Class · Review · Sewing

Wednesdays with Kenneth: Back Pockets and Yoke

The next few months I’m sewing along with Kenneth D. King. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up to learn how to recreate our favorite jeans using Kenneth D. King’s Jean-ius class on Craftsy. Here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.


Ladies and gentlemen, we’re finally sewing our jeans!

This week’s Craftsy Jean-ius video lesson was all about the back.  First up were the back pockets.  I was merrily following everything Kenneth was doing to create my back pockets (with facings!), sewing a little bit here and a little bit there when I could squeeze in the time.  (Bananas is how I’d describe life right now.  But, we finally have a place to live in Seattle!  And, it has a sauna!  You can thank my husband and his ability to drive 26 hours in one weekend.  What?!) At dinner with friends Monday night, I proudly announced that I was working on the back pockets.  The soon-to-be-recepient of these jeans asked what design I stitched onto them.  My jaw hit the ground when I realized I’d forgotten to stitch on a design!  That’s one of my favorite parts of making my own jeans!  But, Kenneth hadn’t sewn one on, so it skipped my mind in my attempt to be a good student.  Since I’ve been going through the alphabet (A, B, C), I figured another letter was in order.  One friend said I should make my As my signature.  Another thought I should just keep on going in order, making these my Ds.  But, since my friend’s name begins with an L, I decided to first ask her if she wanted an L on the back.  She said she has always liked cursive Ls, so it was settled.  When I got home from dinner, I carefully chalked an L onto the back around all of the stitching I’d done to prep the facing, mirrored it on the other pocket, and started top stitching.  Three things I’d like to note here.  First, back pocket designs are best (in my opinion, of course!) when their ends get folded under and top stitched in place.  I use my back pockets a lot for storing my phone or some loose cash or a metro ticket, and my Bs are starting to unravel because I just pulled the loose threads to the back and tied them off.  Obviously not tightly enough.  Second, practice your topstitching on scraps to get the tension right.  This time I’m using a regular thread in my bobbin (instead of topstitching thread), and while my sewing is going much more smoothly than with my other pairs, the thread tension setting I’d used for my previous jeans wasn’t right.  Unfortunately, I didn’t notice until I was done with both Ls.  Again, too much focus, but not enough vision.  When I saw how uneven the stitches were, I practiced on some scraps.  Things got slightly better for the topstitching around the pockets, but I overcompensated, and the stitches are a bit tight.  I practiced some more, and things got much better for the yoke.  Nice, even, long stitches.  I think that bodes well for the rest of the jeans.  Hopefully my friend will forgive me for the poorly stitched Ls…  Third, you really have to tack down the top corners of the pockets if you’re not going to use rivets.  Kenneth recommends just a few back stitches, but I’ve found (with my poor Bs again!) that it’s just not enough since I actually use those pockets.

Since everything feels so miniature on these jeans (size 24 petite!), I decided I would only topstitch a single time around the pockets and keep the two rows of top stitching on the yoke fairly close together.  Kenneth gave us permission to use our edge stitching foot to keep the rows even, so that’s exactly what I did.  Even Maya noticed how nice and even it is!


Next week is a whole video lesson on making the front pockets.  My friend is always cold, so I was thinking about cutting the pocket bags out of flannel.  Do you think flannel would be too bulky for the front pockets?  I think she’d really appreciate the extra warmth…

If you’re interested in taking this class yourself, follow this link for 40% off Jean-ius: Reverse Engineer Your Favorite Fit with Kenneth D. King.

7 thoughts on “Wednesdays with Kenneth: Back Pockets and Yoke

  1. What a frustrating process, but the finished pockets and topstitching look good! How tight are the finished jeans going to be? If not too tight I think flannel would be a nice touch, but I would be afraid of bulk otherwise.

  2. I didn’t get a chance to chat with you at all last weekend! (even sitting at the same table, sheesh….) Was wondering about your move…..

    Regarding flannel – I used flannel for pocket bags and the inner waistband on my last pair of jeans – comfy and not a bulk problem at all 🙂 (It wasn’t a super thick flannel)

  3. Wow. You are a good friend!

    I love the cursive L on the back pocket. It makes the jeans unique but it doesn’t look trashy like some jeans do with decorative stitching.

    Achieving a good topstitch is hard. That is my biggest struggle, especially on bras and especially on lace.

  4. Depending on how tight the jeans are, I think you could get away with half flannel pockets. I’d probably do the bit in contact with the skin in flannel, but not on tight jeans.

  5. I love the cursive “L” – such a nice, personal detail! Your friend is going to love these jeans. I agree, that if the jeans are tight I would stay away from flannel pockets. It’s a nice thought, but could be bulky and uncomfortable. But if they are a looser cut jean – then go for it!

  6. Looking good! The tension on the “L” just looks like a design detail, honestly. And I’m so glad that you’ve found a place to live! But I won’t say anything about the sauna… I’m beyond envious! 🙂

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