Chambray Bird Archer – finished!

Grainline Chambray Bird Archer - finished

One last Archer to round out my Summer of Archers!  This rich burgundy/aubergine combo is pretty dreamy and looks fantastic in this golden hour light.  The main fabric has a slight sheen to it in the right light, which hopefully you can see above.  I love the subtle woven dots combined with the whimsical birds on the pocket and back yoke.  This project was quite a roller coaster, but I’m really pleased with the finished garment.  Read on for all the details.  🙂

Grainline Chambray Bird Archer - side

Project Stats:

Pattern: Grainline Archer

Fabric: Main: Robert Kaufman chambray dots in burgundy, purchased at Pattern Review Day Boston!  Contrast: Aves Chatter Voile in Dim, part of Bonnie Christine’s Winged collection.  Both are 100% cotton.

Modifications: All my usual Archer modifications.  The altered pattern is somewhere around a size 8 at the shoulders and a size 0 at the waist/hips, with several inches in length added to the sleeves.

Level of crafty satisfaction: Love this shirt despite its stitching flaws.  🙂

Grainline Chambray Bird Archer - back

Are those birds on the yoke delightful or what?  🙂

As you may recall, my original goal when sewing this shirt was to finish in time to wear for the last day of One Week One Pattern, and although I didn’t quite make it, I wore the unfinished shirt anyway.  It turns out that sewing on a deadline is really stressful, and as a result, the stitching on this shirt is less than ideal in some places.  It’s not my best work, but thankfully the rich colors and fabric choices save this shirt in my eyes.

I like to think of this shirt as surprisingly human: not perfect, but wonderful nonetheless.  🙂

Let’s dive into the details, shall we?

Grainline Chambray Bird Archer - on hanger Grainline Chambray Bird Archer - yoke

Both fabrics were an absolute dream to sew with.  If you haven’t picked up some of this chambray dot, what are you waiting for??  I’m very temped to buy an entire bolt and make a delicious, dotty wardrobe out of it.  It has a beautiful but subtle sheen, a perfect drape for garment sewing (not too fluid but not too stiff), it presses crisply, and it doesn’t wrinkle too badly for 100% cotton.  For local Boston sewists, Gather Here currently carries it in black and indigo.

The bird voile is one of my favorite fabrics that I’ve ever purchased.  I’m generally not crazy about sewing with voile, but the inner yoke in the main fabric gives it a little more structure.  When I first saw this fabric at GH, I knew I wanted to make something with it, but an entire garment in voile isn’t very functional for me in cooler weather.  Thankfully, it was a great compliment to the burgundy dot, so I decided to pair them up and use some of these whimsical birds after all.  Imagine my delight comparing swatches in the fabric store.  🙂

Grainline Chambray Bird Archer - collar Grainline Chambray Bird Archer - collar stand edges

All right, enough rainbows and sunshine!  I said this shirt has its flaws, and it does.  The collar looks fine from a distance, but when you get close, the curved ends of the collar stand leave a lot to be desired.  This is always the hardest part of a button-down shirt for me, and it really shows here.

The end on the left looks ok, despite a little seam allowance peeking out at the bottom.  The one on the right really bothers me, however.  The stitching around the curve is really wonky, and as this was my 2nd attempt, you can only imagine what the 1st attempt looked like.  This is late-night stressful sewing in all its glory, folks.

Grainline Chambray Bird Archer - sleeve cuff and plackets Grainline Chambray Bird Archer - sleeve cuff stitching detail

Like the collar, the sleeve cuff and plackets look fine from a distance, but the evidence of stressful sewing is definitely there.  See the double line of stitching at the top of the cuff?  When I had originally topstitched this seam, I had graded the seam allowance too aggressively on the inside of the cuff, and I didn’t catch it consistently in the seam.  Instead of ripping it out and re-doing it properly, I just added a 2nd line of topstitching above the first to ensure the SA was enclosed.

When I got to the second cuff, I remembered not to grade so aggressively, but I wound up adding a 2nd line of topstitching anyway so the sleeve cuffs would match.  ARGH.  I still can’t believe I did this.  I don’t think the extra line looks too bad, but it really bothers me that I took the lazy/quick route here.

On a happier note, look at these perfectly matching buttons!  I found them at Gather Here when I purchased the bird fabric.  They’re simple plastic buttons, but I love the subtle shine and rich burgundy color.

Grainline Chambray Bird Archer - armhole seam

The inside of the armhole seam is zig-zagged, which is my usual method and holds up just fine after many washes.  Although I prefer the false French seams that I used on my Archer of Many Details, there was no time for hand sewing with the OWOP deadline fast approaching.  Oh well!

(BTW, I’m planning on getting a serger this fall, so zig-zagged seams may soon be a thing of the past!)

Grainline Chambray Bird Archer - double fold hem

The rest of the seams on the shirt are French, as usual.  I also used a simple double-fold hem here, which is definitely my preferred method of hemming for a button-down shirt.  It’s not too heavy and drapes well.  If you make sure to keep it narrow (about 1/4 inch), you should be able to get around the curves at the side seams with no problem.

Grainline Chambray Bird Archer - frontWell, there you have it!  I consider this shirt a success despite its stitching flaws, and I’ve been enjoying wearing it as the cool fall weather moves rather quickly into Boston.  Some (very obvious) sewing lessons learned on this project:

  • Never, ever, EVER sew on a deadline.  It’s unpleasant and results in crappy stitching.
  • Same for sewing late at night when your eyes have given up for the day.
  • Quality fabric is always worth the investment.  I really think the great fabrics redeem this project.

Thanks as always for indulging me in a long post and a series of repeat projects, and thanks again to John for taking the outdoor photos.  I promise, this is the last Archer for a while, but certainly not the last of Jen’s beautifully drafted patterns.  A Moss mini PDF has recently been taped together…  🙂

Hope you had a great weekend!  What’s on your sewing table?

16 thoughts on “Chambray Bird Archer – finished!

  1. i used this fabric (in black) for an alder dress, and it is just great stuff! i’m seriously tempted to buy more for an archer. this turned out great, despite the few stitching flaws. those round bits are tricky, and i used to fume over them a bit when i had to re-do more than once… to be honest, i’ve seen some pretty wonky stitching there in rtw, so i obsess a little less than i used to. 🙂


    • Yes, I saw your Alder – it came out great! This fabric really has the perfect drape for a shirt or shirtdress. As for those rounded corners, I’m truly in awe of people who manage to finish them perfectly. How do they do it?? I’m tempted to staple the inner collar stand in place and sew over the staples, LOL.


  2. I love this Archer! I am about to make a new to me tunic pattern and I am really wishing I had some of that bird voile. I think it would be perfect. I think the shirt looks great and I know that no one but you will ever notice the flaws. I can’t wait to see your Moss mini!


  3. I can’t see any problems in the pictures so I think they fall into the category of things you will notice that no one else would ever spot! The chambray fabric is beautiful – such a gorgeous rich colour!
    Good luck with Moss mini



    • Thanks Louise! It’s funny how blogging about all the stitching flaws somehow makes them seem less egregious, which I guess is a good thing. I’ll always notice them though! We’re always hardest on ourselves.

      I just made a muslin of the Moss, and it was way too big – oops! Not sure what happened there.


      • I made a moss last year and had to take in waist loads – I took a wedge out of the yoke and added darts to get shaping. The fabric was weird and started to disintegrate so I will replace it soon!


        • It seems that many people had to take a wedge out of the CB, which is my issue too. The skirt is drafted to sit really low on the hips, so there is little waist shaping.


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