Finished (Sorta) Object: Alder Dress #1

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Well folks, here we are, my first finished (sorta) sewing project of the year – my first Alder dress! Not only is this my first Alder dress, this is also the first dress I’ve ever sewn, and it’s definitely not the last! In fact, a big part of why I wanted to learn to sew is because I love to wear dresses, but it can often be difficult to find any that I like in the stores. They either don’t fit right, aren’t the right color, or are made from awful fabrics (and that’s before we even get to how they were made and all the issues there). But before I dive into sharing my experience sewing the Alder, I want to address the “sorta”.

I’m going to start by saying that I did not make this dress entirely on my own. I had some help from the most talented seamstress I know – my mother. When I was at her house last weekend, she graciously put in the buttonholes, and reattached the collar so that it would lie flat. It was my first time attaching a collar, and my machine won’t do button holes (more on that later), and I was grateful for her help. However, it appears I’ll be needing her help one last time. After sewing on the buttons this week, I gave this beauty a wash, and was sorely disappointed to pull it out and realize a good two inches of the button band had pulled away from the dress. I must have sewn too close to the edge of the fabric, and I have no idea how to go about fixing it myself without messing the whole thing up! Thank goodness I’ll be in California for a good chunk of the summer, because this baby needs more TLC than I can give it before its ready to be worn.

So that’s it. My Alder dress is entirely finished. Sorta.

I won’t lie, it was super disappointing to pull this out of the dryer and realize what had happened. Not only was my heart set on wearing it, but I was so proud of my handiwork. Pulling it out and seeing that I had done something so wrong that part of the dress detached was a real punch in the gut. But that’s making, and that’s life. I had to remind myself that I’m still incredibly new to sewing, and this is the first time I had made such a complex garment without supervision. My sewing machine isn’t the greatest – it’s an ancient Singer, and something is off in the tension, and I have no idea how to fix it (another Mom project!). I did my best with the tools I had, and I learned a lot of new things! That’s something I can be proud of.

As for actually making the Alder dress, oh boy did I have a good time! This is the second Grainline Studio pattern I’ve made, and I must say, I love how easy those patterns are to follow. They’re clear, concise, and the details are always just so. I followed the Alder make-a-long that’s up on the Grainline blog, which further added to the clarity of the instructions. I highly recommend using it the first time you make an Alder.

I made version A, which has a waist-less, A-line silhouette, and decided to do a mandarin collar instead of a full shirt collar. Partly because I wasn’t quite ready to put together a full shirt collar by myself, and partly because I felt the mandarin collar went better with the clean lines of the dress. Alder had a lot of firsts for me. This was my first time doing a button band, a collar, pockets, and bust darts. None of these things were as difficult as I thought they would be, and I’m delighted to have added them all to my repertoire.

This will absolutely not be the last time I make an Alder dress. Not only am I itching to try version B, with its lovely gathered skirt, but I’m sure I’ll be putting together repeats of each version. That’s why I got the pattern in the first place. Alder is a beautiful garment that fits perfectly into my wardrobe. Different fabrics are going to bring this pattern to life in different, beautiful ways. I can’t wait to have this sorta finished piece become a fully finished piece so I can put my first Alder dress into the wardrobe rotation. And I can’t wait until I put together my second Alder, and all the ones that will come after.

Have you made the Alder dress? Did you like it? Do you have a sewing mishap where you thought something was completely finished, but then realized you had made some kind of mistake? Share in the comments below!


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