Looking-Glass Archer (We’re All Mad Here. . .)

Has it ever taken you so long to complete a project that when you finally DO complete it, you just want to sit and bask in it’s completed glory for a while? And then while you’re basking in the glory, you realize you made a rather egregious error in construction?

 

Navy Archer 2

Welcome to the world, navy Archer! Let’s have a chat about you. . .

As I have made this pattern four other times, you would think that I would know what I’m doing at this point. For instance, that I would know which way the sleeve pleats face (I always have to check. Every. Time.), or which side of the cuffs belong to the button and which to the buttonhole, or WHICH SIDE OF THE SHIRT NEEDS BUTTONHOLES.

Archer Button Fails

What is particularly remarkable about this rendition of the Archer is that I managed to do the button plackets on the front correctly, but when I went to sew on the buttonholes, I put them on the wrong side. Never once during the process becoming aware of the terrible mistake I was making. In fact, I didn’t notice until I’d been wearing the shirt for a few hours.

Sigh. . . honestly. . .

However, I think since the navy is so dark, no one else on the planet would either notice or care. And if they do, well, they’re obviously a super judgy-pants sort of person and they officially don’t count.

Navy Archer 3

 

Full disclosure–I made the same mistake on the cuffs. I realized the problem, though, before I opened the buttonholes, so I just sewed buttons on top of them. No one cares. It’s fine.

Will either of these issues stop me from wearing the crap out of this shirt? NOPE.

Navy Archer 4

 

Even though I have now made this shirt five times, I’m still dreaming of more, In particular, I want a sleeveless version. But, there’s work to be done on the shoulders and armholes before that happens.

Navy Archer 1

 

And that, my friends, marks the end of my winter/spring sewing plan from January (or was it December?). It feels SO good to be done with it. My shift dress trials really slowed things down for a long while. I’ll do a wrap up post shortly, and then it’s on to new adventures!

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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!

The Every Day Lady Skater

When I think of a “skater dress,” I think of figure skating, not skateboarding.

When I think of my navy Lady Skater dress, I think “dress I want to wear every day. Every. Single. Day.”

Navy Lady Skater 3

There’s not much to say about the construction. I chose not to follow some of the directions. Especially with the neckband. If you follow the directions, you sew one shoulder seam, then apply the neckband flat, and then sew the second shoulder seam. I chose to sew my neckband and then apply it in the round so there would be no visible seam allowance.

Different day, different look.

Different day, different look.

The one disappointment I have with this dress is that the waist is too low. I shortened the waist on paper before I started. Then, when I tried it on the first time, I had to scramble to shorten it again. It was quite the process. If you’ve ever attempted to unpick knits, you know my pain. In the end, the waist is still too low, particularly on the sides and the back.

Navy Lady Skater 2

Why am I always looking down in pictures? Well, when I look at the camera, I’m either smirking or scowling. So, until I learn to smile properly, I’ll continue to stare at the ground.

Before I make this up again (because of course I will be making it again), I plan to try the dress on, mark where the waist should be, take it off, and then measure from the shoulders or arm holes to the waist so I know exactly how much to alter the pattern.

Boots

I did modify the skirt a bit. I wasn’t really going so much for the mullet hem to be trendy. I just wanted it to be shorter in the front, but I wanted to not worry about being too flashy in the back when I bend over to pick up things I inevitably drop (I’ve become super clumsy the past few years). I do like the look, though. The skirt is crooked because of my quick and dirty method of waist-shortening.

Lady Skater Skirt

So, yeah–if I could wear my Lady Skater every day, I totally would. On average, it gets worn about once a week.

Lady Skater Collage

I also have my first Archer to show you. This was the first project I made with my new sewing machine. The top stitching, therefore, is very crooked since I was still getting adjusted to the super-speedy pedal.

IMG_1798

There were a couple parts of the process that had me choking back tears of frustration. Primarily the trick you use to sew the collar stand to the button plackets. After watching the video at least 8 times, I finally figured out what I was supposed to do. The collar stand still doesn’t look great, but I’ll show more detail pictures when I talk about my other Archers.

Archer CuffsTwo other smallish things to point out: I whipped up this infinity scarf with a half-yard of jersey knit from Girl Charlee. I am really pleased with how it turned out. I read several tutorials and all of them require a lot more yardage. I ended up just ignoring them and using what I had. And it’s pretty much exactly what I wanted.

Infinity Scarf

And finally, I made these little bracelets with some scraps my sweet Quilting Friend gave me. It was just an experiment to see how I liked them, but I’ve ended up wearing them all the time! I want to make lots and lots more in all the colors. I sort of came up with the idea myself, but when looking for inspiration, I found my exact idea on LBG Studio. (They had the idea first, to be fair.)

Bracelets

The bracelets are out of focus for artistic purposes. Not because I don’t know what I’m doing.

 

I have two shirts and two skirts left in this first round of sewing. Although, I’m considering using my gray pin dot knit for another Lady Skater rather than a maxi skirt (which I can’t figure out how to wear like I imagine). I’m just wondering if the metallic will be a little over the top. I don’t know–the more I think about it, the more I love the idea.

Yep–I need a whole army of Lady Skaters, and if one happens to be a little blingy, SO MUCH THE BETTER.