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TUTORIAL--Perfect Pocket Flaps every time!

There are  many interesting things that I have learned about shirt-making over the years, and one was how to sew pocket flaps...and other "shirt-parts" without seam allowances. Yes, you read that right...I'll be showing you how many custom Shirt-makers sew first, then add the allowances later.

Here is one example of the method, 
using the pocket flap from Colette Pattern's Negroni Shirt.

Since the pattern is multi-sized, I backed all the tissue pattern pieces with some nasty old spun-poly interfacing I've had stashed for years...in preparations for tracing the size I need to make the shirt. Note that the pocket flap of the Negroni Shirt is the same for all sizes.  The first thing I did was to attach the pattern piece to an clean file folder with a stapler, as you see above. I stapled it to the card-stock  so it would stay in place as I traced around it...which is the next step.  Then I quickly added the 1/4" the seam lines to all but the top long straight side of the flap pattern, as you can see below.

Next, I cut it out....cutting OFF the side and bottom seam allowances and discarding them. Now I had a hard copy of the pocket flap, minus its side and bottom seam allowances.

Then it was time to take a piece of Interfacing, fold it in half wrong sides together , and lay my newly trimmed pocket flap on top. The next step is to cut out 2 identical pieces of interfacing, and the best way I've found to keep all the layers from shifting while I cut is to staple them together, as you see below.

Just FYI..the interfacing used in this demo is the new ProWoven Light-Crisp 100% cotton Fusible from www.FashionSewingSupply.com  Many shirtmakers  cut the small pieces like pocket flaps last, from the scraps left after cutting the main pieces. So after the interfacing pieces were cut out (and staples removed) they were each fused to a scrap of fabric that was folded RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER. In the photo below, the folded edge of the fabric piece is at the top, and the Interfacing piece is being fused about 1/2-inch below the fold.

Time to sew!  But how can this flap be sewn if there are no seam allowances...remember I  trimmed them all off except the long top one. Well, it doesn't matter one bit, as you will soon see... 

 ...because I used the interfacing as my stitching guide!   (as shown below..stitched twice in contrast thread so you can see it clearly)
...and as you can see, I chose to stitch "straight-through" the angles of the interfacing template..it is the way I was trained, and is my preference. You may choose to pivot-and-turn, with your needle in the down position to take the turns...but do make sharp turns and follow the outline of the template exactly. Note the top long edge is left unsewn...because that is where the flap will be turned right-side-out.

Next, I needed to add those seam allowances back!  But first I cut right along the edge of the interfacing on the top long edge, but then I cut 1/8" away from the stitching around all the other edges, as you see below. And as you can see I also trimmed the "corner-points"

After I fused the remaining piece of interfacing to another piece of fabric, then stitched and trimmed...I was ready to turn the flaps. And because they were sewn using identically cut pieces of fused interfacing as the "stitching guide"..the flaps are identical twins.  The ones you see below were left unpressed...just turned by hand and patted flat with my hand..and look how good they look.  OK...I'll confess..my iron stopped working just before I was ready to press the flaps...but I wanted to post this tutorial and it might take a while to get another iron...etc, etc. But heck, even unpressed they look a great deal better than many I've made using a different sewing method and an iron that worked!


What do you think? Please add a comment by clicking here-->


Blogger Linda T said...

Wow, what a VERY clever way to sew pocket flaps. I WILL try that sometime. Thank you!

3:13 PM  
Blogger sewingkm said...

Fabulous - thanks for the tutorial, Pam!

3:35 PM  
Blogger the nifty needler said...

Can shirt collars be done in the same way?

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Joan said...

Very clear, helpful tutorial. Thanks so much.

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Mary Beth said...

Just when I begin to think I "know" a technique and that it works well for me, you post the most rational, right-on, mind-bending tut EVER. Bless you Pammy!

5:31 PM  
Blogger Jane M said...

Thank you, Pam. This is a wonderful tutorial.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Kay said...

Wow, this is really slick!Gotta save this to my 'tips & techniques' file.



8:18 PM  
Blogger Pam Erny said...

Hi everyone and thanks for your nice comments...even though I have been writing about shirt-making for years, I still have so much left to share with you all!

8:26 PM  
Blogger Pam Erny said...

Hi Nifty Needler, Collars can be stitched in much the same way..there are some different and important things to keep in mind when stitching collars this way, but yes, it is similar.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Mildred said...

How do you make Beasom pockets?

9:43 PM  
Blogger Martha said...

Clear and helpful. Thanks so much.

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the tutorial. This seems to be an easy method with a great result! I've been taught to not remove the seam allowance when I am cutting the interfacing pieces (for everything, not just for flaps). Now I see that you are removing yours, and I am confused, although I like the result :) I wonder if there is a rule about the seam allowances for interfacing. Thanks again,

3:46 AM  
Blogger Pam Erny said...

Hi Mildred, perhaps one day I will show how I make a besom pocket.
I suggest you refer to a good sewing book like Claire Shaeffer's "Sew Any Pocket".

7:41 AM  
Blogger Pam Erny said...

Hello Olga, there are times/places when interfacing is stitched into a seam, and times when it is not. It took over 5 years of intensive study as a Tailor's Apprentice and over 25 years as a professional shirt-maker for me to learn them.

There really is no "rule"...I learned by training and experience to eliminate as much bulk from a seam as possible during shirtmaking.

There are some interfacings on the market that are sheer enough to remain in the seam, such as ProSheer Elegance Fusible Interfacing, and ProTricot Deluxe Fusible Interfacing, both available along with many others at

8:06 AM  
Blogger CarmencitaB said...

Thank you! This is so clever!

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your answer!

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Cheryl said...

Hi, Pam, this is a great technique! I also would have never thought to use staples to keep interfacing from slipping. Thank you very much.............Cheryl

6:44 PM  
Blogger Claire (aka Seemane) said...

Another great tutorial Pam - thanks once again for sharing with us all :)

It seems so logical when you see it above [to use the edges of the interfacing as the guide for the sttiches], and bonus - less bulk from the interfacing NOT being on the seam-allowances themselves too (yay!)

9:18 AM  
Blogger DonnaRae said...

I have read and re-read the instructions and must be missing something. Why do you copy the pattern and then add a seam allowance to the pattern to then cut off the seam allowance that you added? I am so confused. What is the difference of just tracing the pattern then not adding the seam allowances and cutting out the pattern as is?

8:19 PM  
Blogger midnight hysteria said...

OMHeck ... i'm hangin' with *donnarae* ... i, also, have read and re-read the instructions and: I DON'T GET IT ....

all i can say is, *what she said* ... please help ...


oh, yea ... how is the rest of the *negroni pattern doing as compared to the vogue 8800? thanks .....

8:24 PM  
Blogger Sewing Princess said...

Pam, this tutorial is great not to mention the result. I really appreciate your sharing your in-depth skills with us. So, you actually have to straight stitch along the seamline before assembling the pocket? Did I get this right?

8:02 AM  
Blogger Pam Erny said...

Hi Donna Rae and Midnight--

The pattern I was using in this example **already has** seam allowances included...so...in order to cut them off evenly, I first had to *see* them...and the only way to do that was to draw them on the copied pattern piece.

If you are using a pattern piece that *does NOT have* seam allowances included, you are ready to go..there is nothing to cut off :)

8:23 AM  
Blogger Pam Erny said...

Hi Sewing Princess, yes you are right...you are stitching right on the seam line, using the interfacing as a "stitching-guide" template :)

8:26 AM  
Blogger Pam Erny said...

Hi everyone...sorry if I am slow to answer questions this week and next (until next weekend...I am having a huge Interfacing sale at www.FashionSewingSupply.com , and I am working very long hours :)

8:30 AM  
Blogger DonnaRae said...

Thanks for your answer about the seam allowance. Now I get it. DAH. You are drawing the seam allowance inside the pattern then cutting off. Got it. I thought you were adding one then cutting off. Thanks for explaining! I hope midnight gets it too now!!

11:00 PM  
Blogger Reethi said...

Genius! This is a great little tip, thank you so much! I just made a jacket with rather wonky pockets, so this is extra-timely and useful!

4:10 PM  
Blogger Simple Simon and Company said...

That is genius...love the way you do these pockets!

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Leah said...

I am making a shirt which only had one pocket in the design. I added a second pocket and debated whether to hassle the pocket flap. Look! It isn't a hassle at all. Thank you so much!!

1:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this well explained tutorial! I just tried it with a chambray shirt for my daughter and it worked perfectly. Margaret

8:13 PM  

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