My collection of True Bias Southport Dresses

The proof in the pudding of a new project is how much wear it gets. There have been things in the past which I’ve initially been in love with, only to later realise it was just a short lived crush left to languish in the wardrobe only to see the light of day for an annual Me Made May outing (I’m looking at you Farrow) On the other end of the scale are those lasting true loves that you can fall back on again and again.

The UK, along with much of the northern hemisphere, has been experiencing a heatwave for weeks (a quick look back at my Instagram Me Made May posts shows the last time I needed to wear a cardigan was the 30th May)  Anything slightly fitted or with sleeves has been uncomfortable to wear and a combination of heat and hormones has led me to be a couple of sizes bigger at the end of the day than I am in the morning. The True Bias Southport dress has been my saviour and I can’t praise it enough; sleeveless, loose and with a drawstring waist, it has made the heatwave bearable. My first one was made three years ago and was a lengthened version of view A.  When I came to blog my latest one I realised I’d never got around to posting the previous two so I thought I’d do a catch up triple bill (warning for the picture heavy post ahead).

The Southport dress is a tank style dress designed to be worn as a coverup at the beach or a dress for around town. It has a button opening at centre front and a drawstring waist with inseam pockets. View A hits 20” from the waist. View B is maxi length and hits 42” from the waist and includes a centre front slit.
Suggested Fabrics:
Light weight, woven fabrics with movement such as cotton voile, rayon challis, crepe de chine, and lightweight linen.’

The size range is good, starting at 32-26-34 and going up to an 18 at 44.5-38.5-46.5. there’s three inches of ease at the bust and 5 inch over the hips. It’s an easy pattern to grade up or down if you are outside the size range.

I cut a size 16 (42.5-36.5-44.5) which is closet to my measurements (42-36-42) The most recent one is the Peacock print. The fabric is viscose and was a late night eBay find (I’d been on a stash diet but had a slight lapse) It was pictured draped over a mannequin with the ovals running vertically. However, when it arrived they actually ran on the cross grain, I decided to just go ahead and cut it across but as I only had two metres there was a bit of fudging needed. For once being 5ft 1in worked to my advantage, as I needed to shorten it by 7 inches I was just able to squeeze it on. The dress comes together really quickly, I omitted the button placket again, the first time was due to fabric restraints, the following two due to laziness and impatience. I used self made single fold bias tape to finish the armholes and neckline and finished all the seams on my overlocker.

My 2017 version is a lightweight viscose bought from Leeds market, I’m not sure how much it cost but it wasn’t more than £4 a metre;

2016 is a poly crepe from the rag market in Birmingham, I think it was £3 a metre;

The Southport really converted me to the wonders of the maxi-dress, I have lived in them for the past few weeks (and the past few summers) and feel quite put together whilst being wonderfully comfortable, it’s certainly made getting dressed in the morning very easy.

We’re not used to prolonged heat in the UK, most summers necessitate the need for a cardigan and the occasional waterproof and any period of sunshine is met with the scepticism that it will go as soon as the kids break up for the summer holidays. We’re now into the third week of the holidays and it shows no signs of abating. Maybe my other summer dresses will get a look in towards the end of the summer but for now my Southports remain in permanent rotation.

My Deer and Doe Myosotis

My Sewjo had taken a bit of a battering over the winter (major work worries which are now thankfully resolved) I kept chipping away here and there, mainly with quick and easy projects (I made three Sew Over It Heather dresses and lived in them all winter) but the enthusiasm just wasn’t there. I made most of a coat but decided I didn’t like it, I never got around to sewing in the lining which was all there was left to do. I knew it was serious when I decided to have a new year stash diet and didn’t miss buying fabric! It’s taken a few months but I think inspiration has finally returned.

The pattern to rekindle my enthusiasm was unsurprisingly a Deer and Doe; the newly released Myosotis dress. I’m an unashamed Deer and Doe fan girl, in a desert island situation I would quite happily be marooned with just their back catalog and be perfectly content to sew nothing else. They’re a good fit for my body shape, well drafted, everything fits together perfectly and there’s never the need to ‘fudge’ anything. They are basically a real joy to sew (and sewing is supposed to be a joy isn’t it?)

There’ve been a couple of developments with Deer and Doe’s last two collections, the most significant being the availability of patterns in PDF format, which is good news for sewists outside Europe. Another plus has been extending their size range (although the extra sizing is only available in PDF) I think this is a really good move on their part, making the patterns much more accessible and inclusive.

The Myosotis sizing ranges from 32-24-34 to 41-33-43 in the printed pattern and up to 46-38-48 in PDF. Going by the finished measurements (which are true, I measured) there’s basically five inches of ease on top of each size.
I bought the printed pattern rather than the PDF, even though I was an inch or two over the biggest size (my measurements are currently around 42-35-42 depending on my mood and associated level of chocolate consumption) I figured there was plenty of ease so no real danger of it being too tight.

The fabric is a Liberty Lawn called Florence, bought from Standfast and Barracks on our way home from the Lake District two years ago. (I can’t find the same colourway but the brighter version is available here) It very nearly got used last year but it was a half hearted project and I’m glad I hung onto it.
I had two and a half meters, 53 inches wide (sorry for mixing units) and with a bit of creative cutting was left with a piece just a bit bigger than a fat quarter (potentially one pair of knickers and a couple of meters of bias binding) I’ve another version planned but only have two meters of fabric, I think I’ll need to find a contrasting fabric for the facings, pocket bags and under collar.

I opted for view B, the appeal of the plain dress was it’s potential to be another Sureau in my wardrobe, I’ve made four and they’re probably my most worn woven dresses, great in winter with tights and boots or in Spring/Summer with sandals (They’re what I reach for when I can’t decide what to wear)

The dress is straight forward, front facings are topstitched to form the button band with three functional buttons (although it’s easily slipped over the head so could be stitched closed) I used half inch purple mother of pearl, if you want to use bigger buttons you’ll need to increase the distance of topstitching to accommodate them. The stand collar sits nicely and was easy to attach. The skirt is simply gathered (the buttons don’t continue below the waist) and of course, it has pockets. All in all it was quite a quick sew.

So what about the finished dress, did it live up to my expectations? Definitely, it’s the first thing I’ve sewn this year that I’ve really enjoyed and has done the trick with relighting my Sewjo. It’s very ‘me’ and I feel comfortable wearing it. The loose fit is wonderful in the hot weather we’ve been having. I’ve only worn it once so far, I’ve been taking part in Me Made May again this year and have pledged to have no repeat outfits, come June though it will be difficult to get me to take it off!

A nice little extra, as Myosotis is the Latin name for forget-me-nots it’s coincidentally been released as they are flowering. There’s some dotted around in my pictures but I took a close up, they really are one of the prettiest flowers around!