September 3, 2015

It’s Sewing Indie Month and I am lucky enough to have Lisa of Paprika patterns on my blog today with a really great tutorial for the Southport Dress. Hands down, the most common question I have gotten for the Southport Dress is whether or not there is a way to get around doing buttonholes.  Lisa has come up with a great tutorial for you on how to sew up the Southport Dress without having to sew those pesky buttonholes. Enjoy!


Hi! This is Lisa from Paprika Patterns. Today’s tutorial is for all those who love the Southport Dress, but are dreading those buttonholes on the front bodice, or just like a different look. In this post I’ll show you how to make a front close with buttons and loops instead of buttonholes. We’ll start with altering the pattern, and then I’ll show you the sewing steps.

Pattern Alterations

1. If your have any other alterations for the front, such as lengthening or an FBA, do them before you start altering for the button + loop closure.

2. Trace the bodice front onto pattern paper. Extend the CF line. Ignoring the fold lines of the original pattern, draft three new lines starting from the center front (CF), as indicated on the pattern:

1. 7/8” (2,2 cm) away from the CF

2. 1 1/4” (3,2 cm) away from line 1

3. 1/2” (1,3 cm) away from line 2

3. Decide how many buttons you want. Since a button + loop closure can gape a bit when the buttons are spaced too far apart, I’d add at least one. I added two in this example because I also lengthened the bodice 1” (2,5 cm). Keep the button at the top and at the bottom in the same place as the original, and divide the others in between.

4. Trace the bodice again, but facing the opposite direction. Starting from the CF, draft two lines:

1. 1/8” (0,3 cm) away from the CF (towards the side seam), this is the new pattern edge

2. 1/4” 0,6 cm) away from line 1

3. Move the notch at the bottom 7/8” (2,2 cm)

5. Draft a facing from the left front piece. Copy the pattern starting from the 1st line you drafted, 1 1/4” (3,2 cm) in. Then mirror the facing: After tracing, flip the paper over and trace the lines through the paper. That’s the right side of the pattern piece. You’ll need to cut one in fabric, one in interfacing.

Cutting fabric

You have two front pieces to cut out instead of one. Cut them on a single layer of fabric, in opposite directions (with the CF towards each other, as you drafted them). Cut only one interfacing piece (Nr. 10). Cut the other pieces as indicated on the pattern pieces, including the new facing piece. Clip the folding lines on the bodice on top and bottom for easy reference when sewing.


Step 1: as indicated.

Step 2: Fuse one interfacing piece to the right front bodice, along the first fold line and 1/4” from the top. Fuse the other one to the new facing piece.

Step 3 and 4: as indicated

Step 5a: On the left bodice front, fold along the 1rst foldline (closest to the edge) with wrong sides together and press. Stitch along the raw edge. Keeping this folded, fold again along the second fold line, this time with right sides together. Press lightly with your finger and pin at the top (neckline) edge. Stitch Baste in place at a scant 1/4” from the top edge.

Step 5b: Make bias tape for your loops, 1” wide. You’ll need 2” for every loop, so in this case 12,5” for 6 buttons + one extra just in case, makes 15”.

Step 5c: Fold the bias tape in half, right sides together. Sew at 1/4” from the edge. Trim to 1/8”. Turn inside out and press flat. Cut into 2” pieces and urn them into a loop with the seam on the outside.

Step 5d: Finish the edge of the facing with a serger or by folding one side (the slightly longer one, facing toward the side seam) 1/4” in and stitching (as in example). Press.

Step 5e: Baste the loops to the left front bodice, the raw ends flush with the bodice edge. Sandwich the loops between the front of the right bodice front and the new facing piece, right sides together. Sew at 1/4”. Take out the basting stitches. Don’t fold open yet, this will be done after attaching the bias tape. Baste at the top (neckline) edge.

Step 6: as indicated.

Step 8: As indicated, but don’t stitch the center front fold down. Baste the folded edge and the facing along the bottom on both sides of the bodice.

Step 9: as indicated, but stitch the bias tape though to to the front edge. This will look better since there is no stitching line vertically along the front.

Step 10-13 as indicated.

Step 14: Attach your buttons according to the markings on your pattern or button guide, at 7/8” (2,2 cm) from the edge.

Step 15-29 as indicated.

That’s it! Not necessarily less work, but it gives a different look and you won’t have to do buttonholes. If you have any questions, I’ll answer them in the comments.

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  • Reply Jess September 3, 2015 at 10:40 AM

    I can’t seem to view the pictures … Is it my computer?

    • Reply True Bias September 3, 2015 at 3:34 PM

      Sorry. Just fixed it.

      • Reply True Bias September 3, 2015 at 3:40 PM

        my fault. i tried a shortcut for uploading the photos and it didn’t work. it should be fixed now. thanks for letting me know.

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  • Reply Jess September 3, 2015 at 10:41 AM

    Sorry, I forgot to say I can’t view the pictures but only on this post … i can view all pictures on this website though …

  • Reply Hannah September 3, 2015 at 2:04 PM

    I can’t see the pictures either, on a couple devices. I’m not having trouble with images elsewhere on the site.

  • Reply Amalie September 3, 2015 at 9:01 PM

    Wow I really love this idea! Definitely something to try!

  • Reply Ginny September 4, 2015 at 1:51 PM

    I don’t mind making buttonholes, but WOW what a great alternative! Thanks for the tutorial Lisa!

  • Reply Sewing Indie Month with True Bias: Summer Concert Tank All in one DIY & Fun | All in one DIY & Fun October 12, 2015 at 10:29 PM

    […] with Sewing Indie Month 2015 and check out more tutorials like this neat button loop hack of the True Bias Southport Dress from Lisa of Paprika […]

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  • Reply Mary Holmes January 2, 2018 at 1:08 AM

    I couldn’t make this dress even if it was a beginner! You used the machine wonderfully.

  • Reply Last Summer Dress - Southport (+ tutorial) - Paprika Patterns May 15, 2020 at 2:15 AM

    […] As I’m writing this the wind is howling around the yurt, the rain pattering on the roof. I was thinking it wasn’t too late for one last summer dress, but you never know what the weather will do. The Southport Dress from True Bias is probably no new sight to you, it seems to have been a very popular pattern this summer. And I can see why: it’s easy to sew and easy to wear. However, if you’re not a fan of sewing buttonholes I’ve got just the thing for you. For Sewing Indie Month I’ve created a tutorial on how to change the front closure into buttons and loops. Check Kelli’s blog to see the tutorial! […]

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