This year I’ve suffered from bouts of obsessional sewing. I’ve made three Hollys, three drop-waist dress (one still to be blogged), three draped singlet dresses and now three shirtdresses (sewing buttons on the third). I’ve really enjoyed taking a pattern, idea or something/anything and exploring it. That’s my favourite part of sewing, blogging and reading blogs – exploring variations. I also love sewing some patterns more than once if it triggers a burst of inspiration together – perhaps there is a miser hiding somewhere inside me (just not when it comes to fabric LOL).
While I love the idea of McCalls 6696 and I do like the shape on me… it just doesn’t feel like ‘me’. However I couldn’t give up the idea of a shirtdress.
I’m the first to confess I didn’t leap out of my skin when the Grainline Alder came out. However I just kept coming back to it after I finished the McCalls dress. Then I saw Cut Cut Sew’s version which I loved and I decided to take the plunge.
I had considered McCalls 6885 as made by Lori of Girls in the Garden, however there were no pattern sales locally, making the McCalls option quite expensive. I got out my Archer, tried it on and that sold me.
Why not just amend the Archer pattern if I had it? Excellent question and I wondered that myself when Alder was released. However the Archer has been drafted differently, as a sleeved shirt with the shoulders slightly oversized – there is a variation in the Alder sewalong if that’s what you want to do.
Anyway enough navel gazing and onto my make…
I spent last Friday sewing, at home by myself. It was heaven – decadent but work has been so overwhelming I needed a mental break. I sewed from about 9 to 4 – with a button-buying break around 2pm – thanks Lizzie for putting up with all my texted photos during the ‘audition process’ – and totally enabling the Alder sewing process!
The gathered skirt version appears to have been quite popular but the simplicity of the plainer version appealed to me.
Most of these pictures were taken by my husband while we were at the beach on Sunday morning with the kids, surfboards and Banjo. I didn’t even know he had taken most of them. The surf was rough, our favourite beach is unpatrolled (but it’s one of only two the dog can go to) meaning intense supervision is required when the kids go into the water.
I confess I am not a massive fan of polka dots… I know I am not a very cool blogger. However they seemed just right for this dress and it’s such a gorgeous shade of blue.
Ok, my McCalls 6696 has a great shape… but I really do love the Alder. I like the fit across my shoulders and upper chest. There are also bust darts to add some shape. I like the curved hem that gives it that ‘boyfriend’ shirt look and that it’s not oversized. I like the back – without any gathers, pleats or added fullness. I love that it’s so simple and waist-less. It’s really very ‘me’ and my lifestyle.
After my contrast disaster shirtdress I opted for streamlined simplicity with this make, white top-stitching & white buttons.
Yoke: sewn using the Burrito method – not outlined in the instructions but you can watch the online video from the Archer sewalong.
Collar: attached using the Four Square Walls method, read about it here. I’m really starting to enjoy sewing shirts and want to prove my skills.
Armholes: I folded my binding in half (wrong sides together), placed the raw edges to the raw edges of the armhole, stitched and understitched, then turned it over to the inside, then top stitched it in place. I really hate folding the second raw edge of self-made bias binding under after I’ve sewn one edge to the armhole, it’s so fiddly and I have little patience – especially when it comes to ironing on a hot day! This fabric is rayon so this technique worked for me, perhaps on a heavier fabric it would add too much bulk.
Pockets: I’d move them up about 1/4 inch or so on my next version
Buttons: I am so glad I went with something that just ‘disappears’, it gives me the freedom to wear this dress plain or dress it up with whatever accessories and shoes I like. I wish I hadn’t added the last button near the hem. Oh well, I know for next time. Is there a next time? Oh yes… I’ve nearly finished it!
Length: I’m 5 foot 4, I did not alter the length at all.
Verdict? I do like this pattern and I’d recommend it. I found that it went together beautifully (not seamlessly – as there is a lot of seams LOL). I like it on me – it’s not as ‘shapely’ as the McCalls but that doesn’t mean it’s shapeless. I’ve really enjoyed wearing this.
Pattern: Grainline Alder Shirtdress, purchased by me. There is an Alder Sewalong on the Grainline blog with lots of tips and variations if you are interested.
Fabric: Printed Rayon from Spotlight, Australia (sold out in my local store). Purchased by me at a 30% fabric sale, usually about $12 a metre. I used about 2m. I’m tossing up whether to make a self-fabric belt for this as I like Cut Cut Sew’s one… but it’s so tempting to squeeze a little summer top out of the scraps instead. This is lovely fabric to wear and doesnlt seem to crush as badly as other rayons.
Also see: Little Betty Sews | Tiff Toffee | Ginger Made | Pincushion Treats | Sew Unravelled | Holly Anna Bella | Justina Sews | just google image Grainline Alder Shirtdress there are quite a few out there!