Grainline Archer Sew-Along: Cutting and Interfacing

Before you cut into that beautiful shirting fabric, STOP. Take just a minute to think about how to make your shirt uniquely your own.

Grainline Archer Sew-along by Sew Maris

I am not going to give any basic cutting advice on scissors, rotary cutters, or how to mark pattern notches. You already know all about those things. But before cutting out a standard Archer shirt layout, maybe you want to consider adding some personal design elements to your shirt. How about a contrast fabric for the front placket, collar stand, collars, or cuffs? Or perhaps varying some grainlines if you are using a stripe or a plaid fabric? Maybe using different sizes or colors of buttons?

One of the Archers I have planned for this sew-along will be constructed from pink and white striped cotton shirting. I drew several  small sketches playing with the direction of stripes, and also “auditioned” several different stripe placements on my dress form by pinning the fabric different ways.

Here is what I ended up doing for this Archer.

Grainline Archer Sew-Along by Sew Maris

I cut the shirt fronts on the bias, and the right front placket on the lengthwise grain. I know it looks like the placket is on the cross-grain, but the stripes actually run horizontally on this fabric instead of vertically.

Grainline Archer Sew-Along by Sew Maris

The back yoke is also on the bias, so I added a CB seam + SA so that the yoke grainlines would look the same at both front shoulder lines.

Grainline Archer Sew-along by Sew Maris

I was also a little worried about putting stripes under stripes on the yoke, so I used a light pink for the under yoke. There will be a seam on the outer yoke but the inner yoke was cut on the fold.

Grainline Archer Sew-along by Sew Maris

Oh. And did I mention the stand, collar and cuffs are going to be white? Hmmm, I might look like a Candy Striper in this shirt, except I don’t think hospitals even use Candy Stripers any more so no one will get the analogy. 😉 Whatever. I am experimenting!

After you play around with the kind of design options you want for your Archer, and get it all cut out, next up is the interfacing step. Without a doubt my most hated of all timeleast favorite part of sewing. But I did buy a steam press this year and it has helped my surly interfacing attitude immensely! It is seriously.worth.every.penny.

Shirts are generally interfaced in the upper collar, collar stand, cuffs, and the buttonhole placket. If you are using the latest PDF version of the Grainline Studios Archer pattern, that should be pattern pieces #4 (right placket), #11 (upper collar), #13 (collar stand),and either #16 or #18 (cuffs). Now Jen also specifies that pattern piece #5 should be cut from interfacing – for the left placket – but I honestly have never done this (so far anyway) and I generally do not see it in RTW. Also, since I always apply my buttons by hand, I don’t want to try to pierce thru stiff, fused, interfacing with a hand sewing needle.

If you are using 100% cotton shirting, I recommend that you use Pro-Woven Fusible Shirt Crisp from Fashion Sewing Supply. I already said lots about fabrics and interfacing in this post. 🙂 Of course it is totally your call on the weight of interfacing you want to use, and what pieces of the shirt you choose to interface – it all depends on the look you are going for. I am kind of a crispy gal and love the effect of Shirt Crisp, but of course you may make a different choice.

Now assuming most of you are using cotton shirting and fusible interfacing, let’s get down to it. Have you ever used a steam press? Makes interfacing application way faster and IMHO produces a superior fuse. The pressing surface is absolutely flat, the pressure on the fabric/interfacing is stronger than you can press on your handheld steam iron, and the heat and steam are also generous.

Grainline Archer Sew-along by Sew Maris

But regardless of whether you are using a regular steam iron or a steam press, the basic process for correctly fusing interfacing is the same. Use the hottest temp that your interfacing and fabric can tolerate. Then place a piece of white tissue paper on your press or ironing board, and place the fabric to be fused wrong side up on the tissue (I used blue in the picture so the white fabric would show up – but definitely use white tissue at home so you don’t get any color bleed through!) Lay the corresponding interfacing on top of your fabric piece glue side down, and then cover with another sheet of white tissue. Spritz a little water on the tissue to add some extra steam, and either close the steam press handle or “press” down on the fabric with your steam iron. No sliding back and forth with your iron; just press and hold in place for the length of time specified y the manufacturer. Or 10-15 seconds if you lost the instructions. 😉

Oh, and BTW, the pieces in the steam press in the image above are for a shirt for my DS, hence the monster-sized collar stand and cuffs. 😉

Grainline Archer Sew-along by Sew Maris

If you are using a lighter weight cotton or possibly even a silk, you should use an interfacing that is compatible with the weight of your fabric. For a silk shirt like this raspberry pink one I made this past summer, you might want to try silk organza as your interfacing. You will have to hand-baste it in place before sewing, but it really doesn’t take long.

Are you planning to use fusible interfacing or sew-in? Are you using cotton shirting, silk, cotton lawn, or something else for your Archer? Don’t forget to share pix on our Archer FB Sew-along page!

Happy sewing!




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