Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My leather skirt pockets journey (lengthy and picture heavy)

I specifically want to thank Kathleen Fasanella for her well written and informative Fashion Incubator blog.  Way back when I started my journey into leather sewing she wrote some very helpful and specific advice that couldn't be found anywhere else on the net.  Her blog posts explained the layout, grain, pattern placement and construction techniques necessary for success.
She also talked about a book called "Leather Fashion Design" by Francesca Sterlacci.  Most of the book covers topics specific to industrial design and manufacturing, but the sections on construction are really helpful.  If you wish to try leather sewing, you really should invest in a book like this.

Patterns aren't included and its more like a technique description than step-by-step instructions, but if you have a good overview of sewing welt pockets and can use your imagination this will get you to great looking pockets.

If you haven't sewn with leather or made any welt pockets I would like to refer you to another wonderfully informative blog written by The Sewing Lawyer  who has done a much better job of documenting her processes for leather AND welt pockets.  Follow her labels and learn.  If you don't return from the rabbit hole I will understand.  She made the most wonderful in-seam, invisible pockets in her jacket which she reviewed here on Patternreview.com!

This is a different process than inserting the pocket in a woven garment.

The stability of the garment allows you to sew the pocket together as one piece, then sew it into a formed opening in the garment.

Measure twice, cut once
The huge advantage of doing it this way is that you are adding fewer lines of stitching and you can see what you are doing from the right side as you sew.

Pause for a round of applause...

The lines for the pocket were marked on the leather with ResQ tape, the length and angle were eyeballed on the right side.
The line is transferred from the right side front to the left by placing one garment side on top of the other and sticking a
push pin through (same technique I use to transfer dart markings).  Then you really should double check with a nice big clear ruler to make sure that they look even.

Pin through both layers to match
Take a step back, rub your eyes, maybe get a second opinion but make sure that they are even and square because if you put them on crooked you can't change it.

Cut the pieces for the pocket:

2 welts in leather (length of the opening + 1 inch X width of welt x2 +seam allowance)
2 pocket facing in leather (length of pocket opening + an inch or so)
2 pocket lining in fabric (depth of pocket X width of pocket + 1") If your pockets are at an angle, the top edge of the lining should be straight across the uppermost point of the pocket.

OR, if it makes you feel better... grab a pattern with pockets that you like and steal borrow the pieces.

Fold the welts in half, pound with hammer, then glue.  Place one strip of Rescue Tape across the edge of the welt with the open side covered.

I think I cut the pocket lining straight, then folded the top edge down at an angle to match the pocket opening.  Then I trimmed off the extra triangle  leaving a seam allowance.

Sew the welt to the angled edge of the pocket lining.
Sew the pocket facing to the straight edge of the pocket lining.

Fold in half and press the bottom edge.

Next the instructions tell you to sew around the outer edge of the pocket bag so that you have a completed pocket.
Looking back, I should have waited because they aren't very clear on how you sew the bottom edge of the pocket welt to the bottom edge of the pocket opening.  They tell you to just start in the corner and sew straight across, but my pocket bag made it difficult to get my foot in the corner and sew
the seam straight.

Matching pockets ready to be attached to the skirt
But I was so proud of how pretty and well lined up my pockets were!

Attaching the pocket would have been much easier if I hadn't sewn the outer edge until after attaching the welt to the lower edge of the pocket opening.

Now you are ready to whack gently and precisely slice into your garment.
Inside of pocket opening

Pause for a  prayer to The Sewing Gods for the almost-completed garment that we are about to slice open.

Then you cut the pocket opening open between the strips of tape, being very careful to stop half an inch or so short of the end of the opening in order to make the 'Y' to extend the opening into the corners.

I was so enamored with my Rescue Tape that I used 5/8" tape to secure the lips of the opening to the inside of the pocket.

Then you peel off the final side of that stick tape and stick the right side of welt to the inside of the bottom edge of the pocket opening.

Make sure that the pocket is positioned so that the welt opens to the top of the pocket opening.

If you haven't sewn the pocket edge shut then its very ease to sew the lower lip of the opening to the edge of the pocket.  
Then you sew around the outer edge of the pocket.

If you have sewn the outer edge of the pocket, you sit back at your machine, scratch your head and curse quietly.

If you are smart, you unstitch the sides and refer to the smart instructions in blue above.

if you are not smart, and don't like ripping out seams...

Next you have to fold the upper part of the pocket (including the facing) back and finagle the lower lip of the opening under the presser foot and get as close to the start of the pocket edge as possible and stitch to the other end.

I would have taken a picture of this, but I didn't want to risk the skirt sliding out of the machine.

Next you only have to stitch the inner edge, top and outer edge of the pocket opening to have a well formed welt pocket.

Stitch sides and top of pocket opening
Think about it this way, the pocket opening is kind of like a 2 dimensional house.  First you sew across the 'foundation' to the lower pocket opening, trying to not sew through all layers and sewing the pocket shut.  Then you sew up the 'walls', across the top and down the other side sewing the sides and top shut.

I apologize if I wasn't clear or left out a step, but this process documenting is a tricky thing to do.

I am not writing this as a 'tutorial' or any kind of tried and true process, its just an account of my experience putting welt pockets in leather.  I found this method easier to do than the conventional way of sewing the half assembled pocket to the right side of the garment and flipping it to the inside.

Now, I just have to put the waistband (leather) on and sew the hem, write the review and I'm done.

I also think I'm prepared to get back to my gunmetal moto jacket which needs 3 pockets with zippers,  YIKES!

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