Willow Tank Dress

Willow Sew-Along: Day 01 Common Pattern Adjustments & Cutting

Willow Sew Along: Day 01 | Grainline Studio

Today we’re finally starting the Willow Sew-Along! This pattern is rated Beginner so you more advanced sewers might not need this information, but I wanted to make sure that it’s readily available for anyone new to sewing who might need an extra hand.

To begin you’ll want to gather your supplies. I mentioned this in the Willow Sew-Along announcement post but if you missed that, for this pattern you’ll need the following:

  1. I’ll be using this Grid Linen from Purl Soho and Carolyn Friedlander’s Euclid Cotton/Linen for the sew along garments. You’ll find the yardage you need for your garment on the back of your pattern envelope.
  2. Pins. I like these super sharp Dritz glass head pins but grab whatever you’re used to using that’s appropriate for your fabric.
  3. Thread in a color that matches your fabric.
  4. I use my machine’s 1/4″ foot for the entire pattern.
  5. You’ll need the Willow pattern of course!
  6. Scissors. I use Gingher dressmakers shears as well as a thread snip kept by my machine.
  7. Measuring tape or ruler for laying out your pattern and to assist with the pleat if you’re making the dress version

Once you’ve gathered your supplies you’re going to need to find your pattern pieces. If you’re making the tank you’ll need pieces 1, 2, 5 & 6. For the dress you’ll need pieces 1-6. Below you’ll find diagrams on making some common pattern adjustments.

Willow Sew-Along | Grainline Studio

First up is lengthening and shortening the Willow. I’ll be showing the tank here, but the same method applies to any piece in the pattern.

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.

Willow Sew-Along | Grainline Studio

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 up in this tutorial but if you need to lower 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 raise the dart 1″ you would place the mark 1″ above the existing bust point.

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

Willow Sew-Along | Grainline Studio

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. The Willow is drafted for a B cup (like all our patterns) 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. If you’d like to do a small bust adjustment you would do the opposite of what I’m showing here. If you’re making the dress, don’t forget to make your adjustments to the skirt as well or the waistlines won’t sew together.

Willow Sew-Along | Grainline Studio

The first thing you need to do before you start your full bust adjustment is to figure out how much of an adjustment you’ll need. To begin you’ll need your upper bust measurement and your full bust measurement. Once you have those you’ll subtract your upper bust from your full bust. If the number you get when you subtract your upper bust from your full bust (the total adjustment) is over 2″ (B cup) you may need a full bust adjustment, whereas if the number you get is 2″ or under you’re either fine to use the pattern as is or you might consider a small bust adjustment. So if your full bust was 40″ and your upper bust was 36″ you’d subtract 40-36 to get 4″ which would require an adjustment.

Now you can take this new number and do one of two things with it. It seems to be the most common to just divide this number in half and apply that amount to each side of the adjustment shown below, so you would be moving the pattern 2″ in Step 3.

Your other option is to take your new number, in our case 4″, and subtract 2″ from it to get the full amount of your bust adjustment. Subtracting the 2″ comes from the fact that the pattern is drafted for a B cup which is a 2″ difference. Since this amount is already drafted into the pattern you are just adding the additional amount on top of what exists. You would then divide the full amount of the adjustment in half so you would be doing a 1″ adjustment on each side of the pattern.

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

2. Locate the apex of your bust and mark. Draw a line from the apex out to the side seam. 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 line connecting the side seam to the apex, taking care to not cut through the apex point, you want the pieces hinged. 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.

Willow Sew-Along | Grainline Studio

4. You’ll notice that when you move the side out for the adjustment the side panel became longer 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. This method of adjustment will result in a larger dart being formed. To aide in creating expanded dart 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.

Willow Sew-Along | Grainline Studio

6. Fold the dart legs together with the takeup pointing towards the bottom of the garment and re-blend the side seam. I like to score the bottom 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.

Willow Sew-Along | Grainline Studio

Now lay your pattern pieces out on your fabric according to the cutting layouts in your instruction booklets. Be sure to snip all your notches and mark your dart points. I also like to notch center front and center back to help with alignment later on.

That’s it for today, next up we’ll be sewing our darts and assembling our bodices!

6 Comments Posted in Willow Tank Dress
Journal Entry

The Hemlock Tee | Free Pattern

Grainline Studio | Hemlock Tee Pattern [it's free]

Grainline Studio | Hemlock Tee Pattern [it's free]

Hey guys! I am reposting this treat for you! It’s a free pattern for all Grainline Studio Newsletter Subscribers! We all know I’m obsessed with boxy tops and from what I’ve seen on my Instagram, you guys are too, so now we have the Hemlock Tee!

Grainline Studio | Hemlock Tee Pattern [it's free]

Grainline Studio | Hemlock Tee Pattern [it's free]

This tee is a little bit different than the regular patterns you can purchase in my shop. It’s a one size pattern, meaning it’s not graded. The pattern includes illustrated instructions, and both a Print at Home and US / A0 copy shop pattern page. We also have a step-by-step photo tutorial here for those who prefer photos.

Grainline Studio | Hemlock Tee Pattern [it's free]

A few pattern details for you –
Finished Measurements are Bust – 44.5″ // Hip – 46.5″
The pattern is drafted for use with a serger meaning that all seam allowances are 1/4″
My measurements (for comparison) Bust – 32″ // Hip – 37″ // 5’6″ tall

The beautiful Japanese tissue knits I used here were provided to me by Britex.
You can find them here: stripe // neon // charcoal

Grainline Studio | Hemlock Tee Pattern [it's free]

If you’d like to make one of your own, you can join our email newsletter below or via the link in our sidebar. It will be sent to you in a welcome email once you’ve confirmed your subscription via a link sent to your inbox after you sign up below. We send monthly updates and new pattern alerts and your information is always kept strictly confidential (aka we never share or sell any of it, of course)!

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Journal Entry

Sometimes The Best Tip is Practice

Sometimes the Best Tip is Practice

I get questions almost every day in regards to tips. What are my best tips for sewing silk? What feet do I recommend for the straightest topstitching? How do I think people should cut slippery fabrics? What’s the best way to plaid match? How do I get such nice looking rolled hems?

Some of these things I learned in school or at work and took little to no effort to introduce into my sewing practice, like cutting silk through paper, but most of these things I learned via trial and error over many years. I always try to respond to these questions with some sort of answer, but in reality, the best tip I can give, that is always applicable to the situation, is practice.

The first garments I made as a pre-teen were pretty raw. Then years later when I thought I was getting pretty good, I went back to school for fashion and realized, nope, you’re still pretty sloppy. Especially when thrown onto an industrial for the first time! I remember stitching threadless on a piece of paper, trying to turn curves on an industrial machine the first night of my first garment construction class and just feeling totally and completely defeated that my stitching wasn’t perfect. Honestly I could barely follow the lines, my foot control was SO not used to the speed and quickness that those machines start up with.

Tools can be helpful but are not a magic pill to a perfect garment. Occasionally I find them to be overrated and expensive, but time spent honing your skills is always well spent. I sewed a LOT of really ugly rolled hems, mostly on industrial machines, before I became proficient. I don’t use a rolled hem foot, I find it’s easier and faster to just do it with my trusty 1/4″ foot, the same way Jurata, one of the incredibly skilled seamstresses at my old job, taught me. This is not to say that tools aren’t helpful, they are of course indispensable in many situations.

There can be a lot of pressure in the sewing community, especially with social media, to produce perfectly sewn garments. Sometimes I worry that it’s taken away our feeling that it’s okay to mess up. It’s okay to make garments that aren’t “perfect” and it’s actually really important that we do so. For every successful garment I’ve made there are hundreds and hundreds of garments, muslins, scraps, test pieces, horrific looking doll clothes, etc. that went into the making of it.

All of this is to say, don’t be afraid to try a new fabric that scares you or a new technique that seems way too hard. That’s the way you’ll really learn what works, just by trial and error, messing up, figuring out what went wrong, and correcting it the next time. Honestly one of the best ways to really figure out what fabrics will work well in different garment situations is to make something in a fabric that totally fails. I actually have found that more helpful over the years, assessing why something didn’t work, than when fabric choices go smoothly. In the end you’ll be so proud of what you’ve accomplished when you think back on the long sewing journey you’ve made to get where you are, as well as how much there still is to learn. I learn something every time I pick up a new fabric or sit down at my machine even still.

And yes, I still make weird ugly things from time to time, it happens to all of us! I’m still here for you with tips from my journey so far though, don’t worry.

38 Comments Posted in Journal Entry

On the Surface | Potato Printing

Grainline Studio | Printing Tutorial

Hey! We have an exciting new series of tutorials for you. We are going to be showing you how to design fabric using all types of surface printing techniques. We are partnering with Dharma Trading Co. aka our favorite resource for buying basic high quality fabrics and surface design supplies. Our first tutorial is Potato Printing on the Willow Tank. We chose Dharma’s Bamboo Rayon for this project. It is a heavier fabric but, is super soft and breathable. They have so many options!

Grainline Studio | Printing Tutorial


Grainline Studio | Printing Tutorial

1. Prewash, dry and press your fabric.

2. The first step to creating a surface design with a potato stamp is to dream up a motif. I used this photo from Jen’s trip to Iceland that I found really inspiring; paired with my love of French fries and basic shapes.

Grainline Studio

3. Draw your shapes out on a piece of graph paper, tracing paper or copy paper (however you want to roll) and cut your shapes out. Now cut your potato in half. Because the cut side of the potato is wet the stencil will stick to the potato. Slap it on there. Using your hobby knife cut the flesh of the potato around your shape. Now your stamps are ready!

Grainline Studio | Printing TutorialGrainline Studio | Printing Tutorial

4. Cut out your Willow Tank pattern pieces and spread your fabric out over a soft service. Pin down. I have found that potato stamps don’t stamp very well on hard surfaces. For this part you could use a towel or a piece of scrap fabric or a piece of felt.

Grainline Studio | Printing Tutorial

5. Mix your color on your palette or use the color straight from the jar. Spread the ink into a thin layer on your palette using your soft rubber brayer. Once your brayer is all inked up use it to transfer the ink to your potato.

Grainline Studio | Printing Tutorial Grainline Studio | Printing Tutorial

Grainline Studio | Printing Tutorial

6. Gently and evenly press your potato onto the fabric. Repeat steps 4&5 until you have a surface design!

Grainline Studio | Printing Tutorial Grainline Studio | Printing Tutorial

Have fun!

Grainline Studio | Willow Tank

7 Comments Posted in Uncategorized
Willow Tank Dress

Willow Sew-Along Announcement

Willow Sew-Along Announcement

As promised we’ll be having a sew-along for the Willow for all the beginners out there, as well as anyone looking to pick up some extra tips. The sew-along will start next week, Monday May 30th so I wanted to give you the heads up on supplies now! It won’t be a long sew-along since the Willow is pretty straightforward but it’s important to me that it be available on the blog for those just getting into sewing!

Willow Sew-Along Supplies

You don’t need too much for the sew along, so I’ll do a quick run through on what I use to sew the Willow.

  1. I’ll be using this Grid Linen from Purl Soho and Carolyn Friedlander’s Euclid Cotton/Linen for the sew along garments. You’ll find the yardage you need for your garment on the back of your pattern envelope.
  2. Pins. I like these super sharp Dritz glass head pins but grab whatever you’re used to using that’s appropriate for your fabric.
  3. Thread in a color that matches your fabric.
  4. I use my machine’s 1/4″ foot for the entire pattern.
  5. You’ll need the Willow pattern of course!
  6. Scissors. I use Gingher dressmakers shears as well as a thread snip kept by my machine.
  7. Measuring tape or ruler for laying out your pattern and to assist with the pleat if you’re making the dress version

That’s it for now. If you have any prep questions just let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to help!

5 Comments Posted in Willow Tank Dress

Our Willows

We LOVE plants at Grainline Studio. Being in nature is very special to all of us. We have been really busy in the studio preparing the new Willow Tank & Dress for release. As a treat to ourselves we took our Willows on an outing to our favorite place in Chicago, The Garfield Park Conservatory. We spent the day breaking the rules… i.e touching the plants. Only a few! And soaking up the sun. We had the best time! If we could move into the place… we really would. We left wishing they had hammocks for napping…

Grainline Studio | Willow Tank Dress

Grainline Studio | Willow Tank DressGrainline Studio | Willow TankGrainline Studio | Willow Tank

6 Comments Posted in Uncategorized
Swatch Share  |  Uncategorized

Willow Swatches & Inspiration

Grainline Studio | Willow Inspiration

One of our favorite things to talk about here in the studio is what we want to make! Jen, Lexi and I always have something cooking in our sketch books. This morning I went to my favorite coffee shop, Gas Light Coffee in Logan Square, it’s on my way to work! Anyway, the barista had on the cutest shirt. It had hand painted fat rabbits on it. It was so adorable. I really want to make one now! And the Willow is the perfect pattern for that project. Here are some lovely swatches that would make really cute Willows, and some inspiration that I found online and not on my morning commute. You can find the above images and more on the Willow Inspiration Board on our Pinterest.

Grainline Studio | Willow Swatches

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

3 Comments Posted in Swatch Share, Uncategorized
News  |  Willow Tank Dress

Our Newest Pattern: Willow!

Willow Tank Dress | Grainline Studio

We have been day dreaming in the studio of warm days at the lake, canoe trips and having night picnics at Millennium Park. And most importantly… what we are going to be wearing during these activities! With this new season there is a new pattern… The Willow Tank! The pattern includes both a Tank Top and Dress and it can be made in a wide variety of fabrics.

Willow Tank Dress | Grainline Studio

The tank version of the Willow has a modern mid-hip length and a higher neckline to balance the shorter length. The fit is slightly boxy from the waist down but bust darts keep it fitted through the shoulders and bust. We also included a deep turned up hem to add a classy finished edge to the tank, as well as create the pleat you see in the dress version.

Willow Tank Dress | Grainline Studio

The dress version of the Willow is the perfect dress for kicking around town. Since it’s loose fitting it won’t stick to you in the heat of summer. The dress pattern is two pieces so that leaves the option to use two different fabrics for the top and skirt – great for coordinating prints and solids!

The Willow is rated for beginners but is also great for more experienced sewers who are looking for a super wearable, easy project or want to do some customization. Techniques involved include sewing a straight seam, darts, hemming, and applying bias facings.

You can purchase the Willow in both printed format as well as downloadable PDF in our shop and is also available as a kit on Sprout Patterns.

Willow Tank Dress | Grainline Studio

And now a little bit about how the Willow came about. I’ve really been feeling the need for a tank like this over the past few months – something with a slightly higher neckline and wider straps that looks great in bold prints and simple solids alike. The slightly boxy, contemporary feel and the shorter length are what I’m all about right now in my wardrobe top wise! At the same time I’ve been feeling that it was time to retire the Tiny Pocket Tank. I’ll always love the Tiny Pocket Tank, it was our first pattern and all! But being our first pattern meant I used a different fit model with different proportions than our current measurement chart which resulted in it fitting slightly differently than the rest of our line. It was important to me to replace it with an updated style since it’s a great beginner pattern and I want to make sure that there’s something for every level in our pattern offerings, both in wovens and knits. So that’s the story on how the Willow came to!

We’ll have plenty of Willow related posts coming up including fabric suggestions, our Willows, and a sew along for the beginners out there who might need a little extra hand holding. Stay tuned!

24 Comments Posted in News, Willow Tank Dress
Journal Entry

Grainline Crew – Jen

Grainline Studio

So you all know Jen…. And as she is the original Grainline Studio crew member… captain if you will…  We thought it would be fun to ask her a few questions! Maybe you will learn some new things about her and this Grainline Studio journey she has been on since 2009. Thanks for following along guys!

What has been the most exciting change at Grainline Studio?

That’s a hard one right off the bat, there have been so many exciting changes here over the last few years! Most changes start off a bit scary to me but end up being very exciting – once I’m done stressing out about them. I’ve been really lucky to have my husband Jon to help me transition through each change we’ve gone through over the past two and a half years, which has encompassed the bulk of our growth. In that time we’ve moved from strictly PDF patterns to paper patterns, moved to a studio, then to a second larger studio, hired employees, and collaborated with some awesome small businesses such a Fringe Supply Co. and Sprout Patterns. I think that the community this growth has encouraged – whether it’s the 4 of us working day to day as a team in the studio, traveling to teach and meeting new people around the country, collaborating on new projects with other small businesses, or interacting with our amazing customers on social media – that has definitely been the most exciting change!

What is your favorite plant?

Ooh hard one, my favorite is probably our fiddle leaf fig. It was the first plant I bought when I moved the business out of my apartment and into a dedicated workspace. I feel like it has a personality and I spend a lot of time trying to get it to sprout new growth in a branch other than the tall branch that’s about to topple over. It finally paid off though, a new sprout appeared in the lower branch!! Or did you mean my favorite type of plant in general? Hahaha that’s hard. Not really a fan of Morning Glories though.

Do you have any advice for beginning sewers?

I would say the best thing you can do is practice. Everyone who sews made some really horrible and ugly stuff at the beginning of their sewing careers, myself included. Just keep at it and try not to get too obsessed with perfection. I wish I still had the piece of paper I sewed the first time I sat down at an industrial machine, you guys would laugh so hard. It’s SO terrible!! 

What is the funniest thing you have made?

A Cheeseburger! It’s also the first thing I ever made besides sewing a piece of paper which my mom made me do when I was younger and wanted to start sewing. It was really an awesome project for a beginner, straight lines, curves, etc. but required little to no precision since it wasn’t a garment and you got a really fun project. She taught me out of these two books, Sewing Machine Fun  and More Sewing Machine Fun , which we both still agree are the best sewing for kids books we’ve ever seen!

What is the most times you have had to unravel a knitting project?

OH man, probably one million times. I taught myself how to knit in November 2001 on a road trip to NYC with a pamphlet from Hobby Lobby, two metal needles, and a skein of Red Heart Yarn. This was slightly before knitting had its resurgence – Knitty.com didn’t exist and hip resources and patterns were very light. I knit this small triangular shawl that was basically just the knit stitch with the exception of a knit front and back loop every other row. I don’t even know how many times I took parts of that out to redo it, but it was a lot!

What is your favorite Grainline Studio pattern to sew?

Hmm…that’s a hard one. My favorite to sew is probably the Archer because I like all the precision involved. My favorite to wear though, or the one I find myself wearing the most often is the Hemlock. That sucker is a workhorse for me!

Do you wish Roamy could join you at work? 

Hahaha, she definitely does! I do miss having her around all the time but that lil snugface is really demanding on the cuddle front so it’s probably for the best productivity wise that she stays home. 


4 Comments Posted in Journal Entry
Journal Entry

Grainline Studio x Sprout Patterns

Sprout Patterns x Grainline Studio

Images via the Sprout Patterns Instagram Account

Have you guys heard about Sprout Patterns yet? There have been some awesome projects popping up on blogs and social media so I know some of you are all over it already, but in case you haven’t heard we’re here today to fill you in! Sprout is a really exciting service from the geniuses behind Spoonflower that combines their custom print on demand fabric with indie sewing patterns. We’re really excited to have teamed up with them on this project with some of our best selling sewing patterns, which you can see here!

Sprout is really easy to use. You’ll start by choosing your pattern, then the fabric and size. We worked closely with Sprout to make sure that the fabric choices available for each pattern really worked well, so if choosing substrates isn’t your forte, rest assured we’ve thought that through for you.

With Sprout you can choose a fabric from one of the zillions of prints available on Spoonflower or design your own! We’ve also worked with our friend, surface designer Michelle Vondiziano of January Prints, to develop a line of prints we love that pair well with our patterns. You can view those in our Spoonflower Shop here!

Once you’ve chosen your fabrics Sprout has made it easy to configure them into your garment. You can even move the print around on the garment to get the perfect layout which is a pretty cool feature.

We’ve made up a few Larks already and the process was so easy since there’s no tracing involved. We had two cut and sewn in well under an hour! A few other points you might find useful about Sprout…

  • All pattern pieces are outlined with a white border to make cutting very easy.
  • All seam allowances are included in the printed pattern area so you don’t need to worry about any white showing in your finished garment.
  • Shrinkage is factored into the pattern on all Sprout purchases based on calculated shrinkage percentages for each substrate. This means you can launder your garment without fear!
  • All patterns include the original PDF pattern download and full instructions so you can remake your garment at any time with any fabric.

We have a few projects on the way to us from Sprout at the moment so we’ll be sharing our process and final projects on the blog in the next few weeks once we get them sewn up! Have you guys tried Sprout yet? Are there any of our patterns that aren’t on there that you’d love to see available?

8 Comments Posted in Journal Entry