Classic white shirt – From Archer to TNT

Dear Readers,

First things first: Happy New Year! I won’t do a review of my year because I only posted 23 times, so there would not be much to say… My goal for 2015 is to double this number! Now, without any transition, let’s look at my new favorite shirt! The shirt was finished at least 3 weeks ago but I hate making buttonholes so much that it waited in a dusty corner until I made another shirt, for The Old Man this time, and then did all the buttonholes at once.

wpid1008-White-cotton-shirt-9.jpgI wanted this shirt to be as close as possible to a man classic Oxford shirt but with an appropriate fit. I believe that I achieved my goal.The initial pattern for this shirt is my modified Archer. Additional changes included using the collar and stand of my white shirtdress (from the Japanese book Blouse, Skirts, Pants), adding back darts, removing the CB box pleat and shortening sleeves AGAIN by 2″. They look embarrassingly short on the hanger but just right when worn. #Creepybabyarms, again.

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I can now officially say that no pattern piece is the same as the original Archer and that I am very close to a TNT pattern. Why, not a TNT yet? Because of some pooling in the upper back. I tried to pin out a horizontal take of 1″ just under the yoke and it looked so much better. However, I have not figured out how to remove it without completely killing my armhole… I’m waiting for an Eureka moment that may or may not come!

wpid996-White-cotton-shirt-3.jpgThe fabric is cotton I bought in Panajachel, Guatemala (by the beautiful lake Atitlán). It was cheap, has some texture and looks like washed cotton. I’m not sure if it has a name but it can get almost a paper feeling. I think it works well for this shirt but I would not recommend it for any project.

wpid1000-White-cotton-shirt-5.jpgMy shirtmaking skills are work in progress but they are improving each time. Compared to my last shirt, I went back to a classic collar construction order and I used different seam allowances for the flat-felled seams. Everything came together painlessly EXCEPT when I prepared, attached and topstitched BOTH sleeves to the body, only to realize that the wrong sides were on the outside. A lot of seam ripping/self cursing. Not fun.

wpid1004-White-cotton-shirt-7.jpgThe shirt is definitely filling a gap in my wardrobe. I cannot remember for how long I’ve wanted a 100% cotton white shirt. They seem to have become a rare commodity and I hate the blends that are sold currently from H&M to Ann Taylor. In addition to yellowing and aging badly, they also tend to be see-through, which is puzzling to me since their primary use is for the office.

wpid1006-White-cotton-shirt-8.jpgFinally, the pictures were all taken with my new camera, in full manual mode! I know it seems normal to a lot of you but I’m very happy about it. Also I quit on trying to keep the dog out of the pictures. He loves being in the middle of things…

After this shirt, I decided I was comfortable enough to go up one step: a man’s shirt. I will be back in a few days with pictures of The Old Man in his fancy linen shirt! I thought I would be done with those 2 shirts for a while, but then I saw the beautiful one Sasha just posted and Sewaholic released the Granville pattern. So… Granville is already printed and taped, I guess I will be back with more shirts soon! What about you? Are you getting closer to your TNT patterns in 2015?

A Modified Archer shirt by Sewing Tidbits

Anachronistic sewing – still stuck on Archer shirt

Dear readers,

I rarely manage to make-up the “trendy” sewing pattern at its trendy time. While you all finished your Alder shirt dresses, I still sew Archers. In addition, when Alder first came out, I could not wait to make it up, but now I am having second thoughts. A-line may not be that flattering on me after all.

Also, unrelated to this post, I wanted to thank all of you who shared their thoughts on my last post. It is definitely something I could talk about all day but I will spare you and only add 2 things :

  • Can you get more disappointing than this? This dress is in any big 4 catalogue, burda magazine and you can get a customized pattern by Lekala. What are you bringing to the cutting table? Apart from pulling at the bust. No, I’m not nice, I  know.
  • Hope for collaborative sewing exists. Lovely reader Miranda emailed me about this PR conversation that I had missed. Seeing how the community can engage in a project all together is heartwarming . I would not make that pattern because it’s not my style but it seems to appeal to many. My only regret is that the result of this awesome collaboration is yet another simple knit pattern for sale… BUT it should not detract from how great it is to witness all the contributions.

Now back to the shirt! Pictures are still from my Iphone, but for once the location is NOT my garden, YAY! My dog is therefore NOT in the background, (NAY?). I spent a week by Lake Atitlán in Guatemala (highly recommended) in August and I packed some garments to photograph on the beautiful terrace of the house we rented.

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Please note that this is not the pattern straight out of the printer. I was happy with my first version of the shirt (see my shirtdress version) but I want to create a TNT pattern for boyfriend shirts and I am glad to report that it is almost a success. To guide my fit alterations, I used a Banana Republic shirt I love. I measured elements like shoulder length, waist shaping, pocket placement, final length, etc. Beth’s post on Craftsy is timely as it is exactly what I did!

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Main fit alterations:

  • adding 3″ of overall length, and note that I am only 5’3″. But I like my shirts tucked in and I want to raise my arms without exposing skin.
  • Shortening the shoulder length by and adjusting the yoke accordingly

Archer alteration

  • Removing most of the sleeve ease at the underarm seam and reshaping the sleeve head a little (for an idea of how, you can check this post at Fashion-Incubator)
  • Further shaping the waist at the side seam
  • Shortening the sleeves

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I also tried to use more advanced sewing techniques, and I will do a detailed post. Some worked (tower placket, button placket, cuff construction) and some did not work at all (ouch, collar+stand). Sometimes, a “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” approach is best. I never had a problem with  stand collar construction before so why did I try to find a better way to do it? Don’t know… Some of my techniques required pattern alteration or drafting of extra pieces. Look out for the post next week soon!

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I am planning my next shirt with further alterations. The final pattern may have little to do with the original Archer but I still believe that it was a great start. It produces wearable garments from the first trial and can be altered easily. Next time, I want to tackle the collar & stand: the collar could be wider and the stand should close at a 90 degree angle (this is what I mean). I will also start adding darts to the back so it remains relaxed but more fitted. Finally, further shortening of the sleeves is necessary (creepy baby length arms, again), sad…

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I almost forgot to tell you that the fabric is one of the pieces I brought back from Paris last June. I found it at the cotton stand of Marché St Pierre. However, looking at the drape I guess some rayon is thrown in.

While I prepare my post on shirt construction, I would love to hear from you your favorite shirt making tutorials. I am familiar with the Archer Sew-along, Fashion-Incubator, Off the Cuff, Male Pattern Boldness and Sewing Square Walls but I may be missing on important ones! Please, fill me in!

Grainline Studio Archer Shirt dress by Sewing Tidbits

Late Archer appreciation: it’s a shirt, it’s a dress, it’s a shirtdress!

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What, a new post??? I warned you, it’s going to be crazy blogging weeks with at least a post a week… It will be probably followed by the usual hiatus. Not because I haven’t been sewing (I have, 2 pencil skirts in one weekend, so proud!) but because I travel every 2 months so that usually put everything on hold. This time, I will be going back to NYC for 5 days (YAY!!! FRIENDS !!! DOUBLE YAY!!! MOOD FABRICS!!! TRIPLE YAY!!!) and then joining The Old Man) in Guatemala (3rd time now).

Now going to this dress, if you follow me on Pinterest, you know that I have a limited number but very pronounced obsessions (hum hum Miranda Kerr… hum hum). Among them you can count skinny jeans, pumps, shirts, maxi skirts, pencil skirts and SHIRTDRESSES. All these pretty much define how I dress on a daily basis.

I already made one last year but since then I started thinking about a dress that would be basically a long loose shirt. And what would be more perfect than Grainline Studio’s Archer pattern for that purpose ? That’s right, NOTHING!

Following the advice on Twitter from A Stitching Odyssey, I used size 0 for bust and waist and graded out to a 2 in the hips. In addition, to turn this shirt pattern into a dress I just added 10 inches below the hips area. I think it’s important to do the lengthening below the hip level other wise you end up elongating the curve between the waist and the hip. Other than that I did 0 alterations. Yes, you read well zero.Knowing me you could have expected a debauch of 1/4″ seam allowances, redrafting of the under collar, changing the button placket, etc. But, I wanted to follow the sewalong to the letter, so i did NONE of that, ET VOILA! I finished all seams with french seams, including the armholes (I recommend it, it’s really really nice).

The fabric is something synthetic that I found here in Port-au-Prince, I would go for something like rayon. Actually, The Old Man found it and made me buy it. He is EXTREMELY proud of it, so every time I got a compliment for the dress, he is beaming (men..). As much as I like to contradict him, I have to admit that it’s nice to wear, easy to wash and to iron. I already used the remnants to make one of the pencil skirts mentioned above. But of course it will probably take me an additional 2 months to blog about those.

So anyway, I did not make it on time for the Archer Appreciation month launched by Lucky Lucille and Miss Crayola Creepy back in December (part of my love/hate relationship with sewalongs) but I really love this dress. It’s a great option for these days when you have nothing to wear! I have a white 23mm silk crepe in my stash that is screaming to be made into something similar to this very popular pinterest picture… I may remove 3/4″ to the shoulder length though, because they are dropping a bit.

Have a great day everybody, I will finish this post with a gratuitous picture of where I was last weekend, this is  Ile-a-Vache, an island in the South of Haiti.

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