2 skirts in one: a reversible Mabel

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REVERSIBLE-MABEL-HEADER

One of the coolest things about double knit fabric is that it can actually be made reversible. Because there are two right sides to the fabric, you can sometimes find double knits that have patterns on each side.

reversible-mabel-fabric

I bought this reversible striped double knit while shopping with Christine at Mood in LA. One side is narrow navy and white stripes, the other wider stripes. I knew I needed a reversible Mabel.

reversible-mabel-sarai

Mabel requires a few changes in order to make it reversible. There are three things that need to be changed so that the skirt looks similar both inside and out: the seams, the waistband, and the hem.

Seams

My favorite way to make reversible seams is to make them flat felled.

reversible-mabel-seam-01

This is easier than you might think with the Mabel because the vertical side seams really don’t require much stretch. All I did was the usual flat felled seams, but using a narrow (0.5mm width) zigzag instead of a straight stitch on my sewing machine.

reversible-mabel-seam-02

While I used a fabric that was already reversible, I do think you might be able to use two fabrics and simply sew them with wrong sides together, like a lining. In that case, you wouldn’t need to do special seams, as they’d be hidden between the two layers. I haven’t tried this, but let me know if you do!

Waistband

The waistband is another area that should be altered for reversibility.

I decided to cut the stripes vertically on both the waistband and hem as a design detail. Since my fabric had 4-way stretch, I could cut it either way.

reversible-mabel-waist

Normally, you would serge the waistband to the skirt. But this leaves a serged seam on one side of the skirt.

Instead, I essentially sewed the waistband to the skirt like you would on a woven garment, by folding the seam allowance under on the underside and edgestitching it down.

Again, I used a narrow zigzag for stretch. If you have a coverstitch machine, you could do a chainstitch instead.

Another option would have been to serge the waistband to the skirt as normal, then topstitch the serged seam allowance down for something that looks similar to a flatlock. Depending on your fabric, this might not be all that noticable, but I wanted something a bit neater and less sporty looking.

Hem

Finally, there is the hem.

On the original skirt, the hem is finished with the twin needle technique (or you can use a coverstitch machine). This leaves a pretty clear right and wrong side.

reversible-mabel-hem

Instead, I did a band hem (instructions are in The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits). I installed it just like the waistband, folding all the seam allowances under and edgestitching with a narrow zigzag.

That’s it, 2 skirts for the price of one! You can use these techniques if you come across your own double sided double knit fabric. Here are a few 2 sided double knits I found on fabric.com, for example.

What I really wanted to share here is how versatile knits can be when you’re willing to switch up your techniques and get creative.

You don’t need to be limited by your fabric or the way a pattern instructs you to sew something. Take that as a starting point and try out different hem finishes, seams, and edge treatments for totally different results.

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

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Comments 13

francesca

Gorgeous! What a spectacularly cool skirt…
I must tell you – yesterday I completed a sort of moneta mash – it wasn’t meant to be one, my Moneta pattern arrived AFTER I had cut out a similarish pattern which came with a swingy skirt. The fit on me was a disaster although I went by the proper measurements:(. I traced my size in the moneta bodice, did a quick and dirty trim of the already shoulder seamed and sleeved bodice, and ended up with a perfect fit straight out of the envelope. When I think I was ready to throw away this beautiful red cotton ITY….. thanks for a beautifully drafted pattern! I seriously think you draft for my torso :)

Sarai colettepatterns.com

That’s so awesome to hear!

kc theactofmaking.tumblr.com

Piggybacking on Francesca’s random thanks, I just tried one of your tips for working with floaty silks (Sullivan’s Spray Stabilizer) and I am blown away. As soon as my fabric dried to a much stiffer, easier to work with version I wanted to give you a high-five. Thanks for the tip (that has nothing to do with this awesome skirt)!

Sarai colettepatterns.com

That’s great, I love that stuff so much. :D

Katie

This is great! Thank you!

Kristi sweetkm.com

What a great idea. I’ve been thinking about making a skirt like this, but it never occurred to me to make it reversible.

Christine christinehaynes.com

perfect! my piece of this same fabric remains uncut, though it’s washed and ready to go as soon as I decide what to do with it! your skirt looks amazing!

Melissa

Wow! That’s a great skirt and such a great idea! This makes the skirt even more versatile while traveling. Thank you for the tutorial. I’ll keep an eye out for this type of double knit fabric now.

Alice Elliot

I love this! I made a reversible knit skirt once by doubling the pattern lengthwise, stitching the center back to make a tube, and then folding it up at the hemline and then making a waistband as you describe. If using 2 fabrics you could just make the 2 separate, as if you were lining a skirt and then leaving the hems free. 2 skirts in one. I might have to try the reversible Mabel now!

Jet Set Sewing jetsetsewing.com

That’s a very cute version! Now if only I could still pull off horizontal stripes across my behind… Maybe a reversible knit in two dark solids? (With some serious Spanx underneath…)

Catherine from Canada

I just finished a Moneta top with a Jasmine neckline and tie. I preferred it to the tie collar variation and figured that since the Jasmine is cut on the bias, meaning a bit of give and stretch, it would probably work to cut it on the grain on a knit.

It did and I’m really pleased with the results.

I bound the inside with a doubled strip of knit sewn on like a facing, then flipped it inside and stitched down instead of a facing. The collar hides the stitching and the weight and firmness of the knit band keeps the collar and neckline from sagging.

I’m going to do a full dress next with this collar variation.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Nice! I’ve also seen some versions with the collar done in a woven fabric, and it works really well. It’s nice because you can use up smaller pieces of wovens in pretty colors and prints.

I love seeing the hacks and experiments, it’s the best!

Laura K

Oh man! I basically tried to make this exact skirt with this exact fabric a few months ago and totally effed it up. The fabric was unsalvgeble. If only I’d waited!

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