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.

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Two True Bias Sutton Blouses

There hasn’t been a lot of sewing going on recently. It’s the busiest time of year at work and we’re also decorating so the house is in disarray. The only thing passing through my sewing machine has been a pair of curtains. I’ve got so many things on my list but only managed to grab a couple of hours this week, if I don’t get some serious sewing ‘me time’ soon tempers are likely to fray!

I made these Sutton blouses a few weeks ago. I wanted to try the pattern after seeing loads of lovely versions during Me made may (May turned out to be quite expensive due to all the new patterns I ‘needed’ to have)

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‘The Sutton Blouse is a loose fitting V-neck top with kimono sleeves, a one piece yoke and a back inverted pleat.’

For the first one I used a metre and a half of black and grey floral viscose I bought at the Leeds meet up. I cut a size 14 based on my measurements. The pattern is drafted for a height of 5ft 6 inches. As I’m short waisted and short in general (5ft 2inch if I’m standing straight) I decided to shorten the pattern by two inches. It’s a neat little pattern, all French seams apart from side seams. The directions suggest overlocking the side seams but the fabric was light enough to double turn and stitch each edge before stitching the seam together.

One thing that didn’t even cross my mind (which doesn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders at the moment) was to pay attention to pattern placement, consequently the front seam has chopped a big flower in half (didn’t even notice until I put it on my dressform when it was finished) It also ended up being a little shorter than anticipated. I’ve worked out that the optimum length to cover the mum tum is 5 inches below my belly button, this was an inch or two shorter so the tum is just peaking out! The pattern however does run true to size. I really don’t know what to do about shortening things anymore, this is the second time recently that I’ve made my usual adjustment only to find out I didn’t need to (I shortened my first Morris Blazer which then ended up being a bit too ‘cropped’) I always worry about things being too long and swamping me, I think I just need to take a bit more time measuring the pattern pieces before I start chopping.

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For my next Sutton I didn’t shorten the length. I used just under a metre and a half of Liberty silk satin which I bagged off ebay for a tenner. This was my first time working with silk satin, I’ve used silk twill and Crepe de Chine before which are a bit fiddly but I managed to get them to co-operated in the end.

This however fought me every step of the way. I laid it on a blanket (using Sew Busy lizzies timely suggestion on Instagram) pinned it down and weighted the pattern pieces with anything I had to hand. This seemed to stop it moving around and it wasn’t too difficult to cut if I took it slowly (I did actually pay attention to the pattern placement this time) However once I lifted the cut pieces they shifted around so much that I had no idea if they were on grain or even cut straight. I decided to forge ahead with the sewing, questioning the straightness of every seam I sewed (and trimming off bit’s here and there, convinced they was some wonkiness going on) I made it up exactly the same as the first; french seams and double fold side seams. The finished top isn’t too bad but I think the back yoke is a little out and I’m sure there’s something weird going on with the side seams. It’s one of those things that nobody will notice but I know it’s there!

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highlighting my wonky side seam!

The first Sutton has been worn a lot since finishing but I’m really not sure about the silk one. I think it’s entirely down to all the hassle it gave me. There seems to be a direct correlation between how much I like a garment and how well the sewing process went. It’ll take a bit of time for me to forget all the pain and trouble it gave me (a bit like childbirth) but I it’s highly unlikely I’ll be sewing with silk satin again anytime soon!

Is it just me or has anybody else fallen out with a garment that was a troublesome sew?