Geometric Southport Dress

September 25, 2015

Wednesday was officially the first day of fall, so of course I am posting about a summer dress today! My timing might not be the best but I actually think this Southport Dress will be a good fall transition piece when layered with a cardigan/tights/boots (but it was in the upper 80s when these pics were taken so you won't see any of those things today).
Southport Dress by Hey it's SJ - front 1
I have a "dress" that I bought years ago from Forever21 that I love (I think it is supposed to be a dress but it is completely inappropriate without leggings, so I wear it as a tunic). It is a tank with a front button placket and elasticized waist. It is one of those items of clothing that I seem to wear whenever it is clean, so when Kelli of True Bias released the Southport Dress pattern that is so similar to my well-loved "dress" I knew I wanted to make one.
Southport Dress by Hey it's SJ - back
I found this rayon challis at Hancock Fabrics. Black & white geometric print in my favorite textile ever? Yes, please! I can't remember exactly how much I paid for it but I know they were having a really good sale that weekend. It was probably about or just under $10 for the 1.5 yards I needed and that's not a bad deal for a dress at all. I am pretty impressed with the quality, too; it is definitely one of the softer rayon challises that I have come across.
Southport Dress by Hey it's SJ - close up
I don't really have a whole lot to say about this pattern except it is awesome and I love it. The instructions were great and for me the fit right out of the envelope was awesome. I opted to leave off the front bodice button placket for this version. It's a pretty busy print and I felt like the buttons would just get lost anyway so I saved myself some time by cutting the front bodice on the fold at the center front. I also decided to use elastic in the waist instead of the drawstring that comes with the pattern. This required a little modification to the construction, but not much. I lengthened the casing so that it would be the entire width of the dress, then instead of sewing the casing into the waist seam so that it folds to the outside of the dress, I simply sewed it so that it would fold to the inside of the dress. I stitched all around the bottom of the casing like in the pattern instructions, left a hole to feed the elastic through, fed the elastic through, and then sewed up the hole. And voilá, no drawstrings to fiddle with.
Southport Dress by Hey it's SJ - inside
I finished the neckline and armholes with some vintage lavender bias tape that was gifted to me by my boss's mom (seriously, I may never need to buy bias or hem tape ever again). I'm still working on getting necklines to lay flat when finishing them this way, as you can see from the photos. Surprisingly, the pokey-outey-ness bothers me way more in these photos than it does IRL, so that's good, I guess. I used french seams throughout the dress, even on the side seam pockets which was interesting (I used this tutorial). The point where the pocket and the side seam intersect was a little funky but overall I'm happy with how they turned out, and from the outside they look just like any other side seam pocket.
Southport Dress by Hey it's SJ - front 2
I had a lot of fun during the whole process of sewing this dress but I think my favorite part was the fact that I did not have to make any fit adjustments! I had read a few other posts mentioning that the bodice runs a little big and the skirt a little narrow so I wanted to play it safe and sewed up a muslin. My body measurements are exactly a size 8 on the size chart, but based on the finished measurements I decided to size down to a 6 and the fit is pretty spot on. Don't you just love it when that happens?
Southport Dress by Hey it's SJ - front close
I absolutely have plans for more Southports, though they might be put on hold until the spring to make way for some more seasonally appropriate sewing. But I think it would be super cute to add a shirttail hem detail to the skirt. I don't own any maxi dresses (gasp!, I know) but I am definitely interested in giving the maxi version a go, too.

Do you have any favorite patterns that fit right out of the envelope? Do you like making fit adjustments to patterns? Sometimes I find the whole fitting process fun (I love a good challenge/puzzle) but being able to skip it is such a time saver.

Pattern: Southport Dress by True Bias Patternssouthport dress thumbnail
Fabric: Rayon Challis from Hancock Fabrics
Body Measurements: Bust 36/Waist 29/Hip 38 (in inches)
Size: 6
Adjustments/Alterations: no adjustments for fit; cut front bodice on fold and removed front button placket; removed drawstring and added elasticized waist

Mandy Boat Tee | Version 2

September 8, 2015

I know ya'll have probably been on the edge of your seat waiting for this post that I promised a month ago... okay, probably not, but I am super happy to be catching up on my blogging back log. So let's get straight down to business, my second version of the Mandy Boat Tee by Tessuti Fabrics. I talked a lot about the pattern and adjustments I made in this post about my first version, so this time I'm going to focus on the additional changes I made the second time around.
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - side
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - front
I have a slight (and sorta random) obsession with high-low split hems right now. I can't really explain why, I just love them, and I thought the Mandy Boat Tee pattern would be a great pattern to add a split-hem detail to. When I was doing research on techniques on how to sew a split hem for a shirt I realized that most of them involve adding two different length bands of fabric to the bottom of a shirt. For mine I really wanted the front and back to be continuous pieces of fabric, so I was just going to "wing it" until I found a men's shirt at Urban Outfitters that had the exact hem I wanted. I used this shirt as a guide for how long to make the front and back and also copied the technique used to construct the hem. Here is a brief synopsis of the steps I took:

1. Add 1 inch of length to front and 2 inches of length to back
2. Serge side seams, stopping 1/2 inch from where split will start (mine was about 4.5 inches from bottom of back piece)
3. Sew short line of straight stitching along side seam starting 1/2 inch above where serging stops and continuing to point where split will start
4. Finish/hem bottom of shirt on front and back
5. Fold under unfinished sides of hem twice and straight stitch in place
6. Stitch perpendicular to side seam just above spilt for reinforcement

Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - side close
I might put together a full tutorial for this technique (with pictures and all that jazz) at some point but in the meantime I hope that makes some sort of sense. Here's what the inside looks like:
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey It's SJ - inside
I'm not super proud of my craftsmanship (it's a little sloppy) but I gave myself a break since it's my first time using the technique. And as you can see, I used neon yellow serger thread as a fun detail. You can kinda see it through the fabric but it doesn't bother me--I kinda have this thing for neon accents (see here, here, and here).
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - front close
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - back
I made the same fit adjustments to this version as I did in my first version (remove width from side seams, lower font neckline), and in addition I removed 1 inch from the center front and center back (inspired by Kelli's version here). This version sits much better on my shoulders thanks to that adjustment, so if you have made this pattern before and were having similar issues, then I definitely recommend trying it. I also added clear elastic to stabilize the shoulder seams since the fabric was pretty stretchy and I think this also helps keep the shirt from stretching out as I wear it and therefore stays on my shoulders better.
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - front 2
Mandy Boat Tee Version 2 by Hey, it's SJ - back 2
The fabric I used is a lightweight sweater knit from Hancock Fabrics. I found it in their value fabrics section and I can't remember the exact fiber content. It's probably some blend of cotton/polyester and maybe a little bit of Spandex. The recovery is pretty awful (especially in the arms, which you can see in some of the photos). I was nervous about the split hem, having never sewn one before and not having a tutorial to go by, so I didn't want to mess up nice fabric. Now that I have made this shirt twice, I think I'm ready to sew it up in some better quality knits. I do love the color of this version, though, and I'm looking forward to wearing it more once the weather cools down a bit. I love the way it looks with leggings or skinny jeans and boots!

The weather here hasn't really started to cool off much yet, but I've been thinking through some ideas for fall/winter sewing. I LOVE this Beatrix Top by Erin over at Sewbon and I'm pretty sure at least one version will make it into my wardrobe very soon. Have you started making your fall sewing plans? Are there any patterns you are just dying to sew up? I would love to hear about them in the comments!

Pattern: Mandy Boat Tee by Tessuti Fabricsmandy boat tee v2 thumbnail
Fabric: Mystery Blend Lightweight Sweater Knit from Hancock Fabrics
Body Measurements: Bust 36/Waist 29/Hip 38 (in inches)
Size: N/A, one size
Adjustments/Alterations: 4 inches from front and back side seams graded to nothing at shoulder seam, lowered front neckline 2 inches, removed 1 inch from both front and back center seams, lengthened front 1 inch and back 2 inches, added split hem detail