Grainline Alder in vintage rayon

aka #teambumruffle

I wasn’t going to blog this for a while… but back to work tomorrow… so it’s a final holiday hurrah. Sorry for spamming you in the last week! I’ve mentioned before I’m an obsessive stitcher… and my last Alder is proof!

Grainline Alder view B - back view

Grainline Alder view B – back view

So that pattern I wasn’t particularly entranced by when it was released? Yeah well… I’ve made three of them since November.

Here we go with the view I liked the least… and now find it has grown on me… View B – the one with the gathered sides and back.

Then it came up as a joke on Instagram that this version was #teambumruffle (recently blogged by Funkbunny and also made by The Stitcher and Gatherer – not blogged yet) which made me laugh… and then I wondered if I needed to re-think this one as there seemed to be quite a fan club out there.

Grainline Alder View B - side view

Grainline Alder View B – side view. The armholes are slightly large but I prefer that in a summer dress, especially on our hot and humid days.

I wasn’t sold when I first put it on… and I confess it has grown on me. It’s been very, very hot lately and this is the perfect summer holiday dress. I don’t like wearing shapeless sacks as they swamp me, but the details of a collar and buttons provide some definition to this make and I do like that. I think the ‘girliness’ of this suits the pretty vintage fabric that I have been hoarding for a year or so now.

Attaching the skirt: It’s worth the three lines of gathering stitches recommended by Jen – the skirt gathers up nicely and it easier to attach to the bodice/shirt fronts.
I would also recommend referring to the online Alder sewalong when attaching the gathered skirt, it’s a little trickier than your standard gathered skirt shirtdress.
I did shorten this by 1 inch as I had read the back is rather long and I’m 5 foot 4… However the front is somewhat shorter than I anticipated so I would probably adjust the dip in the back and leave the front length next time. Then again… how many Alders do I need?
If you want more construction details, check out my Polka Dot or Blue Alders.

Grainline Alder View B, front view - a bit too short, ok for summer casual though I guess.

Grainline Alder View B, front view – a bit too short, ok for summer casual though I guess.

Since I have nothing else startling to add (other than my first impressions of this as a pattern release – and even when I first put it on – were wrong), I wanted to share The Thong Tree with you. Yes, yes. I know. In other countries ‘thong’ refers to a rather brief item of underwear. Here in Australia, it’s footwear – or as you might call it – a flip-flop…

This is a 700m walk up the beach, perched on the sand dunes with a stunning view – which Banjo rather enjoyed.

The Alder, the whippet and the Thong Tree

The Alder, the whippet and the Thong Tree

Lighthouse Beach Thong Tree

Lighthouse Beach Thong Tree

This local festive oddity only appears at Christmas time and is a ‘gift’ from a local artist. You can read about it here. We took Banjo for a walk on the beach as we had a spare hour or two the other day. Unfortunately the wind was howling and the #bumruffle was in full flight – or the dress plastered against my body… the perils of beachside living! Hence the photos in the ‘bush’ behind my house – the only place safe from the wind.

A windy day on a classic sandy Australian beach

A windy day on a classic sandy Australian beach

It’s odd, these days I don’t like going to the beach and not taking Banjo with me. That limits the beaches we can visit… but I don’t really mind.

Pattern: Grainline Alder, View B
Fabric: Vintage rayon from the charity/op shop. Cost = $3

OK I’m done with Alders for now… I promise! Are you on the fence about this pattern or a fan of Alder? It’s taken me three versions to get off the fence and acknowledge that I am a fully-fledged member of the fan club.

Grainline Alders x 3

Grainline Alders x 3

Stripe play: Grainline Hemlock and more Drape Drape

This all started with the intended purchase of 1.4 metres of striped cotton jersey from The Fabric Store, Brisbane. Then they offered me the rest of the roll for half price. So I left with 3 metres instead – what’s a girl to do?

I wanted a classic long-sleeved t-shirt. Big & slouchy. I tossed up between the Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee & the Grainline Hemlock (both free). I chose the Hemlock.

Grainline Hemlock. Neck binding has been cut on the bias.

Grainline Hemlock. Neck binding has been cut on the bias.

Why? The finished bust measurements of the Grainline Hemlock is 44.5 inches and the Tessuti Mandy Boat tee is 58 inches. Even though I wanted a big t-shirt, 12.5 inches of ease felt like enough – 26 inches with the Mandy Tee seemed a bit excessive with this jersey.

What can I say – this is an easy t-shirt to make. This is a one size pattern and on me it’s very loose. Some days that’s exactly what I want to wear. I’m a huge fan of loose tops paired with fitted skirts and jeans so this fits into the my casual wardrobe nicely.

Grainline Hemlock

Grainline Hemlock. Back view. I keep rolling up the sleeves as they are long and loose. To be honest, I push up all my sleeves!

I decided to cut the neck binding on the bias just for fun. I know, crazy times.

All seams sewn with my overlocker. Hems completed on my coverstitch. I only used my Bernina for the extra line of stitching around the neckline to hold the neck binding seam in place.

Grainline Hemlock

Grainline Hemlock. Stripe matching not too shabby. Sleeves down.

I’d recommend this pattern if you are after a generic t-shirt. It’s easy to put together and there is an online tutorial if you need it. Perhaps it might be a nice introduction to sewing with knits if they have been daunting.

For my second t-shirt I decided to make a draped garment where the stripes were anything but regular. I also didn’t want two shirts more or less exactly the same – the obviously choice was my favourite draped t-shirt pattern from Drape Drape 2.

Drape Drape 2, Number 4. The pattern piece has been flipped over to run the stripes downwards on the front.

Drape Drape 2, Number 4. The pattern piece has been flipped over the run the stripes downwards on the front.

Drape Drape 2, Number 4

Drape Drape 2, Number 4. More stripe (not) matching

I had been a little disappointed that the stripes on the front of the drunk candy cane t-shirt had been so horizontal/normal on the front, whereas the back was more visually interesting with the stripes running down and into the drape.

Red stripe and blue stripe Drape Drape 2 No.4 shirts.

Red stripe and blue stripe Drape Drape 2 No.4 shirts.

So I flipped the pattern piece over, placing the drape on the other side & making the stripes on the front more of a feature. I also cut the neckline slightly higher so it wasn’t in danger of being indecent.

Drape Drape 2, Number 4. Back View

Drape Drape 2, Number 4. Back View

What’s the point of all this? Nothing much, it was just fun. Sometimes I just sew to explore ideas… and fortunately I end up with a wearable garment. Bonus.

Grainline Hemlock and Drape Drape2, No.4

Grainline Hemlock and Drape Drape2, No.4

More sewing… I’ve got another Grainline Alder (View B – #teambumruffle version – see Funkbunny if that hashtag makes no sense) and a Simplicity 1463, View A to share here soon! I’m back to work on Monday so my sporadic sewing and blogging will resume shortly!

Blogging, writing, thinking…
I like writing as much as I like sewing – but I enjoy writing about more things than sewing (shock, horror). The writing, re-writing and editing process helps me think about things more objectively and explore ideas. Sometimes I feel the urge to write about life. Or put down stories, scenes and ideas that run through my head. However that’s not going to happen here, it will be somewhere else on a private blog just for me – when the urge strikes or time permits. Selfish writing 🙂


More obsessive sewing.

I did mentioned I had made another Grainline Alder and here it is. I’ve worn my first Alder so much that a second one seemed sensible. If it works for you – sew it I say! I’ve worn by McCalls 6696 just once, it’s lovely but I feel at home in my Alders.

I’ve sewn View A again, this time in a border print (or more like dip-dyed, marbled) rayon woven fabric.

Another Alder, more beach and whippet photos... a typical Lizzy weekend.

Another Alder, more beach and whippet photos… a typical Lizzy weekend. I love this beach, it’s not too busy. Lots of space of a whippet to run,

The sewing

As the graduation in colour ran from selvedge to selvedge, I cut the Alder on the crossgrain. I also didn’t have quite enough so I shaved about 1 inch off the side seams. It was frugal cutting at it’s very best and I had the tiniest pile of scraps you can imagine when I finished… and I was very conscious not to make a mistake as there was nothing left to cut another piece – not even a pocket piece!

Grainline Alder, view A. Side view

Grainline Alder, view A. Side view

Pockets: I moved the pockets up about 1/2 inch. I think they could move up more next time.

Hem: I hemmed it. I wasn’t pleased with my finish. So I hemmed it again. Then I took some photos and thought it was slightly too long. So I cut off the hem, slightly increased the curve at the side and re-hemmed it.

Grainline Alder, view A - wide view. The hem is even - it's just windy (as usual) and I like to leave the bottom button undone as the dress moves better as you walk.

Grainline Alder, view A – wide view. The hem is even – it’s just windy (as usual) and I like to leave the bottom button undone as the dress moves better as you walk.

Buttons: I got some lovely buttons that were a perfect match. I made the buttonholes… started sewing on my buttons… decided the buttons were slightly too large. Fortunately I had not cut the buttonholes! I found more buttons, unpicked the buttonholes and re-did the buttonholes. I want to unpick the buttonhole on the collar (which I haven’t cut fortunately) as it is slightly too low.

Grainline Alder, view A. Back view

Grainline Alder, view A. Back view

The Fabric: this is a marbled, graduated rayon fabric from The Fabric Shop in Robina. It’s just a hop, skip & a jump off the freeway on the way to Brisbane. It’s got parking out the front, a refreshing change from Brisbane which can be a parking nightmare, especially around The Fabric Store in Fortitude Valley!

Despite vowing not to add to my fabric ‘library’ on this trip, I succumbed to some blue fabrics – which seemed to be in plentiful supply in this shop! There were lovely piques, sateens, embroidered cottons, Japanese fabrics and a range of fabrics that Maria (the owner) imports from Madrid. I loved the white cotton broderies – which I’m still wondering why I didn’t buy as they would make gorgeous summer tops… then I look at the size of my fabric ‘library’ and remember why that’s a good thing!

This fabric was the end of the bolt (I think it was about 1.5m) and Maria slipped it into my bag when I bought the two fabrics below… clearly I have a thing for blues – thank you Maria. The Fabric Shop does have similar fabrics to this one – I just got the last sliver of this one – sorry!

A cotton pique and an imported embroider cotton eyelet

A cotton pique and an imported embroider cotton eyelet

Pattern: Grainline Alder, view A. Purchased by me.
Fabric: An ‘end of the bolt’ piece, woven rayon from The Fabric Shop.

I’m on a Grainline binge at the moment. I’ve also just made the Hemlock tee (the free Grainline pattern) with some striped cotton knit from The Fabric Store, Brisbane.


The following photos are for those who love to see Banjo on the blog.

There are quite a few whippets in Port Macquarie now. None of them seem to love the water quite like Banjo does. He will spend more time swimming than running if the family are in the water and he attracts a lot of attention as whippets are not famed for their love of swimming… although no one has told Banjo that…

Yes, my whippet even enjoys body surfing!

Yes, my whippet even enjoys body surfing!

I love this shot, he's such a happy handsome hound

I love this shot, he’s such a happy handsome hound.

Banjo - my favourite water rat.

Banjo – my favourite water rat.

Top 5 Hits – 2014 (or perhaps 4)

Before we even start this Top 5 blogging journey, I’d just like to say that I might not always blog ‘five’ things. It’s not that I can’t count, it’s just that I’d rather pick one thing, four things or maybe eight things or more… it’s just what feels right.

I enjoy these posts – for me. So skip over it or read on if you like. I find it interesting to sit back and think about the year just gone. Whether it’s sewing or life in general, it’s good to think about what worked, what didn’t and ‘where to next’.


Today I’m blogging my Top 5 Hits. The makes I’ve worn the most and feel most ‘like me’. It’s easy to get caught up in a trend but more and more I simply sew the things that appeal to me and my sense of style (or perhaps lack thereof!).

Drape Drape

My mother-in-law gave me Drape Drape book last Christmas – and I immediately ordered Drape Drape 2 & 3. These books really changed my sewing approach and ricocheted me off into a completely different style zone – where I’ve never felt more comfortable. They finally provided me with some options that were really what I wanted to create and wear. Some of the makes were perhaps a little crazy but I’ve found these patterns fascinating. Drape Drape posts are here…

As recently blogged, the draped singlet dress from Drape Drape 2 has been the runaway winner in this year’s sewing. This little make is simply a misshapen singlet/tank dress. It’s incredibly easy to make and takes just 1.1m of fabric. When I’ve worn them people want to know ‘who the designer is’ – that gives me particular delight with my red/white/blue one which cost me just $6 in fabric.  

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Without the drapes in view, it is a very simple singlet dress.

Excuse the stupid pose. blowing a gale and the camera went flat. No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Without the drapes in view, it is a very simple singlet dress. This is perhaps my favourite. I love the lyocell DKNY fabric and the vibrant colours.

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Side view - with the drapes.

Side view – with the drapes.

Vogue 8780 – the Ugly Duckling

Despite the incredibly uninspiring pattern artwork or even more ‘blah’ Vogue photography, this cardigan is one of my most loved & versatile pieces. It’s made from a very fine merino knit from The Fabric Store in Sydney – plucked from the remanent bin for just $19.

It’s lovely with dresses & jeans. I wear it at work as much as I wear it casually. It’s got lovely drape at the front, a flared hem and it’s fitted across the back. I will make a size smaller next time (this is a small) as the sleeves are quite roomy – but I don’t mind, I love wearing it as it is. To me, this is the perfect cardigan (or whatever you call this!).

All I can say is, you need this in your pattern stash, buy it before it becomes OOP.

Vogue 8780

Sorry can’t see much of the ‘make’ but I love all the natural tones in this shot.

Vogue 8780 - so versatile

Vogue 8780 – so versatile. That’s in the work lift… it has rather a lot of mirrors. Helpful for selfies! I didn’t make the pink dress, it’s an old Metallicus which I had bagged for the op shop – then I thought would lovely it would look with this cardigan. So glad I saved it!

Vogue 1250 & Maria Denmark Day-Night Dress

I’ve made five of these dresses, my most beloved is the Sew Dolly Clackett dress which I’ve worn to work many times. It’s a versatile, comfortable, fun & flattering dress. I’ve been surprised by how much people admire this given the somewhat ‘unusual’ print – it’s not for the faint-hearted! I love the quirkiness and the fact it’s a different colour palette to what I would usually wear.

I love this picture - not because it's a great one of me - but that 'window' in the print looks like a peephole into my soul... or belly button LOL

I love this picture – not because it’s a great one of me – but that ‘window’ in the print looks like a peephole into my soul… or belly button LOL

Grainline Alder Shirtdress

A very recent sewing hit. I’ve worn this a lot!. It’s easy to wear & I’m quite proud of my collar, placket & overall finish. I think I’m also emotionally attached to it as it was sewn on a happy, stress-free day – something I relished after some long, tough months.

I’ve got another Alder to share in the next few days!

Alder, view A - back view. I sense this will be worn A LOT this summer.

Alder, view A – back view. I sense this will be worn A LOT this summer.


There you have it. One indie (Grainline). One Vogue. One Vogue & indie (Maria Denmark) hybrid. One Japanese pattern book.

I love slightly fitted, draped clothes. I adore casual wear and love nothing more than an outfit that I can wear barefoot or with heels. It suits my lifestyle. I work fulltime (so corporate office wear five days a week) and when I’m not at work I like to relax – mentally and physically. We really do go to a quiet beach almost every weekend with the dog and spend plenty of time outside the house.

I’ve loved plenty of other things I’ve made, including my By Hand London Hollys or the dress Holly hack which were fun to make & joyous to wear (and I love that bodice). However for my everyday wear, these four makes/patterns are the ones I reach for the most often – clothes that feel most like ‘me’.

I often sew simply to experiment and challenge myself. I’ve always said I’m not always a practical blogger. I make things that are buzzing around in my head or make me happy (or I try to). My sewing room has many resident squirrels to distract me and one drunk monkey who wrecks havoc on my hems, buttonholes and topstitching when I’m too tired to fight him off.  However on my favourite sewing days, I’m making something I have envisaged and desperately want to wear – and it comes off the sewing machine like magic. Those are the great days.

Top 5 of 2014

Top 5 of 2014

The Grainline Alder Shirtdress, it’s more ‘me’

I like the fit across my back and shoulders. Grainlien Alder Dress

The latest shirtdress…

This year I’ve suffered from bouts of obsessional sewing. I’ve made three Hollys, three drop-waist dress (one still to be blogged), three draped singlet dresses and now three shirtdresses (sewing buttons on the third). I’ve really enjoyed taking a pattern, idea or something/anything and exploring it. That’s my favourite part of sewing, blogging and reading blogs – exploring variations. I also love sewing some patterns more than once if it triggers a burst of inspiration together – perhaps there is a miser hiding somewhere inside me (just not when it comes to fabric LOL).

While I love the idea of McCalls 6696 and I do like the shape on me… it just doesn’t feel like ‘me’. However I couldn’t give up the idea of a shirtdress.

I’m the first to confess I didn’t leap out of my skin when the Grainline Alder came out. However I just kept coming back to it after I finished the McCalls dress. Then I saw Cut Cut Sew’s version which I loved and I decided to take the plunge.

I had considered McCalls 6885 as made by Lori of Girls in the Garden, however there were no pattern sales locally, making the McCalls option quite expensive. I got out my Archer, tried it on and that sold me.

Why not just amend the Archer pattern if I had it? Excellent question and I wondered that myself when Alder was released. However the Archer has been drafted differently, as a sleeved shirt with the shoulders slightly oversized – there is a variation in the Alder sewalong if that’s what you want to do.

Anyway enough navel gazing and onto my make…

I spent last Friday sewing, at home by myself. It was heaven – decadent but work has been so overwhelming I needed a mental break. I sewed from about 9 to 4 – with a button-buying break around 2pm – thanks Lizzie for putting up with all my texted photos during the ‘audition process’ – and totally enabling the Alder sewing process!

Alder Dress Variations

Grainline Alder Dress – I made View A – the plain version on the right-hand side

The gathered skirt version appears to have been quite popular but the simplicity of the plainer version appealed to me.

Most of these pictures were taken by my husband while we were at the beach on Sunday morning with the kids, surfboards and Banjo. I didn’t even know he had taken most of them. The surf was rough, our favourite beach is unpatrolled (but it’s one of only two the dog can go to) meaning intense supervision is required when the kids go into the water.

Alder, view A - back view. I sense this will be worn A LOT this summer.

Alder, view A – back view. I sense this will be worn A LOT this summer. A very windy morning and rough surf – I was watching the kids like a hawk.

I confess I am not a massive fan of polka dots… I know I am not a very cool blogger. However they seemed just right for this dress and it’s such a gorgeous shade of blue.

Front view, this is very 'my lifestyle', simple, loosely fitted and casual.

Front view, this is very ‘my lifestyle’, simple, loosely fitted and casual.

Ok, my McCalls 6696 has a great shape… but I really do love the Alder. I like the fit across my shoulders and upper chest. There are also bust darts to add some shape. I like the curved hem that gives it that ‘boyfriend’ shirt look and that it’s not oversized. I like the back – without any gathers, pleats or added fullness. I love that it’s so simple and waist-less. It’s really very ‘me’ and my lifestyle.


After my contrast disaster shirtdress I opted for streamlined simplicity with this make, white top-stitching & white buttons.

Yoke: sewn using the Burrito method – not outlined in the instructions but you can watch the online video from the Archer sewalong.

I like the fit across my back and shoulders. Grainlien Alder Dress

I like the fit across my back and shoulders.

Collar: attached using the Four Square Walls method, read about it here. I’m really starting to enjoy sewing shirts and want to prove my skills.

I did have trouble with my top stitching with this fabric, I ended up using my heavy duty Singer for most of the collar band - it's a plodder of a machine but great for some jobs.

I did have trouble with my top stitching with this fabric, I ended up using my heavy duty Singer for most of the collar band – it’s a plodder of a machine but great for some jobs.

Armholes: I folded my binding in half (wrong sides together), placed the raw edges to the raw edges of the armhole, stitched and understitched, then turned it over to the inside, then top stitched it in place. I really hate folding the second raw edge of self-made bias binding under after I’ve sewn one edge to the armhole, it’s so fiddly and I have little patience – especially when it comes to ironing on a hot day! This fabric is rayon so this technique worked for me, perhaps on a heavier fabric it would add too much bulk.
Pockets: I’d move them up about 1/4 inch or so on my next version
Buttons: I am so glad I went with something that just ‘disappears’, it gives me the freedom to wear this dress plain or dress it up with whatever accessories and shoes I like. I wish I hadn’t added the last button near the hem. Oh well, I know for next time. Is there a next time? Oh yes… I’ve nearly finished it!
Length: I’m 5 foot 4, I did not alter the length at all.

Verdict? I do like this pattern and I’d recommend it. I found that it went together beautifully (not seamlessly – as there is a lot of seams LOL). I like it on me – it’s not as ‘shapely’ as the McCalls but that doesn’t mean it’s shapeless. I’ve really enjoyed wearing this.

Pattern: Grainline Alder Shirtdress, purchased by me. There is an Alder Sewalong on the Grainline blog with lots of tips and variations if you are interested.
Fabric: Printed Rayon from Spotlight, Australia (sold out in my local store). Purchased by me at a 30% fabric sale, usually about $12 a metre. I used about 2m. I’m tossing up whether to make a self-fabric belt for this as I like Cut Cut Sew’s one… but it’s so tempting to squeeze a little summer top out of the scraps instead. This is lovely fabric to wear and doesnlt seem to crush as badly as other rayons.

Also see: Little Betty Sews | Tiff Toffee | Ginger Made | Pincushion Treats | Sew Unravelled | Holly Anna Bella | Justina Sews | just google image Grainline Alder Shirtdress there are quite a few out there!