Alder Sew Along

Alder Sew Along Part 03: Specific Fit Adjustments

Today I have a few specific fit adjustments for you, lengthening and shortening the pattern, moving darts, and a full bust adjustment. For all of these images you can click for the full sized view.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 03 | Specific Fit Adjustments

First up is lengthening and shortening the dress. I’l be showing the skirt here.

1. Start by locating the pattern piece you need to adjust. Depending on what piece you’re altering there may or may not be lines to denote where you should lengthen & shorten between. If there are no lines, you can draw in your own.

2. Cut between the lines. With a piece of paper underneath the pattern, spread the two sections the amount you need to lengthen your piece making sure to keep the grain line of the two pieces aligned.

3. Trace your piece off onto the paper and re-blend any jagged edges along the side seam and repeat the adjustment to any affected pieces.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 03 | Specific Fit Adjustments

You can also follow the above steps with any part of the pattern. Here’s an example of how you could raise and lower the armhole while moving the dart lower at the same time. If you need to lengthen or shorten just the bottom of the torso, perform the same steps with a line perpendicular to the center back running out through the center of the side seam.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 03 | Specific Fit Adjustments

If you find that the torso is the correct length but you need to move the dart here are some easy steps to do so. We’re going to be moving the dart down in this tutorial but if you need to raise it you can do the opposite.

1. Draw a line through the bust point parallel to the CF/grain line. Place a mark along that line at the point where you need to lower the dart. If you need to lower the dart 1″ you would place the mark 1″ below the existing bust point.

2. Move the legs down the same amount down from where they connect at the side seams. Reconnect the dart legs to the dart point.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 03 | Specific Fit Adjustments

3. You’re going to now need to fold the dart, since you’ve moved it the dart take-up is now in the wrong place at the side seam. Fold the dart so that the dart excess points down towards the waist and re-blend the side seam. Trim off the extra.

4. This is your new pattern.

Now lets talk Full Bust Adjustments. This is something that I don’t have a ton of experience with being that typically when I’m making a pattern, either for myself or a client, I know what bust size I’m starting with and the pattern is drafted for that. As I said in the previous post the Alder pattern is drafted for a B cup so if you’re a C you may be able to get away without a FBA. The illustrations are cropped for better detail but any vertical lines should extend to the bottom of the pattern piece.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 03 | Specific Fit Adjustments

1. Select your size based on your upper bust & waist measurements. Cut size.

2. Draw a line from the apex of the dart out through the center of the dart legs splitting the dart in half. Next you’re going to draw a vertical line from the apex down to the hemline of the pattern piece making sure to keep the line parallel to the CF / grain line. From there draw a line connecting the apex to the approximate center of the armscye. These are the lines that will form the full bust adjustment. Additionally you’re going to need a line across the torso, perpendicular to the CF / grain line in order to line the hem up in a future step. I made this one dotted so that it doesn’t get confused with the adjustment lines.

3. Slash through the waistline to the bust and up to the armscye taking care to cut to, but not through, the pattern at that point. You want to make sure that the two pieces are hinged together. Then slice through the dart line you drew to, but not through, the bust point. You’ll then open the vertical slit the amount of your full bust adjustment making sure that the two edges of the opening are parallel.


PLEASE NOTE: The illustrations here are drawn without seam allowances for ease of explanation. When clipping to the armscye clip just to the seam line (1/2″ on the pattern) and then clip to, but not through the seam allowance to the seam line keeping the piece hinged.

To find the amount of your full bust adjustment subtract your upper bust measurement from your full bust measurement. Take this number (the total adjustment) and divide it by 2 to get the amount you need to increase on one side. So say your full bust was 38 and your upper bust was 36 you’d subtract 38-36=2/2=1 so your adjustment would be 1″.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 03 | Specific Fit Adjustments

4. You’ll notice that when you move the side out for the adjustment the center front panel became shorter than the piece you moved. Cut along the line you drew in step 2 and align the newly freed piece so that it’s even with both the center front and the dotted line on the side piece.

5. Find the center of the dart legs and mark a line through the center of the dart (dotted line above). This will help you when folding the dart in the next step. Then draw your lines from the dart legs to the apex.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 03 | Specific Fit Adjustments

6. Fold the dart legs together with the takeup pointing to the bottom of the garment and re-blend the side seam. I like to score the top dart leg and center line lightly with an awl to help the pattern fold right where you want it to on the first try. You can either cut across the side seam / dart or mark it with a pattern tracing wheel and cut when the dart is open.

7. Unfold the dart and cut out your new piece.

That’s all, tomorrow we start cutting!

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Alder Sew Along

Alder Sew Along Part 2: Selecting Your Size

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 2 | Selecting Your Size

Today we’re going to talk about selecting your size. The first thing you’re going to want to do is get some measurements. The three measurements needed to select your size are bust, waist, and hip, and with the Alder, the most important measurement is going to be your bust due to the fact that it’s the most fitted section of the garment.

For the bust measurement (1) you’re going to measure around the fullest point of your bust, wearing whatever type of bra or undergarment you plan on wearing under your garment. It’s a good idea to have someone help you take your measurements, especially the bust, if you can as having your arms up and holding the tape can affect the measurement a bit.

The waist measurement (2) will be at your natural waist. On many people this is the smallest point of your torso, though on me, it’s pretty much a straight shot from one measurement to another. If you fall into my category a good rule of thumb is your waist is generally where you hands want to end up when you put them on your waist if that makes any sense. It’s also where you bend from.

The hip measurement (3) will be the fullest part of your hips and butt. Typically this is approximately 7″ below your natural waist, though on others it can be lower. You want to make sure you get around the full circumference so you don’t end up with tight hips!

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 2 | Selecting Your Size

Once you get your measurements you can select your size on the size chart. You can see that these measurements don’t fit into one size which happens all the time and isn’t a big deal at all. Here’s what I recommend in situations like this.

Say your bust measures 34.5″ around, you’ll want to move up to the 35″ bust size. The bust on the Alder is fitted, unlike the Archer. If you’ve made the Archer but downsized for a closer fit be warned, this pattern is not the same as the Archer and if you pick the same downsized size you’re definitely running the risk of having the bust be much too tight. I’ve heard of this happening a few times already. Trust the measurements on the chart and believe me when I tell you they are not based off of each other and all will be good in the world of the Alder bust measurement! Also note that the Alder, like all Grainline Studio patterns, is drafted for a B cup.

If you fall into different sizes for each measurement as in the illustration above, you can either go with a straight size of the largest measurement (a straight 6 in the photo above) blend between sizes to get a better fit.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 2 | Selecting Your Size

To blend between sizes you’re going to need a pen/pencil and a ruler. Locate the two sizes you need to blend between and the location you need to blend and draw as natural of a line as you can. I show a curved ruler here but often I find it easier to manipulate a straight ruler or just freehand. You can see how I started blending about an inch below the bust dart and about an inch up from the waist, that maintains those measurements and ensures you’re only blending between them.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Day 2 | Selecting Your Size

From there cut or trace your pattern pieces making sure to transfer any blending between sizes to all affected pattern pieces. From here I’d recommend making a muslin to see if you need to make additional fit changes. I’m going to give you guys Wednesday off to sew up your muslin and then I’ll be back with potential fitting fixes on Thursday. See you then!

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Alder Sew Along

Alder Sew Along Part 1: Fabric & Supplies

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along | Day 1 Fabric & Supplies

I want to talk a little bit about the tools and supplies you’ll need to complete your Alder. I get a lot of questions about what kind of _fill in the blank_ I’m using a lot so I thought I’d share exactly what tools & supplies I’ll be using for the Alder Sew Along.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along | Day 1 Fabric & Supplies

I like to keep a set of super sharp embroidery scissors handy no matter what I’m making. I use them specifically for grading seams –  I find their tiny blades get in where I need them easier than with a dressmakers shears.

You’ll need dressmakers shears, or an equivalent sharp scissors, to do the bulk of your cutting. I use the Gingher 6″ shears. Sidenote: I used to use an 8″ as we were required to buy in school, but due to the fact I have the hands and wrists of a small child a physical therapist suggested I buy a smaller blade and I’ve never looked back. Apparently the motion of opening a larger scissor blade was too much for the size of my hand, haha! Wrist problems not solved but much improved after the switch.

I use the super basic Dritz tailors ham for pressing darts as well as positioning the pockets over the darts as you’ll see later this week. You’ll get much nicer dart points and better pocket placement over the rounded bust point this way.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along | Day 1 Fabric & Supplies

You’ll need pins, the type will for the most part depend on your fabric. I actually love to use silk pins for most things, they glide in and out of the fabric so nicely and rarely leave behind a hole. I’ll be using them on 6.5oz denim, rayon, and silk in the sew along.

I love myself a buttonhole chisel which I’m sure you guys know by now. I’ve never insert a buttonhole that was too small to be opened by this guy and it saves you the stress of seam ripping through the end of the button hole. Just a quick press on the chisel into the fabric and you’re good to go.

A seam gauge will come in handy while we place construct the front button bands and pockets. Any ruler will do really but I like that I can place the marker at the measurement point and then not worry about reading things incorrectly. A must have if you’re listening to podcasts or singing along to music while sewing.

The bone folder might be a little weird, but it’s what I use to turn points. It’s nice because you never run the risk of poking through the corner of your fabric and since it’s bone, you’re going to have it for life.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along | Day 1 Fabric & Supplies

Onto my feet. Basically these are the only three feet I ever use, except in the case that I’m zigzag stitching, which I rarely ever am.

The quarter inch foot is on my machine at least 95% of the time. I use it for straight stitching, roll hemming, regular hemming, topstitching, etc. I actually don’t have any fancy specialty feet besides what you see here so if it’s a straight stitch, I used my BFF quarter inch foot for it.


I use the button foot to sew on buttons by machine. My Bernina has a setting for this foot that automatically sets the stitch width to attach the button. I hate hand sewing because it’s so painful for my hands and wrists so this foot is pure love.

You’ll need a buttonhole foot if you plan on putting in the buttonholes by machine. If you’re doing it by hand let me know cause you deserve a special shoutout for commitment to the art of buttonholes! This is a 1 step buttonhole foot and I love it!

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along | Day 1 Fabric & Supplies

Oh yeah, and you’ll need a tape measure. This will help you when you determine what size to make. Did the tape measure need it’s own photo? Probably not, but I liked the photo!

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along | Day 1 Fabric & Supplies

Now a bit about the supplies you’ll need to complete your Alder dress. It doesn’t require too many things, which is nice!

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along | Day 1 Fabric & Supplies

First off you’ll need fabric, between 2 and 3 1/4 yards of it depending on the width of the fabric and the size you’re making. Make sure you pre-wash your yardage using the same method you intend to care for your garment so that you don’t finish up and get a sad surprise post-first wash! For the first two Alders of the sew along I’ll be using 6.5 oz denim, the same denim I used for my original samples. The subsequent versions will be made in an assortment of rayon, silk and cotton. For more information on appropriate fabrics check the back of your pattern booklet.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along | Day 1 Fabric & Supplies

You’re also going to need 1 1/4 yards of 22-24″ wide fusible interfacing. I’ll be using this medium weight tricot fusible. You do not need to pre-treat most modern fusible interfacings as they’ve been pre-treated already. Make sure your fusible is relatively new because the glue does dry out with time making it hard to attach and stay attached to the fabric. If you’re worried about yours you can always do a test before placing it in your garment.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along | Day 1 Fabric & Supplies

Finally you’ll need coordinating thread and buttons! I like 1/2″ buttons with the Alder but you can go a bit smaller or larger based on what you like and what you can find.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along | Day 1 Fabric & Supplies

Other than that the only thing you’ll need is the pattern which you can find here.

That’s all for today! Gather up your supplies & tools and get ready for choosing your size tomorrow. See you then!

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Journal Entry

Selecting Interfacing

Grainline Studio | Selecting Interfacing

I’ve gotten a few questions about how to select interfacing for the upcoming Alder Sew-Along so I wanted to take a minute and direct you to two older posts I’ve made on interfacing. This first post, Selecting and Applying Interfacing, talks heavily about using silk as the self fabric but the same premise applies for any garment. You want to select an interfacing that generally has the same drape as your garment. If you’re doing a collar you can go a bit stiffer, but what you really want to avoid at all cost is having your fabric look like you stitched it to a bit of plywood. I always recommend going with either a woven or tricot (knit) interfacing and stay away from the bonded stuff. It’s made in a way similar to the aforementioned plywood with fibers running every which way, and as such, has little to no drape no matter how thin of stuff you get. I think that bonded interfacing is best left out of your fine garments and reserved for craft type projects.

Grainline Studio | Selecting Interfacing

The second post I’d like to refer you to is My Favorite Fusibles. This post is just that, the fusible interfacings I use in pretty much 100% of my projects. I’ve tried a lot of interfacing over the years, through this site, hound, and my pattern work and these are the ones I like the most and continue to reorder bolt after bolt. No hard glue, sticks through as many washes as I’ve thrown at my garments, never shrinks, beautiful hand/drape, and not plasticky like some of them can occasionally feel at large box stores. Just really great stuff in my opinion.

So that’s my fusible advice, hope you found it helpful!

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Alder Sew Along

Alder Sewalong: Schedule & Badge

Well! As of Tuesday night I’m still operating out of boxes and am still coughing like crazy so I’m going to have to start the official sew along on Monday. I hope you guys aren’t too upset but I really want to make it good and only knowing where 25% of my supplies are isn’t really a great start. When I did the Archer Sew Along I was able to plan ahead adn have the whole thing photographed and ready to go before the sew along started, this time I’m not so lucky. Word to the wise, don’t release a new pattern, launch paper patterns, move house & studio, and go abroad all at once. It’ll throw you off for a while!

Today I’m posting the schedule along with a little blog badge if you find yourself interested in that for your site. On Friday I’ll be doing a fusible specific post since I got a few questions about that, and then Monday we dive into Day 1 below!

Alder Sew Along Schedule
Day 1: Fabric & Supplies
Day 2: Selecting Your Size
Day 3: Specific Fit Adjustments
Day 4: Cutting Your Alder
Day 5: Sewing the Button Bands & Attaching Pockets
Day 6: Attaching the Yoke: 2 Methods
Day 7: Sewing the View B Skirt
Day 8: Assembling Collar & Collar Stand
Day 9: Attaching the Collar Stand: 2 Methods
Day 10: Perfect Armhole Binding
Day 11: Easy Buttons & Buttonholes
Day 12: Mandarin Collar Variation
Day 13: V-Neck Variation
Day 14: View A Shirt Variation
Day 15: View B Shirt Variation
Day 16: Alder + Archer Pattern Adjustments
Day 17: Alder + Archer Sewing Instructions

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Alder Sew Along

Alder Sew Along Announcement

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Announcement

Are you guys ready for the Alder Shirtdress Sew Along? Well get ready because it’ll be starting up next week! We’ll be starting on Wednesday and I have plenty of tips and variations planned. I’ll also be covering how to choose your size, a lot of people seem to be sewing based on the size they used for the Archer pattern, which isn’t the same bodice, and also the “hotly debated” question of why I didn’t include sleeves on this pattern.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Announcement

I’ve also got a bunch of variations planned for you guys. Originally I just had this v-neck planned but got a lot of requests for the mandarin collar so I’m throwing that one in the mix as well.

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Announcement

I’ll also be making both Views A and B into tops. I really like this pattern for the sleeveless button up because of the fact that it is drafted specifically to be sleeveless. While I know you can make the Archer sleeveless it’s never quite the same as a pattern that is actually drafted to be sleeveless. Same with

Grainline Studio | Alder Sew Along Announcement

And on that note I’ll also be showing you how to make an Archer / Alder hybrid dress. This one’s will take a small bit more pattern work than the others but we’ll make it through alive, don’t worry!

So that’s that! I’ll be covering all the construction basics of View A & B along with a bit of fitting advice as well as the pattern adjustments and sewing steps necessary to make all of the Variations. If there’s something specific you’d like me to consider touching on let me know in the comments below. The dress is rated intermediate so it will be helpful to have a bit of garment sewing under your belt when tackling this, mainly because of the collar stand and skirt pivot on View B.

Now I need to go finish unpacking my studio so we’re ready to go Wednesday! I’ll be back with an Alder Sew Along Badge sometime between now and then and if you still need the Alder Shirtdress Pattern, you can grab it here!*

*more paper patterns are currently being printed but likely won’t be available until late August.

38 Comments Posted in Alder Sew Along

A Quick Shipping Note

Just wanted to post a quick note to say that due to the fact that I’ll be in Berlin for a week I won’t be able to ship any patterns till I get back. Any printed pattern orders place after tonight – Monday July 21 at 11:59PM CST – will ship on Wednesday July 30th. Apologies if this is an inconvenience. The digital copies will continued to be mailed automatically since I use an automated service for that.

5 Comments Posted in News

New Happenings & The Modern Sewciety Podcast

Grainline Studio | New Work Studio

I’m sure you guys have noticed there’s a lot of stuff going on over here, especially if you follow me on Instagram, but if not I thought I’d fill you in! I’m so excited that I’ve finally moved my work space out of my apartment living room and into a dedicated studio! I’ve been dreaming of the day I wouldn’t walk out of my bedroom in the morning and be at work and it’s finally happened! Or happening…we’re in slight construction mode getting everything set up, etc. My goal is to be done by next week so I can get back to work but we’ll see how things go. It seems like things always take so much longer than you think they will. Anyway this new studio is the first step towards bringing you patterns on a more regular schedule, rather than the here and there I’ve been doing since I started. Whooo!! I cannot wait, I have so many ideas and just haven’t had the space to get them done, or the time really. I found that when when you work out of your living room in a space that’s about 10x smaller than what you need you spend a lot of time cleaning and tetris organizing things so that you can move around and not feel totally overwhelmed by stuff. I’m glad that now everything will have an actual dedicated place and my kitchen table and counters will now be free of patternmaking supplies!!

Grainline Studio | Modern Sewciety Podcast

Another thing that’s happened recently is I was interviewed by Stephanie for the Modern Sewciety podcast which was really a lot of fun. I’m in a really great episode, Carolyn Friedlander guys! Seriously, she is so awesome and when Stephanie told me she’d be on my episode I was totally excited. Anyway if you’re looking for something to listen to while you sew, want to hear me get weird talking about what I do, totally embarrass myself, and hear some other amazing ladies talk about their projects this is right up your alley!

Also I’ll be going to Berlin in a short bit, if you have any recommendations of things I need to check out let me know!

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Sewn Garments

Alder Shirtdress Versions 3 & 4: Printed Silk

Alder Shirtdress Versions 3 & 4: Printed Silk

Today we have both of the silk versions of the Alder Shirtdress. This first one is made in a woven silk with a bit of body which I think holds the gathers really nicely. A lot of people have asked me where I got this silk and I honestly can’t really remember. I got it towards the beginning of last summer either at Emma One Sock or Gorgeous Fabrics, which though I’m not sure. I have a habit of buying good silk prints when I see them even if I don’t have a specific project in mind because it’s so hard to find silk prints that I like.

Alder Shirtdress Versions 3 & 4: Printed Silk

This Alder is my favorite of the 4 I think, I love the way the silk moves in combination with the ease of the pattern, and it’s also a really light and airy combo for the heat and humidity we were having a bit back. I’d also really like to make one of these in black silk crepe de chine, I’d love to see the gathers in something a bit less structured than this silk.

Alder Shirtdress Versions 3 & 4: Printed Silk

Also this fabric, I wish I had at least 5 more yards, I kind of want to make everything in it! Why did I only buy 2 yards?! AHHH!! Major reverse fabric regret!

Alder Shirtdress Versions 3 & 4: Printed Silk

This silk crepe de chine I did get at Emma One Sock last summer, and I am so so into this print as well, it was another buy it with no purpose but I know I’ll need it eventually purchase. So glad I did! I don’t have a ton of pictures of this version because it was so windy out when we took these, the fabric is blurry in 98% of the images. Total bummer.

Alder Shirtdress Versions 3 & 4: Printed Silk

A few people have asked me about interfacing in regards to this dress with these two fabrics. In both cases I used a light weight woven interfacing, and on this crepe de chine version I fused the entire right front button band. I’ll talk more about that during the sew along, and I’ll also be posting a schedule for that soon. Promise!

Also the shoes in the top photos are from Madewell, and the shoes in the bottom photos are from No. 6. I got a lot of emails asking so I’ll just post that here now.

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Sewn Garments

Alder Shirtdress Version 2: Light Denim

Grainline Studio | Alder Shirtdress V2: Light Denim

Here we go with round two of awkward photos of me talking to Jon while getting my photo taken in an Alder dress! This View B of Alder is made out of the same denim as the dark denim version of View A, this 6.5 oz Robert Kauffman denim in Bleached Indigo Wash. I’m pretty into this color of denim for dresses and shirts so I’m really glad I could find it out there!

Grainline Studio | Alder Shirtdress V2: Light Denim

It was crazy windy the day we took photos so a photo of the dress hanging perfectly straight was not going to happen, but on the plus side you can see how the dress moves in the photos so perhaps it’s not a bad thing?

Grainline Studio | Alder Shirtdress V2: Light Denim

Back gathers blowing in the wind!

Grainline Studio | Alder Shirtdress V2: Light Denim

And one last super dorky photo but I think the skirt looks great here. Ha!

As for the sew along, I’m in the middle of moving into a new studio space outside of my apartment so I’m hoping that I’m settled in enough to get started next Monday. I’ll let you know towards the end of the week how things are looking though. It’s funny how everything always happens at once. Release of a new pattern, new website, studio move, etc. PHEW! I also don’t have internet set up at the new place yet so that combined with the increase in emails I’ve been getting means that my reply time is a little longer than usual at the moment. Soon things will be settled and getting back to normal and I cannot wait!

20 Comments Posted in Sewn Garments