Grainline Alder – Mandarin blouse muslin

Muslin time! I’ve been thinking about drafting a mandarin collar blouse for 8 years – ever since I saw a young woman in the dentist office wearing a white sleeveless version over jeans. It was so fresh and feminine.

I’m right in the middle of making a dress, but decided to stop and get started on the blouse.

My starting point was the beautiful Grainline Alder shirtdress. It’s so well-drafted and lends itself to many variations.

Some time ago, Jen posted a tutorial on a band collar option, using just the collar stand. Brilliant!

Sewing notes:

  • I started with the size 8, with a few tweaks to accommodate my hollow chest and thin neck.
  • The collar stand – I wanted it a bit higher with a fuller curve at the front edge. And no button.

I’m so pleased with the result!

  • Impossible to see on this print, I also added 2.5″ to width of the back piece, gathered into the yoke. I just like the added ease provided by this small change and have incorporated it in all my Alder shirtdress versions.
  • This muslin has a CB of 25″, but I’m planning to narrow this hem and lengthen future versions to 26.5″
  • Miscellaneous: my fabric is cotton voile from Fabric Mart. To ensure that the collar would not be floppy, I interfaced it with midweight non-woven interfacing. And I used cotton broadcloth to interface the front button bands.
  • I also drafted 2″ wide facings for the neckline, front and back, to add stability around the collar seam.

Great project, soon to be sewn in white fabric.

Parting note: You guys are the best. I am so uplifted by all the thoughtful comments on my last post. I really do feel that I have a team of friends supporting me. Thank you πŸ™‚ Coco

Felix and the hidden zebras


It’s 94 degrees outside, and I’m taking full advantage of the drape and float of rayon challis. This little number is a play on the Grainline Studio Felix dress.

line art

I apologize for the ‘bad’ photos. I was using my camera phone, had it propped on a pillow in a chair, and I just didn’t feel like getting picky. But I do love this pattern. The neckline is so flattering, comfortable, and feminine. See the zebras? This challis is from Fabric Mart’s ‘Famous Dress Designer’, snagged on sale at $4.20/yard. So cute!


Sewing notes:

  • I recently redrafted my Felix pattern to size 6 (my previous pattern was size 8, and it was way too big on me).
  • As in past versions, I did not line this dress. It’s so simple to make without a lining.
  • I also cut both sides of the bodice using the right bodice pattern pieces. This puts evenly-distributed fabric weight into the bodice/skirt seam. And it bypasses the tricky sewing of the band, as described in the original pattern. IMHO, that band treatment alone can be very off-putting and significantly raises the difficulty level of this dress.


  • A tip on the band: rather than use fusible interfacing, I underlined the band with lightweight poly/cotton broadcloth. All those bias edges are challenging enough without having a fusible shrink the fabric. Honestly, I seldom use fusible interfacing now, it’s just too likely to compromise the shape, size, and appearance of a pattern piece. Shirt and coat-makers, do not cringe. There are some lovely fusible interfacings available for those garments.
  • For fun, I added 4″ to the midi-length hemline, and then I added a 5″ deep ruffle. Kicky πŸ™‚
  • Since this version is sleeveless, I also trimmed about 5/8″ off the entire armscye before adding self-fabric bias binding.


This is actually my second dress with this design. The first is also in rayon challis from Fabric Mart, but overwhelmed with house decisions, I just posted it on Instagram. I also wore it for 4 days running, while waiting impatiently for the zebras to arrive.

Screen Shot 2019-05-14 at 12.49.19 PM

Stay cool – or warm, and happy sewing. Ciao! Coco

Grainline Studio Felix – redrafted!


I am such a fan of the Felix dress. When it first came out, I made a couple right away.

line art


Interestingly, I made the size 8, and it was big on me.

By the time I made my beloved pickle green version, I was holding it in the back to take a picture πŸ™‚


Time to rethink and redraft. I reprinted the pattern and drafted the size 4. Big difference! And it also highlighted an issue I often encounter. I’m flat-chested, and my left shoulder is 3/4″ higher than my right shoulder (scoliosis at work). The resulting bodice, with no changes, was really discouraging. Bad on Emile, worse on me.

original with pull

Having constructed the bodice, I went to work. Changes I made:

  • I lifted the bottom line of the bodice by about 4″, then realigned the base of the v-neck to allow for the shoulder business.
  • I trimmed the front skirt to have a shallow curve to match with my new bodice.
  • And I took a bit of the flare out of the torso area.



Much better!!



Last change: I did not include the pockets included with the pattern. My dress is unlined, and the original pockets do not finish nicely without the lining. Instead, I used the pockets from Simplicity 8640, a favorite, and attached them once my dress was finished.

Fabric: Floral Medley Print stretch poplin, Fabric Mart

front closeup 1

I love to sew!

BTW, I also love the JellyPop Dallas slip-on sneakers I found at Belk. I have arthritis in my instep, and conventional lace-up sneaks hurt the top of my foot. These are so comfortable, like going barefoot (3 colors now).

Ciao! Coco

Is it Christmas yet? Maxi Alder


The time between Halloween and Christmas is my favorite season. So of course I had to make a fun dress to wear!

Actually I searched everywhere for the fabric equivalent of the ugly Christmas sweater. Maybe I looked too soon, but I found this cute stripe pattern, complete with silver snowflakes, at Walmart.


I just cut the Grainline Alder dress to a maxi length. And added a 1.25″ waistband, with elastic, for my first go at a Christmas dress.



It took about 3 yards, but I bought 4, just enough to make a little something else…

Loving the holidays…Coco

V-neck Alder top in jersey knit


It’s a beautiful cool south Florida morning! Only about 65Β°, and I’m actually cold in these pics πŸ™‚

Recently I made the Grainline Studio Alder as a v-neck top, two actually, in Brussels washer linen (post here and here). After wearing them, I realized that they’re a bit large, and the v-neck is a little wider than I like. Not to worry, I washed them a few times to shrink them, and all is well.

However – I decided to draft the pattern in a smaller size (8 instead of 10) and to sew it in cotton/lycra jersey. So brave… and a great result!

Sewing notes:

  • As before, I used the self-faced left side for the right side as well, eliminating the attached button band. I re-shaped the v-neckline to be more narrow and 1″ higher and drafted new facings.

f1 2

New neckline and smaller size

  • I can pull this over my head, so I just attached the buttons through both sides, with no buttonholes. Yes, I was avoiding the angst of sewing a buttonhole in a knit fabric!
  • To add some back interest, I added 2.5″ to the width of the lower back and gathered it into the yoke.


  • The back yoke is unlined, which keeps the ‘weight’ of the fabric even from neck to hem and decreases bulk in the armhole binding.

Top: Fabric Merchants cotton/lycra jersey,

  • My finished center back length is 26.5″.
  • And I didn’t used pockets on the front. I did cut them out and prep them, but they didn’t look right, they were just too heavy for this knit.

I’m loving the pants I’m wearing, McCalls 7634 (first post here). A little tattoo art for Halloween!

Pants:Β Tattoo Tigers, Hearts, Roses jersey, Cali Fabrics

Speaking of Halloween, my cute Ashley in costume for the Halloween party she and Darrin host every year πŸ™‚


Happy Halloween! Coco

Alder variation and cleaning the loft!


Second post today. I’ve been in house-cleaning mode all day (I should be wearing a Lucille Ball head scarf), and I decided to take a break and get some photos of a blouse that’s been aging in the loft. So I can wear it πŸ™‚

I love the Grainline Alder dress, it has such a nice silhouette, and it’s easy to modify. For this blouse, I decided to create a fold-and-gather detail for the back. Back details on garments intrigue me. IMHO, something should be interesting both coming and going.

Itty bits: I split the back and drafted it to have a fold with gathers in a lower skirt.


The fold is at the height of the bust dart and is 1″ deep. I added a couple inches to the bottom piece for the gathers.


Love this look. Kind of Audrey Hepburn. I think it would be fantastic on a dress version.


I wanted to take pics outside, but the rainy season persists. Wind, rain, but the garden and I are happy.

While doing all the terry cloth project clean-up, I realized I have more things to blog. I have had them hanging in the loft, and they’ve been neglected! Another day…

Bye for now – Coco

Linen blouse trifecta

Fabric: Kaufman Brussers washer linen from

Before I got caught up in my recent kaftan, linen shift, and apron saga, I spent a few interesting days drafting a top for jeans. I’ve always loved a white blouse/jeans combo.


Trifecta – I used three patterns! The sleeve is from the Allie Olson Highlands Wrap Dress, the front bodice from the V-neck variation of Grainline Studio’s Alder dress, and the back is from The Sewing Workshop Trio Top.


Funky, right? Pics:



The real challenge was the back because the Trio top is quite boxy and oversized. I made a copy of the back of the Alder dress and incorporated the Trio detail to fit. Then I cut out the pieces, added width to the skirt center back for the gathers, and drew everything again with seam allowances. A jigsaw puzzle πŸ™‚


(Below, I moved just as the camera clicked. Aaargh)


A kickback to the 70’s – I think I’d really like it in white cotton jersey as well.

Bye for now, Coco