My first Southport dress turned out to be a fairly straightforward and rewarding sewing experience. I realise the waist tie is way too long but for some reason I wasn’t ready to cut it when I wore this dress for the first time.
Here’s a side view. This dress has been great to wear in the recent heatwave in London. Only one metre of light, breezy cotton, yet it’s formal enough that I understand feel comfortable wearing it to work.
Pockets are life.
Notes about the changes I made can be found here.
Pattern: Southport dress by True Bias
Fabric: 1m Liberty tana lawn
I’m in two minds about continuing with my WiP Wednesday posts, but I do find them to be a useful space to keep notes about different projects. After a lot of research, I bought the Southport dress pattern. We had a very warm couple of weeks, and I realised that I’m lacking in summer clothing. I want to finally use one of my pieces of Liberty fabric for this dress, so I decided to make a toile of the bodice.
It seemed a bit of a shame to use this lovely mustard fabric just for a toile, but I had a very small remnant and it’s cotton, so I couldn’t really picture a good use for it.
I omitted the button band from the bodice- in similar RTW dresses, the buttons gape. Also, I am making this version in a print. I think the buttons would either get lost, or distract from how nice the fabric itself is.
My neckline wasn’t very flat on my toile. Fortunately I decided to read a tutorial about bias binding necklines, and realised that I had misunderstood the directions when making my toile. This misreading meant that I skipped under-stitching the binding. I’m hoping that this step, plus following some of the other tips in the tutorial, will make my final neckline beautifully flat.
Notes for the next iteration:
- Size 8 fit is ok
- Remove length from the back bodice (I will do this by cutting it straight rather than on a curve)
- Move bust darts down by 1cm and out by 1cm (position of size 18 dart)
- I also took a teeny wedge out of the neckline
- 1m is plenty for my size in the shorter length
I get why pattern companies do it, but I must say that the massive overestimation of fabric requirements in almost every pattern I’ve used is a real bugbear of mine. Every time I plan a project, I have to scour blogs to get a sense of the true fabric requirement. Stated yardage often isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
Aside from the cost of fabric (Liberty tana lawn is over £20/m, though I got this for half price) I absolutely hate wasting things. I also don’t like having fabric lying around, either in half-metres that are hard to use, or in prints where I would not really want two matching garments. This is why I always state how much fabric I use, as my placement is generally much more efficient than the guides given in the pattern.
My second attempt at the neckline still stands up slightly. I wonder if this is because the binding I used is a heavier cotton than the main fabric. I might try making my own bias strip if I try this pattern again. I decided to use French seams on the bodice. It suddenly occurred to me that not only does it look better, it uses much less thread and is probably comparable time-wise to using my overcasting foot.
Pattern: Southport dress by True Bias
Fabric: 1m Liberty tana lawn
This was the first year that I’ve had enough handmade items to participate properly in Me Made May, and I must say I absolutely loved it! I tend to vacillate between dressing very carefully, and just grabbing a well-worn item from my wardrobe and chucking it on. Me Made May encouraged me to think about my clothing each day. I even accessorised!
It’s also been a lot of fun to interact more with other members of the online dressmaking community, and some of my favourite sewing brands. I think I’m going to make more of an effort to take a picture when I’m sporting one of my handmade items.
Lessons from Me Made May:
- Trousers. Since my favourite-ever work trousers wore out a couple of years ago, I have essentially stopped wearing trousers. I have one pair of jeans that are one strenuous bend away from destruction. MMM helped me to fall in love with my Cigarette Pants. I think the biggest problem with them is that I didn’t choose the right fabric. I am planning to make a pair in corduroy for winter.
- I don’t have enough plain tops. I’ve never been able to find the perfect plain basic top, but I should resume my search.
- In fact, plain things are a problem for me in general. I need a few more staple garments that don’t have a crazy print on them.
- I need to go through my older knitted items and decide whether to keep, frog or donate them. I have quite a few jumpers from the past few years that I simply never wear, and I have no real interest in hanging on to them for sentimental reasons.
- To be honest, I need to do the same thing with my sewn garments. I wore quite a few items that I would never have worn if it wasn’t Me Made May. I need to decide whether they are really deserving of a space in my wardrobe, or whether I need to accept whatever lessons I learned from making them and get rid.
- Weirdly, day dresses are a big gap in my wardrobe. I wear dresses to work all the time, so this is a very obvious area to get some fun projects in. I definitely need to move my Balinese rayon dress up my queue.
I finished sewing my Macaron dress!
Sewing projects always trick me into thinking there’s hardly any work left. When I wrote my previous post about this dress, I basically thought I was done as I had constructed the bodice, skirt and sleeves. I hadn’t factored easing in the sleeves, lots of seam finishing (a step I was initially planning to skip), joining the pieces, inserting the zip and finishing the hem.
In between the two phases of making the dress, I had my sewing lesson to help me fit the bodice. Turned out that it was a fairly straightforward fix of reducing length in the back. We took a curved line out of the upper bodice so as not to disturb the style line of the pink fabric. Apparently, this is an alteration that is commonly needed if you have a larger bust and an upright posture. In fact, I have had issues with the back bodice in other dresses, so this is definitely a hot tip for future makes.
Things I’ve learnt for my next Macaron:
- Be careful to transfer all markings from pattern to fabric
- Be precise when sewing bodice seams so the pieces match at the sides
I don’t know what it is about this pattern, but it really emphasises the waist, which I absolutely love. I’m confident that I will be able to wear my dress to parties without foundation garments, eat and dance all I like, and it’ll still be flattering.
I’m really looking forward to starting work on my second iteration of this pattern. After being inspired by a dress on Pinterest, I’m on the look-out for some lace to complement the Liberty fabric. I do love a challenge!
Pattern: Macaron by Colette Patterns
Fabric: Under 2m pink rayon from Indonesia. Contrast fabric from Goldhawk Road, used less than 1m
I finished my pineapple Tulip Skirt in plenty of time to take it on my minibreak to Hamburg. Here I am posing in front of some street art.
I posed in numerous other locations also. Here I am befriending a local fisherman.
I didn’t make many changes to the pattern. The size 10 is right for me, and I moved the pockets up as I always worry that my phone will fall out of the pockets on my original fuchsia version. I would probably make the pockets EVEN BIGGER in future. I would probably also use self-fabric rather than lining fabric if possible.
I have a feeling that this will be a great skirt to wear with sandals in the summer.
Pattern: Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It (size 10)
Fabric: 1m linen-cotton mix from SOI
My eyes locked on to this fabric from across a crowded room and I knew I had to have her. I really can’t resist a fruit print and these pineapples are so much fun! I instantly pictured myself in a cute skirt, frolicking joyfully during a mini-break. For a while, I thought that we couldn’t be together. The lady in the shop told me that the fabric was all used for online orders. I was heartbroken. But then I checked the website and was able to buy her there. She’s worth the postage.
I decided to take a risk and try to squeeze this skirt out of a metre of fabric. When I measured the last tulip skirt I made, it took 1.1m of fabric. I really hoped those 10cm wouldn’t cause me too many problems…
Nope! Most sizes could easily be cut from 1m of 145cm wide fabric. I didn’t even have to use a different fabric for the waistband facing.
Having seen the gorgeous sample in quilting cotton in the Sew Over It store, I decided to use lining fabric for the pockets. This cotton-linen blend is quite heavy. I used the pocket pieces for the Day Dress because the pockets on my first tulip skirt aren’t quite capacious enough for my liking.
Doing the pleats and darts was a breeze as the linen in this fabric allows it to hold a crisp fold. I’ve never worked with linen before, either as a knitter or a sewist, so it’s been fun to learn about a new fibre. I’ve just realised this skirt will probably crease like billy-o, but I’ll be too fabulous to care.
I wanted to overlock the pattern pieces as both the fashion fabric and lining fray easily. However, I ended up pulling out my trusty overcasting foot and finishing the edges that way. This is the most excited I’ve been about a project since my zebra shorts and I couldn’t wait to get to a sewing cafe.
I couldn’t find a suitably coloured invisible zip at Liberty or John Lewis, so I decided to use an exposed zip. I followed the same tutorial I used before. I’d forgotten how laborious it is to put in one of these suckers! It took forever. I also had to use a 7″ zip (8″ recommended in pattern), which gives me just enough wiggle room to get this thing on and off. Be careful of using a shorter zip for this skirt if you are pear-shaped!
I have to say that my perfectionist tendencies came out big time when installing the zip. I found myself getting very frustrated that the two sides weren’t symmetrical. Fortunately, I decided to give myself a little break from the machine and try the skirt on. I was very relieved that it fit! I decided to use my mother’s old trick of cutting some pattern pieces on the selvedges to save finishing those edges. The problem with doing that on the centre back seam was that I wouldn’t have been able to let the skirt out if it had been too small. I’m not sure I’ll do it again in future.
Even though I realised the zip looked absolutely fine when I tried the skirt on, I also noticed that the placement of the pattern isn’t amazing on the back. There are lots of pineapples cut in half. As usual, this is something that I would probably ignore if I bought this skirt RTW, but it bothered me that I hadn’t foreseen this problem. I just need to take it as a reminder to be more mindful of pattern placement when using such a bold print in future.
Fabric: 1m (145cm wide) cotton-linen mix from Sew Over It
Pattern: Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It (size 10)