Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Burberry Inspired Buttondown Shirt - Grainline Archer

I was cruising around Pinterest recently and I came across a Burberry button down shirt that I quite liked. I then cruised around the internet and found several more versions of this shirt. Not only did I like the asymmetric use of a giant plaid, but it reminded me of a piece of fabric in my stash.

Notice that the first Burberry shirt is cut with the sleeves on the straight grain, but not matching the plaid front. The sleeves on the second Burberry shirt are on the bias, with the plaid intersection on the upper arm on one side and the lower arm on the other.

I decided to use the Burberry shirt as inspiration.

The weird thing is, I don't really wear button down shirts. Don't get me wrong, I've made my share of them in the distant past, but not in recent decades. I decided to go ahead and make one and to see how much wear I get out of it. Unfortunately all of my button down shirt patterns are too large, so I decided to try out a pattern that is sweeping the internet sewing world.

Have you seen the Archer shirt by Grainline Studios? They had a sew-along for the shirt last spring and you can view the results in their Grainline Studio Archer Sew Along Flickr group.

There is also a group on Pattern Review whose members have each committed to sewing 12 Archer shirts in a year. They also have a 12 Months of "Grainline Studios Archer Shirt" Sew Along Flickr group.

I wasn't quite sure why this pattern was so well loved (the Big 4 pattern companies all have button down shirt patterns that you can buy for $1 to $3 if you catch a sale) but I decided to give it a try as I like supporting independent companies.

Also because it's a downloadable pattern, I could get started on it right away. Once you pay, you download a zip file which unzips into two PDF files. One file is a 9-page set of instructions. The other file is a 39-page multi-size pattern that you print with 100% scaling.

I wanted to print out the 39-page pattern only once, so after trimming two edges from each page, taping them together, and rough cutting around each pattern piece, I then traced off my size. I chose the size 8 based on my upper bust measurement of 36". The finished bust for a size 8 was about 40", if I recall, so I did my usual darted FBA to add both width and length, as my full bust is about 41".

This fabric is a large-scale plaid taffeta. The funny thing is that I have no recollection of how it came to be in my stash. I don't remember buying it or have any idea of what I wanted to use it for – I've racked my brain. I burn tested it and I think it's a blend that includes a synthetic component, but I don't think it's entirely synthetic.

It's a mystery, I tell you. Did it come in a free Fabric Mart bundle long ago? I have no idea.

I fussy cut the fabric, placing the plaid asymmetrically, so that one plaid intersection is above my right bust. It might look like an accident, but each piece was single cut very deliberately. I placed the collar and the sleeves on the bias, placing a plaid intersection on the upper sleeve on the right side and the lower sleeve on the left side. I knew that the sleeves would be too long for me, but as I plan to mostly wear them rolled up, I decided to leave them full length.

Now that I've made the shirt, I do think it's a nicely drafted pattern:

  • There is a separate collar stand and the under collar has a separate pattern piece, cut on the bias, and sized slightly smaller, so the collar will roll to the underside.
  • There is a back yoke and the back has a center back pleat for wearing ease.
  • There is a view which has a longer back, and a separate lower piece that gathers into the upper back.
  • I only had to remove 1/2" from the shoulder seam, so it has much narrower shoulders than the Big 4 patterns.
  • The armscye was not too large and the sleeve fit into it well.
  • The side seams are very straight, without shaping, and many people add a bit of curvature at the side seam so it has a more shapely fit.
  • Those with larger hips might need to grade out to a large size at the hips.
  • There are patch pockets at the bust, which I omitted.
  • There is a curved shirttail hem.
  • The Burberry shirt uses a hidden button placket. I couldn't be bothered with this so I used the band from the pattern. The pattern has a separate band piece for the right side only - the left side is folded under twice and topstitched in place.
  • I used Pam Erny's fusible interfacing for the cuffs, collar, and band, and some mother of pearl buttons from Fabrix for the closure.


I think I like this top! Time will tell if I get a lot of wear from it. Now I have a TNT pattern and can trace off another size, if need be. Do I like it well enough to join the sew-along? Probably not. To make 12 of these means making about one thousand buttonholes and sewing on one thousand buttons, or at least it feels like it. ;)

There are more pics of the shirt below.

Birthday Wrap Up

I want to thank everyone for the wonderful comments on my birthday post! It does feel good to talk about my mother, who first taught me to sew. Not to fit, as she just about fit into a pattern right out of the envelope and had no clue how to do an FBA (she was an A or B cup), but she was an amazing sewist who particularly loved to make designer suits. She was also an avid square dancer and had a huge wardrobe of elaborate square dance dresses she designed and made over the years. She also made matching shirts for her partner. After she passed, I let her square dancing friends come by and take the dresses and the petticoats - she had one in every color. More memories... :)

I spent the morning finishing up my Archer shirt and the afternoon with my daughters and a friend. It was a lot of fun. I am feeling a lot of gratitude.

Before I forget, and if you've read this far, let me tell you about a new blog I am enjoying very much. Gayle Ortiz has attended at least two Design Outside the Line retreats and is wonderfully talented. This is a blog to watch!

More Pics

Sleeves worn down
Sleeves rolled up
Grainline Archer pattern

July 9th!

Happy birthday to me!
I was fifty three!
But not anymore -
I'm now fifty four!

This is something of a landmark birthday for me. Fifty four was the last birthday my mother celebrated. She was a vibrant, healthy, active woman who, shortly before her death, married her second husband, went hiking through India and Nepal, and sewed amazing clothing to wear to her job as a Comptroller for a high-end architectural firm.

One day she found a suspicious mole that was removed and the doctors believed that all was well. One year later she realized all was not well and, one month later, she was gone. I was in my 20s and losing her was one of the most devastating experiences of my life. Though I am grateful that I could be there, care for her through that last month, and hold her hand at the end.

My mother was also my friend - we shared a passion for sewing. I still have her sewing machine and her serger and I hope they last me forever. (Well, I wouldn't object to a newer, self threading serger. ;) Her Rowenta iron, by the way, died many years ago, long before my marriage was over.)

I don't have many pictures of her, but this is a school picture taken when she was 13. Can you believe the hairstyle for a 13-year-old? lol I keep this photo in my sewing room.

Here's to you, mom! I still miss you. Thank you for everything!