I’ve been admiring the Southport Dress by True Bias since it was released a few months ago. I really love the maxi version of the dress that Teresa made. I had the opportunity to test the Mini Southport Dress recently and was really happy with the finished dress. Kelli produces high-quality, modern sewing patterns.
I chose an inexpensive rayon challis fabric for this version. (Originally at fabric.com, but seems to be unavailable now.) I thought I might have to make some fit adjustments and decided this would be more of a wearable muslin. The pattern is drafted for a C cup at the bust, so I expected extra room in the top. The top is meant to have a loose fit and most of the extra fabric can be drawn into the waist using the drawstring. The bigger problem for me is that the neckline is gaping and the shoulders are a bit too wide.
Almost every pattern I use needs to be altered to account for my narrow shoulders. For this pattern, I decided to cut a 2 in the shoulders and armholes, tapering out to a 4 in the waist and hips. (For reference, my measurements are 33-29-38, and shoulders about 15″ across.) That definitely helped the upper bodice fit, but I don’t think it was enough. When I make this dress again, I will remove about an inch from the back neck and triangle wedges from the neckline down to the bust. I think making those changes will be the best places to remove extra material for me.
Overall, the pattern wasn’t too difficult to follow. If you have sewn any of Kelli’s other patterns, you’ll notice that she uses many of the same techniques for bindings and button plackets, which makes it easier to put together. I was hesitant to print this pattern at home, since the long skirt requires printing lots of pages. But I was anxious to get started and didn’t want to wait for the copy shop. I was happy that Kelli included a printing chart to reduce the number of excess pages to print. There was very little waste in the end and the pattern went together quickly, even with the many pages that had to be pieced together.
Patterned rayon fabric definitely made some of the layout and cutting more challenging. Since the fabric design reads as stripes, I had to carefully plan my cutting layout so that I could match the front seam in the skirt and the side skirt seams. I did the same with the top, though I still seem to have the stripe slightly off-grain. (Only other sewists will notice, right?) If I were to cut it again, I would cut the pieces in single layers instead of folding the fabric. That would have allowed me to see that the bottom layer wasn’t quite lined up.
Though the fit isn’t perfect, the dress is totally wearable with a tank layered underneath. And as the weather transitions, I think it will look great with a cardigan. I’ve noticed a trend towards capsule wardrobes, and I think a solid-colored Southport Dress would be perfect as a capsule wardrobe staple item.