Grainline Alder Pattern Hack tutorial – removing the side darts and adding gathers

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Grainline / patternhacks / Sewing / sewing tutorials / Tutorials

I’ve got a pattern hack tutorial!  Now , I just want to say if you’re one of my readers who has never sewn before, I hope this tutorial doesn’t turn you off trying.  I just went back, looked at it, and realised it looks super daunting.  I hope this tutorial actually inspires you to take it up, because look at how much shit you can do when you make your own clothes!

I’ve already talked about how much I love the Grainline Alder pattern here but if there’s one thing I didn’t like, it’s the darts.  I felt like this dress/shirt was very drapey and floaty in silhouette and the darts just didn’t jive with that.  Since I made the original, I found the darts were way too low for me but it didn’t affect fit at all.  In fact, I often forget they’re there, which made me wonder why they needed to be there in the first place.

The other reason I did that is because I have this favourite sleeveless button up which features lightly gathered shoulder seams.  I wear that shirt almost every day to work and it was getting old.  I knew I had to copy it soon before the original fell apart and I had nothing to wear (NOTHING) and be naked all day, so voila Grainline Alder pattern hack here.

Grainline Alder - dartless version

The general premise of this pattern hack is we’re going to move the side dart up to the shoulder seam and instead of sewing in the darts, we’re just going to gather the front bodice shoulder seam instead.  Now I am not a professionally trained patternmaker or seamstress or anything like that, so I don’t know if what I did was technically sound per se.  I did what felt right, made a muslin and liked the look of it.  With that said, all feedback and tips appreciated so please let me know if you have any feedback.

Step 1: Gather your Supplies

You’ll need a ruler, pen, scissors, some tape/glue, and an assembled Alder bodice front and yoke. The yoke is in pages 28 and 29 of the pdf, the bodice front for version A is on pages 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21.  Stick all your pattern pieces together and cut out a bodice front and yoke.

Step 2: Extending the Yoke

We’ll be making the shoulder bit of the yoke longer so it extends to the front more.  As you can see in the photo, this version of the Alder doesn’t have a shoulder seam that sits on the shoulder.


Firstly, draw a line about 4.5cm perpendicular to the shoulder seam on your front bodice, then chop this off.  This chopped off bit will be attached as an extension to your yoke piece.  You’ll need to add a seam allowance to the bodice shoulder seam and the yoke shoulder seam later.  I wrote them down on the pattern pieces so I don’t forget to add them later.

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Now you want to attach your extension that you chopped off the front bodice to your yoke piece.  You want to overlap these two pieces when you attach them by the seam allowance (1.5cm).

So, mark a 1.5cm seam allowance in on the extension piece at the shoulder seam and tape the yoke to the extension piece, matching at the neckline.  It’s important that the neckline is flush between the two pieces.

Now add the 1.5 seam allowance to your new shoulder seam the extension piece.  I pasted an extra piece of orange paper underneath.

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Now just cut off the scraggly bits off the sides into a nice curve, and you’ve got yourself your new yoke piece.

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 Step 3: Moving the Dart on the Bodice

Draw a line right through the middle of the dart to the dart point.  Then, draw a line from the middle of the shoulder seam to the dart point. Cut right through the middle of the dart to just before the dart point.  Then, cut through the line from the middle of the shoulder seam to just before the dart point.

Close the dart as if you were sewing it and tape/glue this down closed. Now move the new dart at the shoulder open so the pattern lays flat.  Essentially you’re just moving the dart somewhere else, this time from the side seam to the shoulder seam.

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Tape a piece of paper under your new dart.  Draw a line from the neck point to the shoulder – this line will be your new shoulder seam.  This seam needs a seam allowance though, so draw one in.

The last picture shows the completed modified front bodice pattern.  This modified bodice will have a front bodice seam longer than the yoke seam.  

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Sewing instructions:

Easy peasy.  When attaching the front bodice to the yoke, gently gather the front shoulder seam to fit the yoke shoulder seam and sew together.  

Some notes:

I know the picture I used at the top shows a short Alder shirt version.  All I did was chop off the bottom of the Alder.  Make sure you smooth your hem out when you do this.

This modification of the Alder doesn’t change how much room the Alder allowed for bust in the first place, rather all I did was move the room around.  Therefore, if you originally had issues with the Alder being too roomy or too small for your bust, it’s probably best to do that adjustment first before proceeding with this pattern hack.

Closing notes:

This is my first sewing tutorial so any feedback/thoughts are super duper appreciated!  Let me know how I went, I had great fun making this and I hope to make more in the future.



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