Fabrics, Notions, & Other Materials · Sew-alongs · Sewing for Argentine Tango · Sewing Techniques · Skirts · Tango Skirts

Wrap Skirt Sew-along 1: Getting Started

This is the first in a series of posts for my very first time hosting a sew-along: Getting started on a versatile, flattering, not to mention easy-to-sew wrap skirt! I started my own version for a sewing workshop I held this past weekend, and that’s what I’ll be working on in this blog series— my battle plan, as it were.

For this project, I’ve chosen McCall’s 5430 wrap skirt pattern, for several reasons: It’s intended for woven fabrics (generally easier to sew than knits), the wrap style has built-in fit adjustability, and it’s fairly simple to make it reversible. Oh, and there are no zippers to put in!

McCall's 5430 wrap skirt pattern
McCall’s 5430, the wrap skirt pattern we’ll be making in this sew-along!

Let’s get started! Once you have your pattern, the next step is choosing your fabric— obvious, I know, but there are some things to consider:

  • Look for fabric with some silkiness, so that it will drape nicely. This pattern’s style is kind of a cross between A-line and semi-circular, so it’s meant to swing a little. One of my top choices would be light-to-midweight woven rayon (also called viscose), such as rayon challis; you may also find a rayon blend that will work well.
    • Tip: I tend to avoid 100% polyesters, mostly because I find it difficult to iron really sharp edges into them (it’s actually possible to melt polyester), and they can be quite slippery to handle. However, if you’ve used polys and like them, go ahead! In fact, since I was determined to make my sample skirt with fabric I already had, I’m actually making it with a poly/rayon blend, a relic of a Renaissance Festival costume I made for my daughter years ago; I thought, since it’s double-faced (and fairly silky), it would be especially pretty in this style.
  • There are also some beautiful, extremely fine wool fabrics that can be almost thinner than rayon challis, so you may want to browse the wool section just to see. And of course, silks are the ultimate for tango-wear— they have such gorgeous drape. Look for mid-weight silk charmeuse or double georgette.
  • If you’re making View A (like me), with the drape on the front panel, you might consider using a double-faced fabric (like mine); the drape will allow the “wrong” side of the fabric to show.
    Double-faced fabric detail
    After cutting my wrap skirt from this beautiful double-faced, embroidered crinkle satin, I pinned the front panel to my dress form to get an idea how it would drape. I love how this lets the second side of the fabric show!
    • Tip: When working with a double-faced fabric, supply yourself with thread in both colors, and fill 2 bobbins ahead of time, 1 with each color; trust me, you’ll thank yourself later for doing this! There will be times when you want to have Color 1 in the top of your machine, and Color 2 in the bobbin.
    • Another tip: Sadly, just because a fabric is double-faced doesn’t mean it will make your skirt reversible— you’ll still have side seams and hemming that will show on one side. However, if reversible is what you want, see the section on this (below).
  • With all the layers adding up at the waist (2 fabric layers plus interfacing), you’ll want your fabric to create as little bulk as possible. If you fall in love with a fabric that isn’t the thinnest, you could use a coordinating cotton batiste for the inside pieces of the waistband.
  • If your fabric is too slippery, it may not only make it more difficult to sew, it may also mean it will not stay tied when you wear the skirt.
  • This pattern calls for 2 buttons; they won’t show on the outside, but you’ll need to find buttons that are very flat, so they won’t create extra bulk on inside of the waistband.

“But Lindy”, you say, “I want to make my skirt reversible!” Cool idea— just be sure to check out these tips first:

Red alert! It wasn’t until after I’d typed out all the wonderful tips below that I realized that, with this particular pattern, because of the way the waistband and tie ends are constructed, it may not work to make this pattern reversible. I will have to test that and report on it later. If you have a different wrap skirt pattern that has a waistband extending into ties at each end, you’ll be okay; my pattern has one tie end added on top of part of the waistband (look closely at the schematic drawings in the pattern listing to see what I mean). Proceed with caution! And let me know if you have questions about your pattern.

Detail of wrap skirt
Detail of the waistband/tie end construction; this is why I think it will not work well for a reversible skirt. Bummer.

Fabrics: You’ll want to make your 2 fabrics lighter-weight than if you’re using a single layer, so look for a light woven rayon, or rayon/polyester blend; this will give you lots of drape, even with the double layer.

And think about your reasons for making the skirt reversible. For example, do you want 1 side to be casual, the other fancy or work-appropriate? Also, be sure your 2 fabrics are laundry-compatible (this includes ironing)— if they’re not, plan to dry-clean your reversible creation.

  • Fabric combinations:  You’ll also want to think about the fact that they will come in contact with your legs. (I mention this because I once had the bright (?) idea to make 1 layer of a reversible skirt out of a sequinned fabric— when this fabric was worn on the inside, it was scratchy!)Fabric combo ideas:
    • When you find 1 fabric you like, see if it comes in another color. This will ensure compatibility of drape and washability.
    • Mix 1 print with 1 solid layer.
    • Make 1 layer metallic or shiny, the other layer matte.
    • If 1 fabric looks good on both sides, consider making the 2nd layer out of         something sheer, like lace; the back side of your solid fabric will show through. (I once made a reversible skirt with pinstriped wool on 1 side, black lace on the other.)
  • Cutting: Remember that you only need to cut the skirt pieces out of both fabrics; you’ll just have 1 waistband, so decide ahead of time which of the 2 fabrics you want to show on both sides. Also, since you will be sewing 2 copies of the same skirt together, take extra care to cut both fabrics exactly to the same size.

I know, I know, this is a lot of information to take in, but it all falls under the heading of preparation— and in sewing, that’s more than half the battle.

Coming up next, I’ll talk about seaming techniques, seam finishing, and narrow-hemming. I’ll see you then!


Want more sewing stuff from Colormusing? Check out myBratelier (lingerie sewing, including bras!), and Changing Your Clothes, which covers everything from repairs & alterations to dyeing and remaking thrift-shop finds.

And don’t miss all my color-palette-related excitement at the  A Musing blog! (Click on the dots above to visit my mother ship, Colormusing.com.)

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