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 🙂


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.


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.


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.


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.


…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!

—lisa g.

36 thoughts on “grainline studio | alder dress

  1. Jen says:

    Looks so good & I love the white snaps! I also want a silk ruffled one (well another one) – I’m thinking black or charcoal grey crepe de chine… Or forest green. Ahhh, decisions decisions.

  2. Jillian says:

    This looks great! I am sewing along at the moment and loving how it’s coming together. I so didn’t factor in the forward shoulder seam. As a result although I did a 1″ SBA as well I’ve got bust darts somewhere around my waist! I held the pattern paper to myself and thought “wow these darts are just the right height”. Yeah, if the seams had been on my shoulder. Bugger. A next time fix. I think I’d follow your lead with raising the armhole as well. It’s looking very low. But I still love it.

  3. coco says:

    Great dress! I just did the gathered version, just love this pattern, Jen did such a great job with it. The black dot chambray is really nice, I’m going to give it a look. Cute little guy!

  4. Jana says:

    I love your version! That black dot chambray is awesome, the snaps go well with it, and all of your topstitching looks really precise. I would steal this off your back right away if I got the chance!
    I have a somewhat related question that I’m sure I could ask any number of people, but since I’m here already and I’m pretty sure you know … Is the Alder collar the same as the Archer collar? It looks really similar on the pattern illustrations and on the photos I’ve seen so far, but I’d like to know for sure, if you could perhaps tell me. Thanks!

    • lisa g says:

      thanks! once i saw this chambray, no other fabric would do. it’s really a perfect match!

      as for the collar, it’s similar to the archer but not identical. the stand and collar appear to be the same width, but the archer has more of a gap at the center (as in, if you buttoned the collar stand the alder collar meets at CF, whereas the archer doesn’t). i also think the alder neckline is shaped slightly different, not sure without laying the pieces on top of each other, but i think the alder sits a little nicer. also, i don’t remember if this one has the bias cut undercollar, i only traced off the upper pattern piece. i prefer to trim the undercollar and stretch it to fit, it gives a nice crisp finish that way. hope that helps!

      • Jana says:

        That helps a lot, thank you!
        I’ve been debating whether or not to get the Alder pattern, and as I don’t really like the shape of the original Archer collar (on me, at least), that would be one of the most interesting things about the Alder for me. But then I’ve already drafted a collar for the Archer that I like better, and done the sleeveless adjustment, so perhaps I’ll try an Archer dress first and decide then. (:

      • lisa g says:

        i always planned on turning the archer into a dress, but just never did! i think i’ll be adjusting the archer collar to lay more like the alder next time… probably soon since i have more archer fabric!

  5. lilysageandco says:

    Great dress! It’s very cute! Great idea on the fish eye darts. I think they make the shape lovely – I wouldn’t have thought there were darts in the dress until you said, so you’ve done really well taking out the right amount to keep the design the same but fit it beautifully. Liking the white snaps. I must have missed your IG post 😉

    • lisa g says:

      initially i had taken much more out in the darts (2″ total) but it felt like i was fighting the shape too much. i figure if i’m in the mood for less billowy, i can always belt it! thanks! 🙂

  6. gilliancrafts says:

    This is looks great! I didn’t see as many of these popping up right away as I expected, but I guess they ewre justtaking a little longer to sew, because now I’ve seen lots of great versions! This is going to be so good with leggings, boots and a cardigan in winter, too. And kuddos to your wee photographer! 🙂

    • lisa g says:

      thanks! i picked this fabric specifically because i thought it would look cute layered! i’m sure more finished alders will surface throughout the sew-a-long, it’s such a versatile pattern really.

  7. kathi giumentaro says:

    I know we both shop at the same fabric stores but how weird that we both ordered the same Kaufman black dot chambray fabric on-line and made an Alder? I’ve made 3 Alder dresses so far. I love this pattern.
    I commented on your last post. To answer your question, I don’t have a blog or flicker. I need to get with it.

  8. monica L. says:

    Looove! I definitely think the white snaps were the right decision, and I’m sure you’re glad you waited till you found the perfect fabric! Oh, and I love it paired with the red shoes 😉

  9. liza jane says:

    Love the black chambray! I have mostly finished my alder (I made the ruffled version in linen) but I need to do the buttonholes. I’m trying to get up the nerve. Love the white snaps, too!

    • lisa g says:

      thanks, i’m completely in love with the alder! it’s the kind of dress that works perfectly into my lifestyle. and i’ll definitely be snagging some silk CDC on my next fabric run 😉

  10. Heather says:

    I love this! And what a great idea with the fish eye darts. I want to do that too! I really like the white snaps too – more classic and perfect with the red shoes!

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