Well the clocks went forward this weekend, officially signalling spring! It was horrendous weather all weekend obviously, but today is a bit brighter and I’m wondering if I can get away with wearing my decidedly springlike new dress yet…


Two things stopped me from pouncing on Grainline’s Alder shirt dress when it was released last year – the fact that I never ever wear collared anything, and that I wasn’t sure the slightly dropped loose waistline would work on my shape. Well, fear 1 was easily fixed by using Jen’s handy tutorial from the sewalong to convert the neckline into a v-neck faced with bias binding – a simple hack and the construction was familiar to me as it’s essentially the same as the Darling Ranges.


Fear 2? Well, I think this fits so well that it’s kind of flattering anyway! I cut a size 6 with a 3/4″ FBA, and I love the fit through the bodice and waist. The only other tweaks were a 1/2″ swayback adjustment, nipping in the bodice side seams a bit, and raising the shoulder line by 3/8″ right at the end to fix a bit of neckline gaping.


I should add that I didn’t really refer to the instructions but made it in an order that made sense to me. Basically after joining the yoke and shoulders I gathered the front and back skirt pieces separately, attached them to their corresponding bodice pieces, then did the armhole binding, then did the side seam from underarm to hem in one go. I just prefer doing everything as flat as possible. The curved hem is finished with bias like the neckline.


The fabric is some hand-blocked Indian cotton from Merchant & Mills that I’ve had in my stash for a while. It was beautiful to work with – taking a press so easily, barely fraying, smooth to gather and French seam – and is so super soft and comfy to wear, albeit a bit creasy. I managed to squish this dress onto the narrow 2m I had.


Spring needs to roll on for real now so I can get wearing this – I think it looks weird with tights and a cardi and it’s not quite warm enough to ditch them yet. I’m already dreaming up a version with cut-on short sleeves though which might be a bit more seasonally-adaptable.

31 thoughts on “Alder

  1. AvatarSam

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t wear things with collars! I’m about to make a shirt dress and will be leaving the collar off. You’re making me feel cold in your bare legs and sandals! It’s certainly not warm enough in Hertfordshire to go out dressed like that!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      I honestly can’t stand collars! I feel like Harry Hill in them, even little ones. I confess I did get changed before heading out…

  2. AvatarKatie

    Love the dress and the fabric!!! This looks fabulous on you and the fit is great! I also didn’t know if this would work for my shape, but with an FBA (and also a v-neck alteration) – I really love the fit now. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it with the collar though… I like it better without!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Thanks! I’m really delighted with the fit and overall shape. I’ll definitely only ever use this version, I don’t think I’ll ever make View A either! This one’s just too cute.

  3. AvatarInder

    Oh, wow!!! I love this! The v-neck is fantastic, and I really love the way it fits. I think I need to size down on my next Alder and do an FBA. The pattern fits me without it, but not as well as this fits you, IYKWIM. You’ve convinced me. My favorite Alder yet!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Thanks! Yeah I picked the size slightly below my measurements as there’s plenty of ease, but I like it not quite so oversized. The FBA worked out well, I think it would have gaped badly otherwise!

  4. AvatarMelissa

    Katie, I love this version! I have Alder on my to-stitch list and I too would love one without a collar so I may follow your lead.

    I have a question about the fabric. I have bought a couple of these indigo cottons from M & M last year. What did you do about setting the colour? I found when I was preshrinking mine that it just kept running and running. I recently went back and used some Synthropol which seems to have helped. I just wondered what you might’ve done. Thanks!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Hi Melissa, I didn’t do anything different to set the fabric… I just pre-washed it like usual on a cotton cycle. I didn’t notice any bleeding at the time, but I’ll be careful next time I wash it from hearing your experience!

  5. AvatarVictoria

    This is so, so lovely! I have an Alder that has been waiting for me to sew it up since September when I bought the fabric. Time to get moving before Spring/Summer get here!

  6. AvatarSophie

    a stunning Alder! I’m in the process of finishing my second. The pattern is so easy to put together, however I’m now jealous of your V-neck version!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Yeah it’s a fun one isn’t it? Just challenging enough to be interesting. I love the mitred front seam!

  7. AvatarAbigail

    I love this dress! It looks easy to make, but it would take a lot to make me get the up-and-go to make it. How long did it take you to make it, and would you consider it easy?

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Hi Abigail. I’d call it advanced beginner/intermediate level – the collar, mitre seams on the front and buttonholes make it a bit more challenging. It took me about 4-5 hours I think. Go for it!

  8. AvatarCarol

    Another lovely make by you. I only bought this pattern last week and have been trying to decide which version to do… you’ve made me think of a collarless one too!!!

  9. AvatarRochelle New

    Such gorgeous fabric! I love all the V-neck Alder’s I’ve seen around the web. If I ever get around to making one I think I’d go that route too. p.s. Your fit and topstitching are beautiful! Well done :)

  10. AvatarSarah - Fabric Tragic

    It looks fantastic. Would you consider making a mandarin collar style, just using the collar stand? I know what you mean by weird with a cardi – I tried it with mine and I looked like a supermarket checkout chick from 1979.

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Yeah I considered that but I’d probably still want to unbutton it a bit anyway! I just felt really frumpy in it with tights and a cardi.

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