Just to warn you, this post is going to get all kinds of photo heavy and talky talky about construction details but I'm so proud of all the new sewing techniques I accomplished with this shirt I'm not going to spare you any of it! I completed this shirt (and actually a shirt for my boyfriend too) before I made my tester version of Pauline Alice's Carme Blouse, so the whole sewing a blouse/shirt thing was entirely new to me. It's is by no means perfect but I feel like I did a pretty great job on this one, especially considering it was my first time sewing most of the major parts of a shirt including, collar, plackets and cuffs!
So anyway, on to the details. I'm sure many of you will recognise this as the every popular Archer Shirt from Jen at Grainline Studio. I love Jen's patterns for their versatility and wearability; she designs the kind of garments that are handy to have in your wardrobe and that end up being worn over and over again because they work as part of so many different outfits. This is exactly how I feel about this finished shirt and it has been getting a lot of wear, especially as spring finally seems to have hit the UK!
After seeing so many fantastic makes out there on the internet using this pattern I've ended up with plans for many, many more versions of the Archer, but I wanted a bit of a practise with the techniques before I branch out into anything too wild! This is partly why I chose a simple white cotton swiss dot first one; as well as just loving having a reason to use swiss dot and thinking it would work well with most of my wardrobe. The fabric is from Simply Fabrics in Brixton, in fact the same place that the buttons and interfacing for this project came from. I discovered some amazing reasonably lightweight cotton fusible interfacing there a while back which is a better quality than any other I have used before and it really does make a difference. I bought a fair few meters when I found it but supplies are already rapidly dwindling so fingers crossed they have more!
I cut a size 4 as I didn't want it to be too roomy around the waist and managed to squeeze it out of 1.5m. I love how relaxed fit shirts look on other people, and may try making one of these up in a drapey silk or rayon, but I didn't love the idea of that style in a cotton on me. It fits just how I like it across the shoulders and back but has turned out just a teeny bit snug across the bust as you can see above it pulling in that area, although that may be partly to do with the way I'm standing. Next time I'll probably cut a 4 at the shoulders, grade out to a 6 at the bust then back in to a 4 at the waist. It's fine as it is for this version though as I've been wearing it mainly open over vests or under crew neck jumpers.
I knew this project was going to be a challenge for me so it was quite nice just to relax into allowing myself as long as it took to make it without imposing a deadline on myself. I made it alongside a couple of other less challenging makes so I could step away if I was struggling with a particular aspect and come back to it later with fresh eyes and a bit calmer! It's a really great make to spread out over a period of time as there are small involved parts to it that you can break up into individual sewing sessions. I found the whole thing really satisfying to put together as there's plenty of ready to wear aspects that you can feel super pleased with yourself for achieving. Lots of little pats on the back to be given the whole way through!
I used Andrea from Four Square Wall's tutorial for 'sewing a collar in a different order' as I've seen this referred to a few times. I can't really comment on how good a technique it is, it being the first stand collar I have ever sewn, but I can say that I found it so much easier than I had imagined it to be! There's plenty of photos and she includes some really great tips and tricks. As an explanation it read more clearly to me than others I looked at and the order of construction just seemed to make sense.
I'm really proud of the collar itself but not so pleased with the collar stand. I gave it a few goes and tried shortening my stitches e.t.c but sewing around those tight little curves at the very front was pretty difficult! I think maybe I need to treat myself to an edge stitching foot at some point as the topstitching on Andrea's collar looks so perfect.
With the exception of the collar stand I found the cuffs the most fiddly construction aspect. It was more the binding of the slit and how that joins the cuff than the cuff itself. I've since discovered how to do cuff plackets like on men's RTW shirts which I've managed a much neater finish on and will probably add to the Archer when I make it again. For now I'm not fussed though as I wear the sleeves rolled up most of the time.
Is it strange that I really love topstitching? I think it's one of my all time favourite sewing techniques for the professional look it gives. There's plenty of it on this shirt and I love how it turned out, especially around those patch pockets which, can you believe it, I almost left off! I can't wait to make another and get some contrast topstitching going on. Another aspect I had no trouble with were the buttonholes. I used to be so apprehensive and wary of making buttonholes (only my absolute determination to make a Robson coat cured me of my avoidance!) and it's now one of my new favourite things to do. I whizzed through these like lightning!
I overlocked all my seams on my lovely, shiny overlocker so I'm in love with how it looks inside. Jen's instructions for creating the look of a flat-felled seam without doing one create an awesome finish really easily, even around those pesky armholes.
I think the majority of sewing bloggers have already given this pattern a huge thumbs up and I'm definitely adding mine to the mix. Jen you're a bit of a pattern drafting wizard and I'm looking forward to seeing what else you've got on the way! Now just to decide what to make my next Archer out of...chambray or silk? A floral or a plaid? So many ideas!