Okay, I admit it. I am a Grainline Studio addict! What can I say, Jen’s patterns are classic, simple yet with beautifully tailored details and leave so much scope for personal expression! Although I have made no secret of my love for the Scout and the Archer, my favourite beyond all doubt is the Alder Shirtdress! (Actually not quite true as I think the Alder is tied with Jen’s latest pattern, the Linden Sweatshirt. I have already made two and love them – will definitely be blogging soon!)
I have actually already made four Alders and am always finding fabric for more. They are the perfect length for wearing in the summer as they are not too short, and also there is enough coverage on top that it balances nicely. However they also look great in this cooler weather, with tights and a cardigan. I wear all four all the time! I decided to do a post about all four together rather than in separate posts as the pattern is so great that I really haven’t had to make many adjustments to it.
The Alder is the dress of my dreams. I don’t like clothing sitting too tight on my body so I fell completely in love with View B of the dress, with the gathered skirt, as it sits away from the body and isn’t clingy. Of the four I have made, all of them have been view B as, to be honest I really don’t like a-line and think it doesn’t suit my shape at all, although I love the sample versions on Jen’s blog.
I usually don’t buy a pattern until I have seen other bloggers’ recommendations however I ended up falling in love with this pattern and bought it on the day of its release, and bought the fabric that afternoon. I have had great success with Grainline Studio patterns and I know that they fit so I wasn’t concerned about investing in the pattern. However, to be honest Jen’s patterns are still some of the most reasonably priced indie patterns out there!
As someone who has had a lot of experience with button bands and armhole binding, this was really easy, however if you are new to sewing, I suggest trying out some of Jen’s other patterns first before attempting the Alder, just to familiarise yourself with her style.
My first version was made from a polycotton from Fabric Land. It cost about £3.50 per metre and I bought two although only needed 1.5m as it was so wide. I loved the check as it was bold yet subtle enough that people don’t see the check before you, if you get what I mean? My only issue with this version was that the bust darts were a little low but that is often the case with me. Oh and I also tried to french seam the whole dress. I wouldn’t recommend this – not easy! Despite that, this version in particular has been worn the most as the print really works all year around.
My second version was made from a similar polycotton, also from Fabric Land and for a similar price. This was the first version I made with the help of my overlocker so was a lot quicker. I did a small bust adjustment (SBA) and moved the bust dart up by 1″. I also added side-seam pockets as I love to have pockets in my dresses.
My third version was made from a medium weight cotton from Joann Fabrics which I picked up when I was in the US over the summer. It cost about $7 a yard, which in British terms was about £4.40. I bought 3 yards as it was really narrow, however I think I only used about 2.2 yards. I think the fabric was originally quilting cotton, but I felt it was soft enough to wear and was an absolute dream to sew. For this version I made no changes other than the bust darts and pockets.
My fourth and final (for now!) version is my absolute favourite! It is made from a polyester crepe I bought from CheapestFabricsUK on eBay for £3.95 per metre. I loved the print and bought the fabric on a whim as I had never sewn with crepe before, but with the help of my trusty overlocker it was so easy and the texture of the fabric is just beautiful. I have been hunting out cheap crepe ever since! Again I made no changes to this version. It is great of the cold weather we are having because it is surprisingly heavy, however I imagine it will be great for the summer months too. I can’t wait to wear this dress more!
Overall I can’t say enough how much I love the Alder and its versatility means I will be returning to make more soon!
Pattern: Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress
Version 1: Green Check Polycotton from Fabric Land
Version 2: Blue and White Star Polycotton from Fabric Land
Version 3: Orange Button Print Cotton from Joann Fabrics
Version 4: Floral Poly Crepe de Chine from Cheapestfabricsuk313 on eBay
Sizing/Alterations: cut a straight 0. Moved bust dart up by 1″. Added side seam pockets.
Cost: One-off pattern cost of $14 (£8.75)
Version 1: Fabric 1.5mx£3.30 = £4.95. Stash thread and interfacing. 20p buttons. Overall £5.15.
Version 2: Fabric 1.5mx£3.30 = £4.95. Stash thread and interfacing. 20p buttons. Overall £5.15.
Version 3: Fabric 2.20mx£4.40 = £9.68. Stash interfacing. Thread £1.80. 20p buttons. Overall £11.68.
Version 4: Fabric 1.5x£3.95 = £5.93. Stash thread and interfacing. 40p buttons. Overall £6.33.