Alder the First

IMG_4962 So here it is, my Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress! I loved this design the minute I saw it on Jen's instagram feed,  and I bought it pretty much the second it went on sale. Then it sat and it sat and it sat, and I couldn't drudge up enough courage to make it. I had so many fears: how would it look on a curvier shape like mine? I've never made a collar with a stand - how would that work? What fabric would I use? What if I put in a bunch of time and it looks awful on me?? It seemed easier to just dream about it and let it sit on the shelf, rather than try it out and possibly be disappointed (or thrilled). Silly, huh?

I finally just bit the bullet and decided to try it out late last week. I went with View A first, but I do have plans to make the ruffle butt (View B) version too.

IMG_4965Oh my goodness, do I ever need a haircut!! I took these photos last night as I wanted to get them done, but I'm looking a little rough and perhaps taking photos after a big steak dinner is not the best idea in the world.


I used a super soft purple chambray I bought months ago out of the clearance section at Fabricland. I had planned to make a practice Archer out of it, but I decided it would probably work really well for an Alder wearable muslin. I'm not sure I am crazy about the colour on me, especially as a solid dress, but it's okay.


The construction of this baby went well. The collar is far from perfect, but it's not awful for my first try,  and I had a bit of trouble with positioning the pockets (note to self -be sure to make pocket markings when cutting out, not when it's already sewn). I also feel like I may have screwed up the button band. It seems like the sides of this shirt are not symmetrical, but it might just be me. My husband couldn't see what I was talking about, and he's pretty picky about those things.  Jen's instructions are very good, and if you've made a button down shirt before, I am sure they would be enough, but because I haven't, I feel like I needed a little extra hand holding. I'm pretty confident that once all the sew along posts are up, they will clear up any issues I had. So I am very much looking forward to that.

I didn't make any adjustments, except to hem it up an extra 2 inches. I didn't shorten the pattern because I wanted to see the original length on me, but it was of course too long, and I actually think it's meant to be even shorter. I think the fit is pretty good, but next time I might grade down a size in the hips as I feel like there is a bit too much fabric there. I debated adding side seam pockets, but I decided against it as I like how streamlined this version is. I think on the ruffle butt version side seam pockets would work really well.


I can definitely see myself make a ton of cute shirts from this pattern, or even shortening it to a tunic length to wear with leggings. John said it just looks like a really long shirt and would be much better if I just chopped it off at the waist. So needless to say he's not a big fan. I'm not sure what I think. It's cute and comfy, but does it flatter, or just make me look like a big blob? I love how it looks from the front, but when I turn to the side, I'm not so sure. Perhaps it's because I'm not in love with the fabric. I think maybe in a patterned fabric I might feel differently. I have loved all the ones I've seen around the interwebs - they are all so cute.

What do you think? Can you help me decide? Is it a keeper?

My Summer Hawthorn

I am so happy that I love this dress, because it was a nightmare while I was making it. I am really glad that I didn't give up on it, as I was tempted to do a number of times, and it actually turned out to be exactly what I was looking for: a comfortable, light, casual summer sundress. IMG_4845

So the pattern is Colette's Hawthorn. It's a great pattern and even has a cute peplum top variation. I decided that I would make the top as a wearable muslin first, and this would help me practice making button holes and also give me an idea of any fitting changes I might need to make. The top turned out pretty well except that the fabric I used was pretty thin, and I'm not entirely sure that I will wear it, but it was good practice. I debated and debated looking at the top if I should shorten the bodice a little bit, but I really wasn't sure - I made a note in my sewing journal (yes, I am a nerd and take notes on every project I make). It was little bit tight at the waist too and I couldn't decide if that was because of my fat belly or if it was because the waist was not at the right level, but thought I could just let the side seam out a tiny bit at the waist if need be. I also made a note to do a narrow shoulder adjustment too as I wanted it sleeveless, and there was just a touch to much fabric across the shoulders. Fast forward two weeks when I decided to finally make the dress version.


I had this swiss dot chambray I bought at Denver Fabrics in my stash for months with the plans of making an Emery, but seeing as my last Emery was a bit of a flop, I decided it would be perfect for this Hawthorn (and I was right). I decided to ignore my notes on shortening the bodice, but I did narrow the shoulders by 1/2". The construction went along beautifully. Everything fit together perfectly, the insides looked beautiful - I was even thinking how this would be a dress that I took pictures of the inside for my blog so you could see how great seam work was. I sewed the button holes, but before I cut them, I decided to try it on. It looked horrible. It was too big, the waist was definitely too low and John was not in love with my fabric choice (not really a surprise as he doesn't really like anything denimish if it's not jeans). This was about 11 o'clock at night, and John and I both decided I should just scrap the whole mess, chalk it up to a learning experience and start over. I was upset, and of course obsessed about it all night.


When I got up in the morning, I decided it wasn't as bad as I thought and that I needed to save it. I just loved that chambray, and I had already put so much effort into it. I ended up unpicking the waist seam (and two button holes - such a pain) and shortening the bodice by an inch. Then because the waist was now in the right place, I took in the side seams by about a 1/4'' and it fit perfectly. I re-spaced the two button holes I unpicked and re-sewed them (so now the button spacing isn't perfect, but it's not really noticeable). And voila, perfect fitting Hawthorn. I am really glad that I persevered because I love this dress and I have worn a bunch of times already. It's cool and comfy, and as an added bonus, I think it flatters my shape really well too. It's a bit wrinkly in these photos as I had been wearing it all day, but it presses really nice.


I have now transferred all my changes to the flat pattern, so my next one should go much more smoothly, and I will definitely be making another one. Thank goodness for my inherited OCD and determined, won't let it go attitude, it really paid off this time.

Has something like this ever happened to you? Have you ever worked on a project to think it was an epic fail, but then found a way to save it? (It happens to me all the time, ask the boys - they've been served many a grilled cheese that was burned on the inside from me turning the bread around because I had used up the last slice. What can I say, I'm crafty ;) )