A Tragedy of Errors: Wearable Muslin of the Grainline Archer Shirt
With more time and distance from this sewing “event”, I think this could become a comedy, but right now it’s feeling rather tragic to me. I am not writing a review of this shirt just yet. This pattern deserves a great send up. Truly. It’s well drafted; has deceptively simple style lines with great fun design details like the gathered lower back.
As you know I muslined this shirt about a week ago. Truth be told, I muslined it a lot. I didn’t want another “can’t raise my arms to drive” shirt again. I wanted to ensure that I could actually walk around like a fully functioning human being in this shirt. Shams and Sherril helped me along this muslin process, but are not to blame for the fit of this shirt or any of my mistakes made along the way — all that’s on me. They were very generous with their time and expertise.
I started with a 1/2 in FBA.
Then I made a 3/4 inch FBA and slightly wider side seams. Better, but I still had the back/arm strain.
Then I added a pleat on the back under the yoke. Eureka! I could lift my arms up and about and all around. Freedom! I thought I had reached Nirvana.
At which point, I confidently made it up in my fashion fabric, a cotton that I dyed with Claudine last year (fun!). Before I talk about how it turned out, I must confess my long list of user errors made during the construction/deconstruction of this shirt, the length of which would be comedic if it wasn’t so tragic. First I sewed part of the shirt inside out when constructing the yoke, so I had to redo all that. Then I put the back pleat on backwards. Then I had to resew the plackets so they looked nice instead of becky-homecky. And then I inserted one of my sleeves inside out. Seriously, have you ever had that many user errors in one project before? My stupidity knew no bounds. Oh and then I ran out of thread while top stitching. And let’s not forget my personal favorite of putting the buttonhole on the wrong cuff end — the cherry on top!
And then, to add insult to injury, it turned out to be a tent. A big top circus tent. I could fit a whole herd of elephants in my shirt. I did not take any pictures of the shirt in this sad state due to my horror and despair. But trust me, it was horrific. And I bet you’re wondering why it was so big? Because I forgot that because the back was cut on the fold, I would need to halve the amount of fabric I added with my back pleat in the muslin. So by adding the entire amount of fabric added with the pleat, I effectively added quadruple the amount I intended to add. Fun! Not.
The thought of ripping out serged side seams and opening up the yoke, basically resewing the entire shirt over again, made me want to slit my wrists. But after an afternoon of moaning and whining and a stiff glass of cabernet, I got out my seam ripper and opened up the yoke. I removed all of the extra fabric I had added to the back with the pleat and sewed up a center back seam. The shirt’s measurements are now exactly as drafted (except for the FBA in front of course). I tried the shirt on and it was…
Fine, perfectly fine. How could that be? In the muslin, I could barely raise my arms without feeling the bicep and back areas strain. Now I felt minor pulling, but it really was minor. My shirting was cotton, thin but no stretch. How could it fit so drastically different from the muslin? I just don’t get it. And I question the efficacy of muslins now. Really question it.
The end result is a shirt that looks pretty decent. But I don’t like the janky CB seam I had to add. It was hard to finesse the seam across the gathered lower back section, so that join looks a little funny. The fish eye darts I added in front under my side bust dart for the FBA need to be a mite deeper and longer, but I was just guesstimating that. And the sleeves are too long. I forgot to check the length at the muslin stage as I was so concerned with the back/arm tightness issue.
At any rate, I have a wearable shirt. I will make some modifications the next time to tweak the fit for my body (shorten the sleeves, deepen and lengthen the fisheye darts, and raise the gathered back section about an inch maybe). And, yes, there will be a next time, because, despite my tragedy of errors in the making of this shirt, I love this pattern. And I love the layering you can do with a good shirt. And winter in San Diego is all about layering for the differently climates throughout the day. It can be 70-80 degrees in the heat of the day, but fall to 40-50 degrees at night. I think a good shirt pattern is de riguer here. But enough of the moaning and groaning. Here’s the finished wearable muslin…
I hope to make another version again soon, because this is a great pattern and I hope to do it justice.