Birds and flowers - the shirt of my dreams

Size: 10
Fabric: 2 metres of printed rayon from Spotlight, total $20.98
Extras: Translucent plastic shirt buttons from Textile Traders, a bit of woven interfacing at $5.99 a metre.

This hugely popular pattern has been on my 'to sew' list for months and I had the pattern but couldn't find any fabric I liked enough. I had bought and prewashed some plain black rayon but decided it was too boring to use for the hours and hours of effort I knew this shirt was going to take.

Eventually one day at Spotlight I found this gorgeous, soft rayon printed with a birds and flowers design and decided it was perfect for the Archer, and promptly bought two metres. For some reason I had lodged in my head that two metres was the right amount. It isn't. It's two and a half, as I realised when I was laying out my pattern pieces.

Having spent a whole evening tracing the pattern, I couldn't face having to wait and go back and buy more fabric. I had never planned to try to pattern match, so I squeezed the pieces as close together as possible, and remembered that a lot of bloggers have said of this pattern that the sleeves run long. I held the sleeve pattern piece up to my shoulder, ran it along my arm, thought about the cuff and decided I could shorten it my exactly the amount I would need to fit the piece onto my fabric. Very scientific.

I knew that I would just have to sit, for several evenings, following the instructions and the sew-along to get this done. It's by far the most complex garment I have ever made. It all came together in a straightforward way, over three consecutive evenings after work. I used my favourite soft woven interfacing. This fabric was lovely to work with, pressed perfectly but doesn't crease too easily.

(Progress picture: Do you constantly try on your sewing as you go, not for fitting but to check there really is a real garment coming together?)

Like seemingly everyone else, I used Andrea's method of putting in the collar and collar stand. The collar went in neatly enough, this was my first collar stand so I have never done it any other way. There was an awful lot of pinning, some unpicking and repressing, more pinning followed by more careful top stitching. It's not perfect but it worked.

The sleeves seemed to be terribly fiddly to set, a bit of unpicking and restitching there too. I think I'll try setting them flat next time I make an Archer and see if that helps.

The only time I got confused was with the sleeve cuff. The pictures in the direction and the sew-along don't quite match the shape of the pattern piece, they are a rectangle online and the pattern piece has a notch. For some reason that lead me to think I should have cut the pieces differently, I'll just ignore it next time. 

I read Kirsten's post about her curved hem not sitting flat on her first Archer so took a leaf out of her book and used bias tape to hem the shirt. Towards the end I ran out of matching thread so had to buy more before I could finally finish the buttonholes and the shirt. I knew I would never button it up to the collar stand so just left that buttonhole off. My lovely Bernina 810 (made circa 1980) doesn't do automatic buttonholes or take a slide foot so I had to measure and hope for the best with the buttonholes.

I did about 10 trial runs on scrap fabric first as this bit comes last and has the potential the ruin the whole shirt if I stuff it up. But I didn't and the Archer was done.

I LOVE this shirt. I love wearing it; I love how it looks and feels and how it makes me feel I have made real progress in my sewing.

I'm now on the hunt for the next piece of perfect Archer fabric, and I'll get 2.5 metres next time

(Photos snapped at work, by a favourite colleague. "Walk towards me like a fashion model".)


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