I just about finished sewing my dress in time for the wedding. If I ever mention starting a garment with less than a week before the event I am due to wear it, someone please slap me. This dress jumps straight to the top of the list of most complex garments I have ever made. The difficulty was due to a combination of altering the pattern and working with tricky and costly fabrics. However, as has fortunately been the case often in my craft life, she who dares wins!
My initials are MEAD, so I was kind of tickled by this sign.
This was my first time lining a dress. I underlined the bodice and lined the skirt with lovely navy viscose. I stupidly cut the skirt lining too short, so I had to fudge lengthening it with some ribbon. I didn’t make the best choice in selecting velvet ribbon- though pretty, it’s much stiffer than the fluid viscose- but actually it looks okay under the voile.
For the first time, I added snaps to the dress to stop my bra straps peeking out. It worked pretty well! Here you can also see the guts of the dress- probably the best wrong side finish I’ve ever achieved.
This was such a fun summer wedding. So much so that I forgot to take any pictures except the few next to the sign on the way! Thankfully Glory posted this candid picture that shows the back of the dress.
I love how the scooped back turned out. I will most likely incorporate this change into any further Southports.
Here are my two lovely Southports.
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 really struggled when it came to what I wanted to wear to this wedding. I have a couple of beautiful silk dresses that I have worn to other friends’ weddings, but this is a younger wedding and I wanted to wear something a bit more fun. I was also keen to make something. I had planned to make my Liberty Macaron, but I went off that idea quite quickly after finishing the toile. Even though most of my clothes are quite quirky, when it comes to lines, I like classic simplicity. Somehow a sweetheart neckline didn’t feel right.
I spotted some beautiful viscose on Fabric Godmother, featuring a cute cocktail print, and thought it would make a great maxi Southport. I vacillated about whether and how much to get, and in the end it sold out before I could buy any. I was sad about that, but the fabric was cream and I was definitely uncertain about wearing a full-length white dress to someone else’s wedding. After some more looking around, I came across this rocket-print fabric that I had spotted on Fabric Godmother before. Soon, two metres were winging their way to me.
I am slightly worried that I am insane. My previous attempt at working with silk was an absolute disaster. I have also never worked with a sheer fabric. I have less than two weeks to learn a lot of new skills, and any mistakes will mean ruining the costly fabric.
I’m also worried the dress won’t turn out the way it looks in my head. The fabric is darkest navy and I’m just not sure the whole thing will work.
- Eliminate button band again
- Cut back bodice neckline to match front bodice neckline (perhaps even an inch deeper) to give a dressier effect
- Fully line bodice. I still haven’t fully decided whether I will be underlining or lining. At the moment, I’m thinking underlining because I don’t want the seams to be visible through the sheer fabric. But then how will I finish the neckline and armholes? Will the bias binding finish work through two layers? This is so complicated! I need to keep reading up on this. Current plan is to underline and use bias binding to finish.
- Add modesty lining to the upper part of the skirt
- Eliminate pockets. These are two words I thought I would never type, but I don’t think they are a good idea in such a light fabric. Also, because the dress is sheer, you would be able to see the contents. Also also, the Southport directions don’t seem indicate to finish the side seams, and I need French seams to finish the silk voile. Update: I just didn’t see the instruction to finish the side seams when I made my my previous Southport. Comment about French seams still stands.
- Remove 2cm length in a curve on the back bodice. Add scant 1cm length in a curve on the front bodice. Really, I probably need to do an FBA, but that’s for another time.
So far the cutting has gone okay. 2m was only just enough to squeak out this dress. If you are using a directional print or making a size bigger than about a 4, you will definitely need more. I also cut the selvedges as part of the pieces for the skirt front as I had practiced a seam finish that incorporates them.
The underlining was pretty fiddly. The silk is actually okay to work with as it is textured. The viscose is more tricky, being drapey. It just takes lots of time to smooth etc. I hand-basted the front and back pieces.
I found the bias binding finish even more annoying the second time! It’s just really fiddly. Not helped by using satin binding, but I thought that would be better suited to my fabric. Even more infuriatingly, the neckline doesn’t really sit flat. Pressing helped a bit. Maybe it’s because I didn’t clip the seam allowances.
Fortunately I took a break after writing the above paragraph. Things seemed less negative when I came back to the bodice, and the bias binding one the armholes went much better.
I’ve got to say I’ve enjoyed learning and trying out some tailoring techniques on this dress. I’m cautiously optimistic about the result.
- Adding length to the bodice in a curve also adds width to the pattern piece! I nearly got in trouble because the waist sections of my bodice and skirt weren’t the same length when I came to join them
Fabric: 2m silk voile, 1.5m viscose for lining
Pattern: Southport dress (maxi version)
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