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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16 Responses to Alder Sew Along Part 2: Selecting Your Size

  1. thesinisterscribe says:

    New to your patterns and wondering… do you recommend a full bust adjustment on this dress for D cup gals?

  2. Stewart says:

    I’m a D cup – would you recommend I go with my high bust measurement and a full bust adjustment? Or should I just go by finished measurements? Thanks!

  3. Grace says:

    I’m a G cup (sigh) so I usually go with my high bust measurement and then do a full bust adjustment. I tried this with my Alder muslin and although I think I was on the right track as far as shifting the increased dart uptake into a new dart coming from the waist seam, the result was still rather close at my high bust and it was looking more fitted over all than I would like. So, I am sizing up to match my actual bust and I’ll take it in at the side waist as you show in this post to whittle the waist back down.

  4. Francina says:

    Hi Jen!
    Thanks for demo-ing this sew-along! Great stuff! I’m also between sizes and although you’ve briefly mentioned “blending” across sizes – I sort of get it but am not sure if I’m 100% confident how to go about it! Would you mind maybe going into your blending techniques in more detail? For example, I still am not sure where in the pattern pieces I need to blend for both waist and hip, and also whether you have any tips on how to make sure that both the altered front and back pieces match up… Many thanks in advance! x

  5. Ginny says:

    Grace, I’m also a G cup (yep, sigh) and also generally begin with my high bust + full bust adjustment, so I am in a very similar predicament :/. Though I generally find that going with my actual bust measurement results in a garment that’s too big in the shoulders and upper back (does that happen for you as well?). I expect this will be a multi muslin garment for me, but I just love this dress so am planning to do what it takes. Thanks for sharing your experience, I have yet to make my first muslin and reading about your first muslin is very helpful. 😀

    • Grace says:

      Yes, the shoulder fit is one of my size picking concerns as well, gapping armholes being another. In the case of my first Alder muslin the shoulders in the smaller size fit fine, but “felt” the back yoke seam when I moved my arms to hug myself. Since this is a sleeveless style so it will be easier to trim off a little at the end of the shoulder seam if necessary. The problem I had with my FBA was that the y shaped spread didn’t give me any additional space above my apex. Maybe I could have tried slashing through the shoulder instead of the armhole, but I’m pretty confident that without sleeves I’ll be able to tweak the fit at the side seams as needed. Does that make sense?

    • Grace says:

      Here… I instagrammed the 1st FBA:
      and the coordinating muslin:

      Then I adjusted the FBA for even more spread and transferred the excess straight down to the corner for a waist seam dart. Overall it just felt too fitted compared to the finished samples.


      • Jen says:

        I think the shoulders through bust looks like it fits pretty similarly to the original, the difference I think you’re seeing is that I like to put my button slightly below the apex of the bust and then left the above button open so I think that gives the illusion that the bodice on mine is more loosely fitted than it is? If you put in a waist dart, you could shorten the width of the flat front placket to hit where the front dart would, I think a dart might look best if it aligns with the front panel, otherwise it will likely be on an angle, if that makes any sense? What are you thinking?

        • Grace says:

          Yeah, that was my thought as well. I’m making Alder in a striped chambray so I want to avoid extra diagonals. I like the width and proportion of the the front front as it is. Thank you for the tip about wearing/buttons.

  6. Robyn says:

    I’m a petite and am familiar with my normal adjustments, but still wondering the height you’ve drafted for. Thanks! It’s a cute dress and I have the perfect fabric.

    • Jen says:

      The pattern is drafted at size 6 on a 5’5″ fit model. I’m wearing the size 4 in my photos unadjusted and I’m 5’7″ tall if that helps at all. Additionally you can measure the pattern from the CF neck down to the hemline, subtract seam allowances, and then hold the tape measure at your throat notch (I’m blanking on the technical term right now) and see where that hits you if you have a question about a specific size.

      • robyn says:

        I’ve made my initial petite adjustments on the paper pattern, and I have a question before I cut the paper pattern. Is the dotted line on the front pattern piece – where we cut for the right button band – the final center front of the dress? I think it is but I don’t make a lot of button bands. 😉 I’m taking about an inch from the distance between the shoulder and the armscye on the front. Thanks, Jen.

        PS I’m so glad I don’thave to deal with sleeve cap adjustments!!

        • Jen says:

          No, that’s the center plus 1/2″ seam allowance. Sorry I’m only just replying I didn’t notice the question when approving comments!

  7. Robyn says:

    I’m glad you waited! It encouraged me to make a quick muslin and my dress is much better for it. 😉

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