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Elisalex Dress Sewalong #6: Reversalex and skirt alternatives

This is the post we've all been waiting for...! Today we get to talk about the REVERSALEX!

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*If you've just joined us (and are wondering what exactly a Reversalex is!), you can find all the Elisalex Dress Sewalong posts here*

Skirt alternatives:

The Elisalex Dress was designed to provide the perfect bodice for infinite skirt variations. Just Google it and you'll see all the beautifully different ways in which this pattern has already been interpreted by so many talented sewist bloggers out there. We've made up pretty much every combination under the sun here at the By Hand Studio, particular favourites being circle skirts, gathered skirts and the Charlotte Skirt (the Elisalotte!), as well as the given tulip skirt. You can Frankenfrock your Elisalex Dress any way you like by changing the skirt, but before you begin, here are a couple of things to bear in mind:

  • Use the waistline measurement of the bodice to dictate the waistline measurement of your skirt
  • The skirt will need to fasten at centre back in order to align with the centre back opening of the bodice

The basic concept of the Reversalex:

The sleeveless bodice of the Elisalex Dress is constructed in such a way that it is finished flawlessly with no visible raw seams, and if the skirt is flawlessly lined also, you got yourself a reversible dress! We are basically glorifying the lining by making it in a fabric just as worthy of being shown off as the main fashion fabric.

If you want to make a basic Reversalex, both skirts need to be the same style and length so as not to create unwanted bulk. Think of it as a lined skirt. Good choices are: the tulip skirt, pencil skirts or circle skirts. Two gathered skirts would make for a seriously bulky waist, as would heavily pleated skirts.

The construction is exactly the same as for the regular Elisalex Dress in that we will attach the skirt to the bodice at the waistline in exactly the same way as we did in the last post - simply lay your skirt flat (side seams closed if applicable, back seam open) and with right sides together, pin skirt and bodice together along the waistline and stitch into place. Repeat this along the waistline on the other side.




The modular Reversalex:

Modular dressing is a concept we're pretty obsessed with right now. The idea that you can get  up to five outfit combinations out of just two pieces (a reversible dress and a detachable skirt) is seriously cool and practical, we think.

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We've gone for a reversible 1/2 circle Elisalex Dress with a detachable gathered skirt (see our gathered skirt tutorial and circle skirt tutorial) and therefore we have 4 possible dress combinations (and a separate skirt in its own right!) - what makes this possible is having the attached skirt with no "right side" or side seams, so it looks fine from both sides. Circle skirts are perfect for this as they can be cut whole with the only seam being the back seam where it is attached to the zipper. Once the skirt is attached, zipper inserted, the waistline seam pressed up and the raw edge of the "bodice lining" pressed in and blind stitched to hide the waistline seam (all things we'll be covering in detail in the next post), the dress will look perfectly neat from both sides. It is of utmost importance to think of all the little details if you want to go down this route:

  • Is the fabric I've chosen for the attached skirt more or less reversible, ie, looks like the right side from both sides?
  • Do my two fabric combinations complement each other?
  • Have I chosen a skirt style that will look good from both sides? Circle skirts are perfect, as they can be constructed whole with no side seams. Things like pencil skirts, or anything with darts or side seams, will not look good from the wrong side. Gathered skirts are a good choice in theory, but then your detachable skirt would need to be of an even more voluminous style in order to fit over the top - that's why we've attached the slinkier of the two skirts and made the fuller gathered skirt the detachable one.
  • The hem also needs to look good from both sides - a good way to achieve this is to hem your skirt with bias binding or a decorative tape or trim.

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Here's a list of modular Reversalex's that would work super well:

  • Attached 1/4 or 1/2 circle; detachable full circle
  • Attached 1/4 or 1/2 circle; detachable tulip
  • Attached 1/4 or 1/2 circle; detachable gathered
  • Attached 1/4 or 1/2 circle; detachable pleated
  • Attached full circle; detachable gathered
  • Attached full circle; detachable tulip
  • Attached tulip; detachable gathered

You get the drift... Infinite possibilities, and with five outfit possibilities from just one dress and one skirt, modular dressing also makes for lighter packing! Sold? So are we.

Just one last post in the Elisalex Dress Sewalong to go now! All that's left to do is insert the zipper, stitch the hem and put the finishing touches to our dresses. Watch this space...

Comments on this post (12)

  • Mar 10, 2015

    Hi Emily, yes the dress does have a zip – and to make it successfully reversible you’ll need a reversible zipper that opens up completely too! You can find these at most good haberdasheries.

    If you need to get in touch, please email us at


    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Mar 10, 2015

    Also wondering where I could find out more about the designer?

    — Emily

  • Mar 10, 2015


    I was wondering if the dress has a zip. If i does i was wondering were you guys purchase them from.

    I am doing an assignment on ethical fashion and trying to design a reversible dress, but having trouble with the zip.

    — Emily

  • Feb 24, 2015

    Hi Emily,

    The dresses aren’t exactly detachable – it’s simply one dress with a pretty lining so that it can be worn both the right way and inside out. The separate skirt is worn over the top to give an entirely new look to the dress.

    Hope this helps!

    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Feb 24, 2015

    I was wondering how the shirt and skirt are attached and detached from each other?

    — Emily

  • Oct 02, 2014

    Aww sookie sookie now! This dress is the business. As a person of modest means this is practical, delightful, AND pretty.

    It is second to next on my pattern wish list. Thank you for designing and sharing this.



    — Lyric

  • Apr 09, 2013

    Love the gathered skirt version- please tell us more- how can I make a gathered skirt just like that?

    And, the gorgeous gold fabric on the promo Elisalex- what is it? Where can I get some?

    — Sarah

  • Apr 10, 2013

    Hi! You can find our gathered skirt tutorial here –

    Not sure what you mean by the promo Elisalex… is that the long sleeved one on the product page? If so, that’s a gorgeous wool and lurex tweed that we found at Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road!

    — byhandlondon

  • Jun 23, 2013

    buzzing with excitement in reading this. makes so much sense!!

    — Sarah Sew Love

  • Mar 31, 2013

    Hey, Girls.
    You are amazing!!! I learn a lot from you. Thanks.

    — Sue

  • Mar 31, 2013

    Hi Sue,

    Thanks so much for the compliment. LOVING your bright yellow Elisalex!

    — byhandlondon

  • Apr 04, 2013

    ahh! you’ve made me want an ‘elisalotte’ now!

    — dixie

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