Sometimes a pattern surprises you. When True Bias released the Southport Dress, I puffed myself up with that passing confidence of “I could probably draft something similar myself,” though I should know by now that “drafting something myself” is a rare occasion.
Later on, Mali & I were discussing adding more pattern options for our Sewing 201 class (intro to garment making), and in researching simple woven dresses offered in PDF, we decided the Southport Dress, sans button placket, fit the bill. And I kinda fell in love with my first sample. And then made it again, and again, and — yea — again.
This is one of those versions!
PATTERN: True Bias Southport Dress
This is a comfy little casual number with a scoop neck, bust darts, drawstring waist, and options for knee-length or maxi-length hems. The original design has a button placket and in-seam pockets but I skipped those features on this version. In-seam pockets tend to accentuate dem hipz, which is kinda the last thing I need. The maxi version is a swooshy A-line and has a slit in center front for walking ease and/or sexy knee flashing.
FIT: My first version of the dress, which I sewed for my measurements via the True Bias size chart, turned out too big in the bodice at the bust. Then I read in the instructions that she drafts for a C-cup bust size, a size that I am not (oh, sob). So for my second version I ended up taking off 2 inches total (sewing in 1/2″ deeper on each side seam) at the underarm, tapering to the original seam at the waist. I also removed a 5/8″ wedge at the inner shoulder seam to hike up the neckline a bit and reduce some gaping. I didn’t mess with the size of the bust dart at all, which is pretty small to begin with. With those changes, the tank shape, armholes and neckline fit quite well now.
The fit of this design is forgiving at the waist due to the drawstring. I tend to like some blousiness above the waist seam on my casual dresses, so I don’t mind the relaxed look of this silhouette. I wish the openings to the drawstring were closer together at center front, though, because the drawstrings pull the fabric into fold in front, instead of distributing it evenly.
FABRIC: This black-and-cream printed fabric is one of those rare breeds of rayon that randomly appear in the expensive “designer” section of JoAnn’s (which I bought on sale, natch). It has a kinda hand-drawn look to it and those arrows remind me of kitty heads, which I’m into. I stashed this yardage for quite awhile, hesitant that I actually liked the print because the “tribal” (ugh) trend is starting to wear on me a bit. But rayon’s such a great pairing with this dress design!
The neckline and armholes are finished with bias strips cut from self fabric. I made the bias tape pretty narrow (final width between 1/4″ and 3/8″) so the neckline would lay flatter. I didn’t have to understitch.
My other three versions of this dress are made from a heftier linen blend, a silky polyester, and a jersey knit. You can certainly make this dress out of a knit, but you may want to rotate out the bust dart if so. I tried rotating the bust dart out on my polyester version, but the chest area doesn’t lay as nicely.
So happy I gave this dress a shot! In my current 201 class, three of the students are making the Southport so I’m excited to see their finished versions. You can follow Butcher Sew Shop’s Instagram account (@butcherssewshop) to peep some behind-the-scenes shots and finished student projects.
These photos were taken in the courtyard of Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia. Above I am posing with Mali’s glamour dog Frank. We look equally uncomfortable.