This is my third Alder Shirtdress. The first was in 2015 and the second in 2016. So apparently this is a once a year pattern for me! The design of this pattern is so classic that it’s easy to wear year after year and feel like it’s always in style. The pattern is by Grainline Studio and they have a fantastic sewalong to help you through the many steps of making a shirtdress. None of the steps are crazy difficult but they are time consuming. I think that this version is my best stitched one. Practicing techniques really does help you get better at them. If you’re ever a little disappointed with the quality of your stitching the first time you make a garment, remember that the second or third time is bound to be better now that you’ve done some practice.
As I’ve already done two posts on this pattern, I won’t go into a ton of detail. But just for a quick recap, the first time I made the pattern, I made a size 12 with no adjustments. I even forgot to lengthen it. I still wear that dress on occasion and really enjoy but thought that I could get a better fit. So for my second one, I cut a size 10, did a 1” full bust adjustment (aka FBA) and added about 4 inches to the length. For my first Alder I did view B, with the gathered skirt (fondly called the bum ruffle in some circles). For the second, I made view A. For this time around, I wanted to make view B so I had to make the pattern adjustments to the pattern pieces used in view B. For this view, I added 1" in length to the bodice and 4" in length to the skirt. I'm 5'11" with a long waist so adding length in both places is really helpful in getting the proportions right.
It went ok, except for when I forgot to add length to one of my pattern pieces. I didn’t realize it of course until after I’d cut out the fabric. I had just enough to recut that piece but it was late at night and I somehow messed it up again. It was a good reminder to heed the adage “Measure twice. Cut once.”
The fabric is Window Dressing in Navy by Cloud 9. It’s a nice light cotton that is not at all see through. I really like this fabric and would use it again. I first bought the fabric from Modern Domestic while on a trip in Portland, OR about a year ago. After my cutting mistakes, I was fortunate enough to find more of the same fabric online from Harts Fabric. I had really good experiences shopping with both stores and both currently have some of the Window Dressing fabric online (different colors are available at each and the navy I used is only at Harts). Find Harts here and Modern Domestic here.
To highlight the check pattern, I chose to cut the yoke and the pockets on the bias. I love the contrast it creates and the fact that it meant fewer pieces to pattern match. I did a pretty good job of pattern matching except for where the gathered skirt meets the front bodice. I kind of wish it matched up but I’m seriously not sweating it.
I think the fit of this dress is much better than my first one. First of all it’s not indecently short. Second, the FBA and the added length to the bodice really help get all the style lines in place with my body. Looking back at the photos of my first dress, the differences are subtle but I do think it was worth it.
Usually I try on my garments multiple times during the sewing process but for some unknown reason, I didn’t try this on until the very end. I was pretty confident about the fit and after the drama of having to order more fabric, I was pretty determined to finish the darn dress. I’ve had this dress in the queue for almost a year so I was extremely pleased when I finally tried it on that it turned out EXACTLY the way I had imagined. Now that I’ve got the pattern adjustments all sorted, I suppose I ought to start thinking about what fabric I want to use for my 2018 Alder Shirtdress. :)