I have been wanting to make the Southport Dress by True Bias for along time now. I just never got around to buying the pattern since I had so many patterns in my stash I was already waiting to sew. Then Alina made this dress and I fell in love with it. She had left over fabric too, so I bought the rest from her and set out to finally make one of my own! Now I am not a maxi dress person. I am too clumsy for long skirts or dresses. Things like getting it caught in the car door or stepping on it, tripping/half pulling down the skirt on the way up steps happen to me when I wear maxi type garments. However, I am really loving the look of the maxi dress trend right now. I still wasn’t brave enough to attempt maxi again, that is until I bought the Southport Dress. I really love the maxi version so I decided I would go for it.
I lost some of my bravado once I got the fabric and realized there wasn’t enough to make the maxi version. Maybe it was a sign to NOT make the maxi, maybe not. Either way I am a pretty stubborn person and when I get something in my head, I am determined to make it work. I dug through my stash and found a floral rayon fabric that matched. I decided to use that for the bodice, squeezing out a maxi skirt from the coral fabric. I then got the bright idea to try and squeeze in making the entire dress from printing the pattern to finishing the garment in one afternoon so I could wear it for date night. Did I mention I had someone coming over for sewing lessons + a sleeping toddler to attend to in exactly 2 hours. You know, totally doable right? I should work on my goal setting skills.
Long story short, I did not make my goal and made a few rushed mistakes along the way. Moral of the story, don’t make a maxi dress. I kid, I kid.
The poor dress sat on my sewing table for a week before I finally got around to finishing it. I almost scrapped it. I think it was because I had this romantic idea in my head about a beautiful flowing maxi dress that everyone else can pull off but me, knowing full well that I hate maxi dresses. I kept telling my husband, this is going to be ugly. When you think something is going to be ugly you have very little drive to finish it. Please tell me I am not the only one with so much sewing drama??
I ended up finishing it and as I tried it on, I was like I actually LOVE it! The fabric is light, airy, and breezy. I don’t have to worry about lots of heavy fabric that I could step on. It also has a front slit that is very helpful in the “tripping area”. It also has a drawstring that gathers in to my natural waist making this dress very flattering. I had a maternity maxi dress that I wore when I was pregnant with our daughter. I look back on that dress and think, oh my I looked like a cow! Maybe many bad maxi dress experiences have led to my dislike for maxi’s, but I think I may have actually found one I love!
On to the pattern details! The Southport dress comes in two versions. Version one is a above the knee dress and version two is a maxi dress with a slit. Both feature a button up front placket, a drawstring waist, and pockets. Yes I said POCKETS!! What is better than pockets in a dress?? Nothing my friend, nothing ;). The pattern is laid out very nicely and is fully illustrated. The pattern includes a body measurement chart and a finished garment chart ,which I always really love in a pattern. Since I am between sizes I always like seeing how much ease is in the finished garment so I can decide how many sizes I want to grade between. This patterns uses many great techniques to give you a very professional finish to your dress.
I did modify the pattern before making it. I raised the neckline by 2″ by simply measuring 2″ up from the center front. After I made the 2″ mark, I added 1/2″ to the shoulder width toward the neckline to help make the curve easier to draw + add a tiny bit more coverage. Later, I also added more buttons to the placket since I raised the neckline. From looking at pictures I decided I wanted to lower the slit to more knee length. I measured from the floor to where I wanted it to hit and marked a new dot on the pattern. In my rushing, I forgot to take into account hemming so it ended up being longer than knee length. Next time I will add more to the slit opening to reach knee length. I also used the tip Alina shared in Instagram on making half of the drawstring elastic for added comfort. I don’t think I will ever go back to a full drawstring again! Yes it is that great of a tip!
To no surprise my body fell into multiple sizes. Usually my bust is in one, waist in another, and hips in like three sizes up from that, sigh. Since there was so much ease in the pattern, I ended up cutting a size 2 bodice grading it out to size 4 at the waist. I cut a size 4 skirt (the size my waist fell in). In the end I wish I would have graded to my hip size because I think I would prefer even more gathers. I love it the way it is, but I think I would like more gathers to feel more maxi-ish in it. I am pretty much convinced I just have a weird body. I should just say unique…Since my bust always falls in a smaller size than the rest of my body, the armscye of woven patterns I am finding sometimes runs too small for me. This one works, but it is quite snug, I will grade the armscye out for the next one I make. I probably should just get in the habit of grading to a larger armscye.
After all my maxi struggles, I can say I love this maxi. I will let you know if I have any maxi mishaps in it ;). I am already dreaming of another Southport in this Poly Crepe by Style Maker Fabrics! Have you made the South Port Dress? Or do you have plans of making it?!
Pattern: Southport Dress by True Bias
Size Sewn: 2 graded to a 4.
Measurements: Bust 33″, Waist: 29″, Hips: 40″.
Modifications: Raised neckline by 2″, added 1/2″ width on shoulder, Decreased slit height. Added half elastic to drawstring for extra comfort! (tip from Alina Sewing and Design Co.)