Welt Pockets and Bias Binding
Welt pockets and bias binding add a crisp, finished look to this summer dress. I used a favorite tank top of mine to make a general pattern, then made it roomier by adding width to the sides and a box pleat in the center front. I used a rayon chambray for the body of the dress and a striped chambray for the pockets and bias binding.
The rayon chambray is especially drapey and would also make an amazing bias cut dress or skirt. I like how breathable it is for this summer-time dress. The striped chambray is very lightweight and nearly see-through, but has more body.
I marked the pattern with chalk and cut out 2 layers of each the back and front because I made 2 identical dresses. Before I started on the pockets, I stay stitched the neck and arm holes because the grey chambray was very easily stretched on the bias. I also catch the front box pleat in the front with my stay stitch.
Welt pockets are typically seen on tailored menswear, but I like the structured detail they add to this otherwise-soft dress. Precise sewing and careful pressing are key to accurate welt pockets.
To start, I pin two long rectangles to the front of my dress where I’ve marked the pocket placement. You can also use a smaller piece of fabric for the visible pocket edges and attach a thinner liner fabric afterwards, but the striped fabric suited both purposes here. It’s always better to cut a larger piece if you’re not sure of the size; you can always cut off the extra later.
I use a tight stitch to outline the pocket. It is important to have an especially tight stitch in the corners because next I cut very close to each corner.
Next, I cut straight down the middle of the stitched rectangle stopping about 1/4″ from the end. Here I cut diagonally to each corner.
On the backside I press the corners outward to create the side edges.
On the front I press the top piece down and the bottom piece up to create the top and bottom edges.
The fun part happens now, when I pull the entire pocket to the backside of the dress. I start by pressing out the sides again. I then fold down the top to create the visible pocket edge followed by the same action to the bottom edge. It’s important to check how the front looks during this process to make sure everything is lining up properly.
On the front side, I stitch around the edge of the pocket to keep everything in place. I made this dress around the 4th of July and was feeling ever so slightly patriotic so I used red thread to outline my blue and white striped pockets.
To finish the pocket I serge each edge, fold it in half on top of itself to form the pocket and stitch around the edge. From the front, I also restitch the side and top edges to keep everything in place.
Now that the pockets are finished, I stitch the sides and shoulders together and serge the edges.
Bias tape is a simple and sturdy edge finishing technique. It can be subtle if you use the same fabric and turn the tape to the inside of the garment, but here I’ve decided to make it part of the style by using a contrasting fabric and turning it to the outside.
I start by cutting strips of fabric on the bias. I find it is easiest to mark them out and cut all at once. A metal ruler, chalk roller, rotary cutter, and cutting mat make the job much easier. I cut my tape to 3/4″, though an inch wide strip would have been easier to work with.
Next I sew each strip together to create one long bias tape. To sew them together, I lay them perpendicular to one another and sew diagonally. Bias tape is cut on the bias to allow it to stretch and bend around curves and sewing each strip together diagonally allows it to still stretch at the stitch lines.
Because this fabric has stripes, I line up the two pieces along a similar line and stitch down the line to make the seam as invisible as possible. Because there are so many pieces with short stitch lines, I don’t lift my needle or cut my thread, I simply add the next piece (continuing to back stitch the beginning and end of each) in order to save time. I cut the threads and seam allowances all at once afterwards.
After pressing each seam on the bias tape, I start to apply it to the neck and arm edges. It’s important not to stretch out the bias tape (and that’s easy to do) as it will shrink width-wise significantly. I start at one of the seams on the inside of the garment and begin the bias tape by folding the edge over about 1/4″.
Once the bias tape has been attached to each edge, I press the tape to the front.
I use the same red thread to stitch down the edge of the bias tape as I fold it underneath.
Lastly I add my label to the center back and, voila! It’s a dress! Lightweight, breathable, and drapey; this dress is a breeze to wear all summer long.
If you’d like to feel this soft dress on you all summer long, you can purchase it on my website! Or try your hand at welt pockets and bias tape and make your own version.
3 thoughts on “Welt Pockets and Bias Binding”
Love this dress and all the sewing tips given in the write-up. I’d like to know what tank top pattern you started with, but perhaps you drafted it yourself. Nice job!