Carolyn sews the Carolyn Pajamas: shirt muslin

Carolyn Pajamas shirt muslin - with pillow

This post could alternatively be titled: “Thou shalt not question the great Heather Lou.”

I know I’m late to the party with this pattern, but that’s nothing new for me!  Although I suspect most of you have already sewn up the Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas and/or have seen a bunch of gorgeous versions online, I hope you’ll indulge me as I work my way through this pattern, one muslin at a time.  Now, I know this pattern is named after the one and only Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn – a ridiculously talented sewist by all definitions – but ever since it came out, I couldn’t help but think that it would be cool to sew up a pattern with my name on it.  If I tell myself that it was actually named after me, well, that’ll just be my own little delusion.  🙂

(By the way, thank you for the comments on my last post about my blog photos.  I think I actually managed to relax in the photo above!)

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Floral voile Archer – finished!

Floral voile Archer - finished

Today I’m excited to finally share my finished Floral voile Archer!  I sewed this up a few weeks ago but had to delay the photo shoot while I recovered from a slew of various aliments, but thankfully I’m (almost) all better and have a new shirt to model for you.  🙂  It’s no secret that the Archer is one of my favorite patterns, and this is the 6th one that I’ve added to my wardrobe.  This one is made in a blue and white printed voile that I think is perfectly light and breezy for the summer, topped off with some striped details on the collar and cuffs.  Simply put, I love it!

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Floral voile Archer: sneak peeks

Floral Archer in progress - under collar

I think shirtmaking is my absolute favorite type of sewing.  I find so much peace and satisfaction in all the precision and details, and I love the endless possibilities for customization.  Also, there’s nothing like wearing a crisp button-down shirt, especially one that’s light and airy on a warm summer day.  I suspect this shirt will get a lot of wear once the weather warms up, and I can almost feel the warm breeze of the harbor on my face…. almost.  It’s still snowing around here.  🙂

Floral Archer in progress - sleeve placket

This weekend I indulged in some super-slow sewing — my favorite way to sew.  Tower plackets, collars and collar stands, grosgrain ribbon along the button band.  Lots of precision topstitching.  A handful of pointy corners.  Does it get any better than this?

Floral Archer in progress - collar

The combination of this floral voile and striped shirting is divine, and I’ve been enjoying the feel of the light and soft fabrics against my fingertips.  I tried to minimize the use of interfacing on this shirt to maintain the light feel, but I did use some lightweight fusible in the collar.  A floppy collar is too sad a thought to bear!Floral Archer in progress - sleeve cuffI keep petting my creation-in-progress as I walk by, admiring my work and imagining all the summer adventures I’ll have in this shirt.  At least the sun was out today — a promise of warmer days to come.  I’ll be ready with a new shirt when spring decides to finally show its face.

Until then, I’ll remain chained at the hip to my puffer coat.  At least my prison is warm and fluffy.  🙂

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.  🙂

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Flamingo Archer – finished!

Grainline Flamingo Archer - finished

The 21-year-old version of myself would have hated this shirt.  It’s very PINK.  I distinctly remember going through a phase in college where I hated pink and refused to wear it no matter how small the dose.  I would go on and on about how I’m not a girly girl and how pink epitomizes everything that feminists rage against.  Fast forward about 10 years.  I’m still not a girly girl, but I absolutely love this shirt.  🙂

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The Archer of Many Details: finished!

Grainline Archer of Many Details - finished

My Archer of Many Details is complete, and I have to say, I really like this one!  Not surprisingly, it’s the little details that make all the difference.  They take extra time, but to me, it’s worth it.  🙂

Although I finished sewing this shirt about 2 weeks ago, I’m only getting around to blogging about it now.  Life has a way of getting busy sometimes, and sewing is usually the first thing to go when my schedule fills up.  Sad but true!  My sewing had been moving along at a glacial pace anyway, mostly due to me being exhausted after work lately, so I guess the last few weeks of low sewing productivity aren’t all that surprising.  Ah, life.  Anyway, back to my new shirt!

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The Archer of many details: in progress

Gray Archer in progress - cut pieces and ribbon

The latest project on my sewing table is my third Archer, which I’ve affectionately dubbed “The Archer of Many Details.”  I’ve been meaning to try out a bunch of new-to-me shirt-making techniques, and I figured I’d give them all a go in a single project.  Two birds and one stone, you know how it goes.  🙂

The main fabric is Robert Kaufmann pinpoint Oxford, a chambray with a crisp hand that presses like a dream.  It’s the same fabric I used for my first Archer, which I love (and actually wore today!).  It makes a really crisp, professional-looking shirt, which is exactly the vibe I’m going for.  I saw it at Grey’s Fabric and immediately scooped it up in a whirlwind of spontaneity.  I’m sure you can relate, ha.

Ok, onward to the “many details.”

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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.

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Spring Archer – finished!

Spring Grainline Archer - finished

My Spring Archer is complete, and isn’t it so cheerful?  : )  I had such a great time sewing this shirt, really taking my time with each step to make sure everything came out as well as I could make it.  The finished garment is extremely comfortable, casual but still crisp, and just bright and pink enough to tide me over until this never-ending winter is finally behind us.

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Spring Archer in progress: two-layer pocket and fancy sleeve plackets

Spring Archer in progress - until next time

I’ve got another Grainline Archer on my sewing table, this time in cheery spring colors.  Just looking at these fabrics makes me happy!  Although it’s far from spring here in Boston, my mind has undoubtedly shifted toward warm-weather sewing.  I’ve been enjoying wearing my first Archer so much that I figured another one was in order, especially after all those alterations I had made the first time around.  Now I can just crank out the second one with no worries about fit.  And hello, did I mention the spring color palette?  Yay!  : )

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