Grainline Archer. Warning: Contains Graphic Images of Topstitching!

Happy Almost Easter, fellow citizens of the stitchosphere! I’ve got something a bit more demure to show you this week, so no need to adjust the colour setting on your digital device!

A shirt! With topstitching! The Archer by Grainline Studios has been a labour of love these past weeks. After steaming through a cluster of Bonnies and trousers, I relished taking on a project that involved numerous steps, each taken lovingly and slowly. I dialled up the Archer Sewalong, and settled in with laptop beside sewing machine and overlocker to be led through the construction. I used cotton chambray from Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road, which was a bargainous £3 per metre. Archer The fabric pressed easily and behaved beautifully, so it was easy to be accurate. I used a water soluble fabric marker, which you can see around the buttonholes on the photos. Overall, it was a pleasure to sew with. I went back to the textbook and used the used the overlocker to finish seams inside. As recommended, I pressed the seams to one side and topstitched along the seams on the right side to mimic the flat-fell seams typically found on a denim or chambray shirt.

After a bit of research on collars, I decided to follow Four Square Wall’s tutorial for assembling in a different order for a more accurate finish. I’d recommend it – I was really pleased with the way it went in.

Archer So far, so good. It was all going so well until it was time to stitch the button holes. I felt the anxiety levels rising – I had a few dry runs then went for it! After five perfect buttonholes, you guessed it –  it went mad on hole number six, and got stuck. What a mess! It’s not too noticeable. But then things got worse: I cut through the top buttonhole with the stitch ripper!

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And then…. I realised i’d put the buttonhole on the wrong side of the cuff, so had to stitch it back together and add a buttonhole to the other side! So after ten long days of tender loving stitching i sabotaged the shirt with my finishing touches. Isn’t it always the way?

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Mathilde in Chambray

Don’t you find that your most recent make is always your favourite?

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Mathilde complete with creases!

I love this top! It’s my second go at a Mathilde from the amazing Tilly and the Buttons. I was equally pleased with my first attempt last year. In fact, it was one of the first garments I made when I dusted off my sewing machine. I was very taken with the pleats on the front of the bodice, and the buttons down the back are a lovely style detail. I didn’t alter the pattern for my first attempt. It was a big enough feat to download and assemble a PDF pattern.

A year on and I felt ready to make the pattern my own. Whilst I loved the original, I didn’t think I suited the full sleeves and the straight bodice looked rather boxy. So I took the plunge and drafted cap sleeves using the original arm scythe as a guide. I also took out the fullness in the bodice and reshaped it at the waist based upon my measurements. Finally, I lowered the front neckline. I am so happy with the fit. Perhaps this will give me the courage to attempt more complicated alterations…

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Mathilde button back detail

The instructions were so easy to follow. Tilly’s clear and concise writing style made this pattern accessible to sewists with basic skills. The sense of satisfaction I had after making version one was off the scale.

I had been on the lookout for some cotton chambray, so when I found this at Simply Fabrics in Brixton I snapped up 3 metres. You will be seeing it again! The guy in the shop told me that it was Paul Smith shirting. Not bad for £3 per metre! The fabric was beautiful to work with. It pressed well and really holds the pleats. I think the colour makes it look classic.

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Now, what should I do with the rest of that chambray? Any thoughts?