Amanda vs Alder Shirtdress

Watermelons are so hot right now.

At least, they are in my world. If 2014 was the Year of the Pineapple then 2015 is the Year of the Watermelon. What is there not to love? Pink, green, tiny black spots! It’s a match made in summer style heaven. Except for the taste. Ugh. Team Citrus over here… But there was no need for me to get melon-choly (eh, see what I did there!) as watermelon print fabric is the perfect match for my first summer dress of the season. Huzzah!


This fruit number is Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio. The Alder is a loosely fitted sleeveless shirtdress and I went with View B which features the curved hem and gathered sides and back. What can I say? I am a lady who likes a ruffle!


The fabric is a cheap and cheerful poplin from Spotlight in their “Spots and Stripes” range though I am not sure if one would classify watermelons as spots or stripes? It holds a crease well and handles everyday wear. It may not be the softest fabric on the market but for a fun summer sundress you can do far worse. I also have to point out the ridic adorable buttons – they are teeny tiny little black squares and I love them because (a) they look like watermelon pips and (b) they are square which makes my heart happy as I find circles messy. Yup, it’s a weird place in my brain O_o


As always with Grainline patterns, the instructions were clear and easy to follow. I used Four Square Walls collar burrito method (as per my Archer), which makes more sense to my tiny pea brain. I also tried a new to me method for attaching the bias binding in the armholes (coincidentally also from Grainline Studio back in 2012) that is amazing in its simplicity and awesomeness. For the first time my bound edges finished flat. Huzzah! Let me tell you there was celebratory cake and gin after that!


Alterations wise, I played around with this pattern a bit:

  • Included a 4cm FBA using the tutorial from the Alder sewalong
  • Added 4cm in length but then hacked it back off at the hemming stage
  • Removed the front pockets- my lady cargo so did not need double print action in that region
  • Included my polka dot lining in the internal collar stand
  • Repositioned buttons and shortened the distance between them just because I loved them so much there needed to be more!

There were a couple of snags I ran across. Turns out inserting those gathered panels at the front require some sweet attention to detail to get a sharp pivot… Needless to say one is curved mess and the other is a wonky pivot. You live and learn! Also, make sure you don’t use teacher left and teacher right when cutting out pattern pieces and fusing interfacing or you end up with the shirt buttoning in reverse and the interfacing on the wrong side. Curse you teaching! *dramatic fist shake* On the plus side, I think only laser eyed fellow sewasauruses would noticed the reverse buttoning… Engage laser eye mode now…


What I loved about this pattern:

  • All the technical fun of a shirt but with the bonus addition of a ruffle butt! What’s there not to love?!
  • Grainline’s fabulous instructions. This is only my second button up/down shirt type creation and I needed a fair bit of hand holding when it came to construction.
  • Not the pattern but the fabric- Team Watermelon (except for eating then Team Tangelo!)

What I would change for next time:

  • Shape the side seams a little. I get the straight lines of this but I want to play up my curves. If you got ‘em, work with ‘em!
  • Lose the collar and just keep the stand. Because I’m sassy like that.
  • Make a partial button up. As in, only have a few buttons then plain placket for the rest. Laziness is my middle name!
  • Add some width to the back or maybe size up? These photos are revealing some drag lines I hadn’t noticed in person.
  • Try and find a tutorial to help me with getting a flat finish to my curved hem. That sucker is doing a Mexican wave around my leg meat and it is tres awks >.>


The Deets

Pattern: Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studios

Fabric: 3m of watermelon poplin from Spotlight, scraps of polka dot poplin and interfacing from stash

Notions: thread, 11 adorable watermelon pip buttons

See also: Pincushion Treats, Sew DIY, Ginger Makes

Overall, I am rather happy with this frock and am looking forward to wearing it through summer. I was a bit skeptical about the amount of ease around the waist… Then I realised this is going to be tops during those ridiculously hot days and on Christmas Day for scarfing sweet, sweet pavlova. To the pavlova!




  1. Love your Alder! I got the pattern, but am waiting for summer in the US. (Read “jealous”.) This was my first post of yours – how fun! As a newly retired teacher you must be one. Have to preserve sanity at any and all cost! Enjoy summer. Life must be awesome living upside down… (I crack me up!) Lodi

  2. Your placket is dreamy 🙂 Perfect summer dress!

    Total guess here – but I wonder if those slight drag lines in the back indicate you need more of an FBA? The back looks nice at the shoulders and arm scye!

    • Why thank ye 🙂

      I was wondering that too – I’m wearing it out for the first time this afternoon so will see how it feels across the bust. I think a little extra room may be in order…

  3. Love those melons! Contrary to Crab and Bee I reckon the FBA is fine but this fabric is quite fine and your shoulder area shows drag lines with ?movement. I’d ignore that myself, its not lycra! If anything I wonder about a little eased dart in the back shoulder to give them blades some breathing space?. Extend your back shoulder out about .75-1cm, curving a beautiful line back into the back armscye. Now your back shoulder will be bigger than the front, you can dart the back shoulder but it will probably ease into the front. I find Grainline’s patterns quite flat in the back and couldn’t detect any dart on my Cascade. Sorry if thats too much advice!!!
    Can’t resist more advice, I’m old!! I love a hem facing for a beautiful finish. I often do this., bonus if the skirt is already too long. Cut off the excess hem, turn the cut edges RST, stitch and turn up to form facing. I usually overlock to neaten.
    Gorgeous dress, so cool, so mmelon-y. Huge fan of Christmas watermelon here, not a citrus gal at all!

    • Hi Lesley,

      Thank you so much for the pro tips! I like the idea of having a play around with some extra room in the shoulder. I compared the Alder to my fave Burda sleeveless top and the back is a bit smaller. Will give it a go on my next one and see 😀

      I have never tried a ham facing before – sounds like it could be the ticket for a curved hem. Thank you!

      Also, bah watermelon! Citrus for life 😉

  4. Well hello watermelons, looking good! Welcome to team #bumruffle. You won’t be sorry you joined, although this dress can be a knicker-flasher on windy days (ask me how I know zone)

  5. Gorgeous dress, the print is so cute. I’ve just bought this pattern too but I won’t be making it for a while as I’m in the northern hemisphere and it’s cold, cold, cold here.

  6. Oh look at you, rubbing it in with your sleeveless duds while I’m ova here bundled up like the kid in A Christmas Story. :)> Looks great and makes me yearn for summer again.

  7. Team tangelo for eating all the way. I made tangelo marmalade this year’s citrus season. Mmmm!!!

    Oh wait, this is a sewing blog, yeah. I love the watermelon fabric and the watermelon pip buttons. The dress looks perfect for chilling in the summer heat. Nothing like a ruffle butt and not too fitted waist for plenty of cool air flow!

  8. What a fun, fun dress! This is one of my all-time favorite patterns and your version does not disappoint! I second the suggestion of a hem facing. Or, for a light-weight dress like this, finishing the hem with bias binding will help you, too– the curved hem is tough to do in a tight woven without getting some rippling!

    PS- I never heard the word “pip” since it’s not an American term but it’s such a fun word to read and say… I’m repeating it to myself over and over like maniac over here!

  9. I’m late to the party but I’m behind on my blog reading. However, I’m so glad that I clicked in and read about your adventures with this dress because it’s so cute and fun! Fantastic new summer dress!

  10. Oh it’s very fun. I’ve been planning a ruffle version myself and it’s nice to see it on a similar body shape. Have you thought about hemming with bias binding too (sorry too lazy to see if anyone else has suggested this!). Otherwise my method of hemming a curved hem is to run basting stitches at the fold line which helps to ease it in. Bugger of a job. I need a dress suitable for some pav consumption…..

    • Thanks, Satah! I had no idea about the hem bias binding but it seems a popular suggestion. Looking forward too trying it out soon! Hope you had some great Christmas pav!

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