The Alder Shirtdress: One pattern Two Ways



Hi  all – – For this week’s challenge, One Pattern, Two Ways, I decided to stretch my wings a bit and try a pattern that is new to me, twice!!  I used Grainline’s fabulous shirt dress pattern, the Alder. Clearly, I am the very last person in the Blog-o-shpere to try this great pattern, but I couldn’t resist after seeing so many great versions  made by all of you!

Because I own more than one shirt dress with a stand up collar, I decided that a breezy, v-neck shirt dress would be a nice addition to my summer wardrobe. To convert the traditional neckline of the Alder, I followed Jen’s tutorials on the Grainline website. She makes it so easy to modify the Alder’s neckline to a V-neck. Honestly, I thought it would be hard, but it wasn’t hard at all.


My first version of the Alder is the traditional sleeveless version, using an organic cotton print that I purchased at one of my favorite local fabric  shops, Modern Domestic. The cotton is soft and has a great drape, a must for version B of the Alder. The gathered waistline would probably look way too bunchy on a short person like me if the fabric was too stiff.


I modified the skirt, because I’m short and small. After tissue fitting the pattern to me, I decided the Alder’s skirt was a bit too full for my small frame. So, I took a about an inch out of the Back Bodice before cutting the fabric. That piece is placed on the fabric’s fold, so my adjustment was easily accomplished by extending that piece 1 inch over the fold.

Gathers: The pattern instructions recommend that you use there rows of long stitches to gather the skirt. When I read this, my initial reaction was that this would be ‘overkill’. Ha. There is a good reason for this. The skirt is pretty full, and to manage all of those gathers and keep them right where you want them, you really do need the three rows of stitching.

IMG_3041 (1)

Version Two: Because I live in Oregon where Summer feels too short, I decided to add sleeves to my next version. Again, Jen has that base covered on the Grainline website. I followed her instructions to take the sleeve of the Archer shirt and adapt it to the Alder. Let me just say, if I can do it, anyone can!! I  used a cotton chambray with embroidered accents. The drape of this cotton is really soft, making it perfect for this dress. And it’s so light and comfortable! I added a bit of contrasting bias trim to the pockets and the sleeve hem to make those design details pop.


I love both of my Alders! Since these are dresses inspired by summer, I had lots of plans to take photos outdoors, but wouldn’t you know it? It’s forty degrees here today! Still, I trust I’ll have lots of opportunities to wear both of my Alders soon.

I’m so impressed by Grainline patterns. They’re so well designed and the instructions so easy to follow, it’s easy to make a pretty structured garment in a short amount of time. And the fabric I chose for both version is so light, it’s almost like wearing nothing at all :). Gotta love that! I know these dresses will be my go-to wardrobe choices when it finally gets hot and muggy around here. I’m loving IPM: 2016. You can find more of my makes on Happy sewing!

15 thoughts on “The Alder Shirtdress: One pattern Two Ways

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