Thursday, May 22, 2014

Put a welt pocket on it! (Tutorial and free pattern)

I just don't like the look of pants without pockets on the back.  Even one pocket is good enough for me, just something to break up the wide expanse of fabric covering my bottom.  But even when pants or shorts patterns don't have this feature provided, you can still add one!  There are tons of different pocket styles to chose from, but I like welt pockets since they look professional and match the styling of a wide range of pants/ shorts designs.
Peek at my newest pair of pants
In this tutorial, I will be walking through sewing a welt pocket using a basic pants pattern--one with a single dart at the back waistband, but you can use almost any pants, shorts or skirt pattern.  The welt pockets I'm sewing here are part of my "Manhattan Trousers" by Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick (full post to follow). The welt is sewn in before any side or inseams are sewn, so you'll have to plan ahead a bit.  I like my welt pockets to be about 2" below the waistband seam (measured from sewn waistband to top edge of welt), positioned over the very tip of the back dart.  I actually use the vanishing point of the dart to position the lower stitching line of the welt pocket opening, so it's important that the dart be the right length (3", measured from the raw edge).  The Manhattan trouser dart is slightly longer, so I reduced the length and width slightly and distributed the rest of the dart intake to the center back and side seam.
Original back dart and seams
Redrawn dart and side seams
If you want your welt pocket lower (more than 2" below sewn waistband), the dart length and Pocket Back pattern piece should be increased by the same amount.  For example, if you want your welt edge to be 3" below the waistband, make your dart 4" long and your Pocket Back piece should have 1" added to the upper edge.

Okay, now for the welt.  The fairly standard welt pocket size is about 1/2" x 4.5".  If you are very small or very large, you may want to decrease or increase the width to keep the proportions, but for the majority of folks, this size should be fine.

Download the welt pocket pattern.  (For printing, be sure to unselect "Fit to Page".)

Cut out, interface, and finish the edges of the Welt Facing piece.  Then, using pins and the pattern as a template, mark ends of the dotted lines (the location of the four corners of the welt pocket "window"). Then, draw two parallel lines connecting the dots, making sure the lengths are exactly 4.5".  (Note: the solid line rectangle below indicates the part of the facing that is going to show through the welt "window", the welt itself, for purposes of pattern matching.)
Mark ends of dotted lines with pins
Use pins to mark the wrong side of the welt facing
Two parallel lines (4.5") connecting top and bottom corners
Fold the facing in half to create a reference line and place a pin at the intersection point of the midline and the lower of the two parallel lines.    On the right side of your pants back, position the welt facing at the very tip of the dart (using your pin), keeping the midline point in line with the dart.  You may want to interface the pants (on the wrong side) where your welt will go (I did not to reduce bulk).
Right sides facing, align the middle of the welt facing with the back dart
Pin used for reference at the corner of midline and bottom drawn line.
Pin helps align that point to the bottom of the back dart
Pin in place
Carefully stitch along your marked parallel lines, starting and stopping (with backstitching) at the exact same points for both lines.  
Stitched lines, stopping at the same point to create equal length seams.
Fold the welt facing in half and carefully make a small cut between the two lines of stitching.  Open up the piece and extend the cut line in both directions until about 3/4" from the ends of the stitching lines and cut a V toward the "corners".  Slit as close to the stitching as possible without cutting the thread.
Cut a small starting point, then open the slit further.
V notch at the ends of the welt opening.
One at a time, fold the upper and lower flaps of the welt facing over the opening and press to flatten the seam.  (Only the top flap is folded here).
Pressing the seams open helps create the window in the next step.
Push both flaps through the window toward the wrong side of the pants.
Pushed through to the back side
Manipulate the facing so that it lays flat and even around in the opening and press in place.  
Don't be confused, the pants are upside down here!
Now the welt facing creates the welt!  Fold the bottom flap upward, enough to match the top edge of the window.  Flip to the front to make sure the welt is even (1/2" in width), then press in place.
The pants are still upside down, the bottom flap is being folded.
Close-up to show the fold from the side
With pants right side up, fold the side of pants toward the center to reveal the tiny little triangle created by the V notch.  This must be stitched down to secure the sides of the welt and structure the pocket. Stitch through the triangle and folds of the welt facing, as close to the fold line as possible without stitching over it.  Repeat on the other side.
Fold side of pants over to reveal the wrong side of the welt facing
Stitching on the welt facing side
Stitch in the ditch along the lower edge of the welt to keep the welt in place.

Cut the Pocket Front piece out of lining fabric.  Position the top side of the pocket front to the bottom of the welt facing, right sides facing.  Sew with 1/2" seam allowance and press the pocket from downward.
Pocket front aligned with the bottom of the welt facing.
Pocket front pressed downward
Cut the Pocket Back from self fabric.  Position the piece over the welt facing/ pocket front, matching bottom and sides.  If the top hangs over the waistline, trim it off to match the waistline.
Pocket back over the welt facing/ pocket front
Pin the pocket back in position and carefully flip the whole thing over so the pants are right side up. Fold down the pant waist to reveal the welt facing and top of the pocket back. Stitch  through the welt facing and pocket back along the welt facing close to the fold line to stabilize the pocket and attach the welt window to the pocket back.
Pants are folded back to reveal the wrong side of the welt facing and pocket back
Stitch close to the original upper "window" stitching line
Seam or serge around three sides of the pocket, making sure to catch all the pocket layers and not the pants piece.
All pocket layers pinned in place
Serge around three edges
Baste along the upper edge and continue on with the rest of your pattern!
Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!


  1. Hi Nicole,
    This is by far the best welt pocket tutorial I have ever read. I have scrolled through lots and viewed youtube videos, but this is just great. Thank you for taking the time to take all the step by step pictures and post this. I will definitely be trying this out on my next pair of pants! Your pants look great by the way.

    1. Wow, thank you! I'm glad it'll be useful to you!

  2. This is soo much easier than the way I have been doing it! Thank you!

  3. Anonymous1:31 PM

    Yes I agree great tutorial. I am sure I will find a use for this tutorial...someday!

  4. Anonymous4:58 PM

    Thanks for the fantastic tutorial, can't wait to read more about the pants, the fit is phenomenal, well done.

  5. Excellent tutorial, thankyou. Welts have always mystified me. I agree about having an expanse of unbroken fabric across ones backside. Might seem a silly question but if one just wanted to have faux welt pockets rather than true functional ones would you just attach the pocket back in self fabric just below the welt and extend it up into the waistband?

    1. Actually, I would attach it above (as directed) and below the welt (do the "sew in the ditch step" sewing through the pocket back layer) to keep the welt looking good. You could skip the "pocket front" and then trim the pocket back. Thanks!

    2. That's awesome, thanks so much!

  6. Excellent tutorial! Your explanations and photos are crystal clear. Thank you. I tried to download the pattern and I get the following message : "Unable to access folder with ID: 0AOot69cuXE-AUk9PVA. Check access permissions on the folder." Have you any idea what may be wrong?

    1. Thank you for letting me know! I updated the file and neglected to make it visible to the public. It should be fixed now, but let me know if you get an error again!

  7. Nicole, I have both downloaded and printed your welt pocket pattern! Thank you so very much! I feel the same way about pockets on pants. It's strictly a design feature; I never actually put anything in them...well, on hands. But, they add so much to the professional look of trousers! Can't wait to give this a try on my next pair, with you alongside me as coach!

  8. Thank you!!! I need a few more pair of pants (simplicity 2700 is my TNT) and they need welts!!

  9. Danyiell6:40 PM

    Nicely detailed tutorial. Very much appreciated. Thank you.

  10. Absolutely great tutorial! I just finished mine up on some summer shorts. Thank you thank you thank you! Allison

  11. Great tutorial. I just want to make sure I have this correct. You sew the dart first and then add the welt pocket. Correct?

    1. Yes, sewing the dart first is the way to go. It would be difficult to sew it properly after making the pocket. Good luck!