Monday, 12 January 2015

Alder V neck Variation

Dear Bloggers,

It's not often that I make something thinking it will not suit me then prove myself wrong! (Thank goodness for quick, rough unfinished muslins!) I was unsure about this view even though I was happy with my summery cotton Alder which I had to take it in as it was very loose through the body.  It runs big. I hesitate to say that about any pattern..I may be short and I may have lost weight but I am neither small boned or willowy. This bod was born for the tractor, not the runway!

Anyway, after figuring out that the skirt variation would not make me look like the fore mentioned tractor, or a four year old, I went ahead and drafted it with a v neck. Here it is.

I should post a pic of my muslin, I will try to add one later. Due to the muslin I fixed a floppy v neck and raised the whole skirt of the dress to make this work.

Edit:  Here's pics of the unfinished muslin. Do you like my 'studio' backdrop? It was worth a try. I might go further to the right next time and move my's the cheap poly that convinced me there was hope for gathers, as long as I kept to the inverted triangle shape of the dress..

While I was shooting I did a plain photo of the zebra dress. It reminds me of 'first day at school' shots..

The modifications:

I needed the skirt to sit 2.5 cm higher than the size 12 line, so I raised it to the highest cutting line. I had to lengthen the front skirt insert at the waist to match. I shortened the back bodice to match the new skirt side seam and raised the back skirt at the waist by the same amount. I then straightened the curve of the back bodice to account for my sway back.

BTW even though I cut everything to a size 12 I left fullness in the skirt both front and back by cutting 14 in width because of the softness of my material.

I added 1cm to the edge of the patch pockets, like before. I also added in seam pockets to the side seams of the skirt. 

The material is a lovely rayon from Spotlight. Yes I said 'lovely' 'rayon' and 'Spotlight' in the same sentence! I have not bought much rayon in recent years, I am used to it being thin and poor quality but this was thick enough not to need lining and gutsy enough to have drape but soft enough to feel nice. Amazing! It was hiding near the craft section, folded on card like the quilting stuff is. There were a few prints..some were quite tropical. I'm feeling tempted to go get more ;) When I prewashed it the was some shrinkage but the quality remained good. 

Even though I'd gone down a size from my previous alder I still raised the bottom of the armscye 1cm both front and back.  I added half a cm to the width of the armhole binding bands. It just makes them easier to work with. As before I shortened the length of the dress by 5cm all round then a further 2cm off the back dip, using my previous Alder as a guide.

Then I modified my pattern to make my v neck. I treat my patterns rough. I fold them, scribble on them and tape bits on to them...The beautiful thing about having a PDF is I can do something else later and print off some more pieces. 

First I cut off the self facing, leaving 3cm of width from the CF line as I was going to add my own facings.

To figure out the new neckline I pinned the shoulder yoke to the front body pattern piece (because the front itself does not go to the shoulder)  then measured my side neck to where I wanted the point of the 'v' to sit. This is your V measurement at the CF but - then go up 1cm for seam allowances, 1 cm for the fact that it will overlap, then 1cm for the fact that any curved neckline will tend to gape more than a straight line will. Then re-draw the new neckline with a gentle curve from side neck at shoulder level to centre front. If you look at my pattern piece you may notice that I also pinched out a skinny half centimetre 'dart' where my muslin had gaped.  

Basically measure to the start of your cleavage then go about 3cm  higher at the CF point of your 'V' - or to where you want. 

Here is Jen's Grainline Tutorial for V Neck Alder She scoops out the back neckline a bit as well, uses the cut on facing and just binds the neck. Her variation may make more sense than mine! 

Here's my redrawn neckline.

I  traced off a 6 cm wide facing.

My construction went like this:

Interface the front facings and one of the back yoke. I used very lightweight iron on interfacing.

Construct the fronts - do the darts, sew in the front skirt panels. sew on the facings and turn to the inside. Topstitch.

Sew the yokes together at the back neck, trim, press, topstitch.

Sandwich the front yoke seams between the yoke front edge seams and stitch, then turn inside out, grade, press then topstitch. 

Sew the back skirt to the back bodice.

Sew the back bodice to the back yoke seams.

Press under the seam allowance of the back facing. Topstitch in place over the back yoke seam.

Do the side pockets and side seams.

Do the armhole bindings. Do the hem, buttonholes and buttons and there you are!

My version is a bit fiddly but this is now my favourite hot weather dress! 

Don't forget Anne at Petty Grievances is hosting Jungle January. This dress is my jungly conttribution.



p.s. If you've come here from Pattern Review, welcome to my blog!


  1. Another great Summer sew, Val, and it looks cool and lovely. A red car makes such a good accessory, too! x

  2. Love love love your dress! this is my favorite way to do this pattern. Such fun to wear and so comfortable. You look GREAT!

  3. Your modifications worked beautifully -: it's such a pretty dress on you, and I think you got the waist and skirt lengths absolutely spot on! This is one of my favourite alders...

  4. Looking good! Fab pattern and really suits you :-)

  5. A very nice jungly contribution I must say. Glad to see it worked out nicely for you.

  6. Really cute dress. I like the v-neck line.. Happy sewing.

  7. LOVE IT. The shape is just perfect. You know, I've wondered if having the skirt sit higher on my waist would fix my issues with the alder I made. Don't think I'll take mine all apart to do it but if I make the v-neck. You may have convinced me to try the alder pattern again.

    1. I actually went back and re read your post about your Alder because I remembered you had issues with the armhole and it wasn't just me. I hope you can find some way if wearing yours - even if you pop a T shirt underneath. I hope you do give the pattern another go too.

  8. You certainly look happy with your new dress as you should be, it looks great on you and I really like the v-neckline.

  9. Love your new dress and jungly fabric. It looks like a cool and comfy summer dress.

  10. Looks great. Thanks for the tip on the pattern -- I've not seen it before and it is a great summer dress.