Yesterday I introduced Meerkat Shweshwe and showed you how to draft a pinafore pattern in any size. Today’s tutorial tells you how to sew up a reversible pinafore using that pattern! (This post is sponsored by Meerkat Shweshwe. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that support this blog!)

This pinafore is made from two prints of Authentic Three Cats Shweshwe. You can find out more about this unique, high-quality cotton fabric and purchase yardage directly from Meerkat Shweshwe, a Canadian distributor of this South African fabric.

I also promised yesterday I’d tell you why my daughter’s doll (that my mom made, more on that next week!) has a matching reversible pinafore. When I was speaking with Meerkat Shweshwe’s owner, Céleste, she asked if I’d want to make a matching doll dress, and told me a story from her childhood. Her grandmother lived too far away for regular visits, so Céleste’s mother would send fabric and patterns to her grandmother so she could make dresses for Céleste and her sister. Her grandmother would use leftover fabric scraps to make a matching dress for their dolls. What a great idea! Such a special gift. I thought it would be super-cute to make one and my daughter is so happy with it!

How to Sew a Reversible Pinafore {in any size!}


  • Sweshwe yardage is calculated based on your drafted pattern pieces. You will need enough fabric to cut one set of pattern pieces for each side of the reversible pinafore. (See the sample cutting layout below)
  • 2 buttons for the back closure, 1″ works well
  • 1 length of ribbon for the back closure, 10″ is plenty
  • matching thread suitable for top-stitching both fabrics.

How to determine Yardage:

I was able to make this size 6 Pinafore with pockets and matching doll dress from 1 1/2 metres each of 36″ wide (before pre-washing) Sweshwe fabric. Be sure to measure your pieces carefully, taking into account shrinkage from pre-washing and the width and length of your fabric. Don’t forget to take any one-directional fabric into account as well. The cutting layout below may help. (Note: I actually left myself a little bit less yardage than I meant to because my rough yardage draft had quite a bit more space. Make sure to order a little bit more if you want a less nerve-wracking cutting experience!)

Cutting your fabric:

  1. Pre-wash, dry and press your fabric.
  2. Cut the following pieces from each length of fabric:
    • 1 Skirt Front
    • 2 Skirt Backs
    • 1 Bodice Front (on the fold)
    • 2 Bodice Backs
    • 2 Patch Pockets

Sewing the Reversible Pinafore:

Seam allowance is 1/2″ unless indicated otherwise. It is recommended that you finish all seam allowances to produce a longer-lasting garment. Options include: trimming raw edges with pinking shears, zig-zaging all raw edges or serging all raw edges.

Sew the Bodice:

  1. Align both matching Back and Front Bodice pieces at the shoulders. Stitch. Press seam allowances open.
  2. Fold the ribbon into a small loop – you will need about a 5″ length to do this. Pin it in the middle of the centre back on one bodice, as in the photo below. Make sure there is enough ribbon to go around your button and include the 1/2″ seam allowance. Baste with a 1/4″ seam.
  3. Align the two Back/Front Bodices along the neckline/centre-back edges, matching shoulder seams. Stitch.
  4. Trim/Clip the seam allowance along the curve to help it lay flatter.
  5. Turn the bodice right side out, press carefully along the seam. Double-check to make sure the button fits through your ribbon.  (Do not top-stitch, we will do this in a later step.)
  6. Now we can stitch the armholes together, pay careful attention to the photos for help as you go. Lay the bodice flat on your work surface. Open the left side of the bodice so the fabrics are laying wrong side down.
  7. Roll/fold the right side of the bodice until it is centred on the seam that connects the left two reversible sides of the bodice.
  8. Fold the left side of the bodice around the rolled fabric, aligning the armhole edges. Pin, Stitch. Be careful not to accidentally stitch over the folded fabric.
  9. Clip/trim the seam allowance along the curve. Open the layers and pull out the folded fabric, turning the bodice right side out again. Press the stitched armhole well.
  10. Lay the bodice flat on your work surface again. Open the right side of the bodice so the wrong side is laying wrong side down.
  11. Roll the left side of the bodice into the centre of the right side, over the seam.
  12. Fold the right side of the bodice around the rolled fabric, aligning the armhole edges. Pin, Stitch, being careful not to stitch over the folded fabric.
  13. Clip/trim the seam allowance along the curve. Open the layers and pull out the folded fabric. Press the stitched armhole. Tada! You have almost finished the bodice.
  14. Open the sides of the front bodice and align them so they are right sides together with the back bodice side seam, match up the underarm seam. Stitch.
  15. Fold the bodice wrong pides together again and press well. Set aside.
Prepare the Skirt for Pockets:

  1. Stitch each matching Back Skirt to each side of the Front Skirt along the side seams (length of the pieces, from the drafting instructions). Press the seams open.
Sew the Patch Pockets:
  1. Press the top of the pocket to the wrong side by 1/2″. Turn the pocket over and press the folded top of the pocket over another 1″, this time to the right side.
  2. Stitch around the sides and bottom of the pocket with a 1/4″ seam. Turn the top of the pocket right side out and fold the sides and bottom following the 1/4″ seam. Make sure the seams don’t show on the front of the pocket.
  3. Top-stitch the top of the pocket 3/4″ away from the top folded edge. Repeat for all 4 pockets.
  4. Measure the width of the Front Skirt from seam to seam and divide by 3. Mark these measurements on the Front Skirt.
  5. Align the left/right edge of a patch pocket on each 1/3 measurement – closer to the side seam. Pockets should be about 5 1/2″ down from the top of the Skirt.  (If your skirt is much larger/smaller, place your pockets where you would like accordingly.)
  6. Top-stitch around the sides and bottom of each pocket about 1/8″ away from the edge.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 to attach the patch pockets to the other Front Skirt.

Sew the Skirt:

  1. Align the two sewn skirt panels right sides together, matching side and bottom edges. Stitch the sides and bottom leaving an 8″ opening somewhere along the bottom edge. Clip the corners. Make sure your pockets are aligned correctly!
  2. Press both edges of the 8″ opening 1/2″ to the wrong side.
  3. Turn right side out, neatly push out the corners and edges and press well. You will have a raw edge on the top of the skirts only. (Do not close the opening.)
Attach the Skirt and Bodice:
  1. Open the top layers of the skirt and stitch a gathering/basting stitch around the top edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Then stitch another with a 3/4″ seam allowance. Start and stop the stitches at each side seam. You should be sewing through only one layer of fabric.
  2. Turn the skirts wrong side out, so the fabric is right sides together.
  3. Align the bodice between the skirt layers. Each piece should be right sides together with it’s matching fabric. Match and pin the matching fabric together at the side and center back seams. You will be pinning through only 2 matching layers of fabric.
  4. Pull the basting stitches at each side seam to gather the skirts to match the bodice width. Pin once they are evenly gathered.
  5. Baste the bodices and skirts together with a 3/8″ seam allowance. You will be stitching through 2 layers of fabric only.
  6. Pin bodice and skirt layers wrong sides together matching side and back seams. You will be pinning all 4 layers of fabric together. Stitch all 4 layers together with a 1/2″ seam.
  7. Remove 3/4″ basting stitches.
  8. Turn the pinafore right side out through the opening in the hem.
  9. Push out all skirt edges, as pressed previously. Pin the hem opening shut, matching the folded edge carefully.

Finish the Reversible Pinafore:

  1. Top-stitch around the entire outer edge of the pinafore. This includes the hem, skirt sides, center back and around the front bodice neckline. Take your time and do a good job, make sure the different fabrics won’t show on their non-matching side.
  2. Top-stitch the armholes.
  3. Stitch one button onto each side of the pinafore according to where your ribbon is placed.
Great Job! Give your pinafore a good press and it’s ready to wear.

I’d love to see your project! You can share photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (links below) using the  hashtags #alongforthreadride and/or #threadridinghood. Thank you!