Sunday, 27 August 2017

Military Inspired Archer Shirt

Today I've got a garment to share with you which hasn't turned out as successfully as I hoped but was still an enjoyable project which I learnt a lot from. I spend less time on Pinterest nowadays but still enjoy a browse from time to time and the board I probably pin to most is my Sewing Inspiration board. It's an accumulation of all kinds of things that inspire my sewing, from complete outfits, to fabric, to little details I'd like to incorporate. For the last year or so I've been making more of a conscious effort to look back through these pins and actually make something of them! At the moment I can't stop pinning maxi wrap dresses and solid tops with interesting sleeves. Over a year ago I had a spate of pinning military green shirts in a slightly heavier weight, to be worn open over vests and t-shirts almost as a kind of lightweight jacket.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Military Inspired Grainline Archer Shirt

Around the same time I came across the perfect shade and weight of khaki green oxford cotton in Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road and decided to go for it and make my own. I combined it with the Archer Button Up Shirt from Grainline Studio as it is a pattern I already own plus has all the lovely classic details I was after including two patch breast pockets. I have already used this pattern once, pairing it with some white swiss dot cotton a couple of years ago. That version I felt was a little snug across the bust and at the time I mentioned using the size 4 at the waist and shoulders as I did but grading out to a 6 at the bust. Now my knowledge of fitting has improved I realised that a full bust adjustment would probably do the job better so I spent some time doing this using the size 4 as my starting point. I used this a no dart tutorial (I can't remember which now but here are a few clear ones from Paprika Patterns, Helen and Maria Denmark) and spread my pattern 1cm width ways and 2.5cm downwards. I also added 2cm to the length. I needed almost the full two metres I had to cut this size.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Military Inspired Grainline Archer Shirt

The FBA has helped but I think maybe I should have just gone up a size or even two to achieve the relaxed look I desired. I should have looked more carefully at the relaxed, loose fit of my inspiration pictures and gone more oversized but I think I was tentative as it isn't my usual style. I wish I'd read my previous blog post more thoroughly and remembered that when I made my white version I was keen to have a closer fit than the pattern samples so opted to stick with the smaller of the two sizes I fell between. I think a softer draper fabric would also make a huge difference as both of mine have been quite crisp so stick out below the bust, although this fabric has softened up nicely with a wash.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Military Inspired Grainline Archer Shirt

As well as the general fit of the pattern I don't think the length (or lack of it) is helping. I haven't seen anyone else mention that they felt this pattern came up short but I'm quite petite and do feel like I could do with an extra inch or so. Perhaps I was expecting more of a relaxed fit than it is. The arms also seem strangely short which doesn't bother me as I've been wearing the cuffs rolled up anyway but I would need another inch again to make them the length I prefer.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Military Inspired Grainline Archer Shirt

As you can probably guess from when I found the inspiration and fabric for this project it's been a long time coming! I actually made the majority of this shirt shortly after buying the fabric but things ground to a halt when I came to attach the cuffs. I didn't like the finishing of the slits in the sleeve where the cuff attaches last time as it's just bound and is tricky to get looking neat. This time I wanted to switch in the sleeve placket pieces from the Colette Negroni Shirt pattern as I love the professional look of these and have had great results every time I've made with it. Silly me didn't think through the fact that this style of packet would add a little width to the end of the sleeve so when I came to attach the cuffs I found they were too short to fit.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Military Inspired Grainline Archer Shirt

At the time I lost the patience to cut a new pair of cuffs to fit, despite being so close to finishing and the shirt then sat around for a year before I went back to it again. I don't usually have UFO's on the go (discounting projects I've cut out and not started yet) so this is definitely a record length of project for me; I think I even moved house with it in pieces! This seems silly now as it was of course so quick and easy to recut and interface slightly larger cuffs and I had the whole thing finished within a matter of hours of returning to it. Lesson learned to never leave a project with a step you're dreading as the next one as it will put you off picking it up again!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Military Inspired Grainline Archer Shirt

Anyway enough about what I found tricky about this project, I actually love shirt making and am really pleased with my finishing and what I learnt on this one. The fabric is exactly as I had imagined it and with the closer fit I'm wondering if I might get more wear out of it layered under dungarees which are my new favourite thing! The way this pattern is constructed means it is easy to get a lovely inside finish; I did a good old burrito on the yoke and only needed to overlock the side seams.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Military Inspired Grainline Archer Shirt

I used a lightweight black woven fusible interfacing and would recommend always using a lightweight for shirt plackets even if you use something a bit heavier for your collar as you want to keep that centre front fairly soft so it doesn't do strange things when you sit down. I did all the topstitching in a slightly darker green standard thread rather than thicker topstitching thread as I wanted to keep it subtle. All the topstitching involved in this design is perfect for the utilitarian feel I was going for. I love topstitching so really enjoyed that part of the process. My trick is to make a note of exactly where seam you are topstitching along hits your presser foot or throat plate so you can keep the width even throughout. I try and make it easy for myself by choosing something obvious to line it up with like the edge of the foot. Keep your eyes on that mark when you sew rather than the needle.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Military Inspired Grainline Archer Shirt

Another top tip for shirt making is to invest in a point turner. They're pretty inexpensive but will make such a difference to getting nice crisp corners on your collars, plackets and cuffs. If you haven't got one a chopstick or similar works pretty well too. As always I followed the Four Square Walls tutorial for assembling your collar in a slightly different order and think this is the neatest I have managed yet. The buttons I hit upon I believe in MacCulloch & Wallis and knew they were just what I needed. I wanted to keep them standard shirt size or only very slightly bigger but wanted them to have a practical, heavier duty feel to fit with the military style. These little brass shank buttons make the shirt feel a little more like outerwear.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Military Inspired Grainline Archer Shirt

I've had this finished for a while now and in all honesty it hasn't seen a lot of wear. Now my sewing has improved I feel like if something doesn't feel quite right on and I feel like I could have done a better job of some aspect of it it's not going to win out over some of my other favourite handmade garments when it comes to deciding what to wear in the morning. I do feel like having this kind of shirt in my wardrobe would be handy though so I might revisit this style in the future.

22 comments:

  1. So sorry to hear this project didn't tick more boxes you were aiming for. I am trying to pay more attention to measurements when I am cutting things out... I have been watching a lot of Peggy Sagers (Silhouttet Patterns) information on YouTube - she frequently advises measuring multiple places on garments you like to limit negative surprises. One of her phrases has kept me from splurge buying fabrics and patterns "if you don't know what you like, you aren't ready to sew",so I have been trying to slow down and have been much happier with what I have made. Still hard for me to push through to finish if something isn't going quite right. Best of luck with the next iteration, should you use this pattern again

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    1. Yes I'm normally so good with picking a size but perhaps I should have flat measured the pattern beforehand!
      I haven't heard of Peggy before and will definitely be taking a look at those videos. Thanks for the advice!
      I do try nowadays to never start a project until I'm totally 100% set on all my choices. Makes for a much more successful project

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  2. That's really cute in spite of being a smaller fit. You always do such lovely work. It's an inspiration to spend more time on the details that make a garment look bespoke.

    I wonder whether it's possible you printed the pattern incorrectly. In general, the complaint about Grainline patterns is that the arms are too long. And none of the versions I have seen are nearly that short.

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    1. Thanks Annie, that's a lovely compliment!
      I hadn't thought about whether the pattern was incorrect but a few people have now mentioned that and maybe I did have the scale wrong or something. I first printed it such a long time ago (years!) that I can't remember if I checked it over or not. Perhaps I should start again from scratch next time! Very interesting to hear that other people tend to find them long

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  3. I've purchased the Pauline Alice tello jacket specifically for that military shirt/jacket look. Haven't sewn it yet but maybe this is the pattern you are looking for?

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    1. O I had totally overlooked that pattern but you're right it is a lovely one! I think I'm after more of a classic shirt look with a collar on a stand than an actual jacket but I like the idea if this made up in a linen too. Thank you!

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  4. Your sleeve plackets are so neat!

    I agree it could do with being longer overall to get a more casual look. The buttons and details are spot on though.

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    1. Thanks Catherine! I love a bit of tidy topstitching! Those Colette placket instructions are great too
      The fabric was super cheap so I'm putting this one down as a wearable muslin and hoping I can find some similar fabric to make another!

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  5. Hi, I am also wondering if you perhaps printed the pattern out incorrectly. Assuming you did print and not use a paper pattern version? I have made the Pauline Alice Tello jacket in a military inspired style with patches and have found I have been wearing that quite a bit of late.

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    1. It's really interesting that a few of you have pointed this out, it hadn't even occurred to me that maybe the pattern was printed wrong! Definitely going to double check that. I first printed it such a long time ago (years!) that I can't remember if I checked it over or not. Perhaps I should start again from scratch next time!
      Also really interesting that a couple of you have mentioned the Tello! Your jacket sounds lovely!

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  6. Lovely shirt and the colour is gorgeous. As with your suggestion it would look good a little longer, this would be really short on a tall person. The buttons are perfect and so often I find it difficult to get the right ones.

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    1. Button choice is SO difficult Mags and I really think it can make or break a project. I always struggle! I try to go smaller than I would instinctively think as lots of RTW has quite small buttons and larger one's can look out of proportion
      Thanks very much

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  7. I agree with the points made by others here - your sewing is always so NEAT I love it. Your fabric always knows who is the BOSS :) I've been seeing a lot of oversized blouses online and there are a number of patterns that cater to the look - I made myself one and it looked TERRIBLE. I think there is quite a knack to matching the right pattern to fabric to get just the right drape in an oversized blouse. Mine just looked like cotton shirt that I completely lost my mind on sizing it properly to my body. I think your shirt looks wonderful!

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    1. Haha! Thanks Kathleen! I love taking the time to get things spot on.
      I thought an oversized blouse might look terrible on me as I'm petite and to be honest I still don't know as this definitely doesn't count as oversized! I'd be inclined to say a draper fabric would be easier to wear but then it's easy to end up looking a bit swathed in fabric...tricky to know until we've tried I guess!

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  8. I was also going to suggest that maybe there's a printing error - I made a size 4 Archer earlier this year and definitely didn't find it short, and I think I'm a little taller than you. In fact, I shortened the sleeves and that's the opposite of what I often do with other patterns. Here's mine: https://www.flickr.com/photos/toftsnummulite/albums/72157677390121522 (detailed description on the 1st photo). It's a shame you're not totally thrilled with your shirt. I wasn't 100% happy with the cut/style of my Archer either, but am liking it more each time I wear it. As usual, your sewing is exemplary!

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    1. So interesting to know that you had to shorten the sleeves as my arms are actually quite short! I now definitely think there must be something up with my pattern! It was probably one of the first PDFs I used thinking about it (it was years back) so perhaps I was a bit too slapdash with it. Will be starting from scratch next time!
      Thanks Nina

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  9. Oh, do wear it! Such a shame not to when such a lot of lovely work has gone in to it! Under dungarees as you mentioned would look great and it would be perfect for that - not too bulky.

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    1. I'm sure I will find a way to wear it, if not it is the perfect wearable muslin to trial making my final one spot on!

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  10. Lots of really good advice which, as an inexperienced sewer, I found really helpful - thank you. And the finished shirt looks great on you.

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    1. I'm glad you've found it useful Helen! I absolutely love shirt making so it's a pleasure to pass on any tips I've picked up along the way. Thanks very much!

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  11. Ah, it's always such a bummer to finish a garment only to realise that you're probably not going to wear it. It still happens to me every once in a while and I could kick myself every time. Anyway, I agree with other commenters that the proportions of your Archer look a bit off, or the length at least. I've made a few Archers myself and also had to shorten the sleeves, and I'm far from petite. It might be a good idea to reprint the pattern if you ever make it again.

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    1. It's particularly a bummer when it's been so long in the making and you've finally managed to complete it!
      Something is definitely way off! I'm going to reprint my pattern and try again!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!