The idea for this dress popped into my head several months ago. I was envisaging a rust coloured, crepe shirtdress. I started hunting for fabric but at the time couldn’t quite what I was looking for. I ended up going for a beautiful crepe from Truro Fabrics. Despite the fact that it was called ‘pale terracotta’ I decided it might look more ‘rust’ in the flesh – you can never quite be sure what to expect when buying fabric online! I have to say, when it turned up I was a little disappointed to find that the description, and image, were spot on!
I shelved the idea for a while, but the fabric sat in a pretty little stack in my sewing room and it really grew on me. Funnily enough, I absolutely love it now – it has a lovely earthy clay tone to it. It’s a beautiful slinky sort of fabric and it feels so luxurious to wear.
Originally I planned to use the Lisette Traveler shirt dress pattern (Simplicity 2246). I made a soft grey flannel shirt using this pattern in November 2014 but I was a bit ‘so so’ about the pattern itself. For one thing, I really dislike shirts with one-piece collars. It’s a little insulting to find them on sewing patterns as it suggests that two-piece collars are way beyond us home sewers! I call them lazy collars. They don’t sit right, and do you know what? A proper two piece collar is really not that tricky, given patience and the right instruction when you’re new to it. Of course, I didn’t use the lazy collar in my grey shirt – I drafted my own two-piece affair which turned out pretty well.
However, I’m a bit slap-dash and unkempt in the pattern filing department (New Years resolution number one – file patterns neatly). So, I couldn’t find the collar, and considering I wasn’t totally content with that pattern I was feeling a little unmotivated to start drafting a whole new dress.
But then, along came the Archer shirt from Grainline Studio and lo and behold, a real plan was born.
I’m a bit (ok, very) late to the indie pattern party. I’ve been sewing for a long time but in a bit of a bubble to be honest. I only noticed last year that there is a world of wonderful sewing bloggers out there, and a raft of independent companies producing fabulous sewing patterns for clothing that I really want to sew, and more importantly, wear! I resisted buying for a while, as I’m fairly comfortable drafting my own patterns. However, drafting my own patterns takes so long, and I end up dreaming of the design I want and not finding the time to realise it.
In a fit of over-exuberance with the credit card I splashed out on a few lovely patterns, all of which will be blogged soon, and one of those was the Archer.
The Archer is a classic button up shirt (with a two-piece collar!) and I already have fabric ear-marked to make regular shirt version. But, you know I really wanted that shirtdress. There is a ‘lengthen/shorten here’ mark on the pattern, roughly at the waistline. Obviously for a dress I needed to extend a lot, so unless I wanted a pretty odd shaped dress that wasn’t going to work. I picked a point couple of inches up from the hem and extended from there to the length I wanted.
The only other changes I made were to the sleeves. I always take physical measurements of a pattern before I start cutting. I could tell that the sleeves would be too long on me, and also that the cuffs would be way too large. I’m a fairly standard UK size 12 in high street clothing. I often find sewing pattern sizing a little mysterious, hence the pattern measuring procedure I like to stick with! That said, the measurements on the pattern suggested I make a size 10 (not a UK 10) and that seemed to work, for the most part.
I removed 5 centimetres from the sleeve length, and I graded down from a size 10 to a 0 (!) at the cuff. I used the size 0 cuff. As for the cuff plackets, although I have no problem with the method used in the pattern, I felt like going the whole shirt-making-hog and so I drafted a traditional two-piece placket.
All in all, I am so pleased with the way this dress has turned out. I enjoyed the challenge of the shirt-making details, and was only let down by my ageing sewing machine which, though I love, does not like sewing button holes. The pattern has some nice features, like the yoke and pleat at the back. I was surprised at first that there are no bust darts, but it’s a loose fitting style so that didn’t prove to be an issue at all.
Watch this space for the next Archer (edit: here it is) – I have the fabric already and it’s pretty much the opposite of ‘pale terracotta’!