Friday, October 9, 2015

Sewing the Back Pockets - Style Arc Misty Pull-On Jeans Sewalong

Friends, the first week of the Misty Jeans Sewalong is drawing to a close.  Are you making progress?  Have you even started?  I know that some of you have already got your jeans ready and are just waiting to see what kind of goodies might be coming in the end.  We will get to that soon enough.

For today, let's talk pockets.  Specifically the ones that are going to be on your behind.  As Megan pointed out a few posts back you may want to check the size of the pockets in comparison with some of your RTW jeans to see if they are to your liking.  You can easily size them up or down with a clear ruler.  Or trace the one's you like from your RTW jeans and then add a 3/8 inch seam allowance.  Let me know if you need help understanding how to do this, and I will break it down.

Today's step states, "Press back the seam allowance on the back pockets, stitch across the top with a twin needle stitch, pin the pocket to the back as marked on the pattern, once in place stitch around the pocket with a twin needle stitch."

Back Pocket with Top Edge Pressed Down

First thing you need to do is press the top of the seam allowance down for the pocket.  Remember only the Silk setting on your iron, and use your clapper, if you have one, to get a crisp fold.  Hold off on pressing the other sides of the pocket.

Twin Needle Stitching the Top Edge of the Back Pocket

Now, your twin needle should still be threaded and ready to go from our last post.  Go ahead and sew across the top of the pocket with the twin needle to get a nice clean finish to the top of your pocket.

Pinning Back the Pressed Seam Allowances on the Pockets

Better View of the Twin Needle Stitching at the Top of the Pockets

Now let's go ahead and press back the rest of the seam allowances.  I pressed the two bottom allowances first before pressing the sides in.  I feel like this gives a more neat appearance.  If you have a bulky denim, you may want to trim your seam allowances at the corners, just don't trim them too aggressively.

Now, this is the point that the way I do this differs from how it is laid out in Style Arc's directions.  When sewing pants/jeans I will finish them, put them on and then decide where to place the back pockets.  I have even learned to do this with welt pockets or dummy welts, because there have been some real placement issues.  For the sake of this sewalong, I am going to follow Style Arc's instructions, but then explain my method at the end.  Mmmm kay?

I told you not to mark your pocket placement back in the beginning, but now I am telling you, lay your pattern on top of your pattern piece and mark those pockets (or wait for my other method).

Pocket Placement Marked with Chalk

I pin the seam allowance under at all the corners, and then go ahead and pin the pocket to the pants at the two upper corners and at the center bottom of the pocket.

Pockets Pinned in Place

Back Pockets Pinned in Three Anchoring Points

The reason that Style Arc has you sew the pockets on at this point in construction is because you are carrying on with your twin needle eliminating the need to switch back and forth so much, and pockets are easier to sew in to your garment when your garment is still in the flat.  Do you all know what in the flat means?  In the flat is before you start sewing all the seams together that take your garment from 2 dimensional (flat) to 3 dimensional (having complex curves so as to envelop our curvy bodies).  Prime examples of seams that make garments 3 dimensional are inseams, outer/side seams, and crotch curves.  In shirts your 3 dimensional seams would be darts, sleeves...I hope that you get the idea.

Twin needle sewing of pockets can be a little tricky.  Most of us are used to pivoting our garment around the needle when the sewing takes a turn, but you can not leave a twin needle down and pivot since there are two needles there instead of one.

So you can either sew your twin needle edges as individual sides, or you can carefully lift your presser foot and pivot your fabric without the benefit of the needle being down in the fabric to hold your pivot point.

To sew them as individual sides, you will sew each edge as an individual seam, reversing your stitches at the beginning and end to anchor your thread.

First Seam Sewn

Here we have the first line of stitching finished.  Remember to reverse stitch at the beginning and end to anchor your stitches.  It is fine to reverse stitch when you are using a twin needle.

Aligning Needle to Start Second Seam

Line the right twin needle up with the right line of stitches.  You will have overlap on the left side stitches, which is what you want.

Second Seam Finished

This is what the first two finished seams look like.  You want to continue sewing these individual seams all the way around the pocket (remember not to sew the top of the pocket shut).

Finished Pocket

This is how your finished pocket will appear.  You can see where the inside row of stitching overlapped while the outside row lined up and connected to the previous row of stitches.

Example of Both Seam Methods - The outside set of Stitches is Pivoted and The Inside set of Stitches is Individual Seams

To sew the pockets with the pivoting method, you simply sew down one side to the lower edge (still anchoring at the beginning with a back and forth stitch), lift your presser foot and carefully turn your fabric so that the right line of stitching stays in line with the right needle, but your presser foot is lined up to sew in the direction of the next seam line.  Continue doing this as you work your way around the pocket until all the edges (except for the top) are sewn.

Starting to Stitch at the Top of the Back Pocket

Sewing Down to the Point at Which the Fabric will need to Pivot

Serger Sewists - You can do all this work on your serger if you have a coverstitch function.  I highly recommend putting your pockets on at this stage if you intend to use the coverstitch, because it will be monumentally harder to do once the inseam and side seams or outer seams are sewn.

Both Back Pieces with Back Pockets and Yokes Attached

We are all finished with this step.  Yay!  Our pants are starting to look like something that might actually be pants.  Albeit wavy ripply pants.  On October 23rd - Adding the Elastic Waistband and Finishing Touches, I will give a tutorial of how to set your back pockets once you have mostly finished the garment for those of you who would like to wait and place them where you personally would like them to be.

If any of you are sewing along and are at this step, please let me know how it is going and don't hesitate to mention any tips that you have or ask any questions.  Also, did you notice that my fabric has a word written all over it?  It wasn't until I was reviewing these pictures that I caught that.

Next step:  Sewing the Coin Pocket

Side Note:  I need to take my DSLR camera to be cleaned so I apologize for the mix of camera and phone pics.  My sensor is having a hard time focusing in certain lighting situations right now.


  1. You have some serious pattern matching skills. Those pockets are perfect! I am really enjoying this sew-along and am still in live with your fabric. Xx

    1. Thanks, MoR! I have to be honest, on the pockets it was just dumb luck. I guess that is the joy of having a busy pattern, you get lucky and it lines up nicely! There are other patterns of this fabric that I really want to buy, but I have put myself on a fabric diet because my stash is just ridiculous right now.

  2. great detail on the pockets, they look so neat and tidy! I was thinking to myself, "is she really going to spend a whole post on the back pockets?" but this was monumentally helpful for achieving a good finish. I always struggle with corners on my coverstitch machine. When i started muslining this pattern, I tested out the triple straight stitch for topstitching and I think I'm going to go that route, but I'm going to keep this info in mind for future projects!

  3. Do you have any tips for reliably getting a 3/8" seam? I feel like I'm just guessing, then measuring after. But it's hard to change it after it's been ironed.

    1. For clarity, are you asking about ironing over the 3/8 seam, or are you asking about getting your stitch line evenly on the 3/8 seam? If you are talking about the ironing part what I have seen a lot of people do is take a piece of cardstock and mark 3/8 inch line on it. Then fold your material over the cardstock so that it lines up with the 3/8 line and iron it. Does that make sense?