Monday, 23 February 2009


How to make things reversible: Bagging

Following on from my first post on how to adapt a pre-existing patterns, and my second post on sandwiching, here is a tutorial on 'bagging'. Bagging is when you sew the garment from the outside (right sides facing), leaving a small gap in the side seam open for pulling the nearly finished garment through. It's bit of 'blind faith' sewing in that you are working almost entirely from the wrong side of the fabric and when you're sewing the side seams up, the garment is being pushed towards the inside into a pouch (that's why it's called bagging). First time you do it, you'll be not entirely sure that it'll work until you pull the right sides out through the hole. But it's actually much easier than it sounds!

I use bagging when I want to make a reversible garment without sleeves, with buttons at the shoulders.

Reversible A-line dress

  1. Lay each of your dresses on the floor, right sides together. Pin along the left side seam for one fabric, and along the right side seam on the other (blue line in picture below). Sew each side seam.
  2. Open each dress up and place one on top of the other, right sides together. Match up all edges and pin along the entire top and bottom edges (blue lines in pic below). Stitch the dresses together at top and bottom edges, leaving both side edges open.
  3. Clip your corners and thin out your curves with notches (I use pinking shears).
  4. Using your open side seam, turn the dress right sides out. The green lines below show the edges that are still open. Press flat.
  5. Lay the front on top of the back, matching up the raw edges of the open side seam. Pin the two inner side seams together at the yellow dot, keeping the two outer edges (the panda fabric) out of the way.
  6. Starting about four inches from the bottom hem edge, start stitching the side seam together making sure that only the two inner fabrics (the polkadots) are stitched together by pulling the panda fabric down and out of the way. You can see from the picture below that at the hem seam the side seam of the polkadot fabric becomes the side seam of the panda fabric. Personally, I don't pin when I'm doing this, I just pull the other fabric out of the way and match up edges as I go along. I'm that kinda girl :)
  7. As you continue to sew this side seam onto the panda side, the dress starts disappearing into 'the bag'.
  8. Continue the side seam all the way down the panda fabric, over the armpit edge and back onto the polkadot fabric. Continue down the polkdot fabric but stop about six inches above your starting point, leaving a six inch gap. Your entire dress is 'in the bag' now!
  9. Reach through the hole and pull the dress out. Press all your edges again. You can see in the picture below where the one remaining opening is.
  10. Fold one raw edge of the open hole under and pull over top the other raw edge. Pin and press. Slipstitch the hole closed.
  11. Do your buttonholes and attach buttons to both sides of the shoulder.
  12. Find cute model for pictures:
  • If you want to applique or add pockets or embellishments (like my little panda on the polkadot side), do it before you start sewing the two sides together. Likewise, the interfacing for the button holes should be done before step three, as they are inaccessible after that.
  • If you find that bagging is the technique you like most, it can be used for sleeveless clothes that do have shoulder seams, at step two you would leave the shoulder edges (at yellow lines) open and unstitched:
    At the very end (when dress is right sides out), fold under the raw edge of the back shoulders, place the raw edges of the front shoulders inside the opening, and topstitch the two together. Obviously I don't recommend you do it with this particular dress as the shoulder seam would not sit on top of the shoulder, but more at the collarbone :)


  1. Thanks so much for posting this! I just finished my first dress for my baby girl - next I'm going to tackle a reversible one! You probably make it look easier than it is...

  2. Brilliant tutorial! And sooooo cute. I keep meaning to do tutorials on my blog, it's just finding the time in daylight to do the photos that's stopping me at present!

  3. @LYIS: It isn't hard, honest! In some ways it's easier than non-reversible because there's no hemming or binding.

    @Ali: Yeah, it's time consuming to take pics of everything and then explain step by step! But it makes me feel slightly less self-centred for having a blog ;)

  4. Thank you very much for this! I made one for my daughter and it looks fabulous! I think that it was easier than the original directions. Thanks again!

  5. OMG, I was reading through your blog and I came across this! It's a life saver! I was trying to do this to a dress and was having the toughest time. I'm almost to the point of throwing it out and starting again. I'm bookmarking you now. Thank you very, very much! Kelly F.