Friday, August 10, 2012

Pockets: Zippered Welt Pocket Done Properly


A long time ago, I wrote the Pocket Series, which was a manic string of tutorials on making 25? 26? different pockets. It was meant to be a bunch of short, quick tutorials so that even the beginner-est of us could feel confident adding pockets to the various projects they were working on. One of those pockets was the zippered welt pocket. In the writeup, I mentioned (in para 3 of that post) that the method demonstrated was not the usual one I used to make that kind of pocket but I went ahead anyway because it was a short-cut version that could be finished in a few, easy-to-visualize steps. I never did get round to showing you the actual method I use, did I? Let's do it today, then, almost two years later!

These photographs (but not the method or instructions; these were rewritten and changed for this tutorial) are conveniently borrowed from the Bella Bag pattern that's still in the testing lab(s), which explains why the big orange piece of fabric is  strangely called the Lining Back. It's just to distinguish it from another piece of the lining, fancily called the Lining Front, but it doesn't matter in this tutorial. Suffice it to say that the big orange piece is the surface in which you want the zippered welt pocket to  be situated. My apologies for the inconsistent photo sizes - they were shrunken to whatever works for the bag pattern document layout after annotating and couldn't be re-enlarged without compromising their resolution.

You will need:
  • The main fabric where the pocket is to go (called the Lining Back in this tutorial)
  • A piece of fusible interfacing that has the welt (i.e. the slit opening) cut out of it, and fused in position to the WS of the main fabric
  • Thin cotton fabric for the pocket lining (aka the pouch)- this should be twice the height of the pocket, and wider than the welt by at least 2"
  • Thin cotton fabric for the facing - it's white in this tutorial for visibility, but you should really make it in a color that matches the main fabric, so it doesn't show. This  should be at least the same size as the piece of welt interfacing
  • A zipper, that should be at least 1" longer than the welt.

Step 1
Pin the facing to the main fabric (remember that in this tutorial, it has the funky name of Lining Back) so that
  • the facing is on the RS of the main fabric
  • the RS of the facing is touching the RS of the main fabric
  • the facing is directly behind the welt interfacing
Pin in place.

Step 2
Sew exactly on the long edges of the welt (black dashed lines). Backstitch at each end, make both lines exactly the same length and don't sew the short edges of the welt. 
Then cut the welt open along the blue line shown, including the V-shaped cuts towards the corners of the welt. 

Step 3
Pull the facing through the open welt to the WS of the main fabric.

and press it flat. The welt itself is ready. Set aside.

Step 4
Line up one long edge of the zipper tape with the top edge of the Pocket Lining aka pouch (this will be one of its short edges) so that
  • the WS of the zipper touches the RS of the pouch
  • the zipper is centered across the width of the pouch
Sew close to the zipper coils to hold the zipper tape in place.
Step 5
Place the zipper-and-pouch ensemble behind the welt so that
  • the pouch is now upside down i.e. most of the pouch fabric is above the welt
  • the RS of the zipper peeks out from the welt i.e. the RS of the zipper touches the WS of the main fabric
  • the zipper pull is within the welt (and not hidden in the seam allowance on either side of the welt)
(RS of main fabric)

(WS of main fabric) 

Step 6
Fold down the pouch fabric on the stitching/basting line made in Step 4 so that all the pouch fabric is now lying below the zipper. Press this fold. 
On the RS of the main fabric (i.e. so you can see the welt window), topstitch (blue dashed line) through all layers along just the bottom edge of the welt to hold the zipper and pouch fabric in place. Some folks like to topstitch on just the RS of the welt and avoid the pouch fabric, which is perfectly OK. Since we are sewing very close to the coils (Step 4), topstitching through all the layers just helps hold the pouch fabric away from the zipper coils so the zipper pull doesn't catch on it. 

Step 7
On the WS of the main fabric, fold up the pouch fabric so that its bottom edge now meets the top edge of the zipper tape (turquoise arrow). Pin in place.

On the RS of the main fabric (i.e. so you can see the welt), topstitch around the remaining three sides of the welt (blue dashed lines). You have now secured the zipper and the pocket lining aka pouch fabric around the entire welt, and no raw edges are visible from the inside of the pocket.

Step 8
Now sew up the sides of the pouch to close it completely. Remember not to sew through the main fabric; just the two-layered pouch fabric (and, if you like, the facing). To do this, temporarily peel back the main fabric away from the rest of the layers so it is out of the way. It is actually easier to do this from the RS of the main fabric - if you just lift aside the main fabric, the pouch fabric will lie underneath. However, in the picture below, the WS is shown, to indicate the position of the stitching lines (purple dashed lines). 

The zippered welt pocket is now completed. Assuming this pocket was made in the lining layer of a bag (or whatever), all the unfinished exposed edges on the WS of the main fabric will be hidden away when your bag (or whatever) is sewn up, so there is no need to serge or otherwise finish any of the edges.

And that's how I do the fully-lined zippered welt pocket. Note that I only ever use zippered welt pockets in bags and purses. So far, I have never included this pocket in garment sewing. I can't think of a single woman's dress garment that requires this sort of pocket. Maybe they exist in casual sport jackets and casual men's/boys' clothes, none of which I feel a compulsion to make at this point in my life (or ever). And even then, wherever that occurs (like in boys' trouser pockets), I can easily substitute a regular set-in faced zipper within the seamwork of pant legs without having to actually make a welt. Actually, that same philosophy works for bag linings, too i.e. incorporate the zippered pocket into the actual seams of the lining and you will never really need a welt - unless you really want one.

I've added this link to the end of that original post, so people who find it in the archives can come back to this post and have this second option for making the zippered welt. 


  1. Thank you so much! I love all of your tutorials! I'm just learning ot sew and learn so much from you. Can't wait for the new bag pattern!

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I've been trying to figure this out because I hate exposed zippers. Your tutorial is fabulous.

  3. But what happened to those hundred cute little bags???

  4. THANK YOU so much for posting this and so many other fabulous tutorials! I followed this method and ended up with such a professional looking zipper pocket! I'm so grateful when others are willing to share what they know with beginners like me!

  5. What a great site!
    Thank you for all of your great ideas!

  6. thank you so much for this tut!!!

  7. I may have missed this, but how do you determine the width and height of the welt in comparison to your zipper? Sorry if you mentioned it already!! Thanks!! :D

    1. Playful Goddess:
      WIDTH - you determine the size of the opening (welt) of your pocket FIRST. This could be dependent on the garment style or the size of the wearer's hand or other factors. THEN you pick a zipper whose length exceeds this width, not the other way around.
      HEIGHT - the height of the welt should be greater than the width of the coils so the zipper pull can slide smoothly along the welt opening. There is no other rule, really.

  8. just coming back as this is still my favorite tutorial for a zippered welt pocket. I've been seeing patterns where they turn the whole bag through the bottom/side of the pocket so the opening isn't even seen when you look in the bag, just if you pull out the pouch. Fascinating! I still like your TTWBRSOTAHITL acronym , but apparently the short term is "birthing" a bag/purse!


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