a very loud alder shirtdress

Hey guys! June was a major whirlwind around these parts, with school finishing up and the accompanying busyness that ensues. Then we took off for our family vacation as soon as school was out and were gone for almost two weeks. We drove cross country, from (west of) Boston all the way to my home town in the middle of Kansas. It’s about a 24 hour drive, but with kids who have bladders the size of a walnut, it ends up being much, much longer. Oy. Not my favorite trek, but flights to KS (for a family of six) are just crazy expensive. We managed to visit some friends and family both coming and going in order to convince ourselves that it was worth the effort!


Anyway, we’re back now, so here is a Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress I furiously sewed up before our trip. I jumped on this pattern the second it came out, but have only sewed it up once. THE SHAME! But I’ve had a hard time finding the right fabric since I needed it to be opaque, but not so stiff that it would be difficult to gather or not hang nicely. My dive of a fabric shop, Sewfisticated, stepped up to the plate and delivered this super awesome fabric. It’s a cotton sateen, but light weight enough to be a shirting fabric. It has the right drape and it’s perfectly opaque and the pattern is a large scale paisley. I could hardly believe my luck! Man I love that shop. Hardly anything is priced above $4/yd, unless it’s silk or wool.


As I cut the dress out, I began to doubt my choice of admittedly very loud fabric. However, giant paisley=awesome so I kept at it. I’m very glad I did, because I think it’s a super fun dress. It wasn’t super fun finding buttons though. Purple is a pretty difficult color to match, and JoAnn’s yielded nothing. Shocking. Eventually I found something passable at Fabric Basement. Is it too picky to say that I prefer a four hole button when it comes to button ups? I suppose it can be forgiven since it’s a women’s dress and not a men’s shirt, but whatever. Random note: The pattern and website says you need 9 buttons, but you actually need 10. I had to leave off the last buttonhole because my buttons came in a pack of 3, and thus I only bought 9 buttons!

Fitting tweaks:

I’ve made view A before, so I had a good idea of the fitting tweaks I would need. I cut a 6 in the bodice with a teeny tiny SBA. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t even need to bother because the dart is fairly small to begin with. On the front, I graded the side seam out to the 8 (per my measurements) but left the back at a 6. My lower back is narrow and I would have been tempted to add darts for shaping, so I figured keeping the smaller size would have similar effect. Last time I raised the bust darts and armholes, but really what I needed was a petite adjustment, which is easier anyway. I shortened the bodice above the bust by 1/2″ and now everything is in place. I think I still added 1/4″ or so the the armholes, because I detest low armholes. Also, I feel as though I should raise the pockets by another 1/2″ or so, because the current placement kinda flattens my chest a bit, visually.

For the skirt portion, I cut a 10 (per my hip measurement). Then I sliced and lengthened the skirt by 1″ at the L/S line. I do wish I had another 1/2″ to 1″ in length, because I feel a bit exposed as is. The side curves up and feels really short, but I love the swoop of the back hemline. I carry my width in my thighs, so I feel mildly porky with my small upper body, skinny ankles, but thick thighs. Oh well… I will continue to wear this dress and hopefully make a few more in time!


So that’s that. Great pattern, fit, style… everything. I’ll be sewing this up every time I find Alder-appropriate fabric!

—lisa g.

41 thoughts on “a very loud alder shirtdress

    • lisa g says:

      Thank you! It was a long haul, but totally worth it. So glad I was able to find matching buttons, even if they aren’t exactly what I wanted!

    • lisa g says:

      Aw thanks, I think the hem just hits at an awkward place on the side so it’s the first thing my eye is drawn too. Not gonna keep me from wearing it though!

  1. Jillian - SewUnravelled says:

    It’s absolutely gorgeous!! And thick thighs? Seriously, no. Such a great print and perfectly suited to the dress. You look summery perfect. I think I’ll lengthen my next version too. I find it looks fine from the front, fine from the back, but the side swoop ups are scandolous 🙂

    • lisa g says:

      Yes! Have to be careful not to catch a breeze! The husband is particularly fond of this dress though… hmm… ;-). And thank you, I’ve always been self-conscious of my hips and thighs so I suppose I see them out of proportion to reality!

  2. kristin says:

    Very pretty! Don’t know about you, but I reach for my Alder all the time when it gets warm outside and I want to look nice – two in the wardrobe is probably a good idea!! I always learn from you when you talk about your fitting adjustments. 🙂

  3. Heather says:

    It looks fantastic! That fabric is perfect. You are not porky at all, but I found with my gathered Alders that it does seem like there is a bit too much fabric around the centre front/button band in the skirt area, and I don’t really like how it poofs out on me. It certainly doesn’t stop me from wearing it though.
    PS: Those crazy family roadtrips are how the best memories are made!

    • lisa g says:

      Thank you, Heather! Seriously couldn’t believe my luck finding that fabric. I do think that fabric choice is very critical for not getting too much poof at the front. I’m considering extending the gathers all the way around and ditching the inset for a future version. We’ll see… And I think the hemline on the side just hits me in an awkward place so all I see is thigh!

  4. teri dodds says:

    I love this dress! The fabric is so much fun and works perfectly for this style. I made this version last year and haven’t quite gotten to where it fits again. I feel the same way about the length. I definitely have giant thighs that I like to keep covered and I could use some extra length in the front and on the sides.

    • lisa g says:

      Thanks, Teri! I’m so torn on the length, but like I said–no hesitation in wearing it as is. And I feel your pain in the thigh department… in fairness mine are pretty muscular from exercise, but still.

  5. crab and bee says:

    I like the paisley! There must be some kind of magic happening between the fabric and pattern because your dress looks just right.

    Isn’t it funny when we run up against our perceived flaws? I’m super sensitive of sleeves and necklines because of my shoulder hang-ups. Hopefully wearing the dress and looking awesome in it will ease your mind!

    • lisa g says:

      Definite magic happening between fabric and pattern! And I get what you’re saying about our perceived flaws, and most of the time nobody would even notice until we go and point them out!

  6. Lizzy says:

    Gorgeous dress – giant Paisley does indeed equal awesome! I shortened this version slightly and found also that the scooped up sides does indeed make it very short. I’ve made three alders and will definitely be making more in a few months – brilliantly wearable design

    • lisa g says:

      I’m such a sucker for paisley! I think the scooped up sides are just too cute of a feature for me to bother messing with… regardless of leg exposure!

  7. Carolyn says:

    This look gorgeous on you! perfectly summery fresh 🙂 I’ve made shirt dresses before with scooped up hems, and as you say, when the dress is the right length front and back, the side seams are then uncomfortably high! but you’ve got great legs so deserve to show them off!

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