Grant Me the Serenity… to Finish My Archer: Grainline Archer Pt. 2

Sewing and Attaching the Collar

So this was by far the most frustrating part of the whole process.  I have trouble keeping my seam allowances even (I tend towards 1/4 inch seam allowances after years of quilting) and it really came back to bite me when attaching my collar.  Let’s just say I used a broad array of dirty words and let out quite a few exasperated sighs.

Relight 3
My Archer, jankey top-stitching and all

The collar went to together just fine, but when it came time to attach the collar stand to the shirt, it was way too long, like more than an inch too long.  It was infuriating curious to say the least.  At first I thought “well I’ll just give it a go and see what happens,” but after an unsuccessful attempt I took the collar off and shortened the collar stand on each side.  The result is fine, not great, but fine.  The curve of the solar stand is too steep and the aesthetics just seem a little off.


The top-stitching is just short of disastrous, meaning that I was too frustrated/lazy to take it out and make a second attempt.  It looks fine (sort of) from one side, but more than a little wonky from the other.  Wearable muslin… (maybe) wearable muslin… (hopefully) wearable muslin…

The Cuffs

I had similar issues with cuffs.  Just seemed like the cuffs were too long for the sleeve.  In an effort to simplify things a little, I basted the pleats in the sleeve so that I wouldn’t have to worry about them when attaching the cuff.  When I went to attach the cuffs the sleeves the cuff were about an inch too long for the sleeves.  After a few more dirty words I just increased the seam allowance to a whole inch on either end of the cuffs and kept on trucking.  Thinking back on it, narrower seam allowances should not have made the sleeves to narrow, so there must be something else going on here. Maybe I took too much width out of the sleeves when I increased the size of the pleats?

Up Next: The Buttonholes

I’ve been putting off the many buttonholes required to finish my archer.  I’m not proud of it, but it’s true, I am a buttonhole coward.  I will somehow summon the courage and complete my Archer.

Until next time.


Grainline Archer Button Up Pattern

Jen’s Archer Sew Along



One Stitch at a Time: My Grainline Archer Button Up, Part 1

Before we get going…

I’m trying a little something new (though if you take a look around, you’ll see this whole blog is pretty new). One of the best things about the online sewing community is the tutorials. A few years ago when I considered taking up garment sewing again after a long hiatus, I was totally overwhelmed by the challenges associated with making clothes that actually fit. The internet-as-sewing-classroom wasn’t quite as developed yet, but one could find the occasional reference to a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) and the slash and spread grading techniques. While I had a sense that there were people with bodies like mine making their own clothes, I didn’t feel confident enough to take the plunge back into garment sewing. After a few more years of incubation and remarkable growth, the online sewing community has created a wealth of free fitting/pattern adjustment tutorials that have made it possible for me to take on garment sewing projects that I would have otherwise shied away from.

In an effort to highlight the sources I lean on to get me through new sewing techniques, I’m going to start including a resources section at the end of my posts. Each will include links to the patterns I’m using, sewalongs I’ve relied on and any tutorials that I’ve found helpful. I want to shine a light on the things that others have done that give me the courage to dive headlong into my own projects.

Now that I’ve dispensed with the formalities lets get to the sewin’


I know that this may sound a little silly, but damn this pattern has a lot of pieces.  It took me way too long to trace all of the pattern pieces.  I’m not sure I would have made it if I had to put the entire digital pattern together one page at a time.  It took me maybe two hours to trace and then cut out all of the pieces.  After that, I spent at least another hour on my fitting adjustments.  I don’t mind spending a fair amount of time sewing and pressing, and I love learning a new technique, but I can’t help but find tracing a little tedious after an hour.

I decided to try and make a wearable muslin and found some shirting that I had in my stash.  If it is too ill-fitting/poorly constructed to wear out of the house I won’t cry over the fabric, but if it turns out well enough, I’ll be happy to wear it around.

Fitting Adjustments:

So I made quite a few fitting adjustments before I even got started.  In an effort to get the right fit at the shoulders I picked my size based on my high bust measurement.  I used the “How to Choose the Right Size Pattern” tutorial from Workroom Social as a reference.  After doing a little back of the envelope math, I decided that even with an FBA, I was going to need to grade out a bit at the hips.  I decided to trace a 12 and grade to a 14 at the hip. From there I made a 2.5 inch FBA.  The Archer doesn’t have any darts, so I had to add my own.  While I’ve done an FBA before, I’ve always done them on patterns that were already drafted with darts.  Just to make sure I didn’t screw things up too badly I followed another tutorial from Workroom Social on the topic.

Even with all of my planning and research I did make a mistake with the FBA. By the time I was making these adjustments I had already traced and cut out my other pattern pieces, including the front button placket.  I was worried that if I didn’t remove the added length at the center front from the FBA, the button placket would be too short.  So I trimmed the front pattern pieces and continued along.  It wasn’t until I was cutting my fabric pieces that it hit me that at the side seams the front of my shirt was now about an inch and half shorter than the back… so much for not screwing the adjustments up.  In my effort to match the button placket I didn’t account for the length that would be pinched out on the side seam by the dart.  I decided to add that to ever-growing “lessons learned” list and try to fix it later.  If I work up the courage to make a second Archer, I’ll make the placket longer and keep the increased length.

In addition to the (semi botched) FBA I also added some extra width to the sleeves.  This is a pretty standard adjustment for me, but because I’m still building confidence in my ability to make pattern adjustments I referred back to the “Making Your Sleeves Fit” tutorial from The Curvy Sewing Collective.  To deal with the added width I just increased the depth of the pleats at the cuff.

Construction: Day One

During the construction, I went back and forth between the pattern instructions and the Sewalong and so far I’ve felt confident enough about each step.  I found sewing the button bands and setting the sleeves relatively straight forward.  After studying the video in the Sewalong, I used the burrito method to attach the yoke and I’m happy with the results.  WI will admit to more than a little bit of user error… I put the back of the shirt on inside out.  My fabric has two right sides, so I just have an inverted box pleat rather than a true box pleat at the back.  By the time I realized the mistake, I had already attached both yokes and done most of the top-stitching, so I decided to leave it as-is.  It’s a wearable muslin, amiright?  When it came to sleeve placket I was a little worried, but it all worked out.  It’s not the most beautiful sleeve placket I’ve ever seen, but this is a (hopefully) wearable muslin and I bet it will look better the next time attempt the technique.

By the time I started sewing, the sun had gone down, so I don’t really have any pictures of the construction process.  Even if I did, they would not be as beautiful or as helpful as the photos in Jen’s  Archer Sewalong.  Here are a few poorly lit pictures from the end of day one.  Below we have a minor parade of horrors: a wrinkled sleeve placket, an accidentally inverted box pleat and the mismatched front and back pieces at the side seam.

JPEG image-B7272738DE16-1


As much as I wanted to finish the shirt in one sitting, it just wasn’t in the cards.  After about 5 hours of slowly working on my Archer, I decided to put it away before making any more mistakes.  I’m hoping I’ll have time to finish it up next week and take it out for a spin.  I’m nervous about the buttonholes.  I’ve yet to master the use of the buttonhole foot and setting on my machine and I’m hoping that I can power through.  I feel cautiously optimistic about the collar and cuffs and I’m looking forward to taking them on.

Wish me luck!


Grainline Archer Button Up Pattern

Jen’s Archer Sew Along

How to Choose the Right Pattern Size by Workroom Social (includes information about choosing a size based on your high bust measurement)

Making Your Sleeves Fit (Large Bicep Adjustment Tutorial) from the Curvy Sewing Collective

How to Make a Full Bust Adjustment on a Bodice Without Underarm Side Seam Darts from Workroom Social (aka adding a bust dart)

Park Slope Copy Center (my local source for affordable large format printing)

P.S. – I’m still trying to figure out an image attribution policy that feels good to me.  When I’m working on a project I’d like to be able to use things like the designers line drawings to show you what I’m up to, but I don’t want anyone feel like I’m stealing their work.  So, in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, the line drawing at the beginning of the post is the one included in the Archer Pattern.

Lounging Dangerously in my Almada Robe

Here’s my first finished garment of February 2016.

Please ignore the threads hanging from my robe. It’s not my finest work but I love it anyway. Also, look past the terrible photo quality, that’s what I get for taking photos with my Iphone in my tiny Brooklyn bedroom.

The Process

I sewed up my new Almada Robe in cotton from my stash. The body fabric is a print I picked up on a trip to Bali almost three years ago. I bought it in a period of my life when the only sewing I was doing was piecing quilt tops. As such, I only bought two meters. You might be thinking to yourself “but wait I thought the Almada Robe requires at least 2 1/2 yards, and that’s if you’re making an extra small.” Well yes, it does. In my case, I’m a little too buxom for an extra small, but because I’m stubborn, and plans are more important to me than good sense or following directions (and really wanted to use this fabric for a robe), I decided to try and make it work. So rather than use self-fabric for the cuffs and ties, I used a cobalt blue quilting cotton that I bought for an as yet in finished Tardis quilt (that’s a story for another day). I also dispatched with the center back seam, eliminating the need for the 5/8 inch seam allowance. Finally, I decided that I could/absolutely needed to leave off the seam allowances at the arm.

I made minimal fitting adjustments. I started with a large and graded out to an extra large at the hip. Given the ease in the garment and the lack of darts, I decided against an FBA.

Given that I didn’t follow the directions when cutting my fabric I decided that it would be silly to use them for the construction. It is worth noting, however, that the instructions were well written and comprehensive. Once I started sewing, I decided that rather than sew the back and front together both at the shoulder and along the side seam and then attach the cuffs, I would sew the shoulder and then attach the cuffs before finishing the side seam. In place of the recommended bias tape, I used a folded strip of quilt binding intended for the aforementioned Tardis quilt to finish the front edge. I added the ties as directed ( I can follow directions, I usually just find a reason not to). I’m still deciding whether to hem it given that I’ve developed a fondness for the the salvage edge of the fabric, and I left off the snap.

My Thoughts

I’m mostly thrilled with my robe. I would note that the ties pull across the hip, pulling the fabric so that it hangs most closely around the widest part of the body. It’s not tight on the hip per say, but if you are looking for something that accentuates the waist, this isn’t the right pattern for you. If I wanted to alter it so that it defined my waist, I’d probably shrink the arm whole and then add more length at the bottom.

At first, I was a little unsure about the fit, thinking that perhaps I had chosen the wrong size, but after looking back at the photos on the Seamwork website, it’s clear that it fits like it should. In fact, the cocoon shape grew on me as wore it around my apartment for my post-sew victory layabout. I like wearing it open, but it is making me feel like I need to make a coordinating set of pajamas.  I will definitely be bringing this robe on a dive trip to Key Largo in March.  It won’t make it on to the boat, but I’ll want it nonetheless.

If I made this again, I’d finish it with French seams, my limited seam allowances didn’t allow for that this time. I think this robe would make a lovely housewarming gift or a coverup for a new mom. I get the sense from my friends with infants that a washable cover-up with easy access is a nice thing to have on hand.

Planning the Work and Working the Plan Part 1

I am nothing if not a planner.  Sure, plans change, but when it comes to making pretty much anything, a plan is the first thing I need to get started.  I’ve got a load of indie patterns just hanging around that I really need to dig into and here is how I’m planning to use them over the next few months.  Stay tuned for “Planning the Work and Working the Plan Part 2” for my sewing plans involving the big 4 patterns I’ve got on hand.

Paxton by Collette

I’ve really been enjoying my Seamwork subscription.  The articles are wonderful, but I have yet to actually use any of the patterns.  It’s pretty silly given that all of the patterns are designed to be relatively quick and simple to put together.  I’m planning on making at least one Paxton to keep me warm during long days in the library and one for my husband.

I’ve got a bit of heather gray mid-weight cotton/poly terry and a heavy-weight black cotton/poly terry with matching ribbing that I’m hoping to use up.  I was also thinking about making a few of these out of a light weight jersey I have in my stash.  While not true to the pattern instructions, I think the light weight jersey could make a useful coverup for the gym.

Paxton LineHeather Gray Swatch



Black swatch


Sutton Blouse by True Bias

I’ve been following Kelli over a True Bias for over a year now.  I love her effortless style and her patterns are well written and easy to follow.  I’ve done a muslin of the Sutton Blouse and I never made to the next step of you know, actually finish the blouse.  I’ve got a cream poly georgette that I’m not a huge fan of, but thats what you get when you buy fabric over the interwebs.  I’m not eager to use a patterned fabric due to the center front seam, but I’m pretty sure I have a few other fabrics that may make a good fit for including a charcoal poly satin and poly georgette with nice drape.

Once I’ve got the pattern fitted properly, I want to make it out of a really lovey silk maybe in a deep navy blue or a pale yellow.


Archer Button Up by Grainline Studio

I love the Grainline Studio Blog.  It was one of the first garment sewing blogs I began reading.  Jen has a knack for the kind of everyday style that makes me excited to sew my own clothes.  I’ve made a few of her patterns before, including the Tiny Pocket Tank and The Portside Travel Set, and I’ve been itching the make myself an Archer.  At first I thought I wanted to make something with a little more shaping, but I think that getting the Archer pattern under my belt is a great way to build the skills (and confidence) I need to take on other shirt patterns.

I’ve got a two different plaids that I could use for this, one in red back and one white and the same pattern in a green color way.  I also have a collection of chambray that I may dig into.  I’ve got plenty of options and a stash that is (more than) a little too big for my tiny Brooklyn apartment.

Archer Line


Almada by Collete

Last but not least, I’ve got plans to make an Almada robe.  I’ve been itching to make myself loungewear and this pattern seems like a great place to start.  I’ve got some cotton that I picked up on a trip to Bali a few years ago that I think will be a great fit for this pattern.  I’ve only got 2 meters of each color way, so I may have to be a little creative when it comes to layout.Almada Robe

That’s it for now.  Happy Sewing!