Practicing My Archery

Apparently December was Archer Appreciation Month. How like me to finish mine in January (But can I just say that I started planning and working on them back in October? Because I did).

Unless you’re very new to Sewing Blogland, you know all about the Archer and how fantastic everyone says it is. Well, I’m here to tell you. . . they’re all correct. The Archer is so right in so many ways.

I’ve made four versions now: one in chambray and three in rayon challis (best idea I ever had). The Archer has a very loose fit–very broad shoulders and pretty straight through the torso. The chambray version I made mostly gets worn around the house because it fits me like a man shirt, which makes me feel pretty sloppy. But, the challis versions have this lovely drape to them. I wear them often with my skinny jeans; they balance each other very well.

White6

Because challis is a bear to cut–this stuff just moves all the time–I experimented with stabilizing the fabric with a gelatin bath. I used no gelatin with the fuchsia version; I cut the white out and then gelatinized the pieces; the turquoise got the full bath treatment before cutting. I just wanted to see how much of an effect the gelatin really has.

Teal 1

The verdict? Yes. It helps. More with the cutting than with the sewing. I didn’t really have a problem sewing the fuchsia version (well, no problems caused by the fabric itself), but pieces cut without the gelatin were significantly distorted and off-grain. Of course, I didn’t bother to take pictures during the process because there never was good enough light for it. Just take my word for it, won’t you?

Fuchsia3

Let’s take a moment to talk about a revolutionary change I’ve made to my typical sewing procedures. I’ve always been a shears girl. I had a rotary cutter and a medium-sized mat (along with a couple of smaller ones) but when I tried to cut out patterns free hand with the rotary cutter, the results were rather disastrous. A few months ago, about the time that I started all this wardrobe sewing business, I decided to give it another try. I realized two things: 1. The blade I had been using was very small; 2. The handle was difficult for me to use. So, I bought a larger rotary cutter with a simpler, more easy-to-use handle. By grouping my cutting mats together, I was able to cut out full pattern pieces with ease!

Using a rotary cutter was invaluable for the Archer cutting process. In fact, I use it almost exclusively to cut out all my patterns. Cleaner edges make for more accurate stitching lines which make for more accurate fit.

White4

If you plan to make your own Archer, I very much suggest following Andrea’s tutorial for attaching the collar stand.

Jen’s instructions are very easy to follow–especially if you read up on the sew-along she hosted a while back. So many great tips! In spite of that, however, my versions are all far from perfect. The topstitching is quite wonky on my chambray version (I was still getting used to my new machine at the time).

My pockets never would turn out correctly. The fuchsia version’s are just a mess, the white version’s I like the best because the pockets are smaller (they’re smaller because they were cut ridiculously off grain), the teal version’s look fine on their own, but they’re not quite even–in spite of lots of measuring and double-checking. And all of them are droopy. That, I think, is just what you get with challis. It doesn’t bother me. Not terribly.

Teal 2

Patch pockets, man. They are NOT my favorite. But, I like having them on the shirt, so there you go.

My other problem area was the cuffs. The sleeves are really quite huge on me, so I had to overlap my cuffs quite a bit to make them fit decently. I don’t think I ever got the button/buttonhole placement quite right.

I should have done French seams. I knew I should. I just didn’t.

White3

My button placement on my fuchsia version is a little off, the result being that I occasionally have to deal with unfortunate gappage. I also did the button placket on the wrong side.

Fuchsia1

Another tiny little adjustment I had to make was to cut the front of the shirt a little shorter than the pattern indicated. I didn’t realize that the fabric layer on the bottom was shorter than the layer on top. So, when I discovered that one of the shirt front pieces was significantly shorter than the other, I had to trim both pieces to match each other. I actually like the look, though. Apparently I have thing for mullet hems of all sorts.

Fuchsia2

This really is a fantastic pattern–people haven’t been raving about it for nothing. I think, though, that if I were to make any changes to it, I would make the sleeves and arm holes smaller. In the challis, it doesn’t bother me. But, if I were to try again with chambray, I would definitely want to streamline the upper torso.

Teal 3

I’ve worn this outfit three times already. Not super flattering, but soooo comfy.

Now that I’ve made four Archers, am I ready to retire the pattern from rotation? Heck, no! I already have another challis version planned, and I’ve been dreaming of a plaid flannel tunic to wear with leggings for lounging purposes (I am not a leggings in public sort of girl. You’re welcome, society).

And now, just one project left in Part One–although, to be very honest, I’ve already started Part Two. And to be very, very honest, I’ve actually done a leeeetle bit of Part Three as well. Oh well, it’s all getting done, I promise!

Here’s what I want to know: Have you sewn the Archer? And if so, did you find the arms rather large? I’m wondering if I need to size down.

Also, have you worn your Archer while practicing actual archery??? That would be super impressive!

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10 thoughts on “Practicing My Archery

  1. These look great! I’m so glad to see them in a drapey material. I really want to try the pattern b/c it sounds like such a good experience (and I’ve been having sewing fails lately) but I don’t wear boxy shirts – make me look like a square. Did you go by her size chart or size down? The challis versions look great. And you’re right, challis is a bitch to cut. I’ve never heard about a gelatin treatment -I’ll have to learn more. Really like the fuschia one especially

    • Thanks! Yes–the challis is sooooo great. I should have put a link to the gelatin tutorial, but I was lazy. Let me try to find the link and I’ll send it to you.
      I don’t typically wear boxy shirts either, but I’ve been discovering that in the right fabric, I actually really love them. (So far challis has been the only “right” fabric.) I cut my size according to the chart. But, oversized armholes and sleeves is not a problem specific to the Archer; it happens all the time.
      I’m sorry to hear about your series of sewing fails! That can be so discouraging 😦 You should try the Archer and follow Jen’s sew-along. Or go back and do something simple that you know works for you just to get your mojo back!

  2. These look great. I personally feel of all the archers I’ve seen, the drapy ones are my favorites. All of yours are beautiful, but I’m really liking the simplicity and crispness of the white one. And I didn’t see anything wrong with the pockets!
    My pattern is all cut out and I have black rayon waiting. Just need to stop being lazy and get to work!

    • Thanks! I haven’t really seen any other drapy ones out there, so I wasn’t entirely sure how mine would turn out. But, I had a good feeling. The only thing about the white one is that it’s so sheer that I have to wear a cami underneath (I didn’t in the pictures because 1. I was in a hurry to beat the sun and 2. I figured no one would be able to tell in pictures) which I don’t love.
      Get started! Start with something small like preparing the pockets or the collar to ease yourself in. I think you’re going to love it!

  3. I haven’t made this pattern yet, but I intend to just as soon as I’m back k into “normal’ clothes. I love all of your versions. They look lovely to wear, and, like you say, great with skinny jeans!

  4. I love them! But I feel your pain about the pockets. I don’t know why, but for my archer I couldn’t get them to line up in the right spot on both sides (totally my fault, but I don’t like sewing patch pockets either). I’m scared to venture into challis or other uber drapey fabrics, but your makes are very convincing! Your leggings comment is hilarious! I’m sure you look great in them!

    • I know! I measured and re-measured every time! Part of it is the challis, I think. It’s so fluid that when I’m wearing it, it doesn’t drape the same way it does when I have it laid out on a table, you know? But seriously–no one will ever notice, so I’m not going to let it bother me.
      Girl, leggings and I have a purely pajama relationship 😉

  5. I may have to try this sometime- everybody seems to have Archer fever! I like the teal one the best- that color is so great on you, too. I just made Tania culottes out of challis- holy crap, so slippy. I starched the everlivin’ daylights out of it, which helped a bit. ALL THE STARCH.

    • Thanks–I’m a fan of the teal as well.
      Starch! What a simple solution! How did it work out for you?
      But seriously–challis is all over the place. You should have seen how wrong my non-gelatinized pieces were!

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