cut?  It's so that the diagonal chalk line we drew on the skirt front is visible, so we know we've lined up our piping piece accurately.  (I've made other versions of this pocket where the piping piece isn't precut; this version is easier).

Now go to your sewing machine and stitch two symmetrical vertical 6" lines atop the vertical chalk lines you made on the piping piece (which you've basted to your skirt front).  From the underside of the pocket, these lines should look like this:

Now, between these two lines, cut up the center, through the pocket and skirt (the piping piece is already cut, of course).  Cut up to approx. 1/2" from the end and then diagonally to the very end of your stitch line, forming a "v".

This "v" should be cut through the pocket and the skirt but not through the piping piece.  However, you should cut a 1/4" notch in the piping piece on both sides of the piping, near the ends of the pocket opening (i.e, from the piping edge to the stitch line -- see below).  This will allow the piping layer to fold flatter from the underside (hard to show; trust me on this).

Next, press open the seam between the piping and the skirt front on both sides of the pocket opening.  Don't worry about the little triangles at either end right now.  (You can now remove the basting that held the skirt to the top pocket; it's no longer needed.)

Next, from the right side of your skirt, carefully fold your piping over the open seam on each side. (You're turning and folding the piping, pulling it gently through the pocket opening you just cut.)  You will stitch the piping in place with a prick-type stitch directly in the ditch formed between the piping and the skirt.  Stitch each side separately, being careful to keep the piping width the same on both sides -- approximately 1/4" wide.  As you stitch, you should be able to feel the open seam over which you're folding the piping.  Keep that seam open and flat.

On the left side, the piping is formed and being stitched in place; the right side remains unfolded.

When both sides are completed, hand baste the piping closed.  It will remained closed until the skirt is finished.

Now you can tuck the triangular ends under (a point presser is a good tool for this step).  From the underside of the pocket, stitch the triangular ends to the part of the piping piece that extends beyond it.

Next, go to your machine, turn the loose edge of the piping piece (that faces the center of the skirt) under 1/4" and edgestitch it down.  (Then turn the corner at the bottom and edgestitch to the pocket slit -- not shown in photo.)  This will form the facing for the top of the pocket (It's why we placed the wider side of the piping piece toward the center of the skirt,).

Now, we take the under pocket facing piece and line up its edges with the piping/facing piece on the top pocket (right sides together).

Place the under pocket piece on top and pin it to the under pocket facing, maintaining the alignment of the piece with the top pocket piping/facing piece.  When it's pinned, pick up the under pocket.  We're now going to sew the facing onto the under pocket.  We will turn under the long side which will be facing the center of the skirt at approx. 1/4" and edgestitch it down.   We will also stitch down the bottom edge at approximately 1/4".  Why just these two sides?  You'll see.

Now, making sure everything is smooth and flat, match the notches between top pocket and underpocket and stitch the pocket layers together along three sides (leave the top edge open) at 1/2".  You can add a second line of stitching, 1/4" from the stitched seam, for added strength.  Make sure you don't stitch through the skirt itself!

Finally, we want to stitch around three sides of the pocket opening, through all layers of the pocket/piping.  We'll stitch at the top, down the long side that faces the side seam of the skirt, and along the bottom.  Stitch right up to the piping, but not into it.  Keep the stitching on the pocket fabric.  Again, make sure you're not stitching through the skirt itself, but only the pocket and piping layer.

From the underside of the pocket, the stitching will look like this:

Only one side of the pocket opening is not stitched closed: the side through which your hand will slip into the pocket. 

And that's it!

Hope this is clear; it's a somewhat challenging technique.

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. That looks just like a double welt pocket to me. It's probably a translation difference or a regional difference -- and which you learn is lineage based. Maybe women's wear versus men's wear?

    -- Tegan

  2. Google has revealed they can also be called besom or jetted pockets...The course looks brilliant - I'm jealous. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thank you for the tutorial including taking all those pictures! Wow, I wish I could take a course like that.

    Had you asked me yesterday, I would have assumed 'piped' meant 'corded' and 'welted' meant, well, what you're sewing, i.e. a double flat piped pocket.

  4. Thank you for this post! I've fumbled my way through welt pockets like this (where you end up with the welt lips hidden inside the lining), but I've never seen it laid out in a book or tutorial. This is very clear, I'll be referencing it in the future!

  5. An extremely important point that should always be mentioned here, is that the fabric choice is just as important as the technique, here. No amount of skill will make up for fabric that won't conform to make the beautiful, stable edges you seek.

  6. Thank you for sharing what you are doing in class.

  7. Your pockets are beautiful Peter!

  8. Jetted/jeated/besom/piped pockets (single or double jets): coats, some RTW waistcoats, trousers back pockets, coat inner breast pockets.

    Welt pockets (made completely differently to the pocket you show here): are on waistcoats, jacket breast pockets, some other garments (angled overcoat pocket etc).

    Your jetted pockets turned out very neat. I've never seen the thing of leaving one side uncut until after basting.

    Another method is to a use a single piece for both jettings, though the triangle ends up a bit thicker because you cut through all layers.

    The bottom facing can be pressed over for top-stitching t the pocket piece before making the pocket; a lot easier than wrestling with all the pieces under an iron.

    On trousers the pocket bag would have to be finished with a French seam (maybe your pockets are going between the outer cloth and lining?). Also it's a thought to use matching thread on whatever side of the pocket will be visible (in the bobbin or through the needle, the unseen side doesn't matter), though I'm sure you did this for photographic purposes.

    Great photo tutorial!

  9. Lovely read and beautiful as always Peter. Shame others don't get what us bloggers do have a read. Not very impressed especially with Mr Coffins views!

  10. It was meant to be! I have just decided to make trousers with a double welt pocket (I can't tell the difference either) and have been reading up on my technique. I couldn't believe it when I wandered past this morning to see what you were up to. Thanks for this lovely clear explanation. I am building up my nerve having done an awful job the last time I attempted this technique! Mary


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