I probably should have stopped at my last Southport, as I was really not into sewing this one. Not because it's not a great pattern, but because it's basically the fourth one I've sewn in 2 weeks. I am certain I will make more in the future, but for now I'm going to take a little break and try out some other patterns for a while.
I definitely wouldn't hesitate to purchase more patterns from True Bias. The designs are cute and the instructions clear and well written. I have the Ogden Cami and Lander Pants on my upcoming "to sew" list. I'm actually planning a shorts version of the Lander pants with some stonewashed blue tencel twill I ordered in the Blackbird Fabrics sale. I'm hoping to get started as soon as the fabric arrives, so hopefully I can wear them for the rest of the summer, but that's a blog post for another day...let's get on with my Southport Maxi Dress experience...
Southport Dress by True Bias.
Maxi length dress with center front slit.
16 at shoulders and bust, graded to 18 at waist/hips.
3/4 of an inch removed from bodice length
1 inch full bust adjustment
1 inch swayback adjustment
Front bodice cut on fold to omit buttons and button band
I left the skirt at full length, because I wasn't totally sure where it was going to hit me on my waist, and I didn't want to reduce the length too much and end up with a too-short maxi dress.
Once I was finished with everything but the hemming, I pinned the bottom of the dress up to where I wanted it to be, and then pressed that edge. I then trimmed and pressed under the raw edge and top stitched it down, so I actually have a bit of a wider hem. It's fine for this time, but I'll do it 'properly' next time by reducing length at the lengthen/shorten line.
Mystery fabric. It is either cotton or rayon, but inconclusive as to which one, even after the burn test. The softness, drape, and a bit of sheen make me lean towards rayon. As does the way in handles. This fabric was purchased from the thrift store, and was about 4.5 meters long, 44 inches wide. I do know it is from Cranston Print Works in Texas. It was a fantastic thrift store find!
I'm going to shave a quarter inch off the width of each of the side of the bodice (at the bottom only). I had trouble attaching the bodice to the skirt, because it seemed like there was just too much fabric at the bottom of the bodice. I think I might have messed with it when I re-added an inch to the length of the bodice pieces, but I didn't intentionally add width, so I'm not totally sure what happened there.
Speaking of the length of the bodice, it is juuuuuuuust right! I think what had happened was that I determined the length of the bodice with the bodice piece only, and with no cinching of the waistband, but when skirt is on and the waistband is cinched, it seemed to reduce the length of the bodice by a bit.
Even with this version, un-cinched, it seems like the bodice is a little long, but as soon as I cinch it, it's just the right length. Interesting, huh?
On my last version of the Southport, even cinched, the back seemed to be the right length, so I did the 1 inch swayback adjustment to keep the back the previous length while adding length in the front. This worked like magic!
For the swayback adjustment, I started off by pinching out the length at the center back, but it left everything a bit wavy, so I went off in search of other techniques for swayback adjustments, and came across a ton of info.
I ended up using Glenda's technique where you just basically take the length off the bottom and grade out so you don't lose length off the sides. More info here.
I also stumbled upon a REALLY helpful YouTube channel for fitting by Alexandra Morgan of In House Patterns. She walks you through 3 different ways to do the swayback adjustment, including one that's technique is reminiscent of a full bust adjustment, or other similar fitting technique where you slice along lines and leave hinges.
Next time, for the skirt of the maxi dress I will just shave off 2 inches from the skirt length at the lengthen shorten line. The dress is just the right length now, and I chopped off two inches from the bottom before hemming and it just grazes the ground when I'm wearing flip flops. I'd say it's my ideal maxi dress length.
I had mentioned before that I was having problems with the front of the neckline leaning forwards (away from my body) when I wore it, but it was just at the very edge. I think I had been doing my stay stitching too close to the edge of the fabric and it wasn't doing its job when it came to applying the bias binding. This time, I took care to keep the stay stitching closer to where the stitching line would be and I think it helped.
I actually cut the pocket pieces and at the last minute decided to leave them off. I really didn't want the added bulk at the hips, but even just taking the pictures of the finished dress had me regretting that decision. I missed having a quick temporary spot for my phone (aka my camera remote) while I wrangled my camera and my super heavy tripod. Will I put them on next time? I don't know, maybe? Darn that extra volume the the hips from pockets!