Remember last month when I said how much I love the Alder Shirtdress pattern from Grainline Studio? That was an understatement. This is probably my favorite dress pattern to date. And don't get me wrong, I'm not planning on having classic shirtdress after classic shirtdress lining my closet...I love this pattern because it is so versatile! There's an endless number of variations you can make with the Alder dress. Jen shows a couple on her blog, but I'm also thinking I might need to try to make my own version of this dress by Madewell, as well as some sort of Wiksten Tova/Alder mix.
My biggest recommendation to anyone sewing the Alder dress for the first time is to follow along with the Grainline sew along. After my first version, I thought I was going to need to re-draft the bust darts to make them fit better. Turns out, I was just sewing the shoulder seams incorrectly. I definitely saved myself a lot of time and frustrations with that one! The sew along is incredibly helpful, especially when (if you're like me) this pattern is introducing you to new techniques.
As I mentioned in my first review of the pattern, the collar is a little bit big for me when sewn as written. This time, I decided to do a Mandarin collar and just use the collar stand, leaving of the actual collar piece. I must say, I like this version much better than a true collared shirt dress-it just feels a little less country.
I also added sleeves to this version of the dress, which I love! I'm already planning two or three more for the fall and winter seasons. It was incredibly easy to do. If you have the Archer Button Up pattern, you're already set! You also get to skip the armhole binding step, which is kinda nice (I don't know why, but bindings are one of my least favorite parts of apparel making...).
Start by cutting out the pattern for the Archer sleeve and cuff for your size, just like you would if you were making the shirt. Again, the sew along is going to be your best friend! Instead of finishing the armholes you're going to set the sleeve inside the armhole opening. Sew the long seam on the sleeve and gather the shoulder seam, using two rows of long stitches. Then you can match your seam on the sleeve to the seam on the body of the dress and start pinning away. Once you get about halfway up on each side of the seam, you can even out your gathers and finish pinning around. Finish the seams as you like. That's it! The Grainline patterns work together perfectly, which makes adding the sleeves a pretty simple step.
If you need some more inspiration on how to personalize your own Alder, do a quick search on Pinterest! There's so many great variations out there. I can't wait to see what else everyone comes up with!