Kennedy Tartan Archer shirt
If you follow me on Instagram, you'll probably have caught a glimpse of my latest sewing project, because I haven't stopped shouting about it for more than a week now! I first heard about Sprout Patterns from Deborah, who was nice enough to share a discount code she'd found, which meant that I could totally justify treating myself to a new project. I'd been eyeing up Grainline Studio's Archer button up for a while, ever since I saw it on Lladybird's blog last year (sorry, this is a link-heavy post!). When I saw that it was available through Sprout Patterns, I just had to give it a go.
But let's back up a second - what IS Sprout Patterns? In short, it's a mashup of Spoonflower and indie dressmaking patterns. You can choose your pattern, your fabric and your size, and they'll print it all right onto the fabric for you, so all you have to do is cut and sew! It's a great idea, and makes for a really fun, hassle-free sewing project, but I think there are some bugs they need to iron out before they're really on top of their game.
So this is the screen you get once you've chosen your pattern - you can select your variation, fabric type, and size. The 2D image on the left shows how your pattern pieces will be placed on your fabric, and the 3D image in the middle gives you an idea of how the finished garment will look. So clever!
I chose to honour my Scottish heritage by choosing my family tartan, which is handily already in the Spoonflower library! Each garment is slightly different, but on most items you can choose different fabrics for different parts of your project - see the 'select a pattern piece' option on the right? I wanted just a straightforward plaid shirt though, so I chose the same design for all my pieces.
Now, you *can* move the design around to adjust where the pattern falls on your fabric. BUT, lots of different pieces are connected, so when you move the design on one, it moves the design on the others, too! This makes it impossible to pattern-match across seams, so think carefully about whether you can live with this if you're going for a bold, directional design like this tartan. In the end I decided to shuffle the design around so there was absolutely no pattern matching at all - it looked a bit crazy, but I thought that would be better than having the pattern *nearly* matching, but not quite!
As soon as I'd placed my order I was able to download the PDF pattern and instructions (so I can make more Archers in different fabrics! Yippee!), and I also had a little look at the Archer sew along so I could live vicariously through their sewing till my parcel arrived.
The instructions are good for an intermediate stitcher, but there's quite a bit of assumed knowledge so tread lightly if you're a beginner. The fabric comes with all the pieces pre-printed, so all you have to do is pre-wash, iron, and cut! Here's what mine looked like before the washing or ironing...
You'll also notice a handy tip on the label there - you can cut out each label and pin it to the relevant pattern piece to make sure everything's in order (and you don't mix up the left and right sleeves) when you're sewing later. I even kept these labels once I'd finished so I can use them next time I make an Archer (or any shirt, for that matter). Just look how many pieces go into this shirt!
I did all the sewing in a (really long) day, which was just blissful. I had my favourite records on the record player, and I had my ironing table set up the whole time so I could press each piece as I went along. This is something that I'm pretty bad at doing when I'm sewing for myself, but it really does make everything SO much neater! Just look how tidy the yoke is, where it meets the back pleat...
The pattern didn't specifically call for it, but I topstitched the bejesus out of every seam. This was partly because I could (YEAH I managed to fit the sleeve over my sewing machine arm to flat fell the inside seam!), and partly because I want to make sure this is the sturdiest shirt there ever was.
I'd heard that this shirt can come up too long in the arms so I was ready to make some adjustments before I put the cuffs on, but on me it was just fine. I don't think I have particularly long arms, but you never know! I actually didn't have to make any adjustments at all, which is unusual for me because I usually have to at least make the shoulders narrower on a top, but this was just perfect - thank you, Grainline Studio!
So, do you remember me saying that the design placement on Sprout wouldn't let me pattern match? Once I'd cut out my pieces I realised that if I turned the right button band upside down it would be about 6/8" away from matching the pattern on the right front, so I made the bold decision to match the pattern there, and just make the whole shirt 6/8" shorter, which in my books is a fair trade off. You can see the matchy-matchiness below...
I thought that it'd take me ages to find the perfect buttons, but after a little rummage through my stash I found a whole box of mini heart-shaped shell buttons that I got for Christmas a few years ago. Now, I know what you're thinking, mini heart-shaped shell buttons on a tartan shirt? What?! BUT you'll have to trust me - I think they look great! I think they give it a bit of a Western feel, like in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with the pearl snaps on his cowboy shirt.
Aaaaaand here's the finished garment! I've barely taken it off since I finished it because it's so comfortable and easy to wear. I'd love to make another in chambray perhaps, or this great colour block version for summer.
And there we have it, a finished Archer - ta da! Has anyone else tried Sprout patterns (or an Archer shirt) yet? How did you get on? Let me know over on Instagram, or in the comment below!