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A Classic White Archer Shirt

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

I've never been happy with the fit or style of the shirts I could find in the shops. 'Mens' shirts were always too big in the neck and shoulders and 'womens' shirts were too closely fitted to the body, always with darts to highlight all the parts I didn't want highlighted.

Creating a bespoke shirt, just for me, was really why I got into garment sewing in the first place. Having a shirt that fits you, just the way you want, is an amazing feeling and gives me a lot of gender euphoria. And now a classic white shirt has become a wardrobe staple for me.

So it was one of the first pieces of clothing I wanted to make for my 2021 dapper capsule wardrobe.

I've made many shirts before, in fact this is my 9th version. The pattern I have always used is the Grainline Archer button up. It's a 'womenswear' pattern, but essentially it's a relaxed fit unisex shirt with no darts that you can modify fairly easily to get the look you are after.

For myself, what I am looking for in a shirt is a good fit around the neck and shoulders, and then hangs straight down with a loose fit everywhere else. Skimming over my curves, placing no emphasis on them. I can't bind my chest at the moment because I'm still nursing (although close to stopping) so I want a fit that hides my chest as much as possible.

As a result, I made this pattern using a size 2 for the neck and shoulders, and then grading to a size 14 for the body of the shirt. This sounds like a lot of grading I know, and I'm not 100% happy with the fit under the armpit as this is where the change from size 2 to size 14 occurs. But it worked reasonably well and it's fairly well hidden under there anyway.

I was amazed how fast this came together, especially as I was only making it in short, half an hour bursts (basically whatever I could fit in around my two children!)

I think it certainly helped that I've made so many of these now I don't even really need the instructions anymore.

The fabric is a 100% cotton poplin from Acorn Fabrics.

Aside from the size grading, the other modifications I make are primarily to the collar. The original pattern has a regular/standard style collar, in which the points of the collar are pointing downwards. This is fairly common amongst casual shirts for any gender.

I'm more interested in creating dress shirts, frequently worn with a tie, and I prefer a spread, or cutaway collar for this. This is when the points of the collar point outwards, rather than down.

You can see in the image below the changes I make to the collar pieces of the pattern in order to achieve this. The top piece is the original, the piece below my modified version. Note the difference in the angle of the collar point.

Overall I'm very happy with the construction and the fit. I can see myself wearing this a lot.

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