Hello, kittens! No need to check the calendar. Your eyes are not deceiving you. Despite our quickly approaching autumn, I made the most summery dress ever. Chalk it up to our crazy Texas weather. While a chill may be in the air elsewhere around the States, we're still solidly in the nineties. Our current forecast is nothing but sun, blue skies, and unrelenting heat.
As such, I altered my Sewing Indie Month plans a little bit. While I've already kicked off sewing my fall mini-wardrobe, my closet demanded one last summer dress. Going with my designated theme of "Everyday Casual," I wanted something truly easy-to-wear. A garment that could take me from lazy afternoons at the park to a chic, comfortable turn at the Austin City Limits Festival, in a few weeks.
Cue the Southport Dress, from True Bias.
The Southport has been a really popular dress pattern, over the last few months. There have been so many amazing iterations, but two of my favorites are Jenny's dreamy silk maxi version and Meg's tester version in the cutest fruit-print cotton crepe. The pattern itself is a simple tank style bodice, with a half-button placket, drawstring waist, and lightly flowing skirt. There are two hem lengths, a casual above-the-knee and more dramatic full maxi length, with a thigh-high slit.
Originally, I'd planned a maxi version, but talked myself out of it at the last minute. While I'm rather tall for a woman (5'8'' or 173 cm), all that fabric still worried me. Sure it looked fabulous on other people, but would it make me look squat? Would my curves disappear? Worries ran like caffeinated gazelles around my mind. So, I chickened out and cut the shorter skirt.
That's okay, because the shorter Southport, has beautifully scant fabric needs. Less than two yards! Finally, I was able to use this gorgeous paintbrush print from my stash. This fabric is a silk/cotton voile, bought from Gorgeous Fabrics sometime in 2010, and has almost become so many things. With only two yards on hand, it was difficult to match a project to it. With the gigantic print, it needed to become a complete piece, but nothing seemed right. Until, of course, the Southport. This fabric is ideal for a breezy, warm weather dress. Bold, but lightweight. Bright, but elegant.
|Note: Please excuse my cock-eyed drawstring placement. It's an unfortunate side effect of taking pictures with two dogs as my creative directors. They're not terribly detailed oriented, those two.|
Before cutting into my fabric, I did a quick bodice muslin. While some people have foregone the FBA, thanks to the Southport's designed ease, that track made me nervous. Outside of knit garments, I haven't skipped an FBA in eons. Unless the pattern comes with alternate cup sizes, alterations are a must for my 36E bust.
Good thing, too. This muslin was much needed. I ended up adding two inches to the bodice, in an FBA, and raising the armholes up and in by over an inch. If you're large busted, I recommend a similar set of alterations. There's no way these buttons would've laid flat, without them! When I make the maxi version, I'll also add more room in the hip area. The skirt as-drafted works really well as a short dress, but I would like more hip swish in the longer version.
Sewing this dress up was a painless process. I gave a cursory glance to the instructions and really liked the methods Kelli suggested for construction. Her directions guarantee a pretty, clean finish, both inside and out. The neckline and armscyes are finished with bias tape, while the drawstring casing is a straightforward on-skirt addition. I matched my self-made bias tape to the drawstring, using a lightweight plum batiste from my stash. It's a perfect match for the darker brushstrokes in the main fabric!
As my last dress of summer, this Southport is a winner. It won't necessarily take me into fall, but it is a comfortable, colorful way to round out the season. With such dogged sunshine, getting dressed turns into a chore, this time every year. Having a new dress to reach for, especially such a cheerful one, makes it much, much more fun!
Now, there's only one question left. Should I make a maxi version, for autumn? A darker palette and dramatic print could make this pattern a trans-seasonal hit. We shall see...
In the meantime, we have Sewing Indie Month to celebrate! There's a really dishy blazer on the docket for me, as well as some strategic use of polka dots. If you're joining in on my Everyday Casual category, what are you planning to make? Remember, you have until October 4th to enter the contest!
Note: As one of the hosts for Sewing Indie Month, I received this pattern free of charge, courtesy of Kelli from True Bias. I was given the opportunity to request patterns from participating designers and chose the Southport of my own volition, because it fits well with my theme and is super cute!