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May 5, 2011

Jeans Sew-Along 4 -- Front Pockets

Readers, I know what you've been wondering all week.  Is Peter going to finish his jeans pockets with genuine rivets?
Short answer: I don't know!  I bought rivets at Sil Thread earlier in the week but I hate anything that requires hammering.  I may have to have a conference call with Taylor Shmaylor -- who just made an incredibly awesome pair of chinos, by the way, and why am I experiencing heartburn?

Our goals for today are:

1. Stitch our front pockets.

2. Overcast or serge the outside edges of our pants fronts.

It's an easy day!

1.  The front pockets on Kwik Sew 3504 are very straightforward and the directions are clear.  That said, I screwed up the first time (which is actually the fourth time since I've made nearly identical pockets before).   More about that in a bit.

First thing you want to do is prepare the coin pocket.  Has anyone actually put coins -- or anything else -- in this pocket EVER?  I'd be curious to know.

Here's a case where you must double topstitch.  It holds down the double-folded edge.

Remember, when you're attaching the coin pocket to the front pocket, that this is the RIGHT pocket we're talking about.  Next, you'll double topstitch the left edge of the coin pocket (which will be visible on the front of the pants) after folding the side in 5/8", and stitch the right and bottom edges as well.  I did these at approximately 1/4".  You want to be able to get into the pocket (not that you'll ever need to) which is why you double-topstitched the top edge before securing the coin pocket to the pocket inset.

I then finished the bottom and front edge (just like the instructions tell you to).  If you don't have a serger, you can overcast by running a zigzag stitch along the edge.

Now you're going to stitch this piece to the pocket itself along all four edges (at approx. 1/4").  Here's where I made my mistake.

The side of the pocket fabric facing you should be the side you want on the INSIDE of the pocket.  The instructions call this the WRONG side.  But I wanted the printed (RIGHT) side of my fabric on the inside of my pocket.  Do you see my dilemma?

What I should have done -- and later did -- was this:

If your pocket fabric doesn't have a right and wrong side, or you don't care which side ends up inside the pocket, it doesn't matter.  But if you do care, don't make this mistake.

Let's continue.  We're now going to attach the piece we've just stitched (with the pocket insets facing down) to the RIGHT side of each pants front at the curve, just like the instructions tell us to.  (Usually with denim there's a very clear right and wrong side; with white denim, much less so, so pay attention if it's not obvious or better yet, label the wrong side so you don't get confused.)  The seam allowance is 5/8".

We're now going to trim down the seam allowance to approximately 1/4" (I generally just halve my seam allowance).  NOTE: The pic below is the left pocket and pants front (just to keep you on your toes).  You'll need to make both pockets.

Now turn the pocket over.  The inside pocket fabric should be on top.  You're going to understitch the pocket fabric to the seam allowance.  This will keep it from creeping up over the edge of the pocket (where it will be visible).  Again, you're stitching the pocket fabric to the denim seam allowance.

Folded down along the curve, the pocket looks like this:

From the outside, like this:

You'll now double-topstitch that edge:

Now fold the pocket along the fold line (this was on the pattern piece) and match notches.  You now must stitch the bottom of the pocket closed (I stitched twice for greater strength) and overcast or serge the raw edge.

I always put a dab of Fray Check on the clipped tip of my serger tail.  Some people knot them.  To play it safe, put a bit of paper or something under the edge in case the Fray Check drips.  I didn't.

Now stitch the pocket and pocket insets to the pants front, both at the top (stitches will end up in the waistband seam allowance) and the side (stitches will end up in the side seam allowance) -- you're just holding it in place till you add the waistband, etc.  I stitched at approximately 1/4".

It's at this point you want to bartack with a zigzagger or add a rivet (no pic because I didn't do it yet; See instructions if you're not sure where to do this).  If you're using a straight stitch machine you can just run a few stitches back and forth to secure the area.  It takes a lot of stress when you put your hands in your pockets, especially if you have big hands.

2.  Now is the best time to finish the raw outside edges of our pants front.  If you're using selvage for this edge (which requires redrafting KS 3504 so that it's entirely straight) you don't need to do this.

With both sides done, you should have something that looks like this from the inside:

And this from the outside:

Friends, that's it for today.  Tomorrow we make zipper flies!

Comments/questions?  Some show-off already finished his jeans in the Flickr Group, do you believe it?  Or did he just go out and buy pants?

How's it going so far?


  1. You could always walk over to Steinloff and Stoller and have Nancy apply your rivets for you. See Shopping the Garment District's post today.

  2. Great tutorial! I've always found right and wrong side to be a bit subjective myself. And I won't serge anything until I see it here first (-:

  3. Love the white denim. I might have to make my next pair of jeans in white. I never put anything in the coin pocket, but it makes a great place to clip my ipod.

  4. I'm one of those sewists with out a blog, and mostly a lurker here. But I had to stop and say that you are a wonderful teacher.

  5. not everyone needs to know this, but coin pockets are perfect for tampons (the little kind.) great tutorial!

  6. Man, you really are going fast! I'm not going to be able to start cutting until Saturday. I'm feeling jeans envy.

  7. Interesting! It never occurred to me to under stitch the pocket, but of course that not a bad idea.

    I don't put in my rivets until the very end (I use a hammer, not one of those plier-looking things). This way I can twiddle the out seam for fit. This is a good idea, I think, if you're using a stretch denim, as differences in stretch can really play havoc with the fit.

    Also, I need to get me some cooler rivets.

  8. I use the change pocket for change. And also for my house key when I don't want to take the whole ring of keys.

  9. Is Peter going to finish his jeans pockets with genuine rivets?

    No, I was wondering if Peter had ever experimented with a double needle for his topstitching.

  10. Thanks for doing another sew-along Peter! I'm holding off on making my jeans until I lose the last 10 pounds, but I am enjoying following the project.

    I use the coin pocket all the time to store my wedding ring. I take it off all the time, especially in winter when I don't want it to catch on my cute knit gloves. I like having a consistent spot where I always know to look for it, plus it's the perfect size! I also find things in the coin pocket of my husband's jeans all the time when I empty all the pockets for laundry day. Usually it's coins! :)

  11. I put my car key in my coin pocket all the time; it's separate from my other keys, since my husband lost his copy of the car key and borrows my key all the time.

  12. I stand corrected!

    Dre, I have never used a double needle; I think I have one somewhere though....

  13. I always put the right side of the fabric on the inside of the pockets. That way I can pull the pockets out and show people. :)

    I understitch the pocket lining of all my pants. I first saw that in a Kwik Sew jeans pattern, and since then I always wonder why other pattern instructions don't have this step. It makes the pockets lay so much nicer!

    A thought for people making jeans for men - if you or the guy you're sewing the pants for carries his wallet in the front pocket, you might want to make the pockets a little deeper. I made these Kwik Sew jeans for my dad who requested some extra front pocket space and I added 1.5" to the pocket depth. He loves it.

  14. What do I put in the coin pocket. My pocket watch of course!

  15. I use the coin pocket for my cell phone - on most of my jeans it fits in there nicely, and keeps anything in my main pocket from scratching the phone.

  16. I don't use the coin pocket, but that's because I have wonky hips and it generally falls right on my pelvic bone -- making it very hard to get anything into or out of the pocket. Other people have some great ideas, though!

    I'm a day behind, I just got my pattern cut out, interfaced, etc. It took all day. I was so confused by the separate fly instructions that I cut out both a right and a left fly. I figured, either way I'm covered with no need to do more cutting tomorrow!

  17. I hemmed a pair of RTW jeans today. Does that count for anything? I'm going to have to make a muslin for my hubs though... and I'll be out of town til the 16th. I'm hoping someone else in the flickr group has a guy with a completely flat butt though.

  18. I always thought that little pocket was designed for a pocket watch. That's how I used it in my teens and twenties. Now I use it ALL the time to stash a spare camera battery, which fits in it exactly.

  19. Beautiful pockets! When I finish with serging I sometimes pull a short length of the chain back through the serging with a double-eyed "needle" (it's not a needle is it without a point). This eliminates the danger of a fray check itchy spot, in my case, something I cannot abide!

  20. I once heard this beautiful anecdote that the poor lad who designed the jeans pockets was smirkily asked what the extra pocket was for. The fellow shrugged his shoulders and said, "For change." It's been assumed ever since that he meant coins...

    I find that my chapstick fits in it beautifully, as does the emergency $20 for cab fare.

    I am getting very tempted however to forgo said-pocket on my sew-along pair because it is turning out to be a real pain in the tuchis! After all, I am reasoning, chapped lips can easily be dipped in one more cocktail and I could probably walk home from wherever I am and save on taxi money.

    They say "change is a good thing"... but isn't it usually used as consolation when something we really didn't want to happen, has happened?

  21. that pocket is the perfect size and location for a zippo lighter.

  22. Coin pocket: I always use mine to put a single key in when i have one that is special (mini-barn, lock box, house boat, etc.) Very easy to find that way. So, in answer to your question a while back, YES, some of us guys do actually use them.


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