I've had my eye on the Alder Shirtdress pattern by Grainline Studio since it was first released. I love the classic design, and especially the optional "bum-ruffle". I bought this pattern way back in November and despite my love for the design and quite a few fabrics mentally-designated for this pattern, it's taken months to finally make a finished garment. I traced the pattern right away and a few months later cut out this dress in the floral. Then for some reason didn't get around to actually sewing it until a few weeks ago. I'm very glad that I did and I can see myself making a few more of these in the future.
As with the other Grainline studio patterns I've made, this pattern is very well drafted with excellent instructions. I used the instructions provided as well as the sewalong and did not have any issues. Well actually, I made one mistake. I didn't realize that I needed to trim off the center front of the right side. So I attached the button band and then realized it was the wrong side. I'm not sure why I missed that step. Could have been a poor job tracing all the markings or just a poor job actually reading the instructions. Otherwise, it all went really smoothly. Be aware, it's not a beginner pattern and does have a lot of steps and lots of pattern pieces. I tend to make the same easy things over and over again so it was great to break out of that cycle and do something a little more challenging.
For the pattern, I cut a straight size 12. According to my measurements, I'm a half-inch larger than 12 in the bust and a size 8 in the hips and waist. The hips are meant to be loose and there is a lot of room there. I definitely wouldn't go any smaller at the bust but I wonder if I did view A, if I could slim it down a bit at the hips. Actually, I should probably just do a full bust adjustment. There are instructions in the sewalong so I don't have a good excuse not to.
I forgot to lengthen the pattern for this dress and really wish that it had more length. I'm 5'11" and this dress hits at the mid-thigh. I used bias tape to finish the hem just to eek out all I could. It's not scandalous but I probably would not wear something this short to work. I will definitely remember to lengthen it next time!
(And now a little break to discuss buttons!) I've heard that a lot of people dislike sewing buttons but I don't mind them at all. When I was a teenager and just starting to really get into sewing, I used my mother/grandmother's old Singer machine. It came in its own table and weighed about 30 pounds. It had a lot of special stitches and knobs. I did a lot of practice stitching and remember the satisfaction and finally figuring out how to sew a buttonhole. I had to do the large bartack, change the width, backstitch for one side of the buttonhole, change the width for the back end, change the width again and stitch forward for the final side. And of course I had to determine the length of the buttonhole all on my own. A few years later, I got a very basic Brother that came with a buttonhole foot. You just pop in your button and start stitching. Voila! Magic buttonholes. It was so easy!
My great-aunt (now 99 years old!) was an amazing seamstress and only had a straight stitch on her machine. When she had to make buttonholes, she either sewed bound buttonholes or stitched it by hand. Can you even imagine? No zig-zag stitch on your machine? The machine I have now is a slight upgrade to the old Brother and it even has a few options on different kinds of buttonholes. Every time I use that buttonhole foot, I'm grateful for the technology that makes sewing them as fast as magic.
Now, you might be thinking, well ok, the buttonholes are fast but sewing on all those buttons is a real pain-in-the-keester! In the Alder Shirt Dress sewalong, Jen very wisely recommends using the button foot to MACHINE STITCH on your buttons. I had always been too afraid to try this before I saw her tip. I will never go back. You can sew on a button in mere seconds. Magic! The trickiest part is setting your button under the special foot. Then, just get the width/length of your zig-zag stitch right and stitch away. I was able to stitch all the buttonholes and buttons in less than an hour. How dreamy is that?
Ok, back to the dress. The fabric is from Jo-Ann's. I bought it on sale a few months ago with the intention of using it as a muslin for this pattern. It's a light-weight cotton with little swiss dot bumps. Like all cottons, it was very easy to work with and great for a first go-round on this pattern. I really love this pattern and can't wait to try it out again with a few adjustments.