Archer Shirt First Go – That’ll Do, Pig,That’ll Do

Grainline Archer Shirt Front

This is my first make of the Grainline Archer Shirt. It’s in plaid flannel bought for $5 a yard in New York. I have used up every last scrap of this fabric and had a fantastic journey of learning.

First things first. If you’re like me and like to wear skinny jeans/leggings/jeggings but also want to keep your posterior covered, you need this pattern. Check out the rear of View B!

Grainline Archer Shirt Rear

I just love the flirtatiousness of this treatment, especially when combined with the lumberjack vibe of plaid flannel. Ah yes, plaid flannel… You WILL drive yourself crazy trying to match up checks at every seam line. You WILL fail at some point in the process. Accept that. Move on. It’s a particular form of OCD that strikes during the construction and then the moment you pull your shirt on, thoughts of imperfections fly out of your mind. Because, you know, it’s cosy and is going to last you about ten years and if you were ever digging a shallow grave in a snow storm, this shirt would probably save your life. (I’m not saying a word about the British weather right now. I refuse to say a word…)

The pattern, you ask? A stonker! Some of the instructions and construction methods will test you if you’ve never made a shirt before. I really stumbled over the plackets but, interestingly, I found the collar and collar stand an absolute joy to put together. I just love the learning process. Oh, that makes that happen! Oh, wow, so this is how it comes together!

Oh yeah, I love the learning process until I foul up. My under collar – seam and all – is now on the outside of my collar…

Grainline Archer Shirt Collar Mistake

Oh, and if you squint, my button band is the wrong way round. I think. I get so confused! You know when instructions talk about the ‘left front’ and ‘right front’? I’m always, like, Yeah, but is that the left when I’m wearing it or the left when I’m looking at it? It drives me crazy. So, my button band is probably wrong.

Will the error-riddled collar and button band cause me a lost night’s sleep? Absolutely not. I’ve learned something for the next time I make this shirt. And, to be honest, as a first attempt, I’m pretty happy with my collar. In the words of one of the best films ever, ‘That’ll do, pig, that’ll do.’

Grainline Archer Shirt Collar

This shirt has only just entered my life, but I’m already incredibly fond of it. I am, however, very glad that I used $5 fabric for my first attempt. If I’d launched straight in with silk twill, this would have been a disaster. My Sewlution was to ‘conquer’ the shirt. This ain’t no conquer. This is a ‘Nice to meet you, my name’s Karen,’ first encounter. Which is absolutely fine. First encounters can lead to such interesting places.

A couple of other details, just for the fun of peering at construction. I overlocked all my seams in turquoise thread to match the fabric and I used alternating dark and light grey buttons. It’s the details that make sewing such fun, don’t you agree?

Grainline Collage

Oh, and with all the buttonholes you’ll be making on this shirt, don’t forget to thread your bobbin thread through the little eye on the little leg of your bobbin case. This improves the finish of your buttonholes. (Don’t ask me why or how.)


I can’t wait to see the Grainline sewalong. I’ll get to see all the places I went wrong! Because, you know, I don’t want to waste that silk twill. What do you think, Ella?

Grainline Archer Shirt & Ella

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70 Responses to Archer Shirt First Go – That’ll Do, Pig,That’ll Do

  1. Love this! I’m desperate to try this pattern – been stalking it on Jen’s Instagram for months! I love the turquoise plaid, and the ruffled back is such a pretty and unexpected twist. Can’t wait to see this in the silk twill!

  2. CC Cesarik says:

    Love the plaid! I’m about to cut out my archer now…

  3. Thea says:

    Looks like a very good start – if this is version one, I’m really looking forward to seeing your silk version! I completely agree about the detail – it’s such fun to plot it in your head, and then see it come together! You also had me open up my little bobbin-case, but for some reason, I can’t do the little trick on my machine. My button holes will be forever messy 😉

  4. Do you think a few adjustments would turn this into a maternity pattern?

    love this, absolutely gorgeous and the fabric is amazing!


    Bundana xx

    • Hmmmm. Depends which trimester – at some point the button band would start distorting, I fear. It may be that you could slice through the front panels at the waist line and add some gathers. I wouldn’t like to confidently say, though!

  5. Bold Sewist says:

    Oh I love this – SO much more than I expected to! The plaid is gorgeous! And I love the style. Really looking forward to the silk twill version. Oh and if you ever want to send that gorgeous puppy away for a holiday …

  6. Pam says:

    I do love the back, I do! LOL, my mind plays the same game when a pattern refers to right front, left front. Ughhhh, I’m so confused. 🙂

  7. Maggie says:

    That shirt looks great! The first rendition of a pattern always has the most “character” 😉 And it is so funny about your under collar being on top, I just noticed yesterday while ironing my husband’s Negroni shirt that I made him that I did the same thing!! 🙂 Excited to see the silk twill version!

  8. EmSewCrazy says:

    Oh my! First of all, lovely first attempt! That plaid looks lovely and cozy and I love how you played with it for the back yoke and front pockets.
    The bum cover? looks super cute. What a splendid idea!
    Left front? right front? Shoot me now! So glad I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

  9. Nessa says:

    You know, I’d dismissed this pattern as one of those “great for someone else” patterns, but that back treatment has me re-thinking the Archer, maybe I should introduce myself too.
    By the way, in pattern instructions, left always means the left as you’re wearing it. There’s so much mathematics in sewing, I’m sure the boffins would be quite surprised!
    (L.O.V.E Babe)

  10. lisa g says:

    i love your plaid flannel version! i’m optimistic that spring is indeed right around the corner (hahaha! yeah right…) so i made one in rayon last weekend. i’m always second guessing myself about the “left” or “right” also… i just held it up to myself to see which way it should button before cutting. can’t wait to see your silk archer!

  11. Now that’s what I call a fine flannel shirt Karen. I like everything about it, especially that it’s cosy yet still stylish. The perfect shirt for digging a shallow grave in, in fact! x
    ps. The bit in that Babe clip where the whole audience erupts into cheers put an absolutely giant-sized smile on my face!

  12. Wendy says:

    I love the style of this shirt and looking forward to seeing all the renditions. Thanks for the buttonhole/bobbin tip, am going to try that one straight away.

  13. gingermakes says:

    Ahhhh! This looks great! I love it! I wasn’t planning to do the ruffle in my first version, but now I think I may be convinced after seeing yours.

    P.S. I just had to Google “stonker”. And Urban Dictionary thinks it means something different, teeheehee…

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Gorgeous flannel. And you did an awesome job with your first shirt. Love the back especially. Gorgeous!

  15. That is a very fine shirt. I hadn’t seen the back bum-warmer detail previously but I love it. And by the way, those aren’t mistakes – they are designer details.

  16. Steph A says:

    Aaw it’s fabulous!! I love the plaid flannel, great colours in it. And I LOVE the back! That’s such a cool detail, the ruffle!!
    I went through almost the same things in December while making two plaid flannel shirts for my boys. I couldn’t believe how long it took me to cut out, trying to match and mirror pieces. Then the blasted collar band on one shirt just wouldn’t go on, 4th attempt worked. 2nd shirt, no prob! You’re absolutely right about the OCD!! LOL!

  17. Heather Lou says:

    LOVEY LOVE LOVE. Plaid + Archer = magic. Gotta make this already. ANd the chances of you dying in a snowstorm in the UK are slim to none…. RIGHT?

  18. Stevie says:

    Karen this is awesome I very nearly bought some similar fabric in Brighton earlier, It looks amazing even with the “design details.” I’ve just cut the version without the back gather in a silk cotton mix I found I had 5 metres of the stuff so If I screw it up i’m not that worried. I have some super special fabric in mind for my “real” one if I sort any fitting issues. Great Job! x

  19. Becky says:

    I really like this shirt. I think it looks very well done. Who cares which side the placket is on? I can never remember that either, and I hardly think anyone else pays any attention. I am in the US in the South, and it is cold enough for the shirt this week. Wish I had one just like it . And that is one of the best movies made, truly! That’ll do, Karen, that’ll do!

  20. Lou says:

    Ooh me likey the secret detail of turquoise thread inside- such an inspired idea! This style really suits you! Hawt!

  21. Gjeometry says:

    Oh, this is a great shirt! I love that ‘surprise’ back peplum thingie! It gussies it up quite nicely! I did not know you were supposed to thread in the eye of the bobbin leg for button holes. Good to know!

  22. Helen says:

    Looks amazing! The frill back is lovely and you’ve done a great job of matching the plaid. I think I would have given up with that! Can’t wait to see your next one!

  23. pat says:

    The shirt looks great on you. If only those sailors could see you in that shirt. At least one of them would be on bended knee.

  24. Fiona says:

    Wow! I really do like that!

  25. Sonia says:

    Oooh – that’s lovely! I ahve to confess that when you’d first shown the pattern I wasn’t that taken with it, but seeing it in flannel (and plaid! Love plaid!!!) and then the flirty longer back I’m starting a conversion! Can’t wait to see your other variations of this pattern, Sx

  26. kristonlion says:

    OOO I love it! I didn’t think I was much of a button down shirt person, but I love leggings and skinny jeans so you and your ruffle have me changing my mind!
    I especially love the alternating buttons! Your “that’ll do pig” attempt is equivalent to my “this is the most amazing ever!”
    hehehe! Great job!

  27. suth2 says:

    I love this. What a great idea to have a skirt type back to the shirt. Ideal for with leggings. Love the choice of fabric even if it was cheap.

  28. Gail says:

    That’s so cute!

    Here’s how I remember about the right front and left front: the right front is to my right hand side as I wear my garment and look out at the world, because I am the center of my universe, LOL! And the buttonholes go on the right, because Women are Always Right!

    • LinB says:

      Yep, that’s how to remember it. And, with your fabric of choice, it would be easy to mix up “right and left” anyway, because “right and wrong” sides of the fabric are probably identical in that woven plaid flannel. Just call it a Boyfriend Shirt if anyone gets snarky about the button band (and who wants that sort of friend?) and let them wonder what kind of man would wear a peplum.

  29. HipposGoBerserk says:

    There’s a hole on my bobbin case???? WTF. I’m so checking that out. Sorry. I’m a lurker. But I’m v excited about the possibility of improving my button holes I had to comment. Can you tell? Also I can’t tell my left from right without doing the loser sign with my hand so I’m in awe of anyone who can decipher said sewing instructions. Respect.

  30. Marie says:

    Amazing, love everything about this…and you were so quick off the marl making it!!! My version (when I finally get round to it) is going to be pretty similar I’m afraid. I’m so going for the back ruffle and I already have a snuggly plaid flannel earmarked for it ;o)

  31. Stacie says:

    Ooh! I like it in the flannel. I think those little details we miss can drive us nuts when we make stuff, but I see them all the time on RTW. I like your don’t sweat it attitude.

  32. Danielle says:

    When I first saw the pattern, I wasn’t sure if that was something for me. But the fabric you chose really makes it look fantastic and comfortable. Well done! You are so talented! 🙂

  33. Andrea says:

    I love your new shirt and the tail is an excellent touch. I have been looking for a nice shirt pattern and this may be it.

  34. Anne-Marie says:

    Karen you’re my favourite blogger! I love your style, and your enthusiasm for sewing and life. And thanks for the BABE clip; I will get that movie on DVD and watch – it for the first time – next weekend. Good job on the shirt too – I wish you lots of wear out of it. Cheers!

  35. Well done Karen. You know we wouldn’t have noticed the collar if you’d not told us. You still amaze and impress me. This is The Best plaid, striped, check shirt I have ever seen. You certainly enjoy challenges. I’d never attempt it because it would drive my perfectionism side insane. Winters coming here so Summer must be heading your way soon. Cheers.

  36. ooobop! says:

    Oh so snuggly and cosy and cool and perfect in every way! Love the alternating button idea. That would have solved one of my hissy fits from not having enough matching buttons!

  37. At serious risk of being a bland shirt… Karen you nailed this with the turquoise details and surprisingly feminine rear peplum.

  38. Roobeedoo says:

    Oh look at that! There’s a skirt at the back? I didn’t know! Oh I like that! I thought it was just a plain old shirt pattern and hardly even glanced at it – that will teach me! Hmmm… this could be exactly the pattern I need for my checked seersucket… 😀
    LOVE your fabric – it is full of blanketty goodness which is exactly what is needed in this… whisper it… weather!

  39. It’s lovely! And as to the discussion regarding which side buttons should go, who cares? It’s artificial and academic and whichever way you wear them is fine. Personally, because I’ve worn a lot of men’s clothes (polo-style sport tops, for example, not to mention warm, flannelette shifts that are actually men’s) I just deal with whatever I’ve got.

  40. Sarah says:

    This looks lovely and the rear coverup of the pattern is totally fab!

  41. sallie says:

    This turned out beautifully! And this is your first time making this type of shirt?!? You’d never know it! I love the plaid flannel, so cozy and comfy. I have this pattern up next in my “to sew” pile – and this is great inspiration!

  42. kristiellkay says:

    I’ve been lurking the Archer starting with Andrea’s make (foursquarewalls). I love to see it made up in a flannel! I bought some plaid a while back, to make myself a “woobie”, but I have no idea where to start. I’ve never tackled a grown-up shirt; I can’t wait to see the sewalong, so I have a better idea of what I’m doing.

    I noticed this shirt is kind of loose and hang-y. Would one not do an FBA for this, then? I always have a problem with RTW shirts hanging straight down from the bust, making a sort of tent. I was hoping to find your thoughts on this?

    Thanks, Karen!

    • I didn’t do an FBA, but I did grade the pattern so that it was smaller around the shoulders and top of the shirt. It’s so roomy that it would be difficult to see the benefits of an FBA, I suspect. I’d make according to your chest measurement and then grade over the upper chest/shoulder area.

  43. liza jane says:

    Love the plaid flannel, love the back ruffle. Great, great, great shirt! This is definitely one you’ll wear in to the ground. Also, I’m totally intrigued by the bobbin trick. Going to have to try that out.

  44. Andrea says:

    Kelli (true bias) and I both did the same thing with our collars… I don’t think it’s user error! Very cute shirt you have. I was skeptical of the gathered back but it looks great on you.

  45. Shari says:

    I agree with the flannel plaid matching! I made a shirt in a uneven plaid recently and despite my efforts had very little matching occur! I love the shirt ,however, for it’s comfort and beautiful plaidness. Similarly, I believe I flipped my placket! Still it is functional and centered, so all is well I say!

  46. thanks for the rear view – now i know this pattern is a must.
    and thanks for the farmer hoggett (?sp) quote – one of my favourites (along with the seeds of destiny one). brilliant.

  47. Adrienne says:

    I would have never guess that this is your first time making a shirt with placket and collar! You’re really skilled.
    The fabric is really not something I would have picked, but I’m totally IN LOVE with this. One of my favourite things you’ve made so far, I would add. It’s amaznig.

  48. Stephanie says:

    Karen, threading through tjhe finger of the bobbin case adds a little bit of extra tension onto the bobbin thread, which helps pull the top thread down slightly to the underside of the work, making for very pretty button holes (or satin stitching)- very cool huh? Not all brands have the same clever bobbin case though.
    I love the flannel fabric for your shirt and the back view, you’d never think it was like that from viewing the front alone.
    And dont’ feel bad about the collar, they are tricky business, and I nearly did my first one backwards. These days I align pieces the way they’ll be sewn and flip them over to check which part ends up the right side out, before I sew, as I believe I could still so easily sew the collar in backwards!

  49. The plaid looks great:) Ella is adorable

  50. Mary says:

    I’ve been admiring your makes for a while, this has to be my favorite. If I ever move back to a cool climate I’ll be copying this.

    Mary in Thailand

  51. Becca says:

    I love this! The fabric is great and the back is such a nice surprise. It just looks so comfy, but still cute. Seems like a great pattern to try.

  52. I never gave this pattern a second look until I seen yours! Now I want one. I love the back length because I like my butt covered as well when wearing skinnies or leggings.

  53. I’ve been struggling with the same thing! I really wish there were a sewing term analogous to “stage left” and “stage right” that could work. Lovely plaid matching!

  54. Great make Karen, the fabric colours really suit you too 🙂

  55. Portia says:

    Ah, now THAT is a shirt to snuggle in! Love it!

  56. grenouille78 says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets tripped up on left front vs right front! But in the end, I guess it doesn’t matter, so long as you can get it on and off. Love that plaid! The shirt looks perfectly cozy.

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