grainline studio | alder dress

i’m sure it’s no surprise that i pounced on the Alder Shirtdress about the second it was released. i love the ease, the button up style, and the knowledge that i’m getting some top notch drafting. and thank goodness Jen put this one in print, because the pdf would have been pretty cumbersome to assemble! not that that would have stopped me though.

note: if my dress looks a little wrinkly, or seams puckery, it’s because i washed it right after i finished sewing, but didn’t bother pressing ūüôā

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i went with the shift version¬†because i really like the swingy hemline and lack of frills. so many times in the past month i’ve stood in my closet deciding what to wear thinking¬†man, an alder dress would be perfect for today… so if that’s not a good omen, i don’t know what is. fabric hunting was a little tricky, and¬†i had a hard time finding something¬†that would be opaque enough to not require a slip. (note to self: make a slip damnit!) i checked out the Robert Kaufman denim for some quality chambray and fell in love with the chambray dot in black.

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since i have that pear shape going on, i muslined the dress first. i went with a 6 on top, grading to an 8 at the waist, then a 10 at the hip. the size 6 was still 1″ bigger than my bust measurement, so i did a 1″ SBA. the dart is pretty small to begin with, so i may¬†have been able to get¬†away without fussing with it. however, i’m always annoyed when i end up with¬†excess fabric in front. i also raised the bust dart by 3/4″, and raised the armhole by the same amount. these fall in my normal list of pattern alterations, so no surprise there.

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as anticipated, i had excess fabric in the back so i added some fisheye darts. each dart only took out 1/2″ (1″ total) because i wanted to stay in keeping with the original design. this isn’t a fitted dress, and i wasn’t about to change that! the darts worked great, but i would also be interested in trying out princess seams in the back. i think it could be a nice design feature and allow for more controlled¬†shaping. plus it’s another seam that could be topstitched. ya know, if you’re into that sort¬†of thing.

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the last thing i did was lengthen the dress by 1/2″. i was pretty happy with the unhemmed length of my muslin, and given that i’m 5’8″ (and especially long from¬†waist to knee) i decided a tiny bit of length would be a good thing. it’s still pretty short, but i think it would start to look frumpy on me if lengthened any more.

this guy decided to join me

this guy decided to join me…

after mostly constructing the dress, it occurred to me that¬†snaps would look really great instead of buttons. i sent out a little plea on IG about whether i should go with the berry color i had on hand or order some white snaps. IG overwhelmingly voted berry… being the contrarian i am, i went with white. i have a hunch that white will be my long-term preference, even if it meant another $10 and waiting three days. ultimately i want¬†to be able to layer this dress with sweaters and tights, and white snaps would give me the most options.

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…and then offered to take my picture. not too bad for a 5-yr old

so yeah. i¬†really, really,¬†really love how this dress came out, and i can imagine several versions of it¬†in my wardrobe. a silk ruffled version is definitely calling my name. wouldn’t that be heavenly to swish around in? hopefully that happens sooner rather than later!

‚ÄĒlisa g.

sleeveless archer in silk

it was only a matter of time before i made the ubiquitous grainline studio archer in a fabulous silk print. i prefer not to waste my precious fabrics on untested patterns, and since i’ve made the archer¬†so. many. times. i felt no¬†hesitation slicing into this beautiful yardage of silk crepe de chine. i love a good polka dot, but i ADORE an irregular polka dot. throw in the squiggly lines around those dots and i was a gonner. oh, and i got it for $10/yd at my local sewfisticated. their selection can be hit or miss, but it’s rare that i walk¬†out of that place without at least one unique gem of a fabric at a stellar price.

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paired with my always in rotation moss skirt

i knew immediately that i wanted a sleeveless archer, having recently made one with good results (sadly, pilling beyond all rationality so it mostly stays home‚ÄĒsob!). since i was dealing with a floaty semi-sheer silk, i made sure to pick up some¬†fine sewing thread (they carry it at joanns, chances are you just haven’t noticed). i recall from David Coffin’s¬†Shirtmaking book that he suggests using a finer thread than your regular¬†all purpose coats & clark.

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i have to say that it made a world of difference. in previous silk makes it was very difficult to sew without the seams puckering up, even if only slightly. the fine thread i used here did well gliding through the fabric without snagging or puckering. see, it’s not only necessary to use the proper needle, but the proper thread as well! it also made my topstitching look excellent, if i do say so myself. and ya’ll know how much i love my topstitching. ūüėČ

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speaking of topstitching, typically you want to increase¬†the stitch length. however, in shirtmaking, especially with dressier shirts, you actually decrease the stitch length (2-2.5 setting on my machine). go pull out one of your hubby/significant other’s business shirts and you’ll see what i mean. a shorter stitch length and a finer sewing thread will give you a most professional finish.

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i messed around with the button position in order to add one extra¬†button down the front. from the original pattern, i’ve lengthened the shirt by about 1″ and that always left a weird space at the bottom. my second button ends up a little higher than i’d really prefer, but eh, no biggie.

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i had to be extra careful about my seam trimming since you can see the seam allowances through¬†the semi-sheer fabric. i took my time and kept them at about 1/4″. the yoke is fully encased, and the side seams are frenched. no exposed seam allowances means it looks nice and tidy on the inside. honestly, this is one of my best finished shirts and i’m quite proud of it.

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despite taking my time i was still able to sew it completely in about 3 sittings. without those pesky sleeves to deal with, it sews up pretty fast. also, silk crepe de chine is a good silk to work with. it has a nice grip which makes sewing pretty painless, really. the bias binding is a different story, but you could always sub a cotton voile for those bits. plus, silk blouses are just heaven to wear! i plan to get loads of use out of this top.

‚ÄĒlisa g.