Hi, I wrote a guest blog post for Britex Fabrics about making a pattern reversible using a double-sided ponte knit fabric. This is an expanded version of that post with a few more photos. I made a reversible Toaster Sweater, version 1. In my Britex post, the photos of the completed top weren’t very good because it was a cloudy day. Later that week, I took more photos at a different location (in front of this brick wall) – and the sun came out for a couple of hours.
For a long time, I’ve been intrigued with the idea of making something reversible. I got the opportunity when I picked this wonderful reversible ponte knit fabric at Britex Fabrics. This stable knit has a really nice weight and drape. This lovely deep red is heathered and the black on the reverse is a warm black, probably because of the red. Sometimes it seems dark brown and other times it seems black.
I decided to make a reversible Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater. Version 1 of this pattern has raglan sleeves, a neck band, cuffs and a band at the bottom.
I chose this pattern because it’s pretty simple and the bands make it easy to convert to reversible pieces, and I didn’t have to worry about how to finish the hems as you’ll see in my construction details. To keep it simple, I decided I wanted to make one side all red and the other side all black. The cuffs are rather wide and I didn’t know if I would like them color blocked – for example, making the cuffs black and everything else red. Plus I liked the idea of having a secret other side.
I made size large. I made a test garment using fleece but I made size XL thinking that would help accommodate my wide shoulders and hips. But there was too much each around the bust. It fit better just making a straight size L but adding a 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) to the hip area.
When you cut your pattern pieces, you need to think about the following:
- Finishing seams so they look good on both sides
- Adjustments to pattern pieces, such as adding seam allowances to pieces cut on the fold
- There is no “wrong” side but you need to know where each side goes or you will sew the wrong pieces together.
- Sequence of construction – when to sew which piece, the order may need to be different from the pattern instructions so you can make the pieces reversible
Sewing and Finishing seams
I used a zig zag stitch on my sewing machine instead of a serger because I wanted to cover my raw seam allowances. Then I had to consider how I would finish the seams on the “wrong” side.
I decided to trim one side…
… and made a variation on a felled seam by folding it over the shorter side and sewing it down.
But instead of cutting one seam allowance exactly in half, I cut the other side close to the seam because ponte knit is a little thick and I’d rather sew through three layers instead of four. (To make a flat felled seam, you trim one side of the seam allowance in half and then you fold the other side over the shorter side and sew it down.)
Here’s what one finished seam of the raglan sleeve looks like on the red side. I don’t have a coverstitch machine so I just used a shallow zig zag.
… and on the black side – with the raw edge tucked under. I think it looks pretty good.
Making Pattern Pieces Reversible
For the Toaster Sweater, the pattern pieces for the neck band, bottom band and cuffs all fold in half. If you’ve sewn a T-shirt neck band to a collar, you fold the neck band in half and stitch the raw edge to the neck. (Check out this excellent Threads video on sewing a neckline binding for knits.) Before you follow the Toaster Sweater instructions for the neck, bottom band and cuffs, you need to add a step because you’ll be sewing two pattern pieces instead of one.
To make the neck or bottom bands reversible, I folded the pattern piece in half lengthwise and then cut two pieces on the fold instead of one. For these pieces, I didn’t add seam allowances because I wanted those pieces to be slightly narrower. It you want to follow the exact dimensions of the pattern, add a 5/8 inch seam allowance.
Here’s the neck band. The actual pattern piece is 7.5 inches (19 cm) tall and 10.5 inches (26.5 cm) wide. Instead of cutting one wide piece on the fold. I folded the pattern piece in half lengthwise and then cut two pieces instead of one. I sewed the pieces together lengthwise so one side was black and the other side was red. Press seam so the red and black sides perfectly align. Then follow the instructions for sewing the neck band – except for Step 4, I only attached ONE raw edge of the neck band to the body (see cuff photo further down). I also top stitched the edge.
You need to leave one side free so you can hide the seam allowance. I sewed the red side first, leaving the black side open.
Seam allowances on the cuffs and bands are thick where all the seams meet because the reversible Toaster Sweater has an extra layer of fabric there. So you need to trim those seam allowances. Here’s a trimmed neck band.
Here’s the neck band with the red side sewn to the body. The black side with the raw seam allowances has been folded and pinned it in place. I was in a bit of a hurry to finish it so I didn’t baste, I just pinned the black side, then I pinned the red side and removed the pins from the black side. I tried to stitch in the ditch from the red side but it was hard to stay in the ditch because of the seam allowances. Go slow!
Here’s here’s the finished neck – red side…
… and black side.
To make the cuffs, you cut two pattern pieces instead of one because you are no longer cutting it on fold. Then you need to add a seam allowance where the fold is before you cut the piece. You’ll sew the two pieces together and turn them right-side out before you attach them.
For example, here’s the cuff. The pencil is pointing to the side where the fold would be. Rather than cutting one pattern piece on the fold, I cut two pieces, adding a seam allowance to the fold side.
TIP: When you sew the two pieces of double-sided fabric together, pay extra attention which sides faces the other. It can get confusing!
Sew the two pieces together at your new seam allowance. Press and then follow the pattern instructions for sewing the cuffs. Here’s the cuff pinned to the sleeve. The red side is facing the sleeve.
BUT instead of attaching both raw cuff edges to the sleeve, you need to sew just one side and leave the other side free. Stitch the cuff.
I top stitched the edge.
Then I folded the remaining raw edge to hide the seam the seam allowance and hand stitched the cuff in place because there wasn’t enough room to use my sewing machine to topstitch it in place. The cuff was a little too deep to reach.
Here’s a close-up of the cuff edge. You can see it’s black on one side and red on the other. The seam where the two colors join is where the cuff is folded if you are making a regular Toaster Sweater.
For the neck band and the bottom band, I didn’t add seam allowance because I wanted them to be thinner.
The pattern instructions have you attach the front to the back at the underarms and side seams and sew on long seam. But I decided to sew the sleeve seam at the underarm first so I would have enough room to finish the seam on the black side of the fabric. Because the side seam is left open, you have more room to maneuver.
Finishing the sleeve seams on the black side was a little tricky. However, a raglan sleeve is a bit roomy at the top, so you can actually pin and sew about 3/4 of the sleeve seam before you run out of room because the sleeve fabric gets all bunched up.
Then you cut your threads, turn the sleeve around, pick up where you left off and sew down to the wrist.
For the cuffs, neck and bottom band, I pinned one side of the piece, same colors facing each other, to the body and stitched it in place. The other side is open so you can hide the raw edges.
Here’s the bottom band before folding the black side and stitching in place over the seam allowance.
For the bottom band, I decided to topstitch instead of stitching in the ditch. I folded the raw edge so the fold lined up exactly with the 5/8 seam. Then I stitched 1/4 inch from the folded edge – similar to the other topstitching.
- 2.5 yards (2.29 meters) of reversible ponte knit fabric (I used an extra half yard because of the extra pattern pieces I cut to make it reversible)
- 70/10 Schmetz jersey needle
- Guttmacher thread – 596
- Walking foot (helps ensure both sides of the fabric are evenly sewn)
And here are a few more photos of the finished reversible Toaster Sweater! I’m wearing the skirt I made from the Japanese sewing book Basic Black, which I blogged about here.
And here’s the black side.
And here are photos of the back…
And in case you don’t believe that it’s really reversible, see the red side?
And see, nothing up my sleeve but red.
It’s like wearing a secret – a two-in-one top! Have you ever made anything reversible?