shirtmaking: grainline archer in dotted chambray

a shirt is a wonderful garment. i almost never wear dresses, even if i do own a few, i never feel quite right in them.  i can’t stand feeling overdressed and dresses do that to me sometimes, although i have to say that shift dresses might be an exception (sweater underneath? – yes you can!) . the problem is, i do not own any shirts anymore (ok, now there’s one again) but i know, i would wear them almost every day. they make me feel put together and are still casual. it all began with my mothers closet when i was younger. she had a slightly oversized, olive green corduroy button down shirt that closed with metal snaps. doesn’t sound fascinating at all? well, it certainly was to me! i wore it around the house, as a shirt, as a skirt, as a dress, the buttons and sleeves (which could be turned into a belt when wearing it as a skirt..) made it easy to adapt. finally, five years ago: a dream came true.  i found me a lovely corduroy button up in a light brown. you can actually see me wearing it here. sadly, it’s not live anymore, and in the end it certainly wasn’t a pleasure to look at for nobody.

back to topic: a chambray garment is more versatile than its corduroy equivalent, so here i went for a grainline archer in a lightweight dotted chambray. the genesis of this shirt would be best described with: good things take time or “Gut Ding will Weile haben” as you say in german. the cutting and sewing part was actually done within a few days, no more than a week. however, the first version i made from this pattern dates back to september 2014. back then, i made a size 0 according to my measurements. having read on blogs that the archer fit generously, i cut right into my fashion fabric. turned out, it was a bit tight around the armholes.. i guess it was around this time that i discovered i need broad back adjustments, whereas the shoulder width was not necessarily an issue. the problem is that most of the time, for garments like shirts, blouses, t-shirts and tops in general you chose your size by bust measurement. since i usually* have a very small bust (maybe AA? never needed bras…) my broad shoulder adds to the circumference of my bust measurement, making it appear bigger than it is (in numbers that is!). does that make sense? in short, i do not need the width in the front (most patterns are designed for B or C cups), but in the back. that’s why i now tend to choose a size larger if i go by bust measurement – usually that’s the one that falls in the same column as my waist and hip measurement. however, i still have to do a broad back adjustment in a garment with sleeves, but with the archer in particular, i feel the overall look is more balanced with a size larger (i.e. size 2).  the size 0 did fit ok otherwise but was a bit snug for my liking. hello, i was socialized with oversized shirts!

well, it took me a year to trace a size 2, adjust the back, make a muslin and after a success – phew – i could finally sew it up in fashion fabric. so, here’s my first ‘real’ archer!

my adjustments were as follows: i made a size 2, with a 1″ (2,5cm) broad back adjustment, 1/2″ (1,25cm) on each side. i shortened the sleeves by 5/8″ (1,5cm), otherwise the shirt has the original length. for the next one, and there will be a next one, i’ll roll with the same adjustments. for construction i mainly followed the sew-along. (you can click on the images to enlarge them)

although i figured out a neater way to sew the breast pockets (will post about that soon!), there are two silly mistakes in construction. for this shirt though, i don’t care much about them, next time i know better. it looks pretty neat otherwise so i overlook these flaws with ease: 1) shoulder/sleeve seam was pressed and sewn to the sleeve cap, whereas it should have been pressed in the direction of the shoulder/yoke and 2) one side of the sleeve placket should turn under so the placket is able to fold and disappear to the inside.

trivia! for me it’s a roaring success, so let the shirtmaking commence…

one last thought about those measurements. did you ever wonder indie patterns don’t tell you more precise body measurements? it’s not all about bust-waist-hip… burda gives you all of that extra-info, like shoulder width, back width, arm length and so on. that way you can adjust the flat pattern. but, yeah, burda also has these labyrinth pattern sheets. nevertheless, wouldn’t these nerd-measurements be helpful sometimes with indie patterns? or does the bust-waist-hip-ratio always work out for you? i’m curious to hear!


pattern: grainline studio archer button up in size 2

fabric: 2 yards (1,8m) robert kaufman dotted chambray, bought approx. a year ago

notions: 9 plastic buttons from my stash, white polyester thread, interfacing ‘vlieseline’ H180 for button bands, H200 for collar and sleeve cuffs

dejà vù? yep, i’ve seen quite similar archers around the interwebs, too: seymour, design by lindsay and last but not least jessie’s made one, too! thank you for your inspiration and wisdom :)

*well, bust measurements change when you’re pregant! and others do, too. i don’t care though, right now unbuttoned shirts are the dressiest thing i fit into. oh well!