Saturday, August 13, 2022

Alder Dress

Grainline Studio drafts such nice patterns. I've been eyeing this one for a while. Lots of people made it early on as you can see here on Instagram. I finally found just the right fabric for it. I made the view with the gathered skirt.

The fabric is a Japanese double cloth 100% cotton. Thanks to Kathryn Brenne, I now know the difference between double cloth and double faced fabrics. This one is double cloth because you can see the tiny threads that hold the two layers together.

Unlike some double cloth fabrics, this one has only one right side. The back side is solid white. Each is almost sheer on its own, but quite opaque together. They are similar to voile fabrics, maybe even lighter. This one has a large pattern with a striped effect.

This project included many mishaps. I am not even sure I remember them all. Thank goodness the print disguises the most ghastly ones. 

One smallish mistake I made was to cut the back bodice on the crosswise grain. It is always so tempting to play with stripes or directional prints. I like the way it looks but it does cause it to sag a bit. Also this choice made it challenging to keep the armhole from gaping in back.

The most regretful mistake was my attempt to insert inseam pockets into the front vertical seams (as opposed to the side seams). After I committed to this (that is, I made serious cuts in the fabric), I realized that there was too little horizontal space there to actually accommodate even the smallest of pockets. At first, I thought, oh, *!?@, I've ruined this Nani Iro fabric.

But, ever optimistic, I put it away for another day. When I returned to it, I decided that the print is so busy and irregular that it would be easy to apply a patch to my cut area and move on. And I did. Can you tell?

For gathering the skirt, I used this wonderful reference. It is full of other goodies and kind of fun to peruse from time to time. Even though I've been sewing for more than 50 years, I don't learn on a uniformly rising curve. And I forget! Gathers seem simple but I find that to make them smooth and consistent, the technique presented here makes a huge difference. 

One key to pretty gathers is use of a small enough stitch length. If it is too long, then the gathers tend to bunch up. Of course, if it is too small, then you cannot gather it at all. But over time, I've been surprised by how small the stitch length can be and still manage gathers. Another key is to make 3 rows of gathering stitches. And Roberta Carr says that the gathering stitches should not be removed!

I am particularly fond of the way the gathering plays with the uneven stripes.

This dress is too short for me and not as flattering as it might be if I had made it longer. Of course, I realized that after cutting it out. This led me to use a white batiste bias facing to finish the hem, such that it is.

But it is so comfortable and perfect for the dog days of summer here in the southeastern US. I've decided I'm OK with it. It feels like almost wearing nothing and it floats away from my body. And it does not wrinkle. How perfect is that for a summer piece?

Once I realized how short it would be, I tried it as a tunic with pants. 


No way.

This was completed last month. As I look at these pictures, I am left wondering why I reach for it so often. 


  1. I quite like this on you - maybe it seems shorter in the wearing than it does in the looking? And really, cool and floating, perfect for this summer.


  2. What a fun dress! If it continues to feel too short, you could probably piece an addition to the length. With that wonderful irregular pattern of stripes, it might echo the collar and look quite good. Elle

  3. I love this and like the length on you. It does look very comfortable. Nani Iro fabrics are a favorite of mine. Jean

  4. It looks wonderful on you, a real eye catcher. You did wonders with a very challenging fabric. I love that the double cloth is flat and not spongy and springy like double gauze. This appeals to me hugely and the DG that so many rave about never has. Awesome dress, awesome on you.

  5. Very cute dress! Love the fabric! The layout you selected is so interesting to the eye!!! EXCELLENT!!!!!

  6. I agree with the other commenters-I think this dress and the dress length look fabulous and flattering on you-no need to lengthen.