sleeveless archer in silk

it was only a matter of time before i made the ubiquitous grainline studio archer in a fabulous silk print. i prefer not to waste my precious fabrics on untested patterns, and since i’ve made the archer so. many. times. i felt no hesitation slicing into this beautiful yardage of silk crepe de chine. i love a good polka dot, but i ADORE an irregular polka dot. throw in the squiggly lines around those dots and i was a gonner. oh, and i got it for $10/yd at my local sewfisticated. their selection can be hit or miss, but it’s rare that i walk out of that place without at least one unique gem of a fabric at a stellar price.

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paired with my always in rotation moss skirt

i knew immediately that i wanted a sleeveless archer, having recently made one with good results (sadly, pilling beyond all rationality so it mostly stays home—sob!). since i was dealing with a floaty semi-sheer silk, i made sure to pick up some fine sewing thread (they carry it at joanns, chances are you just haven’t noticed). i recall from David Coffin’s Shirtmaking book that he suggests using a finer thread than your regular all purpose coats & clark.

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i have to say that it made a world of difference. in previous silk makes it was very difficult to sew without the seams puckering up, even if only slightly. the fine thread i used here did well gliding through the fabric without snagging or puckering. see, it’s not only necessary to use the proper needle, but the proper thread as well! it also made my topstitching look excellent, if i do say so myself. and ya’ll know how much i love my topstitching. 😉

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speaking of topstitching, typically you want to increase the stitch length. however, in shirtmaking, especially with dressier shirts, you actually decrease the stitch length (2-2.5 setting on my machine). go pull out one of your hubby/significant other’s business shirts and you’ll see what i mean. a shorter stitch length and a finer sewing thread will give you a most professional finish.

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i messed around with the button position in order to add one extra button down the front. from the original pattern, i’ve lengthened the shirt by about 1″ and that always left a weird space at the bottom. my second button ends up a little higher than i’d really prefer, but eh, no biggie.

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i had to be extra careful about my seam trimming since you can see the seam allowances through the semi-sheer fabric. i took my time and kept them at about 1/4″. the yoke is fully encased, and the side seams are frenched. no exposed seam allowances means it looks nice and tidy on the inside. honestly, this is one of my best finished shirts and i’m quite proud of it.

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despite taking my time i was still able to sew it completely in about 3 sittings. without those pesky sleeves to deal with, it sews up pretty fast. also, silk crepe de chine is a good silk to work with. it has a nice grip which makes sewing pretty painless, really. the bias binding is a different story, but you could always sub a cotton voile for those bits. plus, silk blouses are just heaven to wear! i plan to get loads of use out of this top.

—lisa g.

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sleeveless archer

a while back i ordered some tencel chambray (this one, while it’s still available… it’s gorgeous stuff). my intent was to use it for a modified CP laurel or the salme buttonless shirtdress, but i felt it was borderline too thin to go sans lining, and i don’t own a slip. it’s on my list of things to make though! since my initial plan wasn’t working out, i decided to make the sleeveless archer i’ve been wanting. must bend to the will of the fabric gods, amiright?

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this top looks less frumpy tucked in (or partially tucked… let’s be real) but i left it out for the sake of photos

i searched teh interwebs for everyone’s tips on how to make the archer sleeveless. i followed jen’s advice and wedged out part of the back shirt piece and moved the shoulder seam in (1-1.5″). i also moved the under arm up and in, by about 1/2″ both directions. i was worried about potentially gape-y armholes, and that seemed to do the trick. i typically have to shorten the depth of armholes, so raising it may just be something i need to do. better to cut away excess than wish you had more!

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i also decided to make it a popover and sew a placket down the front. i debated the length of the placket for a long time, and in the end i wish it were an inch or two longer. it bugs me that the placket and pockets end at about the same place; didn’t even consider that! i also altered the pocket shape to be smaller, left off the collar, and subbed gathers for the back pleat.

my little photo-bomber. at least he's wearing a mommy-made tee ;-)

my little photo-bomber. at least he’s wearing a mommy-made tee 😉

i’m pretty in love with this shirt! i have another sleeveless archer planned, which i’ll hopefully get to soon. i scored a gorgeous polka dot fabric recently and it’s high time i honored this great pattern with some silk, doncha think?

lisa g.

archer in plaid

i almost didn’t blog this shirt. not for lack of loving it, but i don’t really have much to say that hasn’t already been said! however, i never tire of examining shirt construction, so who am i to deny you a few photos?

worn with my beloved denim moss skirt

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i made this archer with a very nice shirting from fabric place basement (local). they have a great selection of shirting fabric, and all in the $6-8/yd range. seriously. you can’t beat that! as i cut this fabric, i realized just how nice this fabric is in comparison to the fabric i used for my husband’s dress shirts… er… over a year ago. poor guy definitely needs a few more… anyways, i decided to go all out and properly flat fell my seams, tower placket, top stitching, you know the drill. blousier fabrics get french seams and continuous plackets, but the “boyfriend” shirts get all the proper traditional details.

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i know people go crazy for bias cut plaid, but unless i’m working with a plaid that is symmetrical horizonally and vertically, i tend to go the more conservative route and cut the yoke, collar, stand, and cuffs along the grain (perpendicular to how the main body pieces are cut). it’s subtle, but you can see how the light blue stripe is vertical on the body, and horizontal on the other parts.

tower placket

tower placket

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flat-felled side seam (inside shot)

i don’t know about you guys, but i’ve been avidly following Peter at MPB as he relays all that great shirtmaking info. a lot of the info is quite similar to what i’ve read from David Coffin’s “Shirtmaking” book, but still i find it all fascinating!

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went with a smaller single pocket just to change it up

so, that’s about it folks…

ARCHER FANS UNITE!

—lisa g.

polka dot! polka dot!

i’ve had this shirt in my head (and cut out) for months now, and i finally got it made! the summer here was hot so making a long sleeved shirt kept getting pushed farther and farther down my list of things to do… but, i couldn’t stand it any longer and finally cranked out my fourth archer. have i ever mentioned how much i love this pattern? cuz i do. also, i specifically had this shirt in mind when i made my coral/pink pants. while it’s a tad (okay, more than a tad) bolder than i usually wear, i just couldn’t resist this combo!

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i decided to forgo flat fells and/or french seams because this is a very lightweight cotton and, truth be told, the quality isn’t that great. if i didn’t love the polka dot so much i probably wouldn’t bother using it at all. the contrasting black, however, is a very nice cotton lawn (excellent price, i might add) from fabric.com and really classes up the shirt, i think.

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i don’t know that there’s much left to say about the archer than i haven’t already said, so i’ll just leave you with pics. funny note: i’ve gone to deleting most of my pics off the camera before even bothering to load them on the computer. as i sorted through the remaining, i realized i hadn’t left a single pic where i’m actually looking at the camera. apparently i don’t like looking at my face. make of that what you will.

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—lisa g.

archer in chambray

i keep seeing chambray archers and rtw button ups in chambray. chambray this, chambray that… chambray is everywhere! and i finally got in on the action. (p.s. is it just me or does the word “chambray” start to sound very funny, very quickly? or maybe that’s just me…) i was under the impression that chambray was a tad pricy based on what they charge at joanns, then i spotted some at a local fabric store (fabric place basement) for $5 or $6/yd. stoopid joanns. i picked up a couple yards and knew it was destined to be an archer. i heart you grainline studio. just sayin’.

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i decided to go david coffin all over this shirt and flat fell my seams, stretch my collar, and tower placket my sleeve. this is the real deal folks. plus, it was good practice for making more business shirts for the hubbs.

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my pencil skirt is self drafted and sewn up in double knit (made last fall). nothing earth shattering, hence it’s lack of appearance on le blog.

for sizing, i went back to the size 4 of my original make and simply redrew the top part of the armhole so that the shoulder seam hit closer to my actual shoulder (shaved off about 1/2″). then i graded the back piece only from waist to hem out to a size 8 and matched up the hem lengths. i added about 1″ to the sleeve length to accommodate my monkey arms, and made a proper tower placket.

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the under collar as drafted is two pieces cut on the bias. i assume the bias cut is to help the collar roll softly, but this time i cut the upper and under collar the same and used david coffin’s techniques of trimming and stretching to achieve the proper shape. it’s easy to do and works so well! i also used a stiffer woven fusible for the cuffs and collar, the same stuff i’ve used in business shirts.

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my pics are post a trip through the wash and dryer… and i’m really lame at ironing.

man i love this shirt. i’m also pleased that i’ve become so comfortable with shirtmaking techniques. i won’t be churning them out on a daily basis quite yet but they’re definitely less stressful than they were a few short months ago when i made my first. i’m having breakthroughs people. breakthroughs. yay for sewing!

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yup. had to include the token “tucked into a pencil skirt and belted” look.

i’m just curious… i know i’ll be making more shirts possibly in the near future. are there any specific parts that you would desperately want to see documented? i don’t think i have the patience to step-by-step an entire shirt, but if there are any burning questions out there now’s your chance to throw your two cents in!

—lisa g.

archer-ish

i bought this great rayon challis (here i go again with the rayon… i just can’t quit you!) from my semi-local fabric haunt. it’s a van gogh free spirit print. i was in love with the giant red flowers, and despite the quasi-hawaiian/old lady vibe it gave off, i had to have it. i bought 1 1/4 yards because i intended to make a tiny pocket tank. but… i wavered and became concerned that the ivory background would wash me out as a tank and decided to try and get an archer out of it instead.

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wearing with my super useful navy thurlows

hear me out! i reasoned that if i nixed the collar, shortened the sleeves, left off the front placket (instead, cutting both front pieces the same, turning and stitching for a faux-placket), only did one pocket, and used a different fabric for the inside back yoke i could probably pull it off. i had this all worked out in my head and was pretty set on this plan when i laid out my fabric and remembered that this fabric is 45″ wide. and it has a giant floral print that will be difficult to match with such a limited amount of fabric.

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now, you may not know this, but i’ve always prided myself on my ability to save fabric so i started laying out my puzzle pattern pieces and managed to make it all work. i approach fabric cutting as if i am in some crazy WHO CAN USE THE LEAST AMOUNT OF FABRIC?! competition. that should totally be a thing, imo. i even matched the print across the front. who’s a badass seamstress? that would be me.

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i thought it would all be easy breezy sailing from there and finished up in no time, but that just didn’t happen. i constructed the body, added the sleeves, did the collar, then kind of petered out. i didn’t really like how the collar stand was sitting without the collar and began to fear that it wasn’t going to drape nicely and would be all awkward and everyone would point and laugh. (i fully recognize that most of you will squint at your screen and examine my pics to try and see what the heck i’m talking about, and will subsequently wonder what is wrong with me. i’m okay with that.)

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i kept going, ignoring the weird collar thing and did one cuff. now, stupid me didn’t think to make the cuffs larger since they were going to sit just below my elbow and not at my wrist. i slipped the shirt on after the first cuff and realized there was no way it would button. i had imagined i would roll them up, so i tried that and it sat in such a funny spot that i couldn’t bother to sew on the second cuff. so i let it sit another few days while i stared at the whole thing deciding what to do.

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it was such a beautiful cuff, i was so sad to cut it off!

then i remembered a post gail did a while back about different cuff treatments and it inspired me to try something new. the only catch was, i had exactly no useable scraps to make up new pieces with. there was nothing left! fortunately, i hadn’t sewn on the second cuff, so i cut it into strips, bound the bottom edges of the sleeves while inserting little ties that i could knot in place of buttons (looking back at gail’s post, i even commented on how much i loved cuff ties! haha!).

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in hindsight, i should have interfaced the sleeve binding strips, but i think i can deal with it. so the sleeves were taken care of, i hemmed the shirt, then contemplated the collar for another day or two. i was almost ready to slice off the collar stand and work out a facing of some variety to finish the neckline when i figured maybe i should wash the shirt first and see if the collar loses some of the crazy stand-at-attention look. after washing and pressing, it was just drapey enough to keep me happy. i made my buttonholes, sewed on my buttons, took a shower and put my new top on.

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i love it. all the will it won’t it stress gave me a cute cuff i wouldn’t have done otherwise, and a freaking button up shirt out of the most minimal cut of fabric possible! pleased with myself? you betcha.

—lisa g.

NOTE: i made some size adjustments because my last one was a little too off the shoulder for my liking. i graded from a 0 in the shoulder to a 2 underarm to a 6 at the waist out to an 8 or 10 at the hip. that must be the world record for most extreme pattern adjustment ever. in reality, i was simply taking the shoulder in closer than drafted, then allowing plenty of room for le hips.

the totally awesome archer button up

i know the archer sew along was supposed to start monday (sadly, postponed!) but what can i say… i’m impatient and decided to sew mine up over the weekend. we still didn’t have the heat working in our house (though we do now thankfully) so i moved my sewing stuff to the dining room table. it’s a large table so i wasn’t too disruptive to the family… it’s a wonder sometimes that they put up with me. i cut a straight size 4 of view B. i have to admit, when i first saw the butt ruffle version my reaction was a bit like “ew. really? hmmm…” but i have to say the more i looked at it the more i thought it was “interesting” and somewhere along the way “interesting” turned into “really like” which turned into “MUST HAVE NOW!” you know how it is.

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still loving the contrast last buttonhole thing!

reasons why i thought view B would work: for one the fabric i bought is a steely greyish blue. not exactly over the top girly. then i like how the shirt in general is quite boxy and has that “i stole this from the boyfriend’s husband’s side of the closet” look, then you turn around and BAM! butt ruffle. to quote the much overused phrase from project runway, i like how it combines the hard and the soft. no seriously, i gag every time they say that. call it a hangover from my college literature studies where the most intelligent thing you could say in class was how two dissimilar things were juxtaposed and suddenly became interesting. i digress.

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i’m sure any of you who plan to make this shirt want to know about sizing. what i learned from sewing my moss mini is that grainline patterns are not drafted for one with a curvacious backside. hips seem to be taken account for, but le boo-tay? not so much. if i were making view A i would probably slash and spread, much like suzanne from Beau Baby discussed HERE just the other day.

also, i consider myself to have slightly wide shoulders. maybe i don’t, but even though this shirt has a dropped shoulder i would prefer it be dropped a smidgen less. it may help if i just go down a size in the bust/shoulder then slash and spread for my lower half. if i brought the shoulder seam in by 1/2″ or so it would still hang off my shoulder slightly. speaking of shoulder seams, the instructions have you press the shoulder seam toward the sleeve. since i wasn’t making a classic button up per david coffin i decided to follow the pattern on this one. when you press the SA toward the sleeve you get a slight puff at the sleeve cap. when you press the SA toward the body, you get a flatter cap. my gut was to press toward the body, however i did not go with my gut thinking: oh, i’m using a blouse-y material (rayon challis) so i’ll go the more feminine route as per the directions. this would be fine if the shoulder seam sat closer to the shoulder, but since the design is to hang off the shoulder the cap just looks a little confused. i would go back in and change this, but i frenched the side seams so it would be a lot more work than it’s worth. sorry if you’re wondering what the heck is wrong with me, i’m just a perfectionist.

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since i’ve made a few button up’s lately, i have to say that i think her method of inserting the collar is now my favorite. last time around i followed david coffin’s and while that turned out well, i think i like this way even better. the only thing i would add, is to stay stitch around the entire neck edge, then clip close to your stitching so you can lay the neckline virtually straight as you attach the collar stand. it is INFINITELY easier to attach the collar stand when you clip those curves first.

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one note on the collar construction: it wasn’t entirely clear at first whether the instructions have you put the interfaced collar stand to the outside or inside. it should be toward the outside, the un-interfaced collar stand should be to the inside. later on in the directions this is more clear, but by that point it would be too late to go back and change it if you did it the other way around. minor detail, but i just wanted to point that out.

another thing i really like about this pattern is how the front button placket is done. the left and right shirt fronts are different so that the under-placket is folded under twice then topstitched and the over-placket is a separate piece sewn on. this is how you see it in RTW and how i’ll be doing my (and my husband’s) shirts from now on.

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i love how the cuff is sewn on. makes it so easy to get the edges lined up properly. what i don’t like is that the cuff is one piece that is folded in half instead of cut as two and sewn together at the cuff edge. the once piece thing feels a little weak at the edge, so next go i’ll cut it as two pieces. i went with the continuous placket as instructed to go with the overall blouse-y feel. if i did view A i probably would have done it with a tower placket. for women’s wear i think either is acceptable, so i wouldn’t get hung up over it. what… you don’t get hung up over these things? oh. okay.

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PS i added 1/2″ to the sleeve length because i have monkey arms

sorry to be all detail-y with my opinion on this pattern. since most button and collar shirt patterns are super lame, this one gets my vote for being AWESOME. the directions are not of the “hold your hand” variety if you need that; since i’ve been studying the techniques and construction of shirts lately i had no issue. that said, if you haven’t done a shirt before this one at least has all the right pieces to give you a nice professional finish. also with the sew along happening, it’s probably a good place to start. if you havent’ bought this pattern already… what are you waiting for?! i’m crazy in love with mine.

—lisa g.