29 June 2016

Sewing Marigold: Trouser Darts, Pleats + Pockets

Sewing the Marigold Jumpsuit: Trouser Darts, Pleats and Pockets
Sewing the Marigold jumpsuit or trousers? Today we're going to start putting this beauty together! More specifically, we're going to sew the pleats on the front trousers and darts on the back trousers, then make the slash pockets.

New to the sewalong? Catch up on previous posts here.

You should have marked a pair of pleat lines on the wrong side of each front trouser leg, and a pair of dart lines (or "legs", confusingly when it comes to trouser darts) on the wrong side of each back trouser leg. Refer back to the post on cutting your fabric if you missed that step!

How to Sew Darts and Pleats - Tilly and the Buttons

On each back trouser piece, fold the fabric right sides together so the dart lines end up directly on top of each other. (When you hear "right sides together" in sewing, the right side means the nice side of the fabric that will show on the outside of your garment. The "wrong side" is the side of the fabric that will be hidden on the inside.)

Pin the dart lines together by inserting the pins directly along the dart lines, checking that they are exactly on the lines on both sides of fabric. You'll be sewing the darts from the raw edge of the fabric towards the tip, with the fabric to the left of the needle - so it'll be easy to whip out the pins as you go if you insert them with the pin points pointing towards the raw edge and the fabric folded to the left (see the photo above). I always give myself a little pat on the back when I put them in the right way round first time!

It can also be helpful to insert an extra pin horizontally at the tip, so you have something to aim for when sewing and your dart doesn't end up longer or shorter than intended.

How to Sew Darts and Pleats - Tilly and the Buttons

On each front trouser piece, pin the pleat lines together, again with the fabric folded right sides together and checking that the pins are inserted exactly along the lines on both sides.

You can see a couple of differences in the photo above between the pinned dart on the left and the pinned pleat on the right. Firstly, the pleat doesn't have a tip on the folded edge of the fabric - it'll be left open to create a softer shape.

Secondly, the pins are inserted the other way up. You'll be sewing the pleats from the inside of the fabric towards the raw edge, so insert the pins with the pin points pointing away from the raw edge with the fabric folded to the right. That way, when you turn the piece upside down to start sewing, you can whip the pins out easily as you sew. Hope that makes sense - it should all fall into place when you take the pieces to your machine :)

How to Sew Darts and Pleats - Tilly and the Buttons
How to Sew Darts and Pleats - Tilly and the Buttons

Stitch together the dart lines together on each back trouser leg - start at the raw edge and back tack (ie. sew backwards for a couple of stitches to knot the threads), then sew towards the tip, following the pins, whipping them out as you go before the needle hits them. Rather than back tacking at the tip, which can leave a little lump of threads, sew right off the end of the dart and off the edge of the fabric, and leave some loose ends of thread to tie together in a double knot by hand. Trim off the loose thread ends once you're done.

Stitch together the pleat lines on each front trouser leg - start at the end inside the fabric (on furthest away from the raw edge) and back tack just a stitch or two, then sew towards the raw edge, and back tack when you get there to secure the threads.

In case you're wondering, I'm sewing in pink thread so you can see what I'm doing, but you'll want to sew in a thread colour that matches your fabric :)

How to Sew Darts and Pleats - Tilly and the Buttons

Press the pleats and darts away from the side seams. Start by pressing on the wrong side of the fabric, gently pulling the fabric away from the stitching line so you don't get any random folds, then press on the right side too to create a neat dart and pleat line.

How to Sew Darts and Pleats - Tilly and the Buttons

To keep the darts and pleats folded in the right direction, it's helpful to tack (AKA "baste" to our American friends) them in place. This is also called stay stitching. Set your machine to a longer stitch length - 4mm or 5mm - and sew horizontally across the top of each dart and pleat, 10mm (3/8in) from the edge. There's no need to back tack, just make sure you start and end a good few stitches away from the folded fabric in case a few stitches unravel themselves.

Now we're going to make the pockets. The diagonal pocket opening on the front trousers should be stabilised with interfacing or stay tape, and the diagonal edge of the pocket facing should be staystitched. Check the cutting and stabilising post if you missed out this step!

With the front trouser pieces right sides up, lay the pocket facings over them, right sides together. Pin them together along the diagonal pocket opening edges, aligning the corners and notches. Stitch these pinned seams. For all seams in our patterns, sew them together with a 15mm (5/8in) seam allowance, back tacking at each end, unless the step says otherwise.

Trim the seam allowances that you've just sewn so they're about half the initial width. Press the seam flat to set the stitches in place (you can do this on all pressed seams, although I'm probably not going to tell you to do it each time), then press the seam allowances open on both the wrong and right sides of the fabric. This will help neaten up the seam line.

Press the pocket facings and seam allowances away from the trousers, towards the pockets. Now we're going to understitch the seam allowances to the pocket facings - this will help keep them on the inside of the garment. Stitch the seam allowances and pocket facings together, close to the seam line, gently pulling the fabric away from the seam line so you don't get any unwanted pleats. I like to use a little groove on my presser foot as a guide, lining it up with the pocket seam so my understitching ends 2mm away.

Here I'm demonstrating understitching with the wrong side facing up so you can see what I'm doing, but you can also understitch with the right side up if you find that easier.

This is what the finished understitching should look like from the right side.

Now press the pocket facings to the wrong side of the front trouser pieces, rolling the seam lines in by 2mm (1/16in) or so, so they won't be visible from the right side of the trousers. A little steam will help soften up the interfaced seam to make it easier to roll under.

With the wrong side of the front trouser legs facing up, place a pocket bag on top of each pocket facing, with the right sides together. Pin them together around the outside curves, matching up the corners and notches. Don't pin the side seams or the trousers though - you're just pinning those long curved edges of the pockets. 

Stitch these outside curves. Remember, you're just attaching the pocket bags to the pocket facings, not the trousers - fold the trousers out of the way of the needle! Trim the seam allowances down (as usual, to about half their width). Finish the seam allowances using zigzag stitch or an overlocker, to strengthen them and stop them fraying.

Pin the pocket bags and pocket facings to the trousers at the waist seam (the top edge), matching the notches to the front pleat line. Pin them together at the outside leg seams too, matching up the hip notches. Tack (baste) these layers in place with a 10mm (3/8in) seam allowance - this will keep everything lined up neatly while we attach the other pieces.

This is what the front trouser legs should look like from the right side. A delicate pleat and a lovely, roomy pocket!

That's all for today. In the next post, we'll sew the trouser legs together. I hope this all makes sense - if you get stuck, you're welcome to ask a question in the comments below. Feel free too to say hi to other sewalong participants and share your progress :)

This post is part of the Marigold jumpsuit and trousers sewalong. Want to join in? Order your pattern and catch up on previous posts.


  1. I'm a bit confused over the pockets.. "Pocket facing", "pocket bags" and then the text that says "attaching the pocket bags to the pocket facings, not the trousers". I'd really appreciate a picture that explains this more.

    Thanks for a fantastic pattern and a great sewalong - can't wait to sew my own Marigold:)

    1. Hi Anna, take a look at the pattern pieces if you're not sure which is the pocket facing and pocket bag - they're labelled on the pattern :) The pocket facing is the one with the diagonal edge that lies behind the trouser piece (take a look at the picture after the pleats and darts), and the pocket bag is the one that goes behind that, which will peep out from the top of the pockets.

      Re. attaching the pocket bags to the pocket facings, not the trousers - can you see in the pinning photo that I'm just pinning the pocket bags and facings together around the outside curve - ie. two layers - rather than pinning them through the trousers too? And then in the next photo the curve is stitched and finished, and still not attached to the trousers.

      It should make much more sense once you have all the pieces in front of you! :)


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