Pride and buttonholes

So, I'm starting to think there is some kind of sewing karma.  I'm pretty sure that the Sewing Gods keep an eye out for any sewing chatter that could be a little braggy or just a smidge too proud and take exception. And then to make sure that karmic balance is restored they wreak sewing related havoc.

Either that or I was overtired, distracted, complacent and not really paying attention, as this shirt, which funnily I love, is a complete disaster.

Fresh off the triumphant completion of my Ginger Jeans, I dusted off the Grainline Archer Shirt pattern, which I've had for over a year, decided that it would be a breeze (despite the fact I've only sewn one collared shirt before and it was of middling success), shrugged my shoulders at the fact I didn't have quite enough fabric and blithely went to town with my shears.

Aside from having to piece the yoke facing, the button band and the undercollar due to said fabric shortage and marking these with bright pink chalk that still won't come off, the cutting and first steps went pretty well and I got really excited about how well this absolutely gorgeous fabric suits the pattern. It's an off-white cotton-linen mix (I think) with random flecks of colour throughout; again from my summer Fabric Store LA haul. It has enough heft and opacity to become a shirt but is beautifully soft and so comfortable to wear. I don't often get my fabric / pattern combining right but this is a goody and I was especially delighted with the sight of the back pleat - which is just so pretty!  It went downhill from there.

I was watching the Sewing Bee at the same time and in my head smugly telling off the contestants for making 'basic' mistakes that could be easily avoided.  Enter the Sewing Gods again. I had already attached the yoke facing to the outside of the shirt and had to unpick it. Then I looked up from the sleeves I had just inserted sans puckers and was in the middle of congratulating myself as to their beauty, when I realised I'd sewn them on inside out. Oh.

No bother, I thought; I won't unpick them as they're so pretty - and I wanted to flat fell the seams anyway - so I'll just do them from the outside.  Brilliant!  Yes! 


The Sewing Gods aren't so forgiving.  I was slap happy with my seam trimming and managed to cut through both bits of seam allowance so that in at least two places I couldn't turn the top of the flat fell over correctly and had to fix it by zigzagging the botched areas. Not so pretty after all.

Finally, I had two inserted sleeves with flat felled armhole seams and only about a quarter of those covered in 'decorative' zigzag.  Hooray, on to the collar.  No, not onto the collar as the result of trying to avoid unpicking the sleeves was that my sleeve plackets were now, you guessed it, inside out.  Total head slap moment.

Clearly unpicking the plackets was more fiddly and more liable to total disaster than unpicking a more robust armhole seam but I couldn't really start unpicking the held-together-by-whispers flat fell. Fortunately the plackets went back on without mishap.

The collar took a bit of head scratching but I didn't totally balls it up, but, and I found this with the Alder dress too - the collar pieces were too long for the neckline and I wasn't entirely sure what to do with the excess.  I staystitched the neckline so it wouldn't stretch out whilst I was working on it - should I have done this also for the collar pieces?

I would say this though:  I love Grainline Studio's patterns, and without realising it I have sewn two Moss Skirts, two Scout Tees, one Alder Dress and now one Archer and soon a couple of Linden Sweatshirts.  So it's safe to say I'm a fan. However, I found the instructions and illustrations for the Archer a little scant.  The sewalong saved me on a couple of occasions when I couldn't fathom the instructions.  However, this could all easily be due to a gin/tiredness/distracted combination.

Anyway, the collar was satisfactory - although I couldn't get decent points - the cuffs weren't great as I missed catching all the facing when topstitching them down so they look a bit messy inside, but OK from outside, and then the hem was neat, so phew - on the home stretch.  My machine makes really pretty buttonholes and I've never had any problems with them at all. 

Can't say that anymore. First buttonhole just got totally stuffed up and I had to unpick it.  Kapow from the Sewing Gods!  They clearly hadn't forgotten my trying to get around the unpicking task earlier.

And then on the very last buttonhole I was overzealous with the seam ripper and cut straight through the end of the stitching.  Oh for the love of all things shiny! So, more zigzagging. This is an abomination as it just happened to be where I had pieced the buttonstand/band thingy so that seam wants to fray also.  As well as being highlighted pink due to seemingly indelible chalk.  There is not enough fray block in the world to sort this mess out. 

BUT I did finish the shirt, I didn't waste this glorious fabric and it is a beautifully designed pattern.  It fits really well across the shoulders which is often tight for me on RTW shirts and I love it despite its (many many) flaws.  We'll just have to see how well it holds up to constant wear and washing.

The skirt is from Topshop - hence the awful lack of pattern matching across the front seam.

My alterations:

  • Graded up a size at the hips.

  • Added 3 inches to the sleeves to accommodate my monkey arms and HPI

  • Next time I might take some width out of the sleeves as they look quite voluminous in these photos.

Things I've learnt:

  • How to insert a sleeve placket - although I'd like to see if there are other methods that might feel more robust to me.

  • With fabric that is the same on both sides, check and check and check again that everything is the right way around.

  • I will be buying a buttonhole chisel type thing at the first opportunity.

  • Just be humble and not lazy and UNPICK THE DAMN THING!

  • Endless snowy winters are no good for lighting photographs. I'm so sick of being inside.

So, do you believe in sewing karma?

See you soon x