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Red and Black and Flannel All Over : Grainline Archer

Debbie Christensen button up shirt flannel grainline studio plaid sewing

After seeing probably a hundred Grainline Archer shirts online, I finally made one!

flannel grainline archer button up shirt

I've wanted a loose, comfortable shirt that I could really move around in, which is what drew me to the Archer. Last year I made a really great flannel shirt, but it's a slim fit so my range of motion isn't great. The Archer allows for a lot more physical activity and stuff. I originally wanted to use the pattern to make a shirt I could comfortably canoe in, which didn't happen. The shirt, not the canoeing. Look how comfortable I am!

flannel grainline archer button up shirt

This is my third Archer. And my best. Early this summer, before we started carrying Grainline patterns in the shop, I bought the PDF pattern and made myself a wearable muslin out of a cotton poplin. The fit was terrible and I was super bummed about it. But I suppose that's why you make muslins. I didn't even know where to begin to address the fit, so I gave up on it and cut up the shirt to make a muslin for something else.

I decided to give the Archer another shot recently, so I had to make another ill-fitting muslin.

Unfortunately I didn't get a good photo of it, but sometimes the back would poof out so much that I looked like a turtle.

I spent a lot of time looking at myself in the mirror in this shirt, pinning it and trying to figure out where the issues were. Maybe it was because the poplin was stiff, maybe I needed a swayback adjustment, maybe my posture is just terrible. It was definitely getting stuck on my hips. Finally I just slit the side seams a few inches from the bottom to give my hips more room, and it laid so much better.

I was getting hung up on fit issues, which I could have addressed in another muslin, but I didn't want to make another muslin. I also didn't want to put a lot of effort into matching up plaids and finishing seams and all that if the shirt was going to make me look back-pregnant (which I am not). After all that mental anguish, I just made the shirt.

flannel grainline archer button up shirt

I used this super soft flannel and these black corozo buttons.

The changes I made from my muslin were to lengthen the sleeves by an inch and add about an inch and a half on the side seams for my hips. I also took a tiny bit of width out of the sleeve so I wouldn't have to ease them in. It seemed like there was too much ease in the back of the sleeves in my muslin, anyway. Oh, and I added a tower sleeve placket right from the start, because for some reason they're easier for me than the bound placket used in the pattern.

One thing I really like about the pattern is that it uses a separate button placket, rather than folding the edge of the shirt front over to make a placket. Remembering which side of the shirt button holes go into is so much easier this way (and I have messed that up before).


I've made enough button-down shirts that I have an order of operations I like to follow, which were different from the designer's. I sewed the collar on before adding the sleeves, following the tutorial from Four Square Walls. I can't figure out how to explain it, but I use that technique, combined with Grainline's method (as explained in the video in this sewalong) to attach the collar stand, and I get really great collars.

After I attach the collar I sew the sleeves, then sew up the side seams and sleeve sides in one fell swoop. This time around I tried French seaming the sleeves, which is a little bulky, but I always have trouble flat-felling those curves. The side seams are flat-felled.

This is an inside shot of the armpit:

I don't think the fit is quite there for me yet. I'd like it to be a little longer, at least in the front. The curves on the hem are so tight that they're hard to sew without rippling or stretching the fabric a ton, which makes the hem stick out. I'm excited to make another Archer. I'm really glad I gave it another chance.

flannel grainline archer button up shirt

My favorite part of the shirt started as an accident. I cut out pieces as I needed to sew them so I could make sure all the plaids matched well. Cutting was going great, and then I cut out the front button placket and the stripes were one row off! I almost re-cut it, but instead I just went with it. The plackets, pockets, and cuffs are all offset, and I think it's so cool.

flannel grainline archer button up shirt

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  • Kathleen on

    Celebrity Debbie! I think it looks great! Maybe I will try to make this with the super cool purple and green flannel I have had since last winter!!

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