The Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio is a great example of how a simple variation can really transform a pattern. I was immediately wowed by this dress when I saw it sewn up in View B on Indiesew — a simple shirtdress, sure, but with a gathered waist and hi-lo hem that just seemed so modern. It’s a new and classic silhouette all at once, and it was a pattern I knew I wanted to try.
As 2016 has been the year of denim in the sewing and fabric industry, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon with a pretty dress-weight chambray print from Robert Kaufman. And I couldn’t resist adding in my own little details to some of the facings in the form of some Liberty Tana lawn. LIFE IS TOO SHORT. As the chambray is a bit of a thicker and heavier fabric with some more structure than other options, the dress does seem a bit more structural in the way it stands out from the body. Combine that with the hi-lo hem and I feel a bit exposed when I wear it. I’m still deciding how I want to address that: either by wearing some shorts or leggings under the dress or just wearing my better undergarments and hoping for the best. Maybe I’ll take it day by day. (This element would have been resolved by choosing a flowier, lightweight fabric, but I wanted a super casual chambray. I’ll roll with it.)
I didn’t make any modifications at all to the pattern, except for grading it from a slightly larger size on top to a smaller one on bottom and adding some Liberty inseam pockets. As a Type 1 diabetic I carry an insulin pump with me at all times, and sewing dresses has afforded me an opportunity to make sure all my clothes have pockets. Otherwise I have to wear this little garter thing around my leg to hold it and it is nowhere near as sexy as it sounds. So I added some quick pockets to the dress, betting that the gathered skirt would have enough volume to hide them well. It totally worked!
Having sewn blouses and button-up shirts before, there was not much that was new except for attaching the gathered skirt. I struggled the slightest bit with the Y-seam (as we call it in quiltspeak) at the corners of the skirt where it attaches to the front piece, but I worked it out. Everything else came together without a hitch, and I’m proud of how it looks. This pattern has so many small details that make it a keeper, from topstitching to armhole facings to matching breast pockets.
So yes: I am amazingly smitten with this dress. I texted Allie as I was sewing it and told her it was one of my favorite patterns yet, and that I would have paid good money to buy this dress off the rack. Fortunately, I didn’t have to — and I got to add extra details that make it that much more perfect for me.
What are your plans for summer garment sewing?
As an Indiesew blogger team member, I am provided with patterns in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.