DIY Linen Alder Shirtdress

Today I'm sharing my second attempt at the Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio. I love the classic design and this pattern is pretty much always on my to-sew list but it's taken me a while to get it together. I made my first Alder over a year ago and while I love it and wear it sometimes, the fit is not perfect. For this version, I did some pattern alterations and I'm really happy with how it turned out. The great thing about making a pattern more than once, is that you can perfect the fit and  practice the skills and techniques used. Making this dress again, has me feeling like I can conquer any button down shirt or dress with ease.

I bought the fabric for this dress back when I was sewing for my summer trip to Europe. I didn't have time to make it before my trip but it was colder than I had expected in Europe so I really didn't need this dress after all. The fabric is Kaufman Essex Linen Blend Yarn Dyed Steel from It's really easy to work with but a little itchier than I expected. I'm hoping that it will soften up in the wash. I should also note that my skin is particularly sensitive so most people might not have a problem with it.

As mentioned, this is the Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio. This time, I made view A (no bumruffle!). The first time I made it, I sewed a straight size 12 with no alterations. This time I did a full bust adjustment (FBA) and lengthened it 4 or 5 inches. There is a fantastic sewalong for this dress, that I consulted throughout the process. It does a great job of guiding you through step by step.

I've done a couple of FBAs recently and I think the hardest thing is deciding which size to start from. Some FBA instructions suggest starting from the size that matches your waist and others say to use the one that matches your upper bust measurement. Sitting between sizes as I do, I wasn't sure which would be the best. It's all a little complicated to explain but I ended up using the technique in this tutorial by Melly Sews. My measurements are: Upper bust 35", Bust 38", Waist 28", and Hips 39". Grainline Studio drafts their patterns for a B cup so I added 2" to my upper bust which put me at a size 10. I then did a 1 inch FBA to get a 38" bodice. This method worked well for me with this pattern I think especially because the hips and waist have a looser fit. Part of me would like the back to be more fitted and I thought about adding some back darts.

I'm 5'11" so I really needed to add some length. I totally forgot the first time I made the dress! My first version is a little short, ok for weekends but not so much for work. I even hemmed it using bias tape and 1/4 inch seam allowance to make it as long as possible. I added about 5 inches in length to the dress using the shorten/lengthen line in the pattern. If I make view B again, I'd like to add some length to the bodice and some to the skirt so that the waist seam hits lower.

I expect to be getting a lot of wear out of this dress and I already have another one planned (in plaid!). Now just to decide if I should make View A or B for the next one. Living in LA, a sleeveless dress works so well for me. I can wear it on hot days (which is pretty much all year). But if I'm cold, I can just throw on a sweater. Sleeveless is just so much easier to layer than something with sleeves. Have you tried out this pattern? Do you have a favorite shirtdress pattern?