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!

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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.

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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!

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

—lisa g.

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 🙂

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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!

—lisa g.