Finally, after more than a month of intense work, I feel able to explain you how a suit side pocket is made.
Before showing you all steps of the realisation, it’s important to precise that this method has been taught from Master André Guillerme Guilson, experimented tailor in activity from more then thirty years and President of Tailor’s National Federation and Trade-Union Chamber of France. I take this opportunity to thank him for his teachings.
It’s easy ton understand that this method I learnt is part of the historical repertory of traditional French tailor art. Italian tailors and English ones will have, surely, something to comment about this process, cause evolutions and shades of each operation can be different and be realised in other ways following the School or, even, each tailor.
That what I like of this world, two experimented tailors will never realize a suit in the same way, exactly as two painters won’t paint similarly a canvas; that is what make unique each bespoke garment.
Obviously, this article wants only to give an idea of sartorial know-how of a bespoke tailor working completely by hand (without considering two sewing machine steps, which are mandatory to keep a solid structure), it doesn’t want to be a way to teach you how to create a side pocket (inasmuch to replicate that pocket with a good result, these instructions and pictures won’t be sufficient).
So going to the description of a side pocket realisation (believe me it’s been very tough being able to make them beautiful), you’ll find herewith all main instructions e some images, which will help you to better understand the whole process.
As you see in the first picture, you’ll need different elements to create you flapped side pocket. Starting from the middle of the photo, you can distinguish two pieces of fabric, the biggest one will simulate the front part of a jacket and the smallest one will be elaborate to build the flap.
On the right side, you’ll see again two pieces fabric having almost the same dimensions (these will help to create the pocket piping), a thermo adhesive band (on the left) and a backing band (on the right). On the left you can find three pieces of percale, which will help to create the bag of the pocket.
First step is to draw the shape of the flap on the “front” (of the jacket) and on flap fabric like you can see in the following photo (top side 15,5cm, bottom side 16cm, higher 5,5cm). Once the drawing is finished it’ll be important to iron the behind of flap fabric with the adhesive band.
Following the flap drawing, you have to sew several tacking stitch in order to have exactly the same shape on both side of the fabric. Before stepping forward you should cut lining on slanting way (this will allow the lining getting the shape of the flap).
Once the lining has been cut you should put it on the front of flap; so drawn un rectangle at the middle on the retro of flap by leaving 4cm from sides and 3cm from the bottom (distance has to be considered starting from the shape of the flap drawn previously).
Then, you need to sew another obliquous tacking stich on the edge of the flap’s shape in order that lining will be shorter than fabric, the success of this operation will be marked by two light bulges on rectangle sides (like in the photo).
At this point you go the sewing machine to sew stiches, which will act as a structure for the flap. It’s a fundamental step, cause it’s sufficient a little deviation of 0,5mm and the final result won’t be acceptable and the Master will order you to do it again from the beginning.
After having been sure that all sewed stiches are absolutely straight, you can cut off all surplus lining by only leaving a 0,4cm from the edge and turn inside out the flap (like in the photo).
You can already see a hint of what is going to become your flap, even if the final shape still has to be created. To do that you need to do two very longs and complicated operations.
First of all you have to sew a tacking stich oblique (since it keeps better the fabric) and immediately after that you have sew an invisible broguing on the flap’s edge.
The last step will allows the flap to acquire his final shape, that’s the moment in which you can really figure out if you have done a good job or not.
It doesn’t take much (really it doesn’t) to obtain a flap with an unlucky bulge or with crocked line (like in the following example).
Well, a this point take last two pieces of fabric e put them edge to edge on the top side of draw previously made on the “front” of the jacket.
Once you are sure that the two pieces of fabric are almost tangents, trace a rectangle with a higher of 8mm leaving the empty space exactly at middle of the rectangle (as you can see in the photo). This way you had traced your guidelines to your next step, going to sewing machine. Also this step is very delicate, cause you need to sew absolutely straight and doing strong stiches at each edge (in the photo you can see that three final stiches are thicker).
The moment to create pocket piping has come, but first of all you should create the pocket breach. As you can see in the photo you need to cut exactly in the space, which is between the two pieces of fabric just sewed; in this way you’ll create the breach, which will allow you to put your hands in the pocket. You need to be careful during this step inasmuch on the two extremities you should cut the fabric in order to shape two little triangles high 1cm (you’ll soon understand why).
The first time I have worked on this kind of pocket, I told to my self: “What now? That doesn’t seem at all a beautiful pocket as I can usually see on suits”. I was without words when the Master showed me how to “iron piping”.
First of all you need to work on the “background”, or on the back of the fabric; so you should iron the two triangles previously cut (tailor tip: if you use make the fabric wet , that will allow it, after ironing, to keep the wished shape).
You keep going on by ironing two piping as you can see in the photo.
In the last photo you can see how piping appear once that all ironing steps have been finished and that all surplus fabric has been hidden in the back.
You can observe that the two side extremities are well straight and beautiful to see; oh yes, that has been possible thanks to two triangles we have cut and ironed previously. It’s incredible how little gestures that can seem “irrelevant” have instead a so important impact on the final result.
To fasten and finish the piping you need to sew an invisible broguing in the tiny space where you sewed with the sewing machine (like you can see in the photo); it’s important to sew this stitch paying attention to create a piping high exactly 4mm.
Once this operation has been completed, you don’t have anything to do but ironing the piping to fasten with the wished shape, including the flap with it.
In the picture you see the final result, a side pocket almost completed (it lasts, indeed, the process to create the pocket bag, which doesn’t hide sartorial secrets and won’t bring you any added value in this columns).
The genuine interest of this article is to make you understand why even an expert tailor takes not less than eighty hours to realise a two pieces suit (a whole flapped side pocket requires at least one hour) and to give you an idea of meticulousness, precision and rigor that this Craft requires for any single operation of any single garment.
For my part I have already made enormous progresses, imagine that for my first three pockets took me three whole day to obtain a very disappointing result. Now, instead, I can realize a decent pocket in 3 hours and a half (I have still a lot of work to be able to realize a pocket in one hour!).
Bespoking you soon,