Southport the Third: the birthday version

I know, I know, this is the third True Bias Southport dress I’ve posted about in as many months. But this one is special, its my birthday dress!

Once again its made out of rayon, because why change a good thing? This time its rayon challis, and it is much better behaved and much nicer to wear than my crepe version. I have a well documented stripe obsession, so I was pretty excited to find this fabric last year! I had originally earmarked it for a jacket lining, but I decided it really wanted to be a dress. And as my sewing skills seem to have gone out of the window since I went back to work this year, I thought I would stick to something familiar, which I knew I’d wear heaps.

So it should have been easy! I remembered that I took 5/8″ off the straps of my blue Southport, so I cracked on and took 5/8″ off these ones too. I got all the binding on nice and smooth first time, the skirt went together beautifully, all my stripes matched up perfectly, and I was really enjoying myself. I tried it on to decide where I should hem it (I had a feeling it would look weird if the skirt ended on a white stripe, so I left a narrow black border, which I think was a good decision), and found that the arm holes were so high and tight that I felt like Quasimodo. At that point I remembered how I had modified the straps and traced off my new bodice shape after my last Southport, so I had now removed 1 1/4″. Shit. No wonder it was a bit tight! I was so miffed that I had to unpick all my beautiful binding… Happily I could let the seam allowance at the shoulder out to a tiny amount, and they’re almost right. The armhole is still a bit high, and the binding isn’t as neat as my first go, but at least its wearable! And did I mention my stripe matching?

Even inside the pockets!

I can’t believe that I’ve done something stupid each time I’ve made this dress. I’ve now made a clear note on my bodice pattern piece, hopefully I won’t do anything so silly again!

I do really like this dress though. Perhaps not quite as much as my blue version, but a close second. I love the matte black buttons that I chose (thanks you instagram for persuading me that plain black was the way to go!) and I stuck with the easy option and used grosgrain ribbon again. I’m hoping I might have enough of this fabric left to make myself a Tiny Pocket Tank or something similar! I wore it all day on my birthday, and it took me from posh morning tea with my Mum, Sister and Aunt to present shopping and burgers for lunch with Monsieur, to a cup of tea with my MiL, to Sangria and Tapas with my lovely friends without ever making me feel out of place. What more could I ask of a dress?

Fancy cakes (I’m not even sure if cake is the right word, but they’re delicious!), my chocolate cake-salted caramel-chocolate mouss confection, a super cute vintage pattern I found when we were present shopping, and the kitty seal of approval for my dress. A lovely day!

Southport #2

Missing: my sew-jo. It has been gone for at least a month now, and I am desperately seeking its safe return…

Funnily enough, when I look back at my posts from last year, I was saying exactly the same thing last February. Maybe its the heat? Its so hot in my little sewing room, its like a sauna in there. I also have a pair of extremely cuddly kittens demanding my attention at all times (such a hardship). I’ve been trying to get some things done, I have so many things I want to make, but nothing seems to be going right. I think I just need one good project that I enjoy sewing and that turns out really well, and I’ll be away again. Fingers crossed! 

Anyway, before my sewing slump, I finished another Southport dress in rayon crepe. This seems to be the summer of rayon for me!


I love the colour of this fabric, it was called ‘raisin’ on the tag but I think its more maroon than brown. Either way, I think its really pretty! 

I had a bit of trouble with the crepe, it just has so much give it it that it felt like the bodice was growing as I sewed, even with rows of staystitching! It definitely feels bigger and saggier in the bodice than my first version. I had enough fabric to make a self-fabric tie this time, and I turned that whole narrow tube inside out and threaded it through the waist casing before I realised that the crepe fabric was far too rough and sticky to slide smoothly and gather the waist in evenly. Happily I managed to find some ribbon in just the right colour, which makes it much easier to cinch in the waist!


I only made one change to the patten this time, which was to make an all in one facing for the arm holes and neckline. I had so much trouble getting my binding to sit flat around the armscye last time that I thought this might make things easier, but in hindsight the lack of rigid bias tape around the neckline might be contributing to the crepe drooping the way it is. 

It was easy to make the facing, I just traced off the neck and armscye shape down to the bust dart from the front and back, and drew a curved line from the side seam up to the cente back and front points. If I do it this way again I’ll reinforce the neckline with twill tape though!

I’ve got fabric for one more Southport this summer, I’m hoping I’ll have it done in time for my birthday at the end of the month. Next weekend we’re heading up to Napier for another Art Deco Weekend, so I’ll have a bit of vintage sewing to share, the first of three garments I want to sew as part of the 2016 Vintage Pattern Pledge. After that, hopefully my sewing equilibrium will have returned, and everything will go back to normal!

All good in the end

This is the dress that very nearly never was…


It shouldn’t have been difficult, really. The pattern is the Southport Dress from True Bias, one I bought as soon as it was released. It’s a style of dress I love for summer, and I was pretty impatient waiting for the warm weather to show up so that I could get to it! The fabric is Cotton + Steel Frock rayon, which I got from Miss Matatabi as part of my Carolyn Pyjama Party prize, and it is so lovely. Its quite different feeling from most of the rayon I’ve sewn with (mostly crepe), very smooth and soft. It was so nice to sew, it pressed beautifully and was generally just a joy. 


However, I only had 1.5 yards of the rayon, and the pattern called for 2.3. I figured that I could cut the pocket pieces out of some matching navy silk which I had in my big scraps pile, and I bought some navy grosgrain ribbon for the tie (I asked for groz-grain ribbon in the shop, and the lady had to tell me it was pronounced gro-grain, what a pleb! I’m also scared of asking about tricot knit, is that french pronunciation too??). I laid out all of my pieces, and realised that I could do it if I cut the skirt pieces with the selvedge in the seam allowances. The selvidges are something I’ll need to be aware of if I buy more Cotton + Steel fabric, not only is it really narrow but it has quite wide contrasting selvedge (how many times can I fit the word selvadge into a paragraph?).


I quite like that I’ve got the fabric details running up my skirt seams! So I cut the skirt and back bodice out, then opened the fabric out flat so that I could match the diamonds running across the bodice. Then I cut out two right bodice pieces, because sometimes I’m a total muppet. I had enough to cut a left bodice, but that meant I needed to piece the waist tie casing. Not a major disaster, but annoying! Must pay better attention when cutting out.

The other thing that caused me grief was getting the binding right on the arm holes. It went on fine around the neck, but I just could not get it to lie flat and not pucker around the bottom of the armscye. I had at least 5 goes at it before I got it sewn in pucker free, but it’s still not sitting flat. I think I might have picked binding that is a bit heavy and wide, but its not a problem I’ve had before! Next time (because there will be a next time) I think I’ll cut a facing for the arm holes at least.
 After that wee drama everything went smoothly. The instructions were really good, and it was a pretty quick sew. I omitted the buttonholes and just sewed my mother of pearl buttons through both plackets, as its easy to get over my head as it is! I also took 5/8″ off the straps, as I have a short torso.

I really love this dress! I wore it today to the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network Christmas picnic, and it was lovely and comfortable and cool. And the expandable waist tie was good with all the food we had! Big thanks to Leimomi for taking these pictures, it was nice to get some direction from the photographer and not have to run backwards and forwards setting the self timer!