Alder shirt dress or How I learned yo use my Featherweight

Almost 2 months ago I won a Singer Featherweight on eBay and almost two weeks later it was found in a recycling bin a few streets away from my house. Thank you, Hermes, I promise never to use your services again! Lucky for me,  the nice gentleman who found it in its bin before collection day was so kind to bring her to me. I tested her and it wad working fine overall, but there wasn’t enough pressure in the foot to keep the fabric from shifting under it. I googled a bit and found a service manual and I finally got around fixing the foot height.

Singer Featherweight

My black beauty


Alder was next on my list, so this is my first completed garment using her.
I bough the pdf version of Alder the day it was released. I couldn’t wait for the print pattern, I was waiting since May, when Jen was posting selfies next to her fridge wearing different versions of Alder :). I had 2.5m of chambray bought from the man outside Sainsbury’s which was perfect for view B of the dress, the first view I wanted to try. I remember I only wanted to buy 1.5m but there were 2.5 left on the roll and I was offered the full length for the price of 2m. Yes, please!
I traced size 10 based on the measurements I knew I had and after measuring the pattern, made a tiny petite alteration at armscye level and made a muslin. And the muslin was tight at the bust. And the pattern said there should be enough ease. I measured my self again. Aha! Looks like the last couple of months of not running added a few cm here and there 😐 .  Anyway,  the muslin was looking ok at the shoulders and back so I made a full bust adjustment (my first) and removed another half of inch at the bust level to raise the dart and shorten the bodice a little more.

Last weekend I cut and sewed the dress. It all went smooth and fairly quick, except for those little mistakes when I sewed the darts on the right side and then I was left with a bit more collar stand at the end of the neckline and I had to chop a bit off. Other than that, the collar was really easy to sew, don’t know why I was so scared of it. I can see more shirts in my future 🙂

It was really easy to top stitch close to the edge with this machine, I just aligned the edge of the fabric with the inner right edge of the foot.

And here is the dress, in all its flowy wrinkled glory 🙂

There are a few things I’ll try to do better next time:

1. Stay-stitch the waist, even if it’s a straight line, and press, don’t iron! The waist ended up 4in/10cm wider than the pattern. It’s more obvious in this picture. HUGE.

2. There are some drag lines at the back armscye area. The dress is not tight there, you can see there is some ease around center back. Even though the lines point to the sides, I tried pinching the shoulder seam close to the shoulder, and that seemed to fix the issue. I need to experiment with the shoulder angle a bit. Or maybe it’s the ironing again?

3. The center front drops a little, there are some drag lines there as well. It’s either the snaps are too heavy or again, I ironed the fabric out of shape.

This weekend I cut fabric for two pair of shorts and one top. I don’t like working on more projects at a time, but 2 of them require a lot of hand sewing and I didn’t want to ignore my sewing machine for too long 🙂


Abstract print Scout dress

I try to sew one project per week. I usually start with cutting/pressing/interfacing during the week and then I sew on weekends. Depending on how much time I have I will choose a quick project or a more elaborate one. Last weekend was a busy one – with a visit to the science museum on Saturday and a day trip to Brighton on Sunday there wasn’t much time left for sewing. So I made this dress on Friday evening and only left the buttonhole for Saturday morning.

The print needed a simple dress, so I merged the Scout pattern with an old dress I like and came up with this “pattern”. I only made Scout once after applying my petite alterations and it turned ok-ish, but after making this dress I think I went a little overboard. I removed 2cm (3/4′) in length from the armscye  area and it’s a bit too tight now. I reprinted the pattern and plan to remove only half that amount. Also, looks like I didn’t alter the sleeve as well, or not enough, because there was a lot of ease in there. I just made two pleats, I didn’t want a gathered sleeve on this dress.

I didn’t use a zip, since the fit is very loose (even though there are two fish eye darts at the back), I just made short slit at center back and closed it with a button and thread loop.

The fabric is cotton bought from Walthamstow Market on a Saturday, from the man outside Sainsbury’s 🙂 . Karen used the same print  for April Rhodes’ Staple Dress, I like the colors on her dress, the bright green (yellow?) seems more appropriate for the print.

It was really windy that Saturday and I couldn’t take any nice photos of my back, the wind made the dress look like a jumpsuit – an unflattering jumpsuit 🙂

So there it is. Today I’m taking photos of this weekend’s project – the Alder shirt dress. Yes, I spent all Sunday sewing it 🙂