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! 


30 thoughts on “Alder with Added Liberty

  1. This is so cool! I love your choice of fabric and lining fabric and I think it’s a great plan to take more time over sewing garments to get the fit spot-on! I think this looks great on you! Well done. I’m going to take a leaf out of your book and try
    and improve my fitting skills as it clearly pays off.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the Liberty & am grateful for your experiences with this as I’ve flirted with the style but not quite been won over. Have similar issues, being right on the border of when Grainline says do/don’t do the FBA. Can’t help with the other spot of bother, but I might have pinned out extra fullness at the seam, just to see how it would look. Hope that makes sense!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting that you weren’t sold on this style initially. It’s taken me a couple of years to decide to go for a shirtdress. I was worried it would be on the frumpy side! Definitely some thinking to be done before I try another one!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I’m not fond of gathered anything around hips, so would think about the alternate view. Still thinking… Where are your thought before your #2, if you don’t mind me asking?


  3. Another winner! The style’s perfect and looks so cool for your scorching weather. I’ve only done 3 FBAs. The first 2 I forgot about the excess fabric created at the front. On my Cabernet cardigan it drives me a bit mad and it would be great if I was pregnant with the extra fabric just at the front. And my holly jumpsuit – I ended up having to add darts at the waist otherwise the top was 2 wide to fix to the trousers. For your next one there must be a way getting rid of the excess fabric, but I didn’t notice it until you mentioned it. If it’s a scorcher maybe you don’t want anything too fitted? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, wow! I think the fit looks perfect for Summer, loose (but not too much so) and carefree. Maybe in the future plaid version you could size down a little? But for Summer this looks just great and the. Liberty touch really adds something special.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It looks great! What book did you use for the fitting? I’ve actually been on the hunt for a decent book to (finally) invest in. Up until now, it’s been mostly constant Google searches and experimentation whenever I have fitting issues!

    Either way, I saw this piece on your IG and it looks beautiful. And as people suggested, the more Liberty, the better! Love this piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Grainline Alder: Reaching my Goal! | Sew South London

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