Alder with Added Liberty

Can you believe I’ve been labouring over this Grainline Alder dress for over a month! Since Father Christmas brought me some books on achieving a great fit, I’ve really slowed down my sewing in an attempt to up-skill my fitting techniques.  

My most common alteration is a full bust adjustment. I took ages deciding which size to base my dress on. My measurements matched a size 12, but knowing that Grainline draft for a ‘B’ cup meant that I knew I’d be better off using my high bust size. Also, the finished garment measurements looked huge and I didn’t want the dress to turn out like a chambray tent. So I traced off a size 8 with a 1″ FBA and made up my first toile bodice.

Straight away I could see that there was a problem: the bust dart was incredibly low so the ‘added fullness’ was completely in the wrong place. Back to the cutting table…. I raised the bust dart by 1.5″, pivoting up the apex and leaving the dart legs where they were on the original position in the side seam. The Grainline sewalong suggested boxing and moving the dart up or down in its entirety but there wasn’t enough space below the armhole to accommodate the whole dart up by 1.5″! I don’t think I’m the only person to have had this issue with Alder. I went with the fitting textbook and was pleased to find that it worked out: the next toile fit perfectly.


So I went for it…. Apart from sewing curved bust darts to get a more natural shape, I sewed the dress up as instructed. On reflection, looking at these photos, the dress looks a little too baggy on the front. The bust fit is spot on, but the extra 1″ added on each side has resulted in spare fabric on the front panels. In a dress comprising of bodice and skirt you can remove the added fabric in waist darts, but in a shirt dress the added fabric stays to the hem. I wonder whether I should had removed the extra 1″ from the side where the front panel hits the gathered skirt? Or am I over-scrutinising?   

Either way, I am extremely pleased with this dress. It’s the perfect summer outfit. I took care over the top stitching and added some of my precious Liberty Tana Lawn Oxford as a contrast yoke and collar stand. I wasn’t sure if the collar stand was a step too far, but lovely insta-buddies agreed that the more Liberty the better! I finished off with a gorgeous teal button for a splash contrast colour. I think I might be making another one sooner rather than later. I’m already planning my Christmas plaid Alder with sleeves!