Grainline Studio – the Alder Shirtdress!

Alert, Grainline Studio fans – a dress! And it comes in two beautiful sleeveless versions – one with unadorned shirt styling, and one (which caught my eye) with a partially gathered skirt.

Both have classic shirtdress styling: a button-band front, yoked upper back with a dropped front shoulder, front bodice pockets, and shirt-tail hemlines. And yes, bust darts.

I love the gathered skirt. It just adds so much comfort and ease to the dress. 
And it’s so good-looking!
You might notice that my dress does not have a collar…I just don’t do collars 🙂 So here are the changes and adjustments I made to the pattern:
  • I drafted from a size 14.
  • Once the shoulder seams were sewn, I reshaped the front to a V-Neck and dropped the center back neckline about 1/2″.  And drafted a facing for the neckline.
Fabric: Cotton calico from Holly Lobby

  • The right bodice front has an attached button band, while the left front is has a cut-on facing. I used the left front pattern for both sides, eliminating the attached band. Topstitching gives the appearance of a banded edge.
  • I used broadcloth interlining in both front facings, instead of fusible interfacing. Often I find that fusible interfacing locks and stiffens a facing too much – I wanted to be sure that the front bands were fluid given their length.
  • I added side seam pockets 3.5″ below the waistline.
  • I also redrafted the front skirt to be same length and shape as the back skirt. And flattened and lengthened the curve at the side seam so it would be a bit more forgiving to hem! My reasoning for changing the front length – well, I’m 66 and just don’t wear mini’s anymore! 
  • The pattern calls for faced armholes. I trimmed the armholes instead and used self-fabric bias binding to finish them. This is a comfort thing for me.
  • The bust dart is placed as expected with a Big 5 pattern – I moved it down 1.5″.
  • Another adjustment I typically make, I narrowed the side seam at the armhole by 5/8″ and cured it down to the waist.
  • The bodice length was spot on! And I’m 5’7″. 
  • I added 5/8″ to the hem allowance, just so I could be more generous in my hem turn. 

Seems like a lot! But it really wasn’t. I generally spend a lot of time with a pattern before I draft my tissue, it’s part of what I enjoy most about sewing.

A few more views on Emile…

About the pattern: Beautifully drafted and includes 1/2″ seam allowances, my favorite since I like to cut/serge my seam allowances. The instruction booklet is so well done, it should make this dress approachable for many levels of sewists. I’ve seen a couple versions of this dress on Kollabora and in the blogosphere. I’m smitten.

Ciao! Coco

19 thoughts on “Grainline Studio – the Alder Shirtdress!

  1. This is a winner! The fabric, color, print, style lines…all of it is so cute. I like the simplicity of the neckline without a fussy collar.


  2. I love the polka dot fabric! Over the years…years as in eons…I've seen a lot of patterns that I liked except for the neck…usually a collar of some kind…so I would pass them by, the Alder dress being one. Just maybe it would be fun to make (minor) changes to a pattern…spend time with it like you do. Thanks!!! .


  3. Love it! This is on my cutting table now, and I was thinking I shouldn't do the gathered skirt…but now I may need one of each! It looks really great on you.


  4. I've seen several versions of this dress, but yours is the first that makes me think I might like one for myself! I really love the way you handled the neckline. Wonderful and inspiring.


  5. It's lovely – I like the flat front with gathers starting further back. The hi-li hem looks fun to wear as well. Good idea not to do collars, especially in a hot climate.


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