The Other Two Archers...

So my blog is kind of turning into a Grainline Fangirl blog, but there's a reason: Jen's patterns are freaking awesome! So I'm not going to apologize for liking what I like. ;) I just can't get enough Archers and Lindens in my life clearly. As promised, these are the other two Archers that I made a couple of weeks ago. I have always wanted a chambray button up, but before I knew how to sew, I could never find one that I liked, that fit. And then when I did start sewing, I had a bit of a difficult time finding the right fabric. That is until Blackbird Fabrics.


Of course, when Caroline Amanda announced the grand opening of her Canada based online fabric store, I went right to her website and ordered immediately. I mean I gotta support the local dealers retailers right? I spied this gorgeous light denim shirting (among other things), and I thought it looked just right. I was so thrilled when I received it, because it was even better than I had imagined. It's so easy to be disappointed when shopping for fabric online because you can't touch it. This fabric actually came to me back in September, but I didn't actually do anything with it until now.)


The colour is exactly what I was looking for and it's buttery soft. It's like an already well loved and worked in denim shirt.


I don't have anything new to say about the construction of this shirt, except that the pockets are inspired by Katie's version, and I love how they turned out. I also used some white pearl snaps from Snap Source (I always go for the size 18 in case  you are wondering), as that seemed like the natural choice.

For the last of the bunch, I decided to try a short-sleeved version. It didn't turn out exactly as I thought it would, but I am still quite happy with the results.


The fabric is also from Blackbird, and it's a cotton stretch sateen shirting. It feels lovely, but for some reason it has caused a bit of weirdness at my chest. See those wrinkles? I am wondering if maybe it's because of the stretch, but I'm really not sure. I mean I cut all four Archers at the same time, and this is the only one that seems to do that. Oh well, still completely wearable to me.


As you can see the cuffs are a bit wrinkly and weird. I really wanted to have short sleeves, but still have the cuffs. So I'm sure there is a way more professional way to do it, but I just shortened the sleeves and widened (lengthened) the cuffs to fit. I also free-handed the sleeve placket, and I think it should be just a touch longer, and that might resolve the wrinkling issue. I decided to go with plain white buttons for this one. To be honest, I'm not 100% sold on the colour on me - I think it washes me out a little, but I think it looks really great under a cardigan.

I also mixed and matched the under collars, yokes, and inner collar stands of all 4 shirts. I love adding those little touches, and it's super easy to do when you are cutting a bunch out together.



So that's it for Archers for now but I'm sure you will be seeing more on this blog again. This really has become a TNT pattern for me, and I find it super satisfying to sew up.  I really love wearing a good button up shirt, and I'm tempted to try some of the other button up patterns out there, but this one fits me so well I'm not sure I will.

Have you tried the Archer or any other button-up patterns?

The Liberty Print Archers

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I have become a bit Archer crazy this month (and you'll also know that I now have blue hair), actually you can probably just tell that from my blog too. Back in my pre-sewing days, I always had trouble finding button-up shirts that fit me well. It seemed that if they fit me well in the shoulders, then they didn't really fit across the bust (or sometimes across my belly), and if I found one that fit across my boobs, then I was swimming in it everywhere else. I think that's why I love sewing these shirts so much. It's a real accomplishment (in my mind anyway) to have such a great fitting button-down - so maybe it's not an obsession, maybe it's love. Anyway, a couple of months ago, I saw a photo from Kelly's (of Cut Cut Sew) instagram feed of an Archer assembly line. She had FIVE shirts all cut out and ready to sew. FIVE!! For some reason that had never occurred to me. Cut out and sew multiple complex garments all at the same time? Yes please!! So I picked out 4 fabrics from my stash (actually I picked out 6, but decided that might be a little extreme), and proceeded to cut out 4 shirts.


Unfortunately, I didn't consider thread. There is a considerable amount of topstitching with this pattern, and I couldn't decide on a thread colour to match all four, so I decided to do them two at a time. So without further ado, I present my first two Archers of 2015 (don't be surprised to see many more this year):



Have I told you how much I freakin' love this pattern? It took me a few tries (and some research) to get the fit just right, but now that I have it, I definitely consider this a TNT pattern. In fact, it's my uniform. This shirt and a pair of Ginger jeans and I'm set!



Both fabrics are Liberty Tana Lawns that I got at Shaukat Fabrics in London. I've had a number of Liberty tana lawns in my stash for quite sometime, but I haven't had the courage to cut into them. I am so glad I finally took the plunge as they were a dream to sew with and they are even nicer to wear. So soft and dreamy - I finally get what everyone has been raving about.



I've already talked about fitting in a previous post, but here's a recap. My tried and true version of this pattern is a size 6 (chosen based on my high bust measurement) with a full bust adjustment that adds about 1" and a bust dart. This gives me a nice fit all over and it's still very comfy. I also shortened the sleeves by about an inch and a half.



For the peachy floral one, I went with teal pearl snaps from Snap Source (have you tried snaps yet, cause they really are the bomb), and for the navy floral  one, I used some shiny buttons I bought at my local Fabricland. I also played with the pockets a bit. For the peachy one, I made pointy pockets (you can barely see them) and for the navy one, I went with the regular ones that come with the pattern.



So there you have it - my first projects of the new year! It was fun to make them like this, and I also mixed and matched fabrics so that they all have contrasting inner yokes, under collars and collar stands. I realize now that I didn't really get any good shots of that, but I'll get some for when I post about the other two.

Hope this New Year is treating you all well so far.

PS: Are any of you sewing friends participating in #rigelbomberjacketjanuary? If not, it's not too late to jump on board. 

Top 5 Hits of 2014 (+ reflections & goals)

15343108663_0fbe099154_m This was a tough list for me to make. I have been lucky to have a number of hits this year, although a lot of them have come in the last six months or so. I really love making a garment that fits me well and looks nice, but that I also wear a lot. So anyway enough blabbing, here are my top 5 hits of 2014:

1. Self-drafted Beetle Blouse - before you get too excited, I drafted this blouse with a pattern-maker template, so it was pretty easy. It was the first button down shirt I ever made, and I still love it to death. I wore in once or twice a week all summer and it still gets a bit of wear this winter with a cardigan thrown over top.


2. Sleeveless Moneta - the sleeveless part of this dress isn't the greatest as there is a lot of gaping, but throw a sweater or a jean jacket on top and you would never know. I wore this dress a ton in the summer and then I paired it with boots and tights for the colder months. It is super comfy and so easy to throw on. Plus I find it goes with everything. 


3. Grainline Studio's Archer - Dudes!! So far, this is my all time favourite pattern - to make and to wear. The buffalo check one was my first attempt - a bit of a wearable muslin. And then my Crazy Cat Lady version is where I really perfected the fit. I have made this shirt up 5 times for myself already (with 2 more in process right now) and once for my Mom. Now that I have my pattern altered perfectly, it is a cinch to make up. I have done an FBA and added a bust dart for my TNT version. I know some of you don't like bust darts, but it make a world of difference in the fit and look of a garment - I promise you it's worth the effort to add one. Someday I may try a dart less FBA, but for now I'm quite happy with how this baby turns out.



4. Ginger Jeans - I have made 2 pairs of Gingers so far (here and here) and I love both of them. I wear them all the time. I honestly can't rave about this pattern enough. It fit me pretty much perfectly right off the bat and the instructions are fantastic. I see many, many more pairs in my future, and I have a really hard time seeing myself buy another pair of RTW pants again.


5. Holiday Party Anna - okay, so this dress isn't really a wardrobe staple, but I absolutely love it. And everybody needs a good party dress, right? I felt so amazing wearing this at my husband's work Christmas party, and I was so proud that I made it myself. I think the colour really suited me, and the border print worked out amazingly. (If I do say so myself LOL.)


So as I said before, this was a tough list for me to make, so I also wanted to include some honourable mentions. I love my Nettie bodysuit and Chardon skirt, I love my Sutton blouses, and I love my Hudsons (see below). I have actually made 4 pairs of Hudsons and they are my go to lounge pant.


I also have to mention my Pyjama Eaters. I had so much fun making them (and posing them, photographing them, and writing about them), and every time I look  at them I smile.


Okay, time for a recap and some goals now: I have had a ton of fun sewing this year and I have learned a ton. I really feel like I have found my calling. It seems I have been searching and searching for a hobby my whole life, and this is one of the first times that I have stayed really passionate and thrilled about something for such a long time (well a year anyway but I'm just as excited about it, or maybe more than the day I started so I think that's pretty good). I look forward to fine tuning the skills I have learned so far and also tackling more complex patterns this year. I am trying really hard not to be intimidated by anything (especially patterns labelled intermediate or gasp! advanced), because I am one of those people who has to do it to learn it. I would also like to attempt making a coat or a jacket this year (hello #rigelbomberjacketjanuary!), and I would really like to make more jeans and some shorts. I am hoping to eventually have a complete handmade wardrobe, but we'll see.  I would also like to make my husband some things - maybe a shirt or two and some lounge pants. I'm trying not to set lofty goals as that seems to make me want to do the opposite - apparently I have a thing about rebelling against rules.

So there you have it - I am finished my wrap up for 2014. I have a bit of a backlog of projects to show you, so I'll get on that soon too! Hope you had a fabulous 2014 and I look forward to sharing my 2015 with you!

Radar Love

A few weeks ago when Miss Crayola Creepy announced her Cat Lady Sewing Challenge, I kind of brushed it off as I am not really a cat person. It's not that I have anything against cats, in fact, if anything, I really don't know much about them. I've never owned a cat and my only real experience with them, are having them either ignore me, bite me or stratch me. And I think it's pretty obvious by now that given the choice I am a die hard dog lover, and in particular a die hard pug lover. So sewing a garment covered in cats seemed almost hypocritical (I know, I know, I'm a bit weird). But then I was browsing as I often do, and I decided, just for fun of course, to search "cats". When I came upon this crazy, halloweenish cat print, I knew I had to have it:


It reminded me almost instantly, that there actually is a cat that I love. A cat that I would happily pay homage to by participating in a Cat Lady Sewing Challenge. An adorable feline that I have had a number of good experiences with, and even a few cuddles: Radar.


About a year ago, Anne (my favourite stepmom) lost her long-time kitty companion Ming. Ming was a beautiful and elegant, shy siamese cat that was a constant companion to Anne for about 16 years (why can't pets live forever??). After Ming passed, my Mom and Anne weren't sure if they would get another cat; they thought they might be okay with living in a one cat household (my Mom also has a feline fur baby named Minou) but after a few weeks, Anne decided that two is always better than one. So it was off to the rescue foundation they went, where they fell in love with this adorable black beauty. He's around 7 years old, but he looks and acts like he is a much younger kitty.


I have only met Radar a handful of times, but every time I see him, he comes right up to me and gives me lots of cuddles and lovins. He is the first cat that has really made me consider the possibility of having one as a pet someday. He is the one black cat that I don't mind crossing my path. He is soft and sweet, he lets me pet him and (GASP!) he even trusts me enough to fall asleep in my lap - I mean, what's not to love about that? I have heard though, that he is constantly up to mischief; he loves to knock things off counter tops, to mess with Minou, to hide in the rafters, and to open screen doors to try to make his escape (classic cat stuff).

Anyway, when I saw this fabric - I immediately thought of Radar. (Anne named him Radar because he has big ears that stand straight up, it's very fitting actually.) Plus, I thought it would make an excellent October/Halloween shirt. So after a series of clicks, it was in my cart and on its way to my house - it costs a fortune for shipping to Canada, but always ships super quickly so it at least feels a bit worth it. Naturally, as I am still in the midst of my mad love affair/finding the perfect fit obsession with Archer, that's what I chose to make...again.  Surprise, surprise! (I promise I will sew something else someday.) Quilting cotton is probably a little heavy for a shirt, but I think it turned out really well and it was super easy to work with.


I actually did a few different things with this one. I went down another size, so this one is actually a size 6. And again I did a full bust adjustment (for reference, I slashed and spread about 1 inch). I am super happy with the fit on this one. I think it is safe to say, that this is definitely the TNT version for me now.


I decided to make the pockets pointy on this one as it seemed to go with the theme. It's a bit tough to see as this fabric is so busy, but the pockets really are there.


I also decided to try a different sleeve placket this time, and I love it!! When I first looked at the tutorial, it looked super complicated, but take it from me, it is actually super easy. I would venture to say easier than the normal sleeve placket. There are more steps but I found the actual sewing part to be easier - no weird rippling or stretching of cut fabric. The tutorial I followed is here. I think I will do all my sleeve plackets like this from now on. I love that it allows one to show off a contrasting fabric, if one wants should desire to do such a thing. It really is all about the little things for me.


There, you can see those pointy pocket in this picture. I used leftover scraps from my second Washi dress, and I think it worked out really well. I also used that same fabric for the inside collar stand and yoke.


I also went with snaps again (they really are my favourite closure), yellow pearl snaps to be specific,  and I love how they turned out. A little pop of colour to a monochrome fabric is perfect in my books. I thought the yellow was quite fitting, as Radar's eyes are a greeny, yellow. I don't seem to have a photo of it, but I finished the hem with purple bias tape (my new favourite hemming technique), and I used my variegated rainbow serger thread to finish my seams, so this shirt looks just as cool on the inside as it does on the outside.

So there you have it, I have officially embraced my inner crazy cat lady. I'd like to tell you that I will probably reserve wearing this shirt for October and close to Halloween, but I love it so much, I'm sure it will get into the regular rotation.

Do you like cats? Enough to sew and/or wear cat themed clothes?

PS: I am now in London - so look as I originally started out as a travel blogger, look forward to some travel posts and fabric shopping! Phew, finally a break from all the Archer madness. LOL

Archer #2 and Some Fitting Chat

Well, Hi Everybody! I feel like I haven't blogged in forever, but really it's only been about a week and a half. If you follow me on Instagram (and I may have mentioned it here), you might know that I have been struggling with some kind of tendonitis/repetitive stress injury in my right arm.  It's been a pain (literally) and it's really cutting into my sewing/blogging/knitting. I have found that sewing itself isn't too bad, but cutting things out, ironing/pressing, and knitting really aggravate it, and typing and using the trackpad on my laptop are pretty awful too. So I've been trying to rest it as much as I can, which means more Netflix (I'm currently hooked on the X-Files and Scandal) and dreaming about sewing, with way less actual sewing. I have yet to see a professional about it, but if it continues, I will. John says, my big problem is that I don't understand the concept of moderation, and you know what? He's probably right. I would sew all day everyday if I could (and I'd eat pizza, drink lattes, and down ice cream all day too!). Anyway, enough about that. Let's talk about Archer #2. Have I told you how much I love this pattern yet. I love a good button-up shirt and this bad boy fits the bill! I realized after I made my first plaid Archer, that it's all I want to wear. A button up with jeans is the perfect fall  (and everyday) outfit as far as I'm concerned.

IMG_5459Yes, I have officially accepted that it is fall and pulled out the boots!

A couple of weeks ago, I asked you lovely readers for some fitting help. Do you remember? It was about my Scout, and I received lots of very helpful advice in the comments. One lovely lady, Lisa from Notes From A Mad Housewife, suggested that I add a dart and do a Full Bust Adjustment. As someone relatively new to garment sewing, I had heard of FBAs, but never really knew how to figure out if I needed one, let alone how to do one. What really confused me, and Lisa helped clear up, was: once you figure out that you need an FBA, how do you choose the correct size pattern on which to preform said adjustment? Lisa described in the comments, that you choose your size based on your high bust (or upper bust) measurement. Well, this was definitely news to me, and then I did some reading in my go to fitting book, Fit for Real People, and it was right there - choose your pattern size based on your upper bust measurement, and adjust from there. How on earth did I miss this? So really what you try to do, is get a garment to fit you well in the shoulders and adjust the pattern to fit you everywhere else. Hello, light bulb moment!

Note: Most commercial patterns are drafted for a B-cup (most, but not all), so essentially, if you are bigger than a B-cup, you need a Full Bust Adjustment. I had heard the part about most patterns being drafted for a B-cup, but what I didn't understand was how that affected pattern sizing. I mean if you choose a pattern based on your bust measurement, shouldn't it fit? Well, if the the cup size isn't the right size, there just won't be enough room for your jugs. Make sense? The same is true if you are smaller than a B-cup. Then you would need to do a Small Bust Adjustment as there would be too much space for your jugs.


Anyway, a day or so after this epiphany, I was listening to the Sewing Affair podcast (have you listened to it yet? It is awesome! Corinne is a fantastic host, and she's had a bunch of lovely guests. I love geeking out and listening to sewing talk! And I learn stuff too!), and Sunni from A Fashionable Stitch was on. Of course after hearing about her shop and her blog, I had to go and check her out. On her site, I stumbled upon her Focus on Fit series, where she too talked about choosing your pattern size based on your high bust measurement. Okay universe, I get the message!

So to make a long story even longer, I used my Fit For Real People book, after reading several posts about it on the internet, to do an FBA. I used a size 8 as my base and then did an FBA which added a dart. I did find a couple of posts online about dartless FBAs, and I may try that too, but I really don't mind the look of darts, so I went traditional on this bad boy.


Really, you can hardly see the darts. This fabric is a tencel chambray from and it was lovely to work with. I love the colour and it drapes quite nicely too. At the last minute I decided to put my contrasting yoke on the outside, and I was too lazy to unpick everything, so the pleat is the opposite way that it should be, but I still like it. The polka dot fabric is leftover from my Juba Shorts and it's from Denver Fabrics.


Now, looking at these photos, I think I  could probably use a sway back adjustment to get the back fitting better. Sometimes I get so focused on the front, that I forget about the parts that I can't see.


The only other alteration I did to this version was to shorten the sleeves by 2.5''. I think that they are pretty much perfect now. I often roll my sleeves up anyway, but I like this length. I used Andrea's collar assembly tutorial again, and I really think it's the best way to do a collar. And I also used Rochelle's tutorial (speaking of which, why did it take me so long to find her blog? - it's so awesome and she has Archer fever too!) on bias binding the hem and I really like the finish of that too, unfortunately I didn't take a picture so you'll just have to trust me.

So, I'm sorry for the long post, but I'm excited and I really wanted to share what I have discovered. Maybe you're a fitting newb like me (and you don't read well, or are notorious for skimming books) and you are out there wondering where to start to make your garments fit better.

All in all, I am really happy with the fit of this Archer, it fits similar to my plaid one, but on purpose this time (I didn't shrink it in the dryer).  I think for a more fitted shirt, I could even go down to a size 6, something I would have never have imagined (or thought to try) in a million years. I am really enjoying the learning process of fitting, and now that I have this knowledge I look forward to making better fitting tops (and learning more of course), which was the whole reason I started this crazy hobby! Well that, and I love to sew.

One more thing, Maris, over at Sew Maris is just starting an Archer Sewalong on Monday, and I have learned a ton already from her prep for the sewalong posts, so if you are interested in sewing a button up shirt (or any garment really), her blog is definitely worth checking out.

Hope you are having a nice weekend! Happy Sewing! (Or whatever it is you are up to).

The Epic Plaid Shirt

Back when I was around 14 years old, the grunge scene had hit hard, and I longed for life in Seattle with Doc Marten boots, Bridget Fonda and Matt Dillion for neighbours, cool coffee and a Paul Westerberg soundtrack (of course that was completely unrealistic as I was only 14 at the time, but hey a girl can watch Singles and dream right?). I was always on the hunt for the perfect plaid  flannel shirt. Not to wear of course, but to tie around my waist as all the cool kids did. My best friend at time, let's call her Anni, and I searched thrift shops and Value Village for old worn in (Men's) jeans, cool concert tees, cords and ironic Bill Cosby sweaters. We managed to put together some grunge worthy outfits, but neither one of us could find that epic plaid shirt. IMG_5417

Then one morning before school, Anni had a brilliant idea: she would raid her dad's closet. Anni's dad was very strict and very "old country", but for some reason she decided that wearing his clothes would be a good idea. I was so incredibly jealous. Not only did Anni's dad have a huge collection of perfect plaid flannels - they all fit her - perfectly oversized for her frame. You see Anni's Dad was quite slender and how should I put it: wiry. So with a cool belt, she could totally pull of his faded old straight-leg jeans, add a t-shirt and a flannel around her waist and she was set. I guess the only catch was she had to race home from school and make sure she put everything back in his closet or in the laundry before he came home from work. I think she even had a spare outfit in her backpack in case he came home early one day. At the time, I guess I didn't find this that strange, but hello how scary was her dad? But I digress...the point of the story is, I was always jealous of her cool plaid shirts and how she always looked amazing in them. So of course, when I saw this cool buffalo check at Fabricland, I was transported back to the days of Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder, teenage angst and slacker fashion, so I knew it was destined to be an Archer.


This is my first attempt at plaid matching, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I used Jen's tutorial and it worked really well. I also cut my pockets, yoke, and button band on the bias, because I thought that would break up things up a little and make it a little more feminine.


This is my very first Archer and a very wearable muslin. I decided to just go for it and cut into this buffalo check straight away. I figured that worst case scenario, it would be too big, but it would be comfy and I would wear it anyway. Also, I got this fabric for pretty cheap at Fabricland and I knew there was lots more there if I needed it. I didn't really use the written instructions that came with the pattern, but instead referred to Grainline's fabulous Archer Sewalong. I am a very visual person, so having those extra photos helped a ton! I also used Andrea's new order to sew a collar tutorial over on her blog Four Square Walls. It  makes the collar process so much easier, and the end result looks awesome!


I chose a size 12 and made it up as is. I have to tell you that when I first tried this shirt on, I was not incredibly happy with the fit. It wasn't awful, but it was pretty big all over and the sleeves were super long. I also discovered that flannel is actually code for loose thread and pug hair magnet (look closely at these photos and you'll see what I mean). So once this shirt was totally finished, instead of wearing it or photographing it right away for the blog, I threw it back in the wash. I always pre-wash and dry my fabric at hot temperatures to make sure there are no surprises later on, and this flannel was no exception. So a couple of days later (today) when I put this shirt back on, I was shocked to find that it now fits pretty much perfectly!


It shrunk to perfection. I can't believe it! The sewing gods were with me on this one. From now on,  I think I'll probably wash all my flannels twice because I would have been super disappointed if this shirt had fit perfectly to begin with. But this time, it worked out well - so hooray!


Size and shrinkage aside, I have to say that I absolutely love this pattern, and I can now see what all the fuss is about. It's fabulous and I see many more Archers in my future. A girl can't have too many button-downs, can she? (Button-downs? Button-ups?)

Do you ever get that way with a pattern? Love it so much that you just want to make it up a bunch of times. I fall in love all the time, and then I think, I'll be the girl in the woven t-shirts, or I'll be the girl in the fit and flare dresses, or I'll be the girl in the funky leggings...I'll have a uniform and that's what I'll be known for. But then I make another pattern and it changes. I think maybe there's a term for that, could it be OCD? Anyway, one thing is for sure, I am all about Grainline Studios right now, and I am beginning to obsess over fit so look forward to reading more about that. ;)

I think this marks the first of my Fall sewing projects. I never actually wrote a post about all the fall sewing I am planning or that I am going along with Sarah's Annual Fall Essentials Sewalong - but I am! I am very reluctant to post my list as it changes from day to day, but you know me, I like to mix it up.

Anyway, hope you all are enjoying the changing leaves, the crisp air, and the pumpkin spice lattes! (Confession: I hate pumpkin spice lattes - I tried to force myself to like them to find in, but yuck!). Happy Fall!