Everyone has that one thing that they're afraid to do. The mental block you can't climb over. The one sewing trick that makes your stomach knot up and sweat break out in your bra.
Mine is welt pockets.
It used to be invisible zippers, but that was before I got a good invisible zipper foot and realized that welt pockets were within my grasp. Once I realized that I could do them, the idea of doing them made me queasy.
I've been talking about learning to do them for ages. I even did a faux-welt pockets on my recycled jacket last year. In leather. So I know that technically it's possible to do them, but I got off the hook on the jacket since there was no space to actually put a pocket; I just needed something there to break up the tweed and leather welts seemed more interesting than a pocket flap. And since they were just ornamental, I didn't have to worry if they were technically right.
But New Year's came around, and my only real resolution this year was to beat these little suckers into submission. I dug out all my best sewing books, all my back issues of Threads that had welt pocket (or bound buttonhole) tutorials, and I read until my eyes crossed. I printed out Kathleen Fasanella's tutorials, which everyone recommended highly. Again, I read until my eyes crossed.
I'm sure that Kathleen, and all the books, and all the Threads articles were very clear. They have to be, or no one would know how to make welt pockets. But can I tell you that I just could not get my head around some of the directions?
Which is ridiculous. My one thought on starting this whole process was, "I'm too good at what I do not to be able to do this."
So back to the bookshelf I went, looking for some other source that would explain it in a way I could understand. I pulled out an issue of Vogue's pattern magazine from August/September 2009, and there was an article called "No Fail Welt Pockets" by Pati Palmer. I read the (profusely illustrated) instructions. I didn't get it, completely, but I got enough of what she was saying that I decided this would be the method I'd try.
I dug through the remnant bin and came up with some cotton left over from one of Mario's summer shirts. Loaded up the machine with leftover bobbins and thread - I figured the more visible the thread, the better - and started in. Pati's instructions are actually really good. I was able to follow along, occasionally stopping to scratch my head, but I got from Step 1 to Step 22 in . . . 2 hours, the first time.
All in all, not a bad first result. You'll see where I circled at the outside corner - the stabilizing stitches are showing, and I can't figure out exactly why. Did I cut too far? Not far enough? Should I have backstitched on the long sides of the welt to make sure it didn't wiggle like this? The pocket itself is stable - I pinned the whole construction to my dress form, dumped some notions in it and left it to hang overnight, and it didn't bag - so that at least is good. Any ideas what's wrong in that corner, though?
Pocket #2 (in the scraps from Mario's jacket) only took 40 minutes, so apparently at least there's a learning curve here! In the instructions, Pati only mentions interfacing/stabilizing the fabric that you're inserting the pocket into. I think interfacing of the welts themselves probably depends on the fabric you're using. In the crisp cotton of Pocket #1, it wasn't necessary. In the heavier, more drapy wool of Pocket #2, the welts would have benefited from a bit of beefing up because they seem a little wishy-washy and inclined to not hold their edge.
And again, look where I've marked at the corners. It did it again. Grrr. Need to figure out what I'm doing wrong here.
Maybe now that I've absorbed one person's way of making welt pockets, I can go back to the other sources and see the difference - try out one or two of theirs and see if I get a different result. But for now, that's enough.
I faced my fear. I made 2 pockets. I did not get sick on my cutting table. That alone is good enough right now, as are the pockets. Good enough can, sometimes, be good enough. The more I make, the better they'll get. And if I stop using contrasting thread, that little line of stitching won't be as obvious (until I figure out how to make it go away).
Last, and loudest, one more quick KS 3338 tshirt from a 3/4 yard remnant I got at Jomar last summer. I loved the print but I wasn't sure there was enough of it to do anything with it. I was figuring on one of those Ottobre tank/camisoles I made last year, but when I flattened it out and laid out the t-shirt pattern pieces, I managed to get them all on, so long as I used the shortest sleeve variation. It'll be good for either warm weather or under a plain jacket. That's a fabric that would fight back paired with anything else.
And yes, Evelyn has grown arms. My housemate had a display body that she used as a dress form, but now that she no longer sews I liberated its detachable arms and they're pinned to Evelyn's shoulders. If they get repossessed, I'll make her a new set - it really helped with working on the plaid jacket.