True Bias Southport Dress (Or the Lytham St Anne’s)

Yes, I'm a styleman and I'm pronto a vestir

Yes, I’m a styleman and I’m pronto a vestir

Hello! Look at me blogging about a recently released pattern. I’m so cutting edge! I’m so pronto a vestir! I’ve just come back from my first wedding anniversary holiday in Portugal which was berilliant. We went to Lisbon and Porto and a bit of seaside in between and it was ace. I took a lot of me made clothes on my holidays and they wore very well. You might recognise this previous make on location in Porto…

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I made a couple of True Bias Southports especially for the holidays. It’s a brilliant pattern that I have blogged about in its maxi dress format over on the Curvy Sewing Collective so I won’t repeat everything I have said again. Do go over and have a look at it there if you have time, as there are some useful comments from others who have made it too.

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What I will say is the short version is pretty short and the skirt pieces have considerably less ease than the maxi dress version so whereas I could fit into the biggest size (18) of the maxi dress view with no problems at all despite my measurements being a lot larger than the recommended ones, I probably should have added a couple of inches to the width of each skirt piece of this one, as well as adding about 4 inches to the length. As you can see, if I hadn’t lengthened it it would have been a bit indecent on me!

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I added a couple of inches to the length of the front bodice piece and did a tiny FBA: in this thick quilting cotton I could probably have done with adding a bit more ease. However I do like tight clothes and I like this dress a lot.I sewed down the placket and just sewed buttons on top to avoid a)  any gaping and b) having to sew buttonholes. I’m lazy and I don’t care! Here is a terrible picture of my buttons.

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And here is me sitting in a chair in our hotel room. Fascinating huh? Please excuse the giant bruise on my knee: I fell off a stationary bicycle just before my holiday!

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Here it is ‘on location’…

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Here is a selfie with me wearing a jacket. Don’t say that this dress isn’t versatile. Oh In case you are wondering about the Lytham St Anne’s reference: my mum said the dress should be named after L St A’s instead of Southport as it’s a ‘much nicer area and much more befitting of your dress!’. I’m pretty sure this dress wasn’t named after a small town in Merseyside, but I would like to think it was!

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I used a Cotton and Steel Black and White Collection quilting cotton for the top half and a Kona solid for the bottom. I was a bit peeved that the black in the Cotton and Steel fabric wasn’t nearly as black as the Kona (despite being from a collection whose sole selling point was the joy of black and white) but I don’t think it matters in the finished version.

Ta da! Contrast pockets how I love thee

Ta da! Contrast pockets how I love thee. Also manic faces.

I think it’s a pretty chic little dress that I will wear a lot. I’m planning on making a slightly more graded up and slightly longer version next, plus another tropical print maxi version. It’s a breeze to make and comfy to wear. Also, the straps cover your bra straps. It’s a miracle. Oh and the neck and sleeves are finished with a jazzy yellow bias binding for a pop of colour. Well, I couldn’t be entirely monochrome could I?!

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The African Wax Print Busty Glory

Sorry for the huge gap between posts: I have been doing a lot of weekend breaks wearing all the new clothes I have been making. I have also been completely forgetting to take any nice pictures of me wearing them out and about in the magic hour of sunset (I am listening to your advice Ms Cashmerette!), so this post will yet again have pictures taken inside my messy flat.

It will also not have pictures of me wearing it out and about because quite frankly, it is a bit indecent. What is it about Plus Size patterns that seems to dictate that they have a preposterously low neckline?? I am all for showing off your assets, but I’m not at all for walking around with your tits hanging RIGHT OUT. Oh well, even though it’s basically unwearable (it’s also really tight around my tummy so I can’t breathe in it) , I am really proud of it.

Why, you ask, would I be proud of a dress I can’t wear??? The answer my friend, is because it looks like this:

African wax print cotton sundress

Oh but it’s so special

It would look better on me but it would be indecent and I wouldn’t be able to breathe and would fall over. So here it is looking a bit funny on a hanger. But you get the jist, right?

It’s a Butterick ‘Fast and Easy’ (ho ho, as if!) B5317 by someone called Maggy London. I don’t know who Ms London is, but I thought this looked like a nice frock. And it is. So much so that I patently ignored the fact that the measurements for the largest size were about 6 inches too small all over.  I am still experiencing some real cognitive dissonance with the difference between ready to wear clothing sizes and pattern sizing. I am an RTW UK size 20-22 (I’m pretty tall so people are often surprised when I tell them this ‘giant’ size, sigh) so even though I had taken my measurements and they were considerably bigger than the pattern size 22 which was the biggest size: ‘I’ll fit in to it’:  I told myself. I was smug in the knowledge that I was going to do a full bust adjustment on this one, ignoring the fact that I was not going to do some kind of ‘full tummy adjustment’ too that would allow me to breathe. Ho Hum!

I had the best African wax print fabric in two patterns from this place and I knew the dress was going to be either a complete disaster or pretty fancy because I was trying new things. They were:

1: Using really rigid wax print cotton (lovely)

2: Putting in a zip (pretty ok)

3: Putting in pleats (so pleasing)

4: Lining that mofo! (Oh yeah!)

5: Using my new tracing wheel and paper. (phwoar)

6: Doing a full bust adjustment (success!)

7: Doing a narrow shoulder adjustment (fail)

These are all fairly basic things but new for me.

Look: here are my tools:

Learning that these exist has changed my (sewing) life

Learning that these exist has changed my (sewing) life

And here is my really snazzy full bust adjustment learnt from Colette. I also tried doing a narrow shoulder adjustment but all it seemed to do was make my straps way too thin and and angle of the neckline more rectangular than curved. If anyone could tell me what I did wrong, I would be most grateful. Perhaps you can only do NSA’s on dresses with sleeves? HALP! The FBA was a triumph though. I used the lining piece as a sort of muslin, and it just didn’t fit in its first incarnation. I made it again with the FBA’d pattern piece and it was perfect. I am delighted by this. It’s just a shame that my delight blinded me to seeing how low cut it was and I didn’t raise the neckline a bit too. Ho hum. Baby steps.

My first Full Bust Adjustment

My first Full Bust Adjustment

I didn’t have the right size invisible zip so used a too small visible one:

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Le zip

Yes, it’s all a bit wonky, but I have only ever put one zip in anything before, and that was an invisible one, so this was all new. AND I SURVIVED! It works! Praise the lord of zips!

I also learnt about pattern placement and pleats. I thought I had worked it all out so my swallows would show nicely on my pleats. This is what the piece originally intended to be the front of the skirt turned out like:

Hmmmmmm

Hmmmmmm

However, the side where I didn’t attempt to be good at pattern placement turned out like this, and swiftly became the front of the skirt. Ridiculously lucky, non?

Hooray!

Hooray!

So there we go. I made a dress that I need to wear a vest underneath to make decent and that I can’t breathe in. I swore I would no longer have ‘incentive dresses’ for when I am thinner, but this is staying in my wardrobe on the offchance that I lose some weight without dieting and can breathe in it, and can also find a suitable vest top to go under it that doesn’t look weird.

And look! Contrast pockets!

Ooooooooooo

Ooooooooooo

I will make this dress again for sure, with an upgraded tummy area for putting oxygen in, a higher neckline and hopefully a narrow shoulder adjustment that moves the straps in nearer my neck as opposed to just really thinning them. If anyone can advise me on this I would be most grateful!

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