Sunday Funday: Fitting my Archer muslin

Sunday Funday: Fitting my Archer muslin

You know how sometimes the thing you’re dreading turns out to be BIG FUN? Such was the case yesterday, when I finally started on the Archer button-down shirt that drove me to propose the Summer of Basics Make-along. A shirt like this is the hardest thing for me to fit — any woven, set-in-sleeve shirt that suits my big shoulders will inevitably be too big in the body and in the upper sleeves as a result. Which is why I want to make my own, and also why I’ve been dreading it. This is also a garment that involves cutting out and assembling 19 pattern pieces. (My average is more like 3.) So never have I been more committed to the traditional muslin process. Meaning, after tracing them off onto my beloved Swedish tracing paper, I cut the five key pieces (left front, right front, back, yoke and sleeve x2) out of muslin so I could assess and adjust the fit. As a starting point, I cut a straight size 14 after comparing the shoulder measurements to my favorite flannel shirt.

Sunday Funday: Fitting my Archer muslin

Upon stitching together the yoke/back and front pieces, and setting in the right sleeve, I was thrilled that — ta da! — it actually fits, with very little fiddling. I’m ok with the ease through the body; my only issues were that the sleeve was a little big (not terribly, but why not tweak while I can?) and too long: It hit perfectly at my wrist before a cuff was factored in. So I laid the left sleeve back on the pattern, sloped the sides down from a 14 at the underarm to a 10 at the cuff, and shortened it by 2.5″, then sewed it on. The difference in the upper arm is subtle but meaningful, but it’s a much better width at the cuff than the 14 was. To make sure I’ve got the length just right, I cut out the cuff and pinned it on, and I’m officially good to go.

That was surprisingly painless. So now it’s time to cut all 19 pieces out of my beautiful blue cotton-linen chambray. The thing is, I’m so excited about this shirt now, and know I’ll want to make several, so I almost want to cut them all at once and have them waiting in the wings for gradual future production.

Sunday Funday: Fitting my Archer muslin




43 thoughts on “Sunday Funday: Fitting my Archer muslin

      • Setting in sleeves is easier than one might think. Sew basting stitches each side of the sleeve cap ‘seam’ line. Pin the sleeve top center line to the bodice shoulder seam. Match the notches and pin. Pin the underarm curve and corners.

        Next is what I call the ‘100 Pins’ technique to pin the sleeve cap and smooth it to the bodices sleeve cap. Pull the two basting stitches to ease the fabric in a little. Smooth the sleeve cap along the ‘seam line’ of the bodice shoulder, tightening or loosening the basting stitches till the fabric eases to the shape of the bodice shoulder seam line. Pin closely throughout the whole sleeve cap, adjusting the fabric as necessary.

        Once pinning is complete and you are satisfied the fabric will not pinch, with a closer basting stitch, sew an eighth inch towards the selvedge side of the actual seam. This not only strengthens the seam, but proves the fabric will lay smoothly. Next, sew the actual sleeve cap seam from underarm corner to corner. Pull the pins and sleeve cap basting stitches and marvel at your handy work.

        Sewing the perfect collar is a snap, too. I’m talking about a man’s dress shirt style collar. RTW almost always sews the collar ends in opposite directions, which drives me up the wall. One collar point lays flat and the other flips up.

        To have a smooth laying collar, sew both short collar ends in the same direction, from the collar stand (folded) edge to the long ‘finished’ edge. The collar points won’t flip up. Easy peasy, Japanesy!

  1. The blose is going to be beautiful! And after you have conquered your resistance to the set in sleeve, I hope you will adventure in this direction with your knitting as well because learning to make a well fitting set in sleeve with an appropriate shoulder line is one of the essential skills of knitting IMHO. Meanwhile, while I am not participating, I am greatly enjoying all of the photos of people summer efforts. For me, summer stitching always goes the other way: wildly adventuresome, stash defying experimentation, since nothing I knit will be worn until late September anyway. I am teaching myself sashiko and boro…a long term endeavor, so it seems.

  2. well done!

    you could, if you later decide that you want to, take some ease out with vertical darts. no need to make any changes now, just sew the shirt as is – you really can just add them post hoc if you wish to.

  3. Very inspiring! The muslim looks beautiful too! I have never taken the time to do a muslim, but I should.

  4. That shirt looks perfect! Even in muslin, it is a beautiful shirt. I love your posts on the process of your projects.

  5. Whoa! Cut a bunch more now? That’s bold! I’m kind of particular about collar shape and size and I’m still on the fence about Archer’s pockets. I always want shirt pockets but Archer’s read like a big rectangle across the chest, so I might be amending the bottom corners or something between iterations. Interesting that you, who has written of broad shoulders and long arms, needed to remove 2.5″ of sleeve length since sleeve length doesn’t vary greatly through a range of sizes. I’ll be on the lookout for that if summer chores ever lighten up. Happy stitching.

    • I was really surprised by the sleeve length — the opposite of my average experience. Of course, in addition to arms varying, we all have different ideas about where a cuff should fall. I prefer it right at my wrist bone while others would find that too short.

      I’m probably not going to do Archer’s pockets as is — I’m super picky about pockets and will likely do something fussier than the plain rectangle. And I agree completely about collars — nothing wrecks a garment like a badly shaped collar. I’m debating between doing the collar on this muslin or just going ahead and doing the blue one and *then* cutting out more, depending how it turns out. But I’ve seen a lot of Archers on a lot of people in person, and found every one of them covetable, so I’m really confident about it.

  6. The archer is my most used patterns I have made a lot of them in many variations of fit and style ..for collar techniques I really really like the one on it’s under tutorials. Also, in that tutorial are great pointers for shirtmaking. I have done them many a different ways and this one really delivers.

  7. Seeing your process, makes it less scary. Fit is always my big fear. I can’t imagine taking out an inset sleeve and redoing it. I’d probably have to cut a new one because I’d have a rag, after it was out. Did you use the shorten here line on the pattern?

    • Yep, you can see in the last photo where I folded up the overlap to take out the length. So I’ll do the same to my traced off pattern piece before I cut the real thing.

  8. You are amazing! Your summer basics inspired me to sew more. I just bought the Grainline Farrow dress-
    I am one of those non-process folks and just cuts a bit more sleeve length or hem length and then adjusts when I sew. I wish I was less impatient but I am what I am:)

    • I do that, too, more often than not. The more complicated a pattern or fit is (or the more I’m altering or winging it), the more likely I am to take the time to make a muslin.

  9. Looks good, Karen. I love this pattern and have made three so far, a blue chambray, a flax colored linen-cotton, and an indigo plaid flannel. The flannel one has a band-collar for something a bit different. Anyway, once you get one under your belt, the others flow easy-peasy. I think my next one will be silk….or liberty cotton …. or white linen ….or … ;-)

  10. I make a muslin from knitting schematics. I am small, shortwaisted, with medium hips. Combing them all into a muslin cuts out all the math and lets my fingers knit away. Then I just follow the muslin! I have always made a test sample of garments I was sewing, and when I started doing it for knitting! Pop the lightbulb came on. Home made should always be a perfect fit! Thank you for reminding me why I take the time.

  11. Congrats on your accomplishment! Ive owned the pattern for about a year. There it sits. Your shirt is motivating. I’m wondering about the diagonal lines on your sleeve cap. I wonder if they suggest a need for a shoulder adjustment? Maybe someone with more knowledge than me can help.

    • I only ever wear sleeves rolled up, so all I care about is that it sits comfortably around my arm and shoulder (i.e., there’s enough fabric for arm movement, rather than the shirt straining around my shoulders), and this does!

      • I suffer from perfection paralysis at times. That’s probably why my archer is invisible.

  12. How exciting and inspiring! I want to make the amazing Grainline duffle coat for myself but have yet to sew a single shirt, so I guess I will have to follow your lead and take the plunge on the Archer! Also, I think there is something so beautiful about muslin pieces like these–a physical object that shows and documents the design process.

    • The duffle coat is so incredible. Maybe someday I’ll get there! And yes, I love all the markings and whatnot on a good muslin — love the whole process.

  13. On a second look: Do you notice, in the picture, that the shoulder seam on the left extends farther outward than the one on the right, even though it looks as though the shirt is perfectly centered on your body? Most of us do not have perfectly symmetrical bodies, and this is more obvious in a tailored, sewn garment than a knitted one. You might want to relook at that, and remove about 1/4″ on your sloper. This would impact the sleeve length as well. (I have one shoulder slightly higher than the other, and if i don’t fix this, the edge of one sleeve emerges from my coat sleeve while the other one doesn’t. Or, it could just be the angle of the photographer,

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if my shoulders aren’t perfectly symmetrical (I’d be surprised if they were), but I’m also certain the shirt was not perfectly centered on me.

      My issue like yours is my left hip is lower than my right hip, so my perfectly symmetrical pants always look like they’re unevenly hemmed.

  14. You’re so brave! I love that you can alter patterns to fit your exact measurements. I can’t quite imagine having the tenacity to do that.

    • Most patterns contain a lengthen/shorten line, and blending between sizes is no big deal at all, as long as you remember to make all the corresponding parts match. It’s really only if you get into reshaping a sleeve cap and armhole or a collar and neckline that it gets more tricky, or potentially problematic.

  15. Well done! I made an archer shirt last year (it was one of my sewing goals). I wear it often! I need to make another! I adjusted the fit a bit on my first one by making it more slim fitting to mimic a chambray I love, but now I want a little more room!

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