Happy Saturday! This past week has been Selfish Sewing Week, a week to focus your sewing energy on things for yourself! I love this idea, because though I have a huge list of things I’d love to sew for myself, those things usually get pushed aside to make things for the kids. This year Rachael of Imagine Gnats invited me to be a Featured Stitcher for Selfish Sewing Week which was great because, honestly, if she hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have sewn anything for me! I had also just bought the latest Grainline Studio pattern, the Alder Shirtdress and needed the push to actually make it instead of joining the epic “to do” pile.
This is my first time sewing a Grainline Studio pattern! I’ve heard such great things about them and own a few, but just haven’t gotten around to sewing them yet (did I mention my huge to-sew list?). What I’ve heard is that they are excellently drafted patterns with great style and fit, but that the directions are a bit lacking. From my experience with the Alder pattern, I’d say that description is pretty spot on, though I didn’t use the directions from the pattern at all, so I can’t say too much about them. I started reading the directions, but was a little confused right off the bat. Then I remembered that Jen had just done an incredible sew along breaking down each step of the pattern, so I just used that to construct the entire dress. And it’s GREAT. Really clear photos and directions – I think it probably saved me.
The dress has two views. View A is a simple A-line sleeveless shirt dress and View B has a gathered skirt. When I first saw the pattern, I wasn’t really drawn to it. I didn’t think it would be flattering on me and I really didn’t like the gathered version – I thought it was a bit weird. But then it grew on me. And I thought maybe the gathered skirt would help my shape by making me look like I had a waist. Then I couldn’t get it out of my head and immediately bought the pattern determined to make one. And now I love it!! Funny how that happened huh?
According to my measurements, I should have made size 14. But I wanted it to be fitted and I think I’m a bit in denial about my size and really wanted to be a 12. So I cut that size for my muslin and it fit! My guess is that this dress is supposed to fit slightly loose, so depending on your preference, you may want to go a size down – but definitely make a muslin first! I didn’t make ANY FIT ADJUSTMENTS. Ahhh, what an amazing feeling.
The pattern isn’t necessarily hard to sew, but there are a lot of different pieces. And it takes time, if you want it to look good. The hardest part for me was attaching the collar to the dress. I kind of freaked out because my collar/collar stand seemed WAY longer than the neckline and I thought I had done something wrong. My buddy Kristin (skirt as top) suggested clipping the neckline (within the seam allowance) to help line up the seam lines and that worked like a charm. I even emailed Jen to ask her about it and she was so awesome and emailed me back right away with her thoughts.
My only complaint about this pattern is NO SKIRT POCKETS. An easy fix for sure and I can’t believe that I didn’t think about it when I was constructing it, but pockets are a deal breaker for me! I’m totally considering ripping my serged seams to add some, because I don’t carry a purse and pockets are essential for phone and wallet. It would look fine on the gathered skirt version of this dress. The A-line version, I’m not so sure . . .
On to the fabric! Do you love this plaid or what!?? The fabric is from Bolt Fabric Boutique in Portland and I first saw it during my last visit in July. It caught my eye, but I passed it up for some knit fabrics instead. Kristin bought some though and after we left the store and I left Portland, I couldn’t get the fabric out of my head. So she went back to Bolt and bought up the rest and shipped it to me. TRUE FRIEND. I had already envisioned this fabric as an Alder Shirtdress and had my heart set on it. The pattern called for slightly more fabric than what I had, but those estimates are pretty generous and the fabric was so wide (58″) that I had plenty. I don’t know too much about the fabric except that it’s cotton and pretty lightweight – like a shirting. And I love it. Of that, I am certain.
The trickiest part was plaid matching!! I didn’t have a ton of extra fabric to work with, so I had to be very careful. I matched up the plaid on the front and back bodice, as a priority, but then when it came time to sew – I realized that after sewing the bust dart, the plaids weren’t going to line up anyways!! I did make sure to cut the bodice/center skirt pieces, the button band and the gathered skirt pieces with stripes lined up and so the front looks good. But then I didn’t have the right pieces of the fabric to match the plaid on the side seams. Oops, don’t look at my profile 😉
Overall, this dress turned out exactly how I imagined it and I love it! When I pictured the dress, I also started imagining how I could take this dress from our warm summery fall, into the colder months and played around with some different ways of layering and styling the dress.
I’m not entirely sure about the last outfit, with the sweater and jeans, but I do think it’s a really versatile dress and I can’t wear it year round!!
It really does feel good to take the time to sew something nice for yourself. A couple of years ago I made myself a Darling Ranges dress for my birthday and I am considering this dress a birthday present for myself this year since it’s coming up. I’m thinking of making this a tradition! Birthday dress for me!
My brother took these photos of me – thanks Mike! And I love this pic that he snapped of me and the girls who were so patient through (most of) the photo shoot!
Thanks Rachael for hosting Selfish Sewing Week and inviting me to be a part of it! I love sewing for me! I hope you take the time to do it too! And be sure to click over to check out all the amazing projects and add your own! Happy Selfish Sewing!