You Will Never Be Alone with a Poet in Your Pocket

Sewing a single welt pocket on a Regency era waistcoat.

(Boys waistcoat, 1790, Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Welt pockets are the square edged, flap-less pockets frequently found on very late 18th & 19th century man's clothes. They are especially popular on waistcoats or breeches and are sometimes referred to as "watch pockets" because, well, men kept their pocket watches in them! If you have never sewn an inset pocket before, much of the construction might seem counter intuitive. However, in the end, all those seemingly backwards steps will come together. Welt pockets may look complex, but they are really just a slight variation on regular pocket construction. This makes them a perfect addition to your period sewing skills & a great way to challenge yourself.

1. Start by marking your pocket opening on the outside of your jacket. The opening in this example measures 5 inches in length, ½ inch in height. If you are following a pattern with suggested pocket measurements, follow those. Otherwise, I usually just wing it!

2. Mark a line down the center of the pocket length and extend all your corner marks. This will make seeing them, and lining everything up, much easier in the next few steps. I also like to mark the vertical center of the pocket, which makes lining up the welt & interior pocket pouches nice & consistent.

3. Make your welt (the little flap). Cut a piece of fabric as long as your pocket opening plus seam allowance and 2 ½ times the height. This welt measures 6 inches by 2 inches tall. I like to round my measurements up because it makes the math easier. Plus, I already had a scrap close to those dimensions.

4. Fold your welt in half lengthwise, wrong side out and sew both short ends together along the seam allowance. The space between both seams should match the length of your pocket opening EXACTLY! This is very important so take the time to measure carefully and adjust your seam allowances if needed. If the welt it too short or too long it will not fit the opening properly & you will find yourself frustrated.

5. Trim the welt seam allowances if needed & flip it right side out. Use a point turner or pencil to make the corners nice & crisp. Press.

6. Lay the welt piece with the raw edge aligned with the center mark on your pocket opening, folded edge facing down. Pin in place. Sew the welt to your waistcoat. Your line of stitching should follow the bottom line of the pocket opening marks which you made in step 1. Again, this is an important step in making a well constructed welt pocket, so take your time. Mark the straight line if that helps your stitching stay consistent.

7. Cut two pocket pouch pieces the width of your pocket opening, plus seam allowance. To determine the pouch length, measure from the pocket opening center line to where you want the pocket to end. Cut one pocket pouch to this length. Cut the other pocket pouch the same length, plus two times the height of the pocket opening. This will account for both seam allowances and folding it down to form the back of the pocket pouch. When in doubt, I cut pocket pouches longer than necessary & trim them to length before sewing them shut.

8. Place the longer of the two pocket pouches facing upwards, with one short edge aligned with the pocket opening center line. Place the other pocket pouch facing downwards, on top of the welt, also with one short edge aligned with the pocket opening center line.

9. Sew the pocket pouches in place. Make sure your stitching is straight & aligned with the top & bottom lines of the pocket opening. This is where extending those marks out helps, you can still see the placement even with pieces over the actual pocket opening. Don't worry, you are supposed to be sewing over the welt stitching when securing the bottom pocket pouch.

10. This is the trickiest, most delicate part of the entire pocket construction. Fold back all the fabric from the pocket opening. With small, sharp scissors, cut along the pocket opening center line. Stop approximately ¼ inch from the end. Create a “V” shaped cut from the center line to the very corner. Repeat from the center line to the other corner, making your entire cut line look like a large “Y”. This allows the pocket opening to turn & lay open without tearing. Repeat on the other end of the pocket opening center line.

11. Now my favorite part, stuffing everything to the inside! Tuck the pocket pouches in through the pocket opening. Turn the welt so it is standing up on the outside, with the seam allowance on the inside. Press, press & press some more.

12. Blind stitch the short sides of the welt to the edges of the pocket opening. A blind stitch consists of a little stitch in one edge and a little stitch in the other with a straight line of thread between the two points. When pulled snuggly, the thread disappears leaving your two pieces "magically" sewn together.

13. Sew the pocket pouches shut. Trim the final pouch length if needed to fit your jacket. Pay special attention to sewing right up next to the pocket opening.

14. Find something to put in your nicely finished welt pocket!

(hey, it works!)


  1. Hello, I've just found your blog, and at the perfect time too! I was just about to grit my teeth and figure out welt pockets on my own, but now it's so much easier with your tutorial. Thank you!

  2. Welt pockets have always been an issue for me. Thank you for this succinct and detailed tutorial. It makes a huge difference.


  3. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!! I have scoured the web for days to find a good set of instructions for the single welt pocket as those that come with my Simplicity pattern make no sense. Your instructions are wonderfully easy to follow, I finally feel like I can make welted pockets now. I can't say Thanks enough!!!!


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