Amanda vs the Archer Shirt

If life was a comic and I was a superhero (potential name: Enthusiastic Gal) then button up shirts would totally be my super villain nemesis living in an awesome underwater cave. My first attempt to challenge Button Lad happened at the tender age of 18 when I tried to make a bowling shirt with the help of my mum (aka The Educator). The end result was massive dude sized top with wonky buttonholes. Defeated, I retreated to my lair in a volcano and for the next 15 years worked hard to improve my skills slaving day and night over a hot Janome. In early 2015 the rematch was held – ZAP! BOINK! POW! – and Button Lad defeated. All hail Enthusiastic Gal and her amazing button up shirt!


This sassy number is the Archer Button Up Shirt by Grainline Studios. If you’re not familiar with this pattern it is a loose fitting button up with long sleeves. I went with View A which is the standard shirt. Because I am quite the sewing renegade I decided to leave off the front pockets. I also left off the buttonholes and buttons on the cuffs as this top was made to be worn with the sleeves rolled up. Yeah, rolled sleeves is totally how I roll… See what I did there lame pun wise? Eh?! Eh?!

The fabric used is a delicious dotted swiss voile from Addicted to Fabric. There is seriously not a better fabric to use for your first button up. It has a beautiful handle and is super lovely to wear in the heat. If I could steal the bolt and run away with it I totally would!


So let’s talk construction. Firstly, the instructions included with the pattern are fantastic. The line drawings are super clear and everything is broken into achievable steps. I must admit I used these in conjunction with the sew along available on line and this had the side benefit of youtubing baby sloths getting a bath when I needed a break. If you ever need a mid-project refresh google this. You’re welcome!

Even though 2015 is my year of the FBA I decided to not complicate matters further and went with a standard size based on my measurements. I have to say this turned out much better than I hoped. The fit feels pretty good though I think the shoulders may be a little too wide? My arms can move back and forward comfortably and the buttons don’t gape so this is a step up from most RTW I have owned. In saying that, I’ve never made a button up before so if anyone has good fitting tips on this it would be greatly appreciated!


If there was one details that had the potential of letting me down it was topstitching. I have never been able to get a steady and neat finish no matter what I try. After a bit of a google and a look in my machine feet stash I came up with my blind hem foot. I set the guide to 1/16” and set the speed to snail. And it worked! The topstitching looks all kinds of rad and it was kind of hypnotic to do moving bit by bit around the garment. Kind of like a sewing lava lamp…

The biggest challenge that the Archer posed for me was the collar. After reading a bunch of reviews and watching Jen’s collar insertion video I decided to go rogue and used Andrea’s method. This made sense to my tiny pea brain and resulted in a serviceable collar that looks pretty dang good. I mean, check that sucker out!


And I have to spare a moment to talk about my skirt- this is actually what made me get over my button up fear and make the Archer. It’s made from a gorgeous navy and white linen also found at Addicted to Fabric a couple of months ago. I knew it had to be a gathered work skirt and it needed  a crisp white button up to go with it. There is no pattern of which to speak, though to get the subtle gathers I used fabric width of 1.5 times my waist measurement. Inspired by Anna, the hem is 4 inches deep and provides a lovely fullness to drape. I also added pockets and these are made with my polka dot lining fabric- no surprises there!

Self Drafted Skirt

What I liked about the Archer:

  • Learning all of the new techniques! Collars? I got it! Plackets? I own you! Cuffs? Like a boss!
  • The relaxed fit. This is perfect for hot summer days.
  • The detailed instructions and the sewalong. Perfect for those like me who are terrified of this level of construction!

What I would change for next time:

  • Remove the collar and go for a more casual vibe. Viva la summer!
  • Three words, people. Crepe. De. Chine. This needs to happen.
  • Maybe got down a size and FBA. I’ll do some reading on fit and see what is recommended.

The Deets

Pattern: Archer Button Up Shirt by Grainline Studios

Fabric: 2.5m of dotted swiss voile from Addicted to Fabric

Notions: Thread, 7 x 1.25cm wood buttons with a shiny inlay from Ruche Fabric

See also: Four Square Walls, Reana Louise, Dixie DIY


Overall, I am so freaking happy with my new shirt! This is a perfect addition to my work wardrobe with my linen skirt and also can be dressy casual fun with my shorts. I’ve been working hard over the last few months refining my aesthetic and sewing clothes that fit into my slowly developing new style and this Archer is going to be a key player. 2015 is shaping up to be a year of sass, challenges and fun. I can’t wait to see where it goes!


  1. That is one rad shirt, and you are one rad lady! I don’t think there are any changes to make with the shirt – it has a lovely relaxed look without looking sloppy. Perfect work attire! And the skirt is gorgeous too.

    2015 is the year of the work wardrobe for me too. I have enough casual clothes. Kind of. Still won’t stop making them … BUT I will be more dedicated in making work clobber too.

    • All the cool kids are making work stuff this year 😀 I figure I wear that stuff so regularly it deserves some good pieces too. I’m going to trial this at work tomorrow and see how it wears… Hopefully super comfy!

  2. SO perfect. The shirt is awesome – high five for being a shirt making goddess! Nothing can stop you now. But oh, that skirt. It is the perfect match for the voile. The linen is amazing and I think you got the gathers, and pockets (ahhh pockets, in everything, yes please!) and waistband just so right. Gathered skirts always risk being too twee/girly/little house in the prairie in my books (even though this doesn’t stop me making them!), but yours is perfect urban cool!

    • Thanks, Debbie! I knew the skirt had to be gathered but was worried about the potential tweeness for work- super happy with the 1:1.5 gather ratio! I think I need ALL THE ARCHERS now. Must. Make. Button ups. 😀

  3. Looking good! Love the topstitching on that collar.
    I’m 3/4 of the way through my first iris shorts- always make me think you you! Especially these in crazy tropical print linen

    • Thanks, Ellen! I am so happy with my topstitching! Though I hear there is a topstitching foot that has a bit more of a stable guide… And give in to the Iris. You know you want to!

  4. I feel like a button down is also going to be my arch nemesis! I recently grabbed 2 patterns to try these out! I’m going to try to tackle Sewaholics Granville Shirt first, but I’m very nervous!

    I love the fit and drape of your shirt! Goes just lovely with your skirt!

  5. Lovely shirt. I’ve seen that voile at A2F, perfect for the Archer and a hot day! You collar is excellent i must try harder with mine, I’ve got a ways to go yet. Ive made the Archer in white (linen) and its the first time I ve had a botton up shirt that didnt gape. Making your own, definitely the way to go. The shoulders on mine are also a bit wide, but like yours nothing to worry about. Great skirt too.

    • I am thinking of going and getting some more, Barbara! It is so lovely! And I seriously suggest checking Andrea’s tutorial for the collar- it was so helpful. The button placement on this is so good- no gaping here!

  6. Girl, this looks great! I think I might finally tackle the Archer as my next project. With any luck it will turn out have as good as yours! Also: THAT SKIRT. Adorbs!

  7. Gorgeous! You smashed it out of the park with your first button-up shirt, and thanks for the tip on top-stitching – I can never get mine looking neat either. But no raptor hands?! Who are you, and what have you done with Amanda?

  8. mmm… dotted voile. Delightful stuff. And Andrea’s collar method post really is the best – your collar (and topstitching) look great! Collars are definitely my nemesis. Lovely work Amanda 🙂

  9. Sewing shirts like a boss! You did such a great job. I used Andrea’s tutorial to sew the collar on my Alder dress and it made so much more sense to me too. I must be a bit of a pea brain as well. I’m loving your evolving style, it’s so chic and sophisticated, but still playful. Tres cool!

    • We’ll be super awesome pea brains together 😉 I love your Alder- it’s all kinds of amazing. Also, how is operation green cardi progressing? Well I hope!

    • Thanks, Gail! It’s amazing how much of sewing (at least for me) can be in your head! Once I sat down and gave this a go it was an absolute delight to construct! 😀

  10. Congratulations on overcoming the fear of button up shirts! You did a wonderful job. A I also love your skirt. I may steal the idea when the weather gets warmer here.

  11. I love a rolled sleeve almost as much as I love a lame pun! You are a braver woman than I. I just avoid button up shirts all together. You have absolutely nailed the archer and that skirt is the perfect partner.

  12. Great job! It all looks very profesh especially that topstitching 🙂
    I’m working on a work wardrobe too, not sure the button down is for me, kind of going the dress route I think, although this could change once I suss out the aircon – hopefully it is not too enthusiastic!

    • A topstitching compliment from the Queen of the Even Stitch is totes making me so happy right now 😀 You rock a work frock like no one else, Liz!

  13. WOO! Nice job – me like it! Top stitching makes you go a little crossed eyed, right?
    If you do decide to go the CDC route, two pieces of advice 1) French seams everywhere and 2) Consider using a cardboard template for the pocket (then you can press the SA over the cardboard), thread trace your pocket markings and insert pocket when it’s flat. SO MUCH EASIER. (Be aware you can get sad droopy pocket look though – I speak from experience!).

    • Thank ye, lovely!
      Am taking the french seam tip on board for sure- thank you! I am not a fan of the pockets on this so will happily give it a miss – no one wants saggy CDC pockets! 😀

  14. Nice shirt! Also you sneakily left fb! Are you planning on doing the design course at cit this semester? Or have you already done it. I’m going to give it a red hot go! See you round like a rissole

    • Hola!!! I got a little too FB addicted so went the ninja cold turkey! I am TAFE-ing this semester but just drafting two on a Tuesday. Boo to no classes together! Mayhaps you might want to come along to our once a month sewing group? Eh? Would be lovely to catch up 😀

  15. Congratulations on your first (of hopefully many!) Archer! It looks great, and it’s also perfect with your linen skirt!
    I’ve never done an FBA for my Archers (but I did Frankenstein the pattern to get my ideal fit) – and I sort of want to go back to the pattern and do one properly to get an even better fit.

    • Thanks, Katie! I am really happy of all the skills I have learned! Gotta love a frankenpattern to get past the FBA 😀 I am going to do a bunch of reading before giving it a red hot go- we can totes do this!

  16. Girl! This looks amazing! I love it on you! Love love love it! And the skirt is too fabulous! I will be keeping an eagle eye out for similar fabric to… make an Archer with! Think about it, a linen Archer in that beautiful navy & white?! Too fab! Oh, the Archer is drafted to have a slightly dropped shoulder for a boyfriend look, but it’s an easy alteration to make it sit at your high point shoulder like a regular buttondown.

    • Ohhh that would be a stunning Archer. Okay, that’s good to know about the shoulder sitch! After wearing it to work I like to more casual fit- I could move round really easily. Always a win when herding kids!

  17. It turned out great! I can never make that kind of collar come out right. Yours looks really good and I am so freaking envious. 🙂 I love the skirt too. I need to force myself to sew more wardrobe basics.

    • Thanks, Lynn! I can’t recommend Andrea’s tutorial enough- seriously well worth a look in! I am focusing on building a summer work wardrobe for myself at the moment- though it feels like time for a frock again!

  18. Bravo, Enthusiastic Gal!! Great finishing and stellar choice of the voile – it’s crisp but still light and a bit floaty – perfect!! A white button-up is on my list to vanquish for this year as well! 🙂 I’ve done a proper men’s shirt before (only once though!), so I have had at least one run-in with all the scary things like cuffs & collar & placket – not sure if I won but I came away alive at least LOL… however, combining all that with fitting and princess seams is like a boss battle and I’m getting armed for the fight!

    That said, my major challenge this year is making my wedding dress – I am gonna need some serious Rocky-style montage work for that LOL.

  19. Your shirt looks amazing, you totally inspired me to by some similar fabric in black for a button-up! And I love, love, love your skirt so I’d love to hear more about how you made it!

    • The dotted swiss is so luxe for a button up, Rose! Give in to it! For my skirt, I took my waist measurement and multiple by 1.5 so the gathers were subtle. I split that into 1/2 for the front panel (plus SA) and 1/4 for the back panels (plus SA). The waistband was 3 inches tall by my waist measurement (plus SA). I added pockets as well and used an invisible zip. I also moved the gathers in the front panel more to the side so I didn’t add to much tummy bulk. Hope this helps!

  20. Hi Amanda – Sorry to be late to this party! Your Archer looks great and I’m jealous of that dotted swiss. I am making my second Archer, and I am hitting a problem that arose with my first: the cuff pieces seem to be too long for the sleeve, so I’m faced with either adjusting the depth of the pleats on the sleeve or cutting down the cuff pieces. I thought I had miscut the size of the cuff for the first shirt, but this time, after measuring and checking and carefully tracing, I know it SHOULD fit, but again it doesn’t. Did you have this problem?

    I have to narrow the sleeve anyway so it isn’t that big a deal, but it bothers me that I can’t make it work with a pattern that is otherwise perfectly drafted.

    • Hey Trish! If I recall correctly I had some cuff issues but it was because I had forgot to do the pleat. I have to admit – as I knew this would always be worn with the sleeves rolled I wasn’t too fussy. I hope everything got sorted with your shirt and you got the cuffs and sleeves behaving well! 😀


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