true bias southport swimsuit cover-up

by Nicole on May 17, 2015


Hello, everyone! Ugh, can’t believe it’s already Sunday. Right after we finished shopping and meal prepping for the week, our stupid fridge broke! Everything is in coolers right now and the replacement part isn’t expected in until the end of the week. Fairly annoying. But today was awesome. We went to the skating rink! I haven’t been since I was like 16. It was SO fun! Will be googling roller-blades right after I finish this post…

Anyway, this is my wearable muslin of the True Bias Southport Dress (View A), which I’ll be wearing as a swimsuit cover-up. I actually finished it a few weeks ago but have been waiting to take pictures until I could take them near some water, but it won’t stop raining in Austin! Anyway, I just decided to take pictures in my backyard instead since I know a lot of you are interested in seeing how the Southport looks on a curvier figure.


While I do think this dress is cute, I’m not quite as smitten with it as I’d hoped I’d be. But there is potential!

Part of it is the fabric. I used this floaty voile I’ve had in my stash for a while, which I got from my friend Susan during a fabric swap. I like the print, but the colors are not my favorite. I feel very uncomfortable wearing pink/orange/yellow/red. Just not my colors. But the fabric is very soft and breathable, perfect for a swimsuit cover-up.


I do need to make some changes to the pattern to get a better fit, and I think a lot of you curvier girls will need to as well. My current measurements are 43-34-45. I traced off a 14 for the shoulders, blending to a 16 at the bust, back to a 14 at the waist, and then again back to a 16 at the hips. Surprisingly, all the blending went fine and everything still matched up well, but the whole reason I did all that was to avoid doing an FBA. But guess what, I really should have just done an FBA. The top button gapes quite a bit when I move, and I also feel like the intended blousey-ness doesn’t come through because my boobs are taking up too much room. It makes the dress just look too small on me, right? So if you’re busty and thinking you can get away without doing an FBA in this, just do the damn FBA because it’s going to look a lot better.


The armholes are another thing I have a problem with in this version. They’re too far “forward” and too low, so they show a lot of bra/swimsuit. However, I think the main cause of this is because my boobs are demanding so much fabric that it’s pulling what should be sitting at the side seams more towards the center front. I think if I had the FBA, it would probably fix this. I might still need to re-draw the armholes a little, but we’ll see.

I also think I need a little more length in the bodice (which may be addressed by doing the FBA)? The waistline/skirt seems like it needs to sit a little lower.

I’m also not totally sure about the skirt itself. I’m not used to such a straight skirt so it feels pretty restrictive when I’m trying to do stuff like play in the sprinklers with my adorable nephew. What do you guys think the best way to add more fullness/movement in the skirt would be? Just add to the side seams and make it more A-line?


So yeah, I know with all these quibbles, it might seem like I won’t make another. But I do think the Southport is so perfect for summer if I can get the fit right, and I really want a linen version, so I’m keeping it on my list (just not yet because I’m currently making some cuffed Ginger shorts!).

These are the changes I’d make for my next go-around:

*Go with size 14 with an FBA. Maybe add a little length to the front bodice.
*I probably need 3/8″-1/2″ forward shoulder adjustment (an adjustment which I’m starting to see I need on pretty much everything, so I should probably just start doing it right away).
*Possibly redraw the armhole if the issues mentioned aren’t resolved by the FBA/forward shoulder.
*I shortened the skirt of this version by 2 inches (I’m only 5’3″), and I think the length is good. Maybe add more fullness to the skirt, though?

things come together, and things fall apart.

by Nicole on May 13, 2015

Taken in Utopia, Texas last weekend. 

I haven’t been taking particularly great care of myself lately. I’ve been choosing to snooze an extra 15 minutes instead of waking up to meditate because it’s too dark when I wake up and I’m tired. I’ve noticed myself craving chips & queso, and giving into those cravings far too easily because I haven’t felt inspired to meal plan. I’ve been drinking too often, and too much, because champagne makes everything more fun. I haven’t been doing the things I really love, like sewing and cooking, because I’m too tired and just want to relax.

I’ve slipped back into a cycle of making excuses about less-than-stellar decisions, and I realize that it’s simply because I’ve let myself feel bored. The human brain doesn’t like feeling bored, so it does things to get rid of that unpleasant feeling, often things that are counterproductive. When I’m bored, boredom makes me think the present moment is what’s boring, and so I tend to seek entertainment that takes me out of the present moment–passively watching TV shows, overeating, drinking too much, scrolling through Instagram before I realize an hour has passed, etc. My brain always forgets that it’s the things that FOCUS on the present moment, not reject it, that make it feel best–long walks in pretty neighborhoods, conversations with friends, guiding fabric through my sewing machine, chopping garlic and stirring pots. I suspect it’s because these things take more effort, and the “reptile brain” equates effort with boredom.

After realizing all this, my initial reaction was to think, “What the heck? I already figured this healthy & happy thing out! I can’t believe it didn’t stick and that I let boredom get the best of me again!”

But then I remembered one of my favorite quotes, by Pema Chödrön:
“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

You don’t solve a problem, check it off a list, and say to yourself, “Great! Figured that one out! Never gonna have to worry about that again!” It’s completely delusional to think that once we just “figure something out”, we’ll then be able to stick with it forever. Because things will come together, and then they’ll fall apart.

When you meditate, it is only natural that your mind will wander from time to time. When this happens, you simply shift your attention back to your meditation the moment you notice you’ve become distracted. You do not finish the thought, you do not give up for the day, you do not chastise yourself for getting distracted; you simply notice that you’re thinking about something other than the meditation, and then you move your thoughts back to the meditation.

So I might do a really good job of doing things that make my mind & body happy (things come together), and then I might lose a bit of focus (things fall apart). Then I’ll notice I’ve lost focus and am doing things that don’t make my mind & body happy, and then I have a choice to make.

I can choose to continue down that same path, waiting for that elusive right moment when I can finally commit 100% to getting it right once and for all, because I’ve tricked myself into thinking things can come together for good. I will tell myself I will REALLY get it right next time so that things never fall apart again. I will feel like a failure when things inevitably fall apart.

Or just like with meditation, I can notice I’m distracted and can gently refocus my thoughts back to doing things that make my mind & body happy. Things will come together again. And when I take this second option, I do it with the knowledge that things WILL fall apart again, and I will have to keep refocusing again and again and again, just like I do when I meditate. And that’s okay, because that’s life. You don’t necessarily get any better or smarter, but you do get more practice, and you do become more forgiving of yourself.

I choose to take the second option.


(Funnily enough, I actually wrote about this same topic just three months ago. Goes to show that even this lesson is one you never really finish learning.)

the ethics of borrowing sewing patterns

by Nicole on May 5, 2015


So this is a question that came up for me recently because I’m interested in trying a new silhouette I’ve never worn before, but I don’t know if I want to purchase a pattern that I may end up hating on my body. Borrowing a pattern seemed like the perfect way to try it out relatively risk-free. But ethically, I’m not sure it feels right to me. I thought I’d open the topic up for debate–what do you think about borrowing or loaning out sewing patterns? I’d love to hear from both sewists and pattern-makers.

On one hand, borrowing a pattern does seem like a great way to try out a new style you’re not sure about, without having to invest any money. It also seems less wasteful because you’re reusing an existing pattern instead of creating waste by having a new pattern printed and shipped. And I also feel that there’s somewhat of a communal aspect; the thought of tracing the same pattern my friend traced is kind of neat.

But on the other hand, I worry about not supporting the pattern-maker by purchasing a pattern. They’re the ones who did all the hard work to make the pattern, so isn’t it only fair to compensate them for that work?

I can see there being somewhat different answers depending on the specific pattern. I think most people would have no problem with borrowing a vintage pattern, as it’s not something that’s really easily available. But what about with widely-available patterns or PDF patterns? Does it make a difference if it’s a pattern from the Big 4 versus an indie designer? What about your expectations for the garment–if you know it’s a style you’ll love versus one you’re not so sure about?

What do you think–is it okay to borrow or loan out sewing patterns?