alder shirtdress

Finally, I Made an Alder Shirtdress

Sewing this dress was a comedy of errors on my part. A series of unfortunate events. A big ol’ bag of brain farts.

alder shirtdress grainline studio

That said, it turned out great! I absolutely love wearing it despite my handful of mistakes. You can read about those later, but for now, let’s dive in!

grainline alder

The Details

Pattern: View B of the Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio. I sewed a size 8.

Fabric: Rifle Paper Co. Tapestry 100% cotton from Oak Fabrics. I used the Natural colorway for the majority of the dress and Midnight for the collar stand and inner yoke. (P.S. The gold bits sparkle in the light! Props to my mom for picking it out at the fabric store.)

Alterations: Added 1″ at the waist and 2″ to the hem. I ended up taking in the side seams by about 1/2″ total, tapering to nothing at the underarm. I also added inseam pockets using this Colette tutorial.

Construction: Regular sewing machine for all seams and topstitching; serger to finish all seams.

alder shirtdress 2

alder shirt dress grainline

grainline alder front

alder collar

alder shirtdress cappucino

The Brain Farts

I’d like to preface by saying that I could have avoided all of these mistakes by paying a little more attention when cutting my fabric—and especially by sewing a damn muslin. But I convinced myself that I didn’t have time for that! So here we are:

  1. Left is right and right is left. As in, I cut the wrong right front and left front, so my shirt buttons in the “men’s” style: left over right instead of right over left. Apart from being a little awkward since it’s the opposite of my norm, not a big deal.
  2. I’m 99% sure I printed off the collar stand at a smaller scale, because it came up a little short on either side when compared to the sew-along photos and illustrations! I had to re-print the collar stand at a coffee shop when I couldn’t find it in my pile of pattern pieces, and I have to assume I didn’t double-check the scale when printing. Oops! Guess I won’t be buttoning it up to the top.
  3. I snipped a hole, albeit a small one, into the right front bodice when clipping the bias binding. I covered this mistake by flipping the bias binding to the right side.
  4. I tried to fix the back armhole/yoke gaping by easing in the armholes a bit after reading this tutorial. Unfortunately, this meant seam-ripping the aforementioned binding. It was all very fiddly and added a lot of stress to an already small seam allowance. The adjustment made a small difference, but I’m not sure it was worth the time. Live and learn!

alder dress gs

alder back grainline

alder brooklyn
This is how Marc prefers to pose for photos

The Verdict

Aside from some gaping at the back armholes, I LOVE the fit of this dress. I’m glad I took it in a tiny bit at the sides to give me a little more shape. I might tweak the location of the button across my bust after wearing this a few times, as you can definitely get a view of my bra if you’re sitting in the right spot.

It did me well in the sweltering heat of NYC for not one, but TWO days. My flight was canceled so I got a bonus day (not complaining!). Zero shame in outfit repeating with this Alder. I can’t believe it took me this long to make one!

grainline studio tamarack front

Grainline Tamarack Jacket

When I first started blogging about my clothes (in 2013!), I’d try to get a post up pretty soon after I snipped the last thread. That often meant snapping ill-lit photos in a dirty mirror, using my phone’s timer to take poorly composed photos inside my apartment, or nicely asking Marc to snap a couple pics on the way to dinner. (The latter always yielded the best results.)

The point? I cared less about quality and more about showing my makes to the world as soon as humanly possible. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I blog about a sewing project within a month or two of finishing. Sure, I give sneak peeks on Instagram, but something (freezing Chicago weather, work, social life, laziness) usually gets in the way.Read More »

driftless cardigan close

Driftless Cardigan

Per usual for me, December was a mad rush to finish sewing Christmas gifts: namely flannel robes for my brothers, lounge pants for Marc, and a Pendleton wool purse for my cousin. Anyone who sews knows how painstaking it can be to make a gift for someone for fear that it won’t turn out perfect.

When it comes to sewing for myself, I’ve learned to let go. To not care if that topstitching isn’t 100% parallel or if the invisible zipper is slightly… visible. It takes a lot for a perfectionist to surrender to flaws! But that chill attitude flies out the window when it comes to gifts. That’s why I was so glad I had time to squeeze in a quick palate cleanser for myself before our holiday trip.Read More »

pendleton grainline archer

Pendleton Wool Archer Button Up

Do you ever buy a killer new pair of boots, or a fancy candle, or even a perfectly baked asiago cheese focaccia—and feel a pang of sadness on first wear, light, or bite? You’re not alone. Shopping-induced dopamine is a real thing! And so is the wistful feeling you get the moment your shiny new purchase isn’t so new anymore.

Anyone who buys fabric knows this feeling all too well, which is why so many of us hoard some of our most beautiful textiles. If we never cut into it, we can hold on to that shopping high forever… right?!

Wrong. If you’re anything like me (as in, you have the occasional neurotic tendencies), your fabric taunts you at every turn.Read More »

maritime shorts closeup back

Maritime Shorts in Canvas

When Rachel from Oak Fabrics asked me to take part in a photo shoot for an upcoming project, I figured “Why the hell not?” I’ve loved her shop for years now. I even took a pillow sewing class there (then called the Needle Shop) when I was a wee sewing noob.

The shop is a beautiful, well-curated oasis in Chicago, which is unfortunately somewhat of an indie sewing store desert. Obviously, I wanted in on whatever Rachel was up to!

maritime shorts grainline studio oak fabrics
Rachel made these to showcase the collaboration| Oak Fabrics

When I found out the project was a collaboration between Oak Fabrics, Grainline Studio, and Leah Duncan, I knew it was kismet. If you haven’t heard yet, Oak Fabrics is offering limited edition kits that pair Leah Duncan fabric with Grainline Studio patterns. Above, I’m wearing the Maritime Shorts with indigo Lines & Shapes canvas. And you wanna know how creative I am? Huh…. huh…. HUH?!

maritime shorts closeup

I made the same shorts from the photoshoot… for myself!

Read More »