Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pattern Review - Grainline Alder Shirtdress

We feel like we've been bombarding you a bit with this dress in the past few weeks. But we couldn't help one more post because after sewing it up, we're loving the Grainline Alder more than ever.

Please excuse the rumpled-after-a-full-day-of-wear photos, just keeping it real. Buttons down the front are a combination of vintage ones from my hoard practical stash.

This is View A made up in a washed 100% linen very similar to our Lithuanian 'Pinot'. (This actual fabric was brought home for me by my husband after a business trip to Ireland.)

I just squeezed this dress in Size 12 out of 1.5m of fabric (150cm wide). I'd say with 2m you could be pretty confident in cutting out either View A or B (which has the gathered skirt). Whilst my hip measurement put me more into the Size 14 range, I checked the Finished Garment Measurements (gotta love it when those are supplied as well as comprehensive body measurement sizing charts) and there was plenty of wearing ease allowed, so I went with my bust measurement at Size 12.

I considered taking out a little length at the 'lengthen/shorten here' line on the pattern because I am short-waisted. This adjustment often makes a pattern sit better on me at the waist/hips, but this loose shape didn't really need it. I think the length is just right on me (I am 5ft 3" or 163cm) so if you are taller, you may wish to add a bit of length.

There's a real level of professional detail in Grainline Studio's patterns. I have a great deal of faith in Jen Beeman's instructions, drafting and techniques and feel I learn from the experience of making up her patterns. For example, the armholes are bound in self-bias, which is something I have done quite often. Jen, however, asks for three extra steps which I truly think make for a more professional finish: grade the seam allowance after the first pass of sewing, clip into the seam allowance all around, and understitch seam allowance to binding strip before turning to the inside. It's more effort but ultimately, more satisfying. (I do believe there's a small typo in Step 18B where it says to grade seam allowance of bias down to 1/2" which I think should be 1/8".)

Another new-to-me technique was at Step 15, which is a nifty way to end up with very neat ends on the collar stand, where it joins to the button bands at the front of the dress. I could not make head nor tail of the written instructions or diagram (not a criticism, just that for me it was really a 'need to see it done' thing). So I headed to the Alder Sewalong posts on Jen's blog, where I found a link to the video she made for a previous pattern with the same technique. The video is mercifully short and to the point (anyone else want to rip their hair out at many sewing videos?), and with my own collar in hand and watching a couple of times, I grasped the idea. It's brilliant, and makes for the best-looking collar stand attachment I've ever achieved.

The inside of this dress is almost as lovely as the outside because the back yoke (see above) is fully lined and the only potentially 'raw' seams in View A are the two sides. So I French seamed them and this is probably the neatest garment I've ever made!

If you like the look of the Grainline Alder Shirtdress in washed linen, you can find the pattern and ideal washed linens in our online store or, of course, visit us in person at our sunny store.

Merchant & Mills washed linen in Silt Grey, Boston Fall or Scuttle Black
Merchant & Mills washed linen in Kandinsky Blue, Oxblood or Rodeo Blue
Lithuanian washed linen in Pinot
Lithuanian washed linen in Moss
Lithuanian washed linen in Vilnius Fog
Lithuanian washed linen in Soot

And don't forget our 10% FROCKTOBER discount applies to pattern + fabric purchases until October 31! In our online shop, just enter the code 'FROCKTOBER' at checkout.

- Jane & Fiona xx


  1. This is gorgeous Jane - the fabric is divine (good husband ;-) )
    I've got this drafted, fabric ready and have even made a muslin of the bodice - really just need to take the plunge!

  2. I love it, Jane! You need more of these, I think. This just looks so great on you! And yes about the video! And yes, yes, yes, about other videos! Hahaha, I think you and I must be pretty similar in our love of getting-to-the-point and not wasting time. :)


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