So, a good jean or trouser pocket – especially a wide or deep one – may stretch out over time. This issue is compounded even more if the pocket is cut on a curve (as so many are) and if it’s made from a stretch fabric.
So in that light, for a few years now I generally use a stay to stabilize my front pockets. This is especially important for a work garment or something that may get really rugged use. I learned this technique from Kenneth D. King, although I can’t remember precisely in what class or tutorial.
This technique uses a very cool aspect of a plain weave cotton – the ability to steam-press a curve into a strip tore on the cross-grain. I am using a light black cotton lawn, but any light plain weave will work.
This step takes place immediately after you’ve sewn the pocket bag to the shell fabric (which I’ll call denim), and before you do any trimming, grading, understitching et cetera.
So first, tear a strip that is about 2″ longer than the pocket seam you will be reinforcing. I tear at about 5/8″ wide; anything between 1/2″ and 1″ will do:
Next, take this strip to the ironing board along with your jean. Using the curve of the seam, steam press the strip by really yanking and curving and pressing. It works beautifully! You don’t need the curve to be perfect, just close to the pocket curve:
Now, pin the stay to the garment. It can be confusing at first to figure where this stay goes: but it is pinned to the wrong side of the jean fabric:
Next, flip the work and stitch from the pocket bag side, right on top of the previous seam. Don’t worry if you’re not as accurate as I am. It’s better to stitch a bit into the seam allowance, than into the body of the jean. Stitch slowly and remove pins before you get to them.
Here is the underside of the work. You can see the theory of the stay: the curved stitching line will be stitched over ONE thread in the weft direction! This makes for an incredibly stable curve. Pretty cool, no?
Now, it’s time to notch or pink that seam allowance, to allow for a smooth curve.
Flipping to the right-side of the garment, this is where you might typically understitch all layers towards the inside of the garment:
Instead though, since I will be topstitching that pocket edge from the topside, I steam-press that pocket edge carefully, rolling about 1/16″ of denim to the backside. *chef’s kiss!*
Finally – topstitch that pocket curve from the public side, with either one or two (or three!) rows:
Perfection. You’ve got a pocket that won’t blow out, sag or droop!