After the success of my Archer shirtdress recently I knew I wanted to sew up a simple shirt version of this pattern from Grainline Studio. When I stumbled across this gorgeous fabric from Backstitch I had to have it! It’s described as peachskin chiffon and oh my word is it soft! Slinky smooth, and I just fell in love with the colour, and those little parrots. Obviously purchased on a gloomy winter’s day, with a yearning for Spring to arrive. Here it is in it’s natural state, with my shirt pattern traced and ready to go.
Before my ‘slow-sew’ revelation, I used to chop right into a pattern straight out of the packet. Cue lots of poorly fitting garments with no going back. Now I always take the time to trace the pattern, taking measurements seam to seam first, to make sure I trace a size that will fit. Then as I trace, I can grade seams in or out if I need to use a combination of sizes, and made any adjustments I think are needed. Also, it means that I have a lovely stack of crisp sewing patterns which I can make in any size should I ever wish to do some less selfish sewing and share the handmade love. It’s important to transfer all the markings, and make any notes of changes made (I also keep a notebook for these details).
The only changes I made to this shirt version of the Archer were to the sleeve length. I used the sleeves I drafted from my shirtdress version, which took off about 5 cms and graded from a 10 down to a 0, using a size 0 cuff as well. My wrists are pretty skinny, but even so, I’m not sure how the original sleeves fit other people – they would have been enormous on me!
This project was amazingly smooth sewing all the way. Some kind of sewing Goddess must have been watching over me. To begin with, in all my years of sewing, I have somewhat shied away from very lightweight fabrics. As I’ve said before, I used to be a bit of a slapdash Seamstress and with a semi sheer fabric like this there is no room for that kind of behaviour!
But happily, my anxiety was unfounded. I fitted a brand new sharp and pointy size 8 needle in my machine, and dialed down the tension. I tested the stitching on scraps until I was totally happy. Other than that, keeping the fabric gently taught as I sewed kept my seams and top-stitching pretty neat.
Because this fabric is slightly sheer I didn’t want to use self fabric for the yoke lining due to shadow-parrot-show-through. Instead I used a very light muslin. This is a really loose-weave fabric and I hope it will stand the test of time. I used it to underline an entire Sigma dress a while ago which has been worn and washed a lot with no problems.
This is one of those projects where I’m as happy with the inside finishing as I am with the outside. The Archer has a great yoke lining detail which encloses the seams nicely. After that, I sewed french seams on the sides and also on the sleeves and armscye! First time ever setting in a sleeve with french seams and it worked a treat (image above).
Curved hems are sometimes a bit of a pain as you’re essentially tucking an excess of fabric over. My Archer shirtdress is sewn in a fairly weighty crepe and I hand-stitched a bias faced hem. But with this chiffon shirt the hem settled in fairly easily with careful steaming, pressing and basting before the final top-stitch:
I always struggle a little choosing buttons for a shirt as they are such an important feature. I bought these olive wood beauties simply because I liked them, but wasn’t sure whether they were right for this shirt. However, when I lined them up on the fabric I decided I loved the natural feeling complement to the tropical pattern. I toyed with coconut buttons too but they’re a bit rugged looking! I can’t quite believe how smoothly the button-hole sewing went. Usually my over-used and under-serviced sewing machine protests a little at all the zig-zag action, but this was stress-free sewing all the way. What a treat.
A finished view, buttoned-up. The top button doesn’t sit perfectly as I didn’t measure too carefully where I was putting the button hole, knowing that I will never wear it like this! It looks fab on my graceful assistant though…
I guess I should share a couple of me actually wearing it! Which brings me down to final fitting notes: There is a bit of button gape going on at times, so I may need to address that next time I make this, although I think it’s a fairly standard issue with a lot of shirts. I may also lengthen it a smidge next time and replace a couple of cms on the sleeve length. As the cuff circumference is so perfect now, I could get away with a little sleeve extension without any danger of swallowing my hands.