Repairing handmade garments: Spring Archer

Spring Archer repairs - pocket unfolded

This weekend I decided to tackle a little project that had been on the back burner for quite a while: repairing one of my handmade garments.  I don’t know about you, but making repairs and alterations is not one of my favorite things to do!  However, my Spring Archer had some serious problems that needed attention, and I wanted to breathe new life into this much-loved shirt.

The problems

  • My two-layer pocket idea was a total FAIL.  After a few rounds in the washing machine, it became apparent that I hadn’t properly catched the underlayer in the topstitching, and it kept flopping out as you see above.
  • The sleeves were too long.  This cotton seems to stretch vertically over time, ugh!
  • The sleeve cuffs were too wide and kept sliding off my wrists.  This is no doubt due to the extra width (about 1 inch) added to the sleeve when constructing the tower plackets, a fact which I only realized after it was too late.
  • The tower plackets were too long, and therefore, kept gaping open during wear.

Spring Archer repairs - sleeve cuffs removed

The repairs

  • Unpicked the top half of the pocket and re-sewed it, this time eliminating the underlayer and simply folding up the hem twice, as instructed in the pattern.
  • Completely removed the old sleeve cuffs.
  • Removed the extra width at the cuffs by taking in the side seam of the sleeves, which meant unpicking and re-doing my French seams.
  • Cut and interfaced new cuffs, this time with a shorter width to match the narrower sleeves.
  • Shortened the sleeves by about 1/2 inch in length.
  • Attached the new cuffs, this time using the contrast polka dot fabric on the inside (just for fun).
  • Added a small button and buttonhole on the tower plackets to keep them closed.

Any guesses as to how long this all took me?  When I started last night, I figured it would take 2 hours or so.  WRONG.  All this work took a whopping 6 hours!  I wonder if I spent more time repairing the shirt than actually sewing it in the first place?

With that said, however, I really enjoyed the process.  There is something so joyful and fulfilling about bringing back function to something that I made with my own hands, something that (I think) is beautiful and unique.  I thought I would be complaining to myself the entire time, but I found peace instead.  Go figure.  🙂

Spring Archer repairs - fixed pocket Spring Archer repairs - fixed pocket inside

The new and improved pocket is much more stable and should hopefully (!!) survive the washing machine now.  The wrinkling you see in the top photo is due to the different behavior of the contrast and main fabrics under the steam of the iron.  It’s hard to smooth out the pocket perfectly, but the wrinkles don’t bother me too much.

Spring Archer repairs - new sleeve cuffs

And just look at these new sleeve cuffs.  Aren’t they delightful?  I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the contrast on the inside of the cuff (too much?), but I think I love it.

The cuffs now sit right at my wrists without going past them, but the sleeves are still long enough to cover my giraffe-like arms.  The added button on the tower placket keeps everything properly closed, which makes a big difference in both the appearance and functionality of the shirt.  And I love how the pink buttonholes look on the inside of the cuffs!

Spring Archer repairs - finished shirtOverall, making these much-needed repairs was well worth the effort, even if it took a 3-day weekend for me to finally get around to doing it.  And I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it!

I really love wearing this shirt, and it’s been in regular rotation in my summer wardrobe.  It’s light and cool, and the color just screams “warm weather” to me.  Lately I’ve been rolling up the sleeves, which had reduced the urgency of the sleeve repairs, but I feel good knowing this shirt is now ready for year-round wear again.

Now tell me, do you repair your handmade garments?  If so, is it a painful or rewarding experience for you?

Edited to add July 7, 2014 — I wore the new and improved shirt to work today, and I’m happy to report that the sleeves are so much more comfortable now!  I’m so glad I took the time to repair them.  🙂

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12 thoughts on “Repairing handmade garments: Spring Archer

  1. I just hacked up a self-drafted shirt dress (the bodice didn’t have enough ease, and the seams started separating). I kept the skirt though, added a zipper and grosgrain ribbon waistband and now have a perfect summer skirt.

  2. I usually postpone alterations/repairs as long as I can and then they take maybe 15 minutes to complete making me feel a bit stupid for waiting so long to tackle them.
    I think the contrast cuffs are great, because you used the same fabric as for the pocket it really works.

    • Thanks Emmely. And I do the same for just about all my chores – cleaning, paying bills, etc. I probably spend 10x more time worrying about them then actually doing them. Why??

  3. I definitely have to give you props on all your repairs! I’m actually sitting on two… mayyyybe three garments that need a little TLC and I just can’t seem to get around to it with so many other projects I want to tackle! I just gotta do like you, bite the bullet, and embrace the process. Great job!

    • Thanks! Although, for the official record, I waited many months to tackle this one. 🙂 Making a new project is always more fun, but it was really satisfying to get my existing garment back into shape too!

  4. I love that fabric that you used on your pocket! I have the Archer pattern but haven’t gotten around to making it yet. And now the Alder Shirtdress is calling my name so I think the Archer is going to go on the back burner for a little while longer. I also wanted to let you know that I nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award. My post is here: http://wp.me/p4t5zl-qW

    • Thanks so much Teri, for your comments on my shirt and also for the award! It was so thoughtful of you to think of me. The Archer is a great basic top – maybe the calling will come back around in winter. 🙂 I love the new Alder too!

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