Spring is here and that always gets me in the mood to sew. To kick off our month of sewing on CRAFT, we’re sharing one of our favorite projects from CRAFT: 06 by super crafty, super mom Andrea DeHart of craftybitch.com. There are 2 versions here for sewers of all levels. For you sewing pros, make the version with buttons and elastic, piping, and hip slit pockets.
How-To: Sew a Reversible Skirt
By Andrea DeHart
The 70s had their fair share of fashion statements, including platform shoes, bell-bottoms, and caftans, to name a few. One of the more creative fashions that became popular was the infamous wrap skirt. It gave women all the style and comfort of an A-line skirt, with the added ability to expand and contract to fit our ever-changing waistlines. Although the general pattern stays the same, this modern variation is reversible with a scoop pocket and bold ribbon waistband.
If you’re new to sewing, this is a perfect project. The pattern is simple and quick to complete. There are no fasteners, hems, or waistband panels to worry about. For the pros, there’s a fancy advanced version (pictured below) with buttons and elastic instead of ribbon ties.
2 yds 45″ (or 1 ds 60″) solid denim, twill, or canvas fabric light to medium weight
Spool of contrasting thread
For Beginner Pattern:
2yds 45″ (or 1 1/2yds 60″) patterned cotton fabric lightweight
3yds 1 1/2″ grosgrain ribbon
1/4yd rickrack or decorative trim for pocket
For Advanced Pattern:
2 1/2yds 45″ (or 2yds 60″) patterned cotton fabric lightweight
4yds of 1/2″ wide piping
Large buttons (2)
Cord elastic 6 1/2″
Beginner Pattern Time: 2-4 hours, Complexity: Easy
Advanced Pattern Time: 4-6 hours, Complexity: Medium
Download the tiled skirt pattern
(Right click to save the PDF to your desktop. Directions on downloading PDFs.)
Step 1: Choose Your Fabric
Your first step is fabric selection. Keep in mind that you’ll see a peekaboo of the second fabric from time to time, so you may want to find 2 fabrics that complement each other. Select a patterned fabric that’s lightweight, preferably a woven cotton. An overall random print works best and doesn’t require any additional yardage for aligning stripes or plaids. For the solid fabric, look for a light- to medium-weight denim, twill, or canvas. Thicker fabrics are much more difficult to sew and don’t drape as nicely. Avoid stretch knits or sheer fabrics (no one needs to see all your seams).
Note: Don’t forget to pre-wash your fabrics, including your ribbon trim, before you make that first cut. You only have to make this mistake once and then you’ll never do it again.
Step 2: Cut Out the Pattern Pieces
Download and print the pattern. The pattern was sized for a 30″ waist, just below the navel. To enlarge or reduce to fit your measurements, follow the guidelines on the pattern pieces. The finished length of the skirt is 25″, but can also be adjusted as necessary. Pin the pattern pieces to the fabric, aligning the grain line on the pattern to match the grain line of your fabrics.
Note: Sew all seam allowances 5/8″ unless otherwise noted in the sewing instructions or on the pattern. Refer to pattern pieces for cut quantities and grain lines.
Step 3: Sew the Solid Fabric Skirt Panels
Step 3a: The solid fabric side of the skirt is very straightforward so it’s best to start here. Stay-stitch the front and back waistline edges to prevent stretching. Start from the center and sew toward the outside edges approximately from the edge.
Step 3b: With right sides together, join the center back seam of the back skirt sections, matching the pattern symbols for placement. Sew each front skirt panel to the back skirt panels at the side seams. With an iron, press all seams open to lie flat.
Step 3c: Pin piping 3″ from the edges around the entire skirt, except for the waistband side. Sew as close to the piping as your machine allows. Clip the seams around the curves to eliminate bulk.
To add the elastic band for closure, measure down 1″ on the center front panels at the waistline and mark with a pin. Cut 2 strips of cord elastic 3 long, and fold them in half. Position each at the 1″ mark on either side of the opening with the loop facing away from the raw edge. Using a very small stitch, sew the elastic cord along the piping seam line. Reinforce stitches to prevent the cord from slipping out.
Step 4: Sew the Patterned Fabric Skirt Panels
Step 4a: Stay-stitch the waistband edges and join the back center seam as described in Step 3.
Step 4b: Don’t hesitate to adjust the pocket shape to suit your level of sewing. For example, square patch pockets are much easier to sew than rounded edge shapes. The key to the pockets is to avoid too much bulk, as this may add inches to your hips when worn with the reverse side facing outward. To make the patch pocket, press under a 2″ seam allowance around all sides. Sew rickrack trim to the top of the pocket as shown.
Step 4c: Pin the pocket to the outside side of the skirt, matching the pattern symbols for placement, and topstitch in place. Sew each front skirt panel to the back skirt panels at the side seams. With an iron, press all seams open to lie flat.
Step 4b: To make the hip slit pockets, sew the front and back skirt panels along the sides with right sides together. Reinforce stitching at the corners of the pockets, and clip up to these corners. Press open the side seams and trim 1 layer of the pocket lining.
Step 4c: On the wrong side of the fabric, pin the pocket lining toward the center front of the skirt. Stitch through all layers, following the original pocket lining seam as your guide.
Step 5: Combine the 2 Skirts
Lay the solid skirt out on a large, flat surface with the right side facing you. With right sides together, lay the patterned skirt face down, matching all edges, and pin.
Step 5a: Sew the 2 skirts together along the side seams and bottom edge, keeping the waistband side open.
Step 5b:Clip the seams along the corners and the skirt hemline.
Step 5c:Turn the skirt with right sides facing out and press all the edge seams flat. Topstitch 1/4″ from the edge with a contrasting thread.
Step 5a: A trick to sewing piping is to follow the original stitch line that was used to attach the piping. In this case, sew with the solid fabric panel facing toward you
Step 5b: Sew around all the edges, including the waistband, leaving a 6″ opening along the hemline at the center back. Clip all the corners and trim approximately around the edge of the solid fabric to reduce bulk. Turn your fabric right side out through the back hem opening and hand-stitch closed, using an invisible stitch.
Step 6: Finish the Waistband
Step 6a: Using a long stitch, baste along the waistband edge to close the opening and keep the panels from shifting. To calculate the length of the waistband ribbon, measure the total length of the waistband, adding an extra 18″ on each side for the ties (72″ total for a 30″ waist). Align the center of the ribbon with the center back of the waistband. Pin ” from the edge and baste in place.
Tip: To align the ribboncorrectly, first fold it in half lengthwise and gently press with an iron. The crease will work as a guideline when positioning the ribbon.
Step 6b: Wrap the excess ribbon around to the opposite side of the skirt and pin in place. Stitch along the edge of the ribbon, going through all thicknesses. Use a straight stitch, zigzag stitch, or any other decorative stitch that you like. Remove the basting stitch once the waistband ribbon is secure.
Step 6c: For the side ties, cut two 18″ lengths of ribbon. With the patterned side of the skirt facing outward, sew 1 tie to the left hip along the waistband. Repeat with the solid side. The ties will be on the opposite hips, as shown at far right. Finish the ends of the ribbon with a narrow hem.
Topstitch the waistband edge for reinforcement. Now try on the skirt and mark where the buttons should go. Sew one button on the patterned side, the other on the opposite side of the solid fabric. Or you can add multiple buttons along the waistband for a more decorative (and more functional) look.
Step 7: Wrap Yourself Up
Wrap skirts come in 2 styles — flap in the front and flap in the back. I prefer my flaps in the front — if a gust of wind blows your skirt, it’s a lot easier to control the front flap. But the back flap allows for front pocket details and a smoother silhouette in front. It’s your call.
Tie the left ribbon with the right inner hip ribbon. Make a secure knot that lies nicely under your skirt panel and can easily untie when needed. Cross the right panel over the left. Tie the 2 remaining ribbons together (knot or bow). When the skirt is reversed, you should be able to repeat the sequence exactly.
Finished Beginner Side 1
Finished Beginner Side 2
Repeat the steps above, but substitute the elastic loops and buttons for the ties.
Finished Advanced Side 1
Finished Advanced Side 2
About the Author:
Andrea DeHart is a self-proclaimed craft-o-holic. She looks for every opportunity to use her crafty skills and wastes no supplies. With a toddler in tow and another on the way, she keeps herself busy behind the sewing machine. You can follow her crafty creations at craftybitch.com.