Altering the Alder: Sprout hacks

I wrote a post for the Sprout Patterns blog where I dramatically alter a garment using their service. I’ve wrote about it before, but Sprout Patterns is a really cool project and product I’ve been able to work with. They use Spoonflower to print a sewing pattern directly on the fabric. Think about that, no pinning tissue paper, no tracing lines, just simply cut out the pieces!

You should absolutely go read what I wrote in the two part blog posts here:

Altering the Alder: Part 1, Adding Darts

Altering the Alder: Part 2, Adding Sleeves

But if you really just want the eye-candy, here’s some awesome photos of the dress I created. You can also read my review of this pattern here: Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress ★★★★

Here are three photos that show the stages of alterations I worked with. The first is the shirt directly following the pattern. The second photo shows the difference some added darts can make. And the final dress has drafted petal sleeves.

I frequently wish I could see the INSIDES of dresses that inspire me. So in the future I’m also going to try to include construction photos, and inside out photos of garments I’m really proud of.

Monet’s Water Lilies

A few months ago I saw a random image on pinterest of a model posing in an artist’s studio, and I absolutely fell in love with the dress she was wearing. After searching the internet for awhile, I could find nothing about the dress in question. Even with no information to go on, I wanted to recreate it, so I did.

monet-inspiration

Artist Marc Chagall posed model Ivy Nicholson in his studio.

There weren’t many higher quality versions of the photo, so I couldn’t get a whole lot of details about the design on the fabric. I chose to make my version out of a print of Monet’s water lilies. Its not exactly right, but I love the effect it creates.

Finding the right pattern was tough too. I eventually settled on heavily modifying the Vogue 8997 dress. It closed with a zipper in the back, instead of buttons down the front. But the neckline was close enough, and it had the fitted bodice with wider skirt I was looking for. I reviewed this pattern here: Vogue Dress V8997 ★★★★★

Since I was going to be changing this dress’s structure in a fairly dramatic way, I did what I so rarely do and actually made a muslin first. Madness, I know! I didn’t actually use muslin fabric for my muslin, haha. Since I have spoonflower, I created a “graph paper” design that I really thought would help me layout the pieces, check that everything is on grain, measure it right on the fabric. It helped a lot, and its an idea I think I’ll keep using in the future when I effectively want to draft a dress from scratch, or modify a given pattern.

Please forgive the horrible lighting in the next few photographs. I was trying to get this dress ready to wear to a friend’s wedding, and didn’t actually take the time to take good pictures while making the dress.
First I laid the stupid tissue pieces out on my mock up fabric (I’m so spoiled by Sprout Patterns at this point). I traced my modifications in permanent marker, and then cut out the pieces.

Then I basted all the pieces together, and played with the fit until I liked out how my button band modifications worked out. Then I used the mockup pieces to cut out my real fabric.

I am well and truly pleased with this dress. Its not perfect, it has some sloppy places that I wish I’d been able to take my time to do right. But it is gorgeous on its own, and I like how close I was able to get to my inspiration dress.

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress ★★★★

24lineartThis dress is super flattering … with a few modifications. It’s definitely a straight silhouette smock-like pattern, so both times I used it I ended up adding front and back darts around the bodice to add shape and structure. I’m a bit of a classic pear shape, and my wide hips made all dresses look WIDE unless I have some definition around the waist. That said, it was super easy to add said modifications, and with them the dress is adorable flattering and comfortable. I also drafted and added short sleeves in one version, and that was easy as well! The collar construction is fairly simple and flattering.

I used Sprout Patterns when I sewed this dress, and it worked out great!
To see the modifications I made to this pattern, you should see my post here: Sprout Hacks with the Alder Shirtdress

Colette Hawthorn Dress ★★★★

3lineart

This was the first shirt dress pattern I’ve ever used. It was fairly easy to follow, and certainly satisfying to complete. It does suffer from the usual colette problem where I seriously have to adjust the bust darts, because I believe she drafts her patterns for a larger than usual bust size. But its an easy adjustment to make at this point. I will say that I have some trouble with the way the collar lines up, and depending on the fabric you choose you should definitely skip the interfacing. Maybe its just because I’m a sloppy sewist, but both times I’ve used this pattern thus far, I’ve had trouble lining up the waist seam-line across the buttons. One side always turns up a millimeter or two higher than the other.

However, Colette’s instructions are excellent, and definitely great for a beginner. I’ve been too lazy to actually put a button placket in either version of this pattern that I’ve tried, but once I do I know that her directions will make it clear and easy.

I’ve completely both the peplum blouse version of this pattern, and the dress, and both turned out excellent.

You can see the peplum version of this pattern here: Cotton Lawn Peplum Blouse

Here are some images of the dress version:

 

Vogue Shirt Dress V8577 ★★★★★

6lineartThis pattern is a fantastic shirt dress pattern. It has really nice details that make it stand out. The pockets look complex and difficult, but the directions make it fairly easy. I’ve always intended to do a version with the sleeves and lapels, but haven’t yet bothered.

With a heavier linen, its a great fall and winter dress. Check out Purple Shirt Dress. Out of a lightweight crepe it makes an amazing summer dress, don’t believe me? See Summer Shirt Dress. Flexible and flattering and comfortable, I definitely recommend this pattern.

Summer Shirt Dress

Over two years later and this dress is still one of my favorites! The fit is fantastic, the fabric is comfortable and attractive. I get endless compliments on it, and my choice of buttons. This is a dress that makes me say this is why I sew!

I finished this dress about two weeks ago. Hands down, it is my favorite dress that I’ve ever made (so far.) I am ridiculously proud of this dress. It was just one of those charmed afternoons where I saw this fabric on sale at Joann’s and decided to do something with it. Then I saw the buttons, and knew they’d be perfect. Then I just started sewing and at every step of the process I was more excited and happy with this dress.

The pattern is Vogue V8577. A shirt dress with pockets that I’d been meaning to try out for awhile now. Its an easy pattern, though a little time consuming, what with the pockets, and the gathers at shoulders and back, and the button placket and all. Its extremely flattering though. The skirt is super flowy, and makes it perfect for a sunny spring day. I reviewed this pattern here: Vogue Shirt Dress V8577 ★★★★★

And yes, the uneven hemline is actually intentional. I never really pay attention to match up the hems of skirts and dresses when I’m sewing, I always know that I can fix that up at the very end. But when this dress got to that stage, and I was trying it on to decide where I wanted to put the hem, I decided that I actually really liked its sort of random unevenness. Its not even classically asymmetrical, where dresses are long in the back and short in the front, or only long on one side. I decided to exaggerate the sort of dips and curves that naturally came out of my sloppy sewing. To me, it makes this dress interesting and surprising, in the same way the orange buttons do.

This dress is perfect. When I’m done with a project, there’s almost always something I’d change about it if I wasn’t too lazy, or it wasn’t too late to go back, or just a different fabric choice or something. Not this dress. Its perfect.

Purple Shirt Dress

I’ve been having lots of fun with surprise linings lately!

This dress came from vogue pattern 8577, which I got because it has my two favorite things: a flowy skirt, and POCKETS. I reviewed my experience with the pattern here: Vogue Shirt Dress V8577 ★★★★★

I made it out of a medium weight linen, because I just love the texture of linen and because the dark purple caught my eye. Though it also left my hands fairly purple by the end of it. The green lining was an impulse, but I’m glad I went with it. I love that extra bit of color.