In preparation for the SWAP I have been experimenting with a reversible skirt. You might ask – what’s the point?
- an interesting challenge
- two skirts in one (good to take on holiday if you have a tiny suitcase)
- the pleasure of combining fabrics or using cloth that is just so nice on the reverse that it is too good to cover up
- the opportunity to make something as nice on the inside as the outside
- could add warmth
The simplest idea is to use a (tried and tested) “TNT” pattern such as my Curvy Pencil skirt (which has facings rather than a waist band). With a full length, open ended zip at the centre back seam it could be reversed quite simply. And perhaps instead of facings I could finish the waist and hem with bias binding, wide decorative facing, or perhaps a fancy trim. The more obvious approach is to create a wrap round skirt. This removes the need for a zip and allows the alternative face, or fabric, to show itself occasionally as the skirt flips open in wear.
One common approach to the wrap-round reversible skirt is to sew two complementary fabrics together, as if one was a bagged out lining. There are loads of tutorials showing how to do this on the internet, but as our American sisters say on Artisan’s Square “too granola”.
Dutch RTW reversible skirt
These skirts are somewhat crafty and hippyish. I have to admit I have one (see top picture)I bought in Amsterdam. It is a four way skirt, and the “pocket” is detachable and can be used as a bag.
The belt portion unzips and can be switched too. The reverse side is shown below.
I really love this skirt which I usually wear over trousers as it is a both too short and too thin. The reverse side is pretty dull, and the skulls are upside down. I bought it partly in order to make something similar, but in wool, and knee length. But it would require a very long, non-standard zip, and lots of press studs, and it may just be too much work in this time frame. So I am inclined to use a simpler option for the reversible skirt.
I plan to use a “two-faced” woven fabric. Hilarious – the idea of the cloth chatting negatively about you behind your back.
Have you seen her hems? She rarely bastes them. And she doesn’t always change the colours in her overlocker either! Oh hello, dear! What marvellous design are you going to wizz up today?
At the Oxfam shop I bought two old Ikea linen curtains, made in Russia. I unpicked the seams and used one for my toile. Clearly not the right fabric either in terms of composition or reversibility but I wanted to test the pattern and practice the necessary finishes. It has faded unevenly in someone’s window but it has a drawn thread detail on it. I thought I might work this into the skirt but the grain placement prevented it. (Even your toiles are pretty, dear! She is so slapdash when trimming her facings, you know.)
Obviously with a reversible item there can be no rough edges. All the seams and finishes must look good on both sides.
I found I had a suitable (1977) vintage pattern. I took out the darts because these would be unsightly on the finished garment, and as it is a flared skirt this was a simple matter (don’t tell the cloth but I pinched them out). I also shortened the skirt.
Here is the toile. I don’t feel very strongly about conventions on which side you button things up on, so I am happy with reversing the wrap. It is not a wearable item, but I like it, and think in a quality cloth it may be quite nice.
Construction tips: How to make a reversible, wrap round skirt with double faced cloth
- Chose a nice woven fabric that is either a true double cloth (effectively two fabrics attached to each other, or bonded), or is simply a woven that has a distinctive front and back. As you will not be using a lining make sure it is the sort of cloth that can be used unlined. You may have to wear a petticoat with it.
- Design, adapt or choose a simple pattern, ideally without darts. A slightly flared design will work well. Consider adding a greater seam allowance, say 7/8″ so you have plenty to play with when making the flat fell seams.
- The flat fell seam is the one to use on all your main seams. Make them very nice and even, measuring carefully and basting first (as advised by your opinionated, two-faced cloth)
- Hem by machine, creating a shallow hem that looks like your flat fell seams. Alternatively consider using bias binding although I don’t think visually this has any advantage over the machined hem. Measure very carefully when hemming so that the wrap over extension sits exactly on top of the skirt otherwise it will look shabby.
- The wide front facing, important if you are creating button holes, can be a design feature that matches the waist band (in the alternate faced fabric). Making it wider may help to balance your design.
- Consider the closure carefully as this will show on the wrong side. I went with two sets of buttons and one set of button holes, but a kilt pin might be much nicer on a woven, with two discrete hooks and eyes at the waist band. With sufficient wrap over you won’t have to worry about showing your underwear.
- On my toile the buttons were on the left (as on the Vogue 8961 pattern) on one side, and on the right on the reverse. This meant I did not need two sets of button holes. The buttons also sit in the same place but need to be attached to each other through the cloth. It is advisable to use flattish buttons on a reversible skirt.
I am not sure at the moment where I am going to go with this one, and would welcome your views please.