Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pocket Stays

The summer edition of Interweave Knits has two sewing patterns in it, so I feel a little better about having "knitter" in my name, but some sewing on my blog.

Warning: The rest of this post may make you want to sew your jeans. And your shorts.

Yes, I'm so excited about the pants I made, that I'm showing you my tummy. Check Instagram for the rear view.

There is a key phrase missing from a lot of sewing patterns, even when the pattern has the feature: "pocket stay." I'm thinking that designers don't talk about it because they figure most people don't know what it is or how awesome a feature it is.

At a minimum, pockets really should come up to the waist. In Making Trousers for Men & Women, David Page Coffin writes, "I recommend extending your pocket bags to reach whatever waist finish you’ve chosen. This way, you can support the bag from the waist rather than only from the pocket mouth."

When I say, "pocket stay" in jeans, I mean a front pocket that comes all of the way from the zipper to the outside leg seam. It's also caught in the waistband (but, I think, all jeans-style pockets would be, anyway). In a way, the pocket becomes a kind of mini-lining that does two things. 1) Your pockets can't flip out. I don't know if I'm the only person annoyed by having to tuck my pockets back in when they come out, but it really bothers me. 2) Any tension on the front of your pants has a little extra support, which keeps the front of your jeans from stretching out as your day goes on.

For some people, this feature could act as a "tummy control" panel, but I don't think of it that way. I definitely notice, now, when I wear jeans that don't have a pocket stay, that the front tends to stretch out. But really, the not-untucked pockets is my favorite part of having a pocket stay.

Up until about a year ago, I wouldn't have known that this feature even existed in jeans. But I happened to try on a pair of Not Your Daughter's Jeans at Macy's. Even on sale, they were the most expensive pair of jeans I'd ever worn, but they felt awesome and looked great, so I bought them.

I felt much better about my splurge when I found an almost identical pair at Goodwill a few weeks later and only paid $5 for them. When I average the two, it bring the cost below my usual $40/pair budget. Coincidentally, that's what my jeans fabric cost when I bought it, too.

Killer feature in both of these jeans? Pocket stays.

Now I look out for them, or ask the designer about them, before I buy any pattern for a pair of pants.

So far, I've made J. Stern Designs' The Ponte Knit Jeans (My first sewn zipper fly! My first pants!) in ponte knit and, after Jennifer chatted with me on Instagram, in stretch denim. I  bought her misses' Jeans that have the same feature, with a different fit, but I haven't tried them, yet. My first two pairs fit so well that I might not branch out, though.

I own Stretch and Sew 716 - which has pocket stays, but doesn't call them that. Instead, it says, "The front pockets extend into the zipper stitching, creating a smooth, stabilized front." I haven't made any, yet, but I'm super-curious about how they will fit. Those chicks from 1980 look pretty pleased with themselves.

You can draft your own pocket stays to go with any pattern, of course. There is more than one tutorial for that out there, including this one.

Go forth and stay those pockets! Ask your friendly independent designer if their pants/shorts include that feature. Then buy them.

I find it amusing that my paypal account has basically become a way for me to turn my Ravelry and Craftsy pattern sales into sewing patterns.

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