Monday, 21 July 2014

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress - Wearable Muslin

I snapped up the much anticipated Alder Shirtdress immediately! I normally like to read about others experiences with patterns before purchasing but I'd so been looking forward to its release and I love Grainline Studio Patterns. Thus, I couldn't help myself.

I was immediately more attracted to version B with the gathered skirt details. When I've bought straight or A-line shirt dresses in the past I've often had too much bust room and not enough butt room. However I thought Version A would provide a better idea of the overall fit for my first attempt/wearable muslin. I made up this dress in some lovely pink/maroon chambray I bought at Clear It. I have some polka dot chambray put aside for my next gathered version. 

I made a size 6 which fitted my measurements and is also the size of my Archer shirts (1, 2). I made the shirt as per the instructions only deviating at the yoke insertion and sewing the front to the back where I prefer to use the burrito method. I also french seamed my side seams so there are no raw edges within. The sewing process is almost identical  to the Archer Shirt so if you've made the archer before you really shouldn't have any problems with the Alder Shirt Dress.

I  never had any worries about the upper body fitting me so it came as quite a surprise that I could only just button up the dress over my chest area and I prefer the look /fit with it left undone for this reason. This really surprised me because both my Archers shirts fit so well. I ended up unpicking the french seamed side seams and re-sewing as 1/4" which made the total side seam allowance 3/8"rather than 1/2" but I still feel more room is needed for my next version. The back doesn't look too bad just some slight strain at my under arms. The dress fits well though my lower body so next time I'm just going to trace/cut my fabric slightly wider at the chest area.

I've two possible explanations for the different fit compared to my Archers: 1) the dress is meant to be more fitted in the chest area (hence bust darts and no back pleat at the centre back. 2) I noticed when I was folding over the left button placket that the button placement I chalked on was totally wrong and ended up laying on the fold. It's possible that  I folded the placket wrong which left me with approx 1/2" less at the centre front than would be expected. This would be strange though as the construction is the same as the Archer Shirt and I've never had this problem before. I'm puzzled! If anyone else has had a similar experience or knows what I did wrong please comment!

I sewed up the dress in A navy thread which I think gives the dress some interest (it's especially interesting spotting all my terrible top stitching ;) ) and added some lovely foe wood plastic buttons. As this version of the dress is quite plain I thought it looked nice belted. I wore it out to a movie over my black merino renfree and under my Wool Drapped Coat. It's the perfect length for my drapped coat! Hooray for me-made outfits! 

Overall I love this dress (fitting issues and all) and I cant wait to make more. I can see a whole lot of Alder Shirtdresses and, variations of, for my 2014 summer uniform. My only other suggestion for my future makes is to add in-seam pockets.


  1. Hi Elizabeth, I asked Jen (from Grainline) how the Alder was drafted in comparison to the Archer and she replied it was drafted very differently - this may be why? I think it is the perfect layering dress, and will be awesome for summer too. I still really wish I'd gotten more of that chambray! Can't wait to see your polka dot version.

    1. Hi Rachel, Ah thankyou! I actually find that a little surprising. I would just size up but I really cant face printing out all those pages again! Thanks :)