Posted on Saturday the 8th April 2017 by Self Assembly Sewing
Hello, it's Emily from Self Assembly Required again! Time is flying by. It's April already and time for my next Minerva Crafts project!
This month I've made the Alder shirtdress from Grainline Studios. It's a pattern that's been on my sewing radar for a while now but I never found the motivation to go and make it! But it's a pattern that's perfect for the warmer weather we've been having so I figured now is as good a time as any to do it!
The Alder Shirtdress Sewing Pattern
comes in 2 forms - a simple straight A-line and a version with a partial gathered skirt. Both are sleeveless and feature a back yoke, breast pockets and curved hem. I opted to make view B which is the plain skirted version. BUT I didn't leave it plain. Oh no! Instead I went a bit overboard with ruffles and frills. Lots of them!
The dress is actually a lovely and simple sew. (My button placket is a bit all over the place but that's due to me getting all my pieces muddles up in the current mess that is my sewing table...). The instructions are pretty clear and easy to follow.
I will, however, take this moment to call out the elephant in the room... My bad pattern matching! I didn't realise how off the grain was before I cut it and then it was way too late. The fabric really needed to be trued (when you pull pout the corners to straighten the weave) which I skipped. So even where I thought I'd folded and matched it, there were plenty of wobbly bits in there which threw it off. Let's all make a note for next time to sort that out BEFORE cutting the fabric!
So let's get back to the business of the ruffles. I wanted to get this dress on trend for the coming summer and to me that meant ruffles and frills everywhere!
I started by adding a gathered cap sleeve to the dress. I made this my measuring out a length twice the length of the armhole (measure the binding piece twice for an easy fix) and drawing a gentle symmetrical arc between the two ends. Make sure to include enough space for a seam allowance and hem. Along the straight edge, I made two rows of basting stitches and pulled them in to match the sleeve length. I stitched the short ends of the sleeve together and attached it to the armhole. The arc shape creates a pouffy frill that's longer over the top of the shoulder and tapers to nothing underneath the arm - that's to make sure there's no restriction of movement for when you're out dancing...
I also made a frill collar. Some might say it's a step too much but I kinda love it!
To make this, I measured the length of the collar piece that came with the pattern and doubled it to get the full length. I then doubled it again to get a measure for the frill. (As a general rule, I recommend doubling the width of wherever you want to put a frill/ ruffle in if you want quite a lot of fullness). I cut a piece of fabric in a rectangle which was the length I'd just measured by 5 inches. I folded the fabric lengthways and sewed the short ends down. I then turned it out and pressed the whole thing so I ended up with a long narrow strip with nice neat edges and corners. Again, I used 2 rows of basting stitches along the raw edge to gather the frill. I like to make one row within the seam allowance and one row outside the 1/2" allowance. I find this makes for even gathers that are easier to control and sew. Once gathered, I sandwiched the frill into the collar stand in between the notches exactly where the normal collar would be. I sewed it together, notched and turned it out as normal to create this!
On one hand, I think it might be a bit too much. On the other, the phrase "go big or go home" comes to mind...
I can still go back and reduce the length and bulk of the frills but I'm gonna see how well I can rock this look first!