True Bias Southport Dress – new!

To open – thank you so much for the supportive comments on my last post. I’m feeling a bit better and have really enjoyed doing some sewing!

And look what I did – I sewed the new Southport dress from True Bias, using the embroidered lawn that I was contemplating earlier.

This dress is every bit as comfortable as it looks. The embroidery in the lawn gives it just weight it needs to drape smoothly, it doesn’t have wrinkles because it is wrinkled, and it’s very opaque, no lining required.

I actually bought the Southport because it reminds me of a vintage 70’s pattern, McCalls 6544. I ordered the McCalls after seeing Sara’s version last year on her blog, Mixed Emotions. But I’ve delayed sewing it because I knew I would do as Sara did, i.e., redraft the back, and probably the front as well, to minimize the neckline gathers.

Worth the wait…


McCalls 6544
The Southport has nice options, such as a front slit and two lengths. The long and short versions have separate pattern pieces for the skirt, which I like. And the bodice has bust darts – yea! The dress is drafted for a C cup, which works perfectly for me. The skirt is not buttoned, fine by me, I wouldn’t have drafted the McCalls dress with all those buttons anyway.
Now – it’s not perfect. In fact, IMO, the drafting on the Southport bodice, and the sizing, are, well, difficult…
I started with a size 12 bodice and size 10 skirt, based on the given measurements. On my initial draft, I made a number of changes:
  • The front shoulder looked funky – it flew up at the neckline and, indeed, did not match up with the back shoulder angle at all. This is a small but horrible drafting error, since the resulting shoulder would not work well. But it was easily fixed with a little redraft.
  • My next change was to drop the bodice dart by 1 3/4″. I always have to do this, but I’ve started doing it a little differently. Instead of boxing the dart, cutting it out, and moving it down, I copy it onto a square of tissue and put the tissue piece into place on top of the original pattern.  A little curing of the side seam and voila! On a multi-size pattern, this approach keeps the original dart lines available.
  • I knew, from the few versions available for online viewing, that the dress had high floppy-front-neckline potential. To adjust, I used a hollow chest adjustment on the inside curve of the neckline. Hollow chest adjustments are very personal depending on one’s build, this one works for me on low, round necklines. And I think the term ‘hollow chest’ is hilarious 🙂
Edited on 4/23/2015: Apology I missed this in my notes! An additional change I made – before I bound the neckline, I found the front neckline to be too wide and wavy. I folded the center front and ran a 5/8″ seam from the neckline, curing to 3/8″ at the bottom edge. This explains why my neckline looks more narrow than the pattern, line art, and True Bias site version.
  • Since the pattern is fitted on a 5’5″ model, I added 1″ to the bodice length, front and back. I was planning to add 1″ to the skirt as well, but it is 43″ long, plenty for my height (5’7″), with a generous hem.

Time out for a pic:

And back to sewing…
  • Once I had my bodice sewn at shoulder and side seam, I had very gaping armholes! and the width at the bust line was 1 1/2″ wider than I expected. I took in both side seams by 1″ (back and front). Much better and the bodice fit to the skirt perfectly.
  • Finishing the neckline and armholes was simple – I used self-fabric binding for both. OK, it wasn’t so simple. The embroidered fabric was way too thick for a binding. I cut out the bias and removed the embroidery from the pieces. It was so easy that I did the same for the drawstring as well.
My cheaters:

  • Since the dress clearly slips over one’s head, I eliminated the functioning button front and used a faux button tab. For the pattern, I cut the front bodice on the fold, using the center front marking.
  • I noticed that the back and front skirt are basically the same, with just a little bit more width in the back. Since it is cut on the fold, I drafted only one skirt pattern, with two center back lines. Perfect.
  • Out, out, drawstring! I did put it in and then took it out. Instead I used 1/2″ elastic in the casing and secured a shortened drawstring in each open end. It’s sooo much easier to keep the gathers aligned around the skirt!
Maggy London embroidered lawn, Fabric Mart
And I love my new dress.
Parting shots – orchids are blooming in the guava tree and on the ground. Oh, BTW, I saw Mr. Cuban Knight anole in the tree last week. He’s huge, at least 20″ long. The tree is blooming, but is some weeks from its fruit. Nonetheless, Ms. Squirrel challenged him (bad idea) in anticipation.
Cymbidium – about 11 years old, it’s a frequent bloomer, really year-round.


Epidendrum radicans – a ground orchid and newcomer to the garden.
I bought one in a pot and split it into three for planting.


Vanda and one of my first orchids. This one is about 12 years old
and has been split and repotted. Two now!


A previous pic of Mr. Anole. He’s hard to photograph, he slips away so fast.
But this time he froze when he saw me. Lucky shot.

Ciao! Coco

24 thoughts on “True Bias Southport Dress – new!

  1. Thanks, Mary. I know you are a careful sewist and lover of detail as well. I've been enjoying your pics of the garden and surroundings as well. So different. And what a challenge to achieve a cool look in your garden! Plus all your hardscape is so heavy – those stones. Wow. I've used some in paths, bought in bags.


  2. Thanks so much. I was thinking this morning about the 'effort'. And the difference in how sewn garments look – really rough or really finished. Gnashing my teeth over some pics on PR of things that were clearly sewn without ever seeing an iron!


  3. I love this dress on you and admire how much detail you focus on to achieve a good fit. Just wonderful~
    The photos of your lush yard are so welcomed here in the dry desert. Love the anole-my god he's big.


  4. So gorgeous on you! i love the fabric/pattern mix. And how you spell out just how much effort goes into creating effortless style 😉

    Well worth it. Enjoy your dress, those exquisite orchids, and your handsome gentleman caller!


  5. The perfect summer dress! I love your version. I thought the same thing you did when I first saw this pattern: similar to that vintage Mccall's, but hopefully without some of the hassle. I've bought and printed it, and hope I have time to make it soon! Thanks for the tips on the neckline as I will probably need similar alterations.


  6. Thanks, Linda. I love garden snakes! yours sounds so pretty. I have ring-necked snakes, black with either red or yellow rings. And an Everglades green race – and he is beautiful. About 3.5' long and wraps himself all around big leaves in the philodendron. Sounds like you have a friend.


  7. My heavens that is a sizable anole! I think elevation from Mr. to Sir is in order. 🙂
    Love the dress, it looks beautiful on you and so happy you are feeling a bit better.


  8. Your version looks so summery to me! Mr, Knight is very handsome. I'm sure he would startle me at times, but I love watching the wildlife. I have a small garden snake that likes to climb the tomato vines. He's as green as they are except he has a yellow stripe the length of his body on both sides. After I realize it is him; I talk to him and he gets his little tongue working very fast sticking it out at me. I guess he's telling me to leave him alone==I do anyway, but he must get in the last word.


  9. That is gorgeous fabric and a gorgeous dress on you! I remember those anoles from when we lived in Miami. Meanwhile in Texas, we've already had two copperhead sightings in our yard…….


  10. That embroidered fabric is lovely, the pattern is perfect for it and the dress looks gorgeous on you! Mr. Knight…well…even though I've seen him in pictures, I would run screaming if I saw him in person. Or I should say “in lizard”.


  11. Oh I love your dress too!! Lovely color and the style is perfection on you! Mr. Cuban Knight is very impressive! I grew up in Florida and I will always remember when I was in basic training in Texas a lizard crawled up the wall in our barracks. There was about 5 or 6 girls that ran screaming from our building. The southern girls were all looking around trying to figure out what happened. LOL. The runners got into quite a bit of trouble….poor things…..although I may have ran with them if it had been a palmetto bug!


Comments are closed.