Over time, I’ve learned to choose my creative projects wisely. When you make and make and make, you tend to accumulate stuff. Every kind of craft needs its own set of tools. Every project needs materials. Every completed item needs a place for it to live or be stored. Because of this, I try to live by two rules:
- Only buy supplies and materials when you have a project in mind.
- Everything you make should either have a purpose or a designated recipient.
Why bring this up now? Because #2 explains why I’ve channeled my recent desire to sew into making my own clothes, something practical.
For my first project, I impulsively chose to make an Archer Button Up from Grainline Studio. This was an ambitious project for a new clothes seamstress – I won’t lie. I also took the opportunity to try out the Sprout Patterns service. With Sprout Patterns, you can choose from any Spoonflower print(s) and from a selection of patterns, and they will print both the pattern and the print directly on the fabric for you. I was trying to recreate the shirt from this blog post. Yes, it is a fried egg shirt!
Here is my review of Sprout Patterns & the Archer Button Ups.
Boiling down my experience into a list of links & dislikes:
- You have unlimited options for fabric – you can even design your own and upload it to the site, which is cool.
- You don’t have to lay out and cut all the pattern pieces, which is one of my least favorite parts of sewing. The pattern is already printed on & labeled. Just cut on the lines!
- The Archer requires additional material (interfacing) and has markings that were not included on the fabric (pocket placement markers). Because of this, I had to print out a large part of the PDF pattern to actually make the shirt, something I wasn’t expecting. This was annoying.
- You’re at the mercy of their printer. The fabric I received must have gotten caught at some point while it was printing, leading to a curve/blip on a few pieces that should have been straight.
- You have some options for laying out the pieces on the print if you want to adjust how the design falls on the pattern, but they are limited. This service would be amazing if there was a way to have more granular matching and layout opportunities.
- The pattern lines, funnily enough, were also a slight issue for me. They were jet black and my fabric was light colored light and a little see-through. If I did this again, I would make sure to cut just inside the line so it wouldn’t show up on the pieces.
Would I use Sprout again? … Probably not. All and all, I prefer to lay out my own pattern pieces to suit my design whims and also have the ability to make adjustments to the pattern if needed.
Archer Button Up #1: Sunny Side Up Cotton Lawn
While this pattern isn’t incredibly difficult, it’s adventurous for a beginner. I would not have been able to complete it without the amazingly helpful Archer sewalong Jen did on the Grainline blog. The pictures (and even some videos) were a complete lifesaver. It was like being in a sewing class in my living room. I can’t recommend it enough.
I chose a size 10 since it was between my bust and hip measurements, which align more with an 8 and 12, respectively. I didn’t make any modifications to the pattern. Partly because you can’t when the pattern is printed on the fabric, and partly because as a newbie seamstress, I would have no idea what modifications to make. 😉
Overall, I was incredibly impressed with my abilities to construct and assemble the shirt. I still remember the magical moment when I sewed the side seams together and it started looking like an actual shirt. I danced around the living room wearing it. Another magical moment for me was learning that my sewing machine makes buttonholes and sews on buttons. Yes, I am a newbie. As you can see, it was a project full of discovery.
Issues though – the fabric was billowy. It balloons out in a way I don’t like. It’s not supposed to be a fitted shirt, but it feels too big. My interfacing job was absolutely terrible. This is what happens when you forget to take home the instructions and guess how it should be applied. It looks gross. The combination of the fit & print makes it look more like a pajama shirt. It’s not something I see myself wearing. I think of it more as a learning experience.
Archer Button Up #2: 1” Teal Gingham from Robert Kauffman
I was inspired to try again in different fabric. I wanted something heavier and less whimsical. After an hour of perusing every fabric at Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley (one of my happy places), I settled upon a sturdy, bright 1” Teal Gingham from Robert Kauffman. I love this fabric. It reminds me of a picnic. I call this my picnic shirt.
The Archer is full of straight lines and has so many opportunity for bias accents, especially with the gingham. I decided to cut several pieces on the bias: the cuffs, button band, outer yoke, and pockets. I made a few other modifications. I went with a size 8 on the top and graded to a 10 at the hips, in hopes of reducing some of the billowing at the top. I placed the pockets in a slightly different place, marginally reduced the pocket size, and reversed the pleat on the back to better fit the print.
Matching the stripes on the gingham was a bit harrowing, but I used Jen’s tutorial on the Grainline blog. It turned out perfectly and was much easier than expected. I matched up the side seams and the sleeves.
Overall, this shirt turned out heads and shoulders better than the last. It was really fun sewing the pattern again the second time around because I knew what to expect. If I ever sew the shirt again, I’d make two adjustments. First, I’d position the buttons a little differently. I’d want the last button to be a little higher or lower – it’s in an awkward spot. Second, I’d adjust the shoulder fit. It’s too tight this time around. The combination of the heavier fabric, the smaller top size, and my shoulder mechanics don’t quite work out.