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 🙂


14 thoughts on “Alder shirt dress or How I learned yo use my Featherweight

  1. Pingback: I conquered the shirt. In plaid. | Made in my living room

  2. Hello! Love your dress! being in the Southern Hemisphere, I’m ready for an Alder dress for our summer. Can I ask how you merged your bodice with FBA to the skirt part of view B? Where did you add the extra width??


    • Hi, Rebeca! I removed the FBA extra width at the side seam. If you look at the picture with my pattern in progress, there’s a blue line from the bust dart to the waist, going in for 2cm. If you need a bigger than 2cm I think it’s best you add a waist dart that starts right above the skirt front seam. Good luck!


  3. Obviously, you look great. I feel like everyone in my feed is doing cute chambray stuff recently. I have a question: so the machine didn’t come in the mail? It just got dumped in the recycling? That’s insane. And fate you found it again…


    • Thanks, Ruthie! I bet you see a lot of chambray because it’s a great fabric for summer 😉
      And yes, the courier left the machine in a bin at a different address, different street name, different post code, he just left it there and faked a signature, lying that someone in the household signed for it. I was so lucky that nice gentleman found it and drove to my house to bring her. I was enraged!! I complained and Hermes apologized, but I really try to avoid them now.


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