I picked up this gorgeous double cloth from Indie Sew back in the winter, in love with the soft tones of the check, without a project in mind. (Out of stock but this is similar). I thought a shirt perhaps, but couldn’t decide on a pattern that would allow me to make good use of both sides of the fabric. Then, it hit me: why not make something fully reversible, so that each side works as its own garment?
When Seamwork came out with the Kimmy pattern, my mind was made up. Not only was one of their samples done in a really similar fabric, the construction already made use of a number of details that would make visible seam finishing easy, like bias-bound necklines. I decided to do the cross-over neckline that came as a member bonus, and cut a size 18 on top graded to a 20 at the hips.
I’m pretty pleased with the fit. I love the big, blousey top, and while I don’t usually like the look of elasticated waists, it works with the soft, gathered quality of the dress. I would probably narrow the center back by 1″ if I were making it again, to bring the backs of the shoulders in a little more. It seems broad shoulders are typical of Seamwork’s plus sized block, so this is a usual alteration for me in their patterns.
I eliminated the center back seam on the skirt and cut on the fold – that seam provides no shaping and this fabric was tricky enough to pattern match that it wasn’t worth it. The bodice is also cut as two pieces, to simplify the construction of the bias-bound neckline, but I might also cut that as one and miter the bias tape. My bias tape didn’t quite line up, though you can’t really tell unless you’re looking closely.
And, ta-da, dress number two! The “inside,” or blue side, is one solid color. In the end, I think I like the plaid side with its blue accents the best, but I’m excited to have two options available.
So, what did I do to make it reversible?
- Bias binding at the neck, armholes, and hem. The first two are called for in the pattern, so you just have to decide which side you want them on. I wanted the pops of blue on the bodice, so I used the blue side of the tape on the plaid side of the dress. For the hem, I used the plaid side to be a little less obtrusive.
- Flat-fell seams. I did a flat-fell finish on the blue side on the side seams and center back bodice seam. They look neat and finished from both sides this way. If you’re using the non-crossover bodice, you’ll have to decide if you like the look of a flat-felled seam right up the center of the bodice or not.
- Eliminate side-seam pockets. This was the saddest for me. I prefer side pockets over patch pockets, but I could not figure out a way to make side seam pockets in a flat fell seam that had both fully finished edges everywhere and didn’t introduce a lot of bulk when turned inside out.
- Add patch pockets. As a throw-it-on-and-go summer dress, this garment needs pockets. I deliberated a lot on how to construct them (including big patch pockets on one side with a bound slit to slip your hand through from the other side, or two giant patch pockets on either side of the hips to give exaggerated volume, or angled pockets attached at the hip and side seam) but finally decided on a single, asymmetrical patch on each side. Because you have to line them up and stitch through both at the same time, my stitching is a little uneven on the blue side, but overall I’m pleased.
- Finish the waist and shoulder seams with a double-fold. The casings for the shoulder drawstrings and waistband elastic are both made by stitching a wider seam allowance then folding over that SA and stitching it down. The instructions suggest finishing the edge and stitching down without folding over, but that leaves a serged/zig-zagged edge visible. Doing it my way does narrow the channels some, so take that into account. (I didn’t, and my waistband elastic is a little too wide anyway, so the waistband casing is a little funky).
I really love this dress. The fabric washes up so cloud-like and soft and the volume feels perfect for sticky summer days. It’ll get a lot of wear! I’d love to make the pattern up again in a lightweight linen, though I might skip the reversible features the next time!