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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!