Plaid Grainline Archer

After having made a couple of shirts for Trev (Colette Negroni 1 and Negroni 2) I thought it was about time that I made one for myself. All over the internet I’ve been seeing people post pictures of the Grainline Archer shirt and there’s definitely a big casual-shirt-shaped hole in my wardrobe!

Going back a little over a year now I bought some suitable fabric from a haul at Fabworks – it’s peeking out at the bottom of the pile here:

Sneak peek of some of my fabric purchases yesterday. Looking forward to making all the things!

I purchased my pattern and duly got to cutting out and taping together all the little pieces (boy it takes ages!)

The aftermath of cutting out the @grainlinestudio Archer - if I'm lucky I might actually have time to do some sewing today!

After doing this I absolutely get why people choose to spend the extra on buying tissue patterns rather than downloadable – although after a while I find it a bit soothing! Ironically, the Archer was available as a printed pattern shortly after I printed out mine and stuf it all together – isn’t that always the way? :)

Eventually we got to the part where I get to cut out the fabric and I found this:

Off-grain fabric advice needed! Fabric is clearly skew-whiff as when selvedges are aligned, fabric fold/grainline is twisted. As I wanted to make a shirt (@grainlinestudio Archer) to be exact, do I go with the selvedges for neat stripes, or the grain so i

Horribly off-grain! I really wanted to try and make the stripes match up at the seams and no matter how I pinned the pieces I couldn’t get things to line up :( Much time and effort later, I pinned the two layers of fabric together, matching up the intersections of the checks. It took AGEEEES. BUT! After much time, effort and mild cursing, we ended up with this:

Shirt in progress... Pretty pleased considering I almost binned the fabric last night. My pockets and their placement SUCK but check out how the stripes match from side to side? The inside of my buttonhole band is also a horror show but thankfully nobody

So pleased I could burst! It definitely looked like it had the makings of becoming a shirt. Eventually. After much sewing and faffing and occasional head-scratching when reading the instructions, we have a finished shirt:

Grainline Studio Archer

Grainline Studio Archer

I’ve managed to do a pretty good job of matching the stripes up across the front which I’m so so pleased about, especially considering the drama I had with the fabric being so skewed.

Grainline Studio Archer

From the back it also looks ok. It could be much better as the vertical stripe on the collar isn’t central and the print on the yoke isn’t central either. It’s not a massive deal, but does bother me a bit. Definitely something I’d like to do better with next time.

Grainline Studio Archer

Shape-wise, I think the shirt looks pretty baggy on me. In terms of size, I went with my body measurements and did an FBA to add extra room across the chest, but around my waist and lower back it looks ultra-baggy and boxy. I know a lot of this is style of the shirt and my suspected sway-back won’t be helping things. I think it looks really baggy from the front too which when you’re larger size like I am, isn’t particularly flattering. I could adapt the shirt further to remove some of the ease from the waist, but then I feel like I’m trying to turn the pattern into something it isn’t. Do you know what I mean?

Grainline Studio Archer

Unfortunately I have to wear a camisole with the top, because otherwise, THIS happens!

Grainline Studio Archer

It could be poor button placement (perhaps I should have had more buttons spaced closer together) or having added not quite enough room to the FBA, but generally this doesn’t happen if I wear something underneath – so at least there’s no chance of indecently exposing myself.

Now for some of the details of the shirt!

Stripe matching looks pretty good – so does pocket placement until you look too closely and realise they’re at different heights… oopsie. Not convinced that large pockets like this belong on a shirt that will be worn over a large bosom, but that’s something else to test on future garments.

Grainline Studio Archer

Inside the shirt there are no raw seams anywhere. All side, shoulder and sleeve seams were flat-felled as I love the look of them and think it makes for a more durable shirt. You never tend to see them on ladieswear despite them being fairly standard on men’s shirts. I don’t understand why this is but perhaps the general standard of RTW shirts is higher for men?

Grainline Studio Archer

This shot lets you see the shirt from the inside – all enclosed seams. On the right you can see some brilliant stripe-matching at the side seam – on the left, less so. But still definitely within the boundaries of what would be acceptable if I bought a shirt from a shop.

Grainline Studio Archer

Where I really struggled, was the collar. While the plackets and sleeve cuffs were tricky and not enjoyable, the collar was my nemesis. I followed the instructions in the pattern and from the Archer Sewalong on the Grainline site and I still feel like the collar is a massive dog’s dinner. Luckily the pattern of the plaid helps to hide it, but it’s pretty dreadful. Lumpy, bits sticking out and random stitches everywhere. Definitely more work needed there.

Grainline Studio Archer

Grainline Studio Archer

Grainline Studio Archer

Most of my top-stitching looked pretty good! My Singer 201k does sew beautiful stitches but with only using the standard foot it’s perhaps not quite as close to the edge as I would have liked. That being said, it doesn’t look that dissimilar to what I’ve seen on some RTW shirts, so perhaps I need to give myself a break.

Grainline Studio Archer

As a side note, I decided to sew the entire shirt (bar attaching the buttons) on my 201k handcrank, which had recently returned from a service and so sews beautifully. When all you want is a straight stitch, which is basically it on a shirt and you need tiny, fine stitches, there’s not much that can match the best machine Singer ever made.

Casual bit of sleeve-setting-in before I head off to work. Using a hand-cranked machine is oddly soothing! #VSCOcam #singer201k

To sew the buttonholes, I used my vintage buttonholer attachment which I think did an excellent job. Needless to say you’re essentially sewing the whole shirt one-handed and I definitely miss some of the little feet and accessories that make things like top-stitching easier and more accurate, but it’s a great way to improve your skills as you’re having to do it all yourself.

As I alluded to further up I’m not convinced the Archer is the best pattern for someone of my size – I think it would work better if I didn’t have to try and accomodate my bust, particularly as the pattern isn’t darted. If I was to try and make all of the changes I wanted to do to make it “fit” better, I think it would cease to be an Archer and would have morphed into something else entirely. I’ve got the Granville and Oakridge patterns from Sewaholic that I plan to try which I think will yield a better result on me. Not that I think this looks deadful, but it is a bit tent-like and is definitely adding to my current hang-ups about my body – part of why this post has taken so long to put together.

But on the plus side, yay for a finished shirt and here’s to many more!

Prison Stripe Colette Moneta

This dress has been a long time in the posting. I actually finished it way before we moved, in October last year. Slowly but surely we’ll catch up on all of these FOs and I can find that lost mojo!

During last year, Colette brought out their new guide to sewing knits and three new knit patterns – Moneta and Myrtle which are both knit dresses and Mabel which is a nice quick knit skirt. I bought all of the patterns and the book – I fairly quickly started on both a Moneta and a Mabel which I’ve since finished.

My plan for the Moneta was stripes. I had some suitable black/grey lightweight knit fabric which I affectionately refer to as my “prison stripes”. You’ll see why. Having made a few knit tops before, I knew that I would need to apply an FBA – even though Colette draft for a C cup, I am significantly larger than that and I didn’t want too much unsightly stretching/pulling from the armpit.

Trying to work out a dartless FBA on this bodice for a knit dress - while trying to maintain the side and waist seams. Think I've just about cracked it. #colette #moneta here we come!

Typically, writing this post so late on, I can’t actually remember which tutorial, or combo of tutorials I used to draft the FBA, but I think I added 1.5″, for a total increase of 3 inches across the bust. I also added an extra inch to the length of the bodice as I thought I’d need the extra room. Here’s the finished bodice, sans skirt:

First fitting of my prison stripes muslin - looks like the fit across the bust is better - hardly any strain lines! FBA win

Pretty happy with where the waist hits and not much in the way of pulling across the bust either! As it was only a muslin i didn’t worry too much about stripes when cutting it out. I did want to do some basic stripe matching, but even with a rotary cutter this stuff shifted around so much on the table. Also if I’m being honest, I didn’t do the best job of sewing it up – which makes it a little hard to know whether some of the issues you’ll see in the pictures are down to pattern fit, dodgy cutting, or bad sewing.

Without further ado, here we are!

Colette Moneta Dress

Colette Moneta Dress

Not too bad right? You see what I mean about the prison stripes? :)

Now from the front:

Colette Moneta Dress

I suspect I am standing on a slope here or something as both I and the stripes look distinctly lop-sided. It also become quite apparent I think, that adding the extra 1 inch to the bodice was a mistake. While it was a good length before the skirt was attached, the weight of the fabric stretches the bodice a bit and makes the waist hit lower than I wanted. The next time I made one, I’ll remove the extra inch.

Now the back:

Colette Moneta Dress

Quite a lot of excess fabric there in the back. I’m still unsure whether it’s because I have a sway back, or because my waist goes out quite sharply to my hips – fabric just sits there as it can’t hang properly. Still, removing the spare inch should help here.

The neckline at the back goes quite low – it scoops even lower than the front:

Colette Moneta Dress

Generally I like how it fits – although it makes me realise that I’m really moley! I seem to be getting molier with age :D

From the front, I also think it looks ok:

Colette Moneta Dress

You’re always going to get a bit of pulling on a bust this size I suppose. My main issue is how wide the neckline is – there’s very little bodice at the shoulders and it’s barely enough to cover my bra straps. Next time I make this, I’ll definitely widen the bodice at the shoulder, reducing the overall neckline width.

My sewing machine and I did have an epic falling out when I had to use my twin needle to sew the neckline.

Colette Moneta Dress

Colette Moneta Dress

It just wouldn’t sew properly. The neckline was still far too stretchy even with the stitching all in place and the hem was the same. But as long as I don’t pull it about too much, I think it’s all ok.

Less ok is the gathering I did at the waist – I did struggle a bit with the elastic but I think it will be easier next time. As a result my gathers aren’t even so it does fit a little weirdly on the hips.

Colette Moneta Dress

Overall though, I like the dress. While pockets in a knit are useless for storing things in, I do like having somewhere to put my hands. I plan to buy a couple of brightly coloured belts and then I think I might actually wear this dress out of the house! A wide enough belt will hide the dodgy waistline length and my poor gathering.

So, time for your feedback – do you think a belt will hide a multitude of sins, or is it too like prison clothing to wear out in public? :)

I have a navy polka dot and a white/blue breton stripe dress planned. Excited to finish those and wear them in time for summer!

Here Be Snaw!

Despite the fact it’s mid-March, there was snow to be seen in some parts of Yorkshire yesterday. Not our part, alas – and it always feels like you’ve been a bit short-changed when it’s cold enough to snow but you don’t actually get any.

Nonetheless, this is just an excuse to segue nicely into a trio of finished objects that were actually finished during the Christmas break. I have no excuse for having not shown them off earlier other than what appears to be the unplanned blogging hiatus that I seem to have taken. Life just does take over sometimes and I’ve found it tricky enough to keep up with everything in my RSS feeds, never mind writing content of my own.

Without further ado, to the finished objects!

I purchased the yarn for Kate Davies Snawheid and matching Snawpaws sometime around Christmas 2012. I bought some lovely Excelana yarn (one of the recommend yarns for the patterns) from Baa Ram Ewe in Headingley. I almost never use the recommended yarn but I was after a proper, woolly yarn and hadn’t yet tried Excelana so it worked out perfectly. I dithered for ages in the shop over whether to get the red or blue as the main colour. At times like this I’m very glad to have Trev handy to make the decision for me.


Even getting started was a bit of an undertaking. I wanted to do the mitts first, to act as the swatch for my hat. A number of people noted that the hat ran small and I have a big head. The last thing you want is to spend all that time knitting a colour work hat and for it not to fit.

I also wanted to alter the mitts quite significantly from the original pattern. I wanted a proper thumb gusset as afterthought thumbs don’t fit me at all well. I wanted to combine both the mitt and mitten into a convertible flip-top number for maximum warmth and utility. And for added awesomeness and the elimination of needing to remove the mittens to use your phone, I wanted to add thumb slits.

How did we do?

And here’s a good close up of that gusset with added snowflake:

I’d say I did pretty good! Ticked all the boxes of what I wanted them to achieve although clearly some of my details could be better. I used an entire ball of blue yarn and just under half a ball of white.

Here’s more detail on my mods:

• Added a thumb gusset

• Knitted the mitt version but make them a convertible flip-top mitten

• Added a small slit on the inside of the thumb so I can use my thumbs for texting without having to fold the mittens down


• Went up a needle size for both ribbing and main pattern

• Added an extra plain row between pattern repeats – although only on the mitt as I forgot about doing this on the flip top of the mitten – turns out it was probably unnecessary

• Flip top knit as per mitten instructions (3 x snowflakes, decreases then graft shut)

• Started thumb gusset on row 11, inserting increases either side of the final stitch and separating these from the hand stitches with a marker

• Added a single snowflake for interest on the thumb gusset. On the right hand mitten it’s dead centre – the left hand one is a bit skewiff

• Once I had 19 sts, put them on waste yarn and cast on 4 sts to help cover the gap. These 4 sts are then decreased out over the next few rows to return the stitch count to normal


• Pick up 5 stitches over the gap, plus 19 on waste yarn – total of 24.

• Knit 1 row plain.

• Decrease 2 sts.

• Repeat these two rows a total of 4 times – 16 sts.

• Bind off 4 sts on 1 row. Next round cast on 4 sts over the gap.

• Knit 5 rows plain.

• K2tog every st around, then knit a row plain.

• Repeat until 4 sts then cut a length of yarn and pull through the 4 sts – securing to the inside

Figuring out how to cast on for the white for the flip-top was a major pain. On reflection, I should have cut the white and joined it back in again. Trying to float it around the palm for ten rows has led to the ribbing being rather inelastic. I may yet cut the floats and weave them in.

Some of my floats across the thumb gusset aren’t great either – you can see lots of white peeking out in several places.

However, for a first attempt, not bad.

Now on to the hat!

I knew I wanted a giant pompom. The pattern includes one and I bought a special pompom maker just for this project. I managed to make one that used up 30g of yarn:

Not perfectly even mind you, but oh so good and woolly.

I went up a needle size for both ribbing and main body of the hat, as per the mittens.

Also tried to knit as loosely as possible with the colourwork to make it easier for the hat to fit my giant heid!

It turned out to be a Pretty quick knit – helped by being off work and multiple movie marathons in the background :) I think over Christmas we watched ALL the Marvel movies in the course of 36 hours, plus Frozen several times and other guilty pleasures such as Enchanted:

# How does she knoooooow…… #

The hat itself used 36g of Cornflower and 20g of Alabaster. The pompom took 29g of Alabaster. Ready for the big reveal?

I have so much love for this hat. I was worried about it being too short/small but it is probably a tiny fraction too long. But it covers my ears and eyebrows nicely and is a dream to wear on winter days. Every time we’ve had snow since Christmas I wear it out of the house on my walk to work and trips around the park – lovely and toasty.

There are some good walks near where we live. We are just around the corner from Roundhay Park which looks lovely even in the winter:

It also features its very own castle which was the backdrop for the photo shoot:

Very random!

Full notes are available on Ravelry for the hat here and the mittens here.

Plenty more updates to come hopefully. While I’ve not been doing much knitting recently as I’ve not really been in the mood for any crafting and when I have, I’ve been mostly spinning and sewing. Nonetheless there’s still a bit to share.

Anyone being blessed/cursed with any snow at the moment?

Still Here

And just like that 4+ months disappears in the blink of an eye! I can hardly believe that it's been so long since I blogged. Scary. But I'm not short of excuses – I'm pretty good when it comes to those :)

In the last few months I've done what are alleged to be two of the three most stressful things you can do – I've changed jobs and we've moved house. Since I can't get married again and the hubster tells me that divorce is off the cards hopefully there shan't be a third!

Now we've spent a couple of months in the new place and I'm starting to get into routines it's getting easier and at some point I'll give a rundown of what we've been up to.

There's been knitting:

And sadness:

I'm certainly not sad to see the back of 2014. It's been a tough year for us both in many ways and we are looking forward to the plans we've made and what we hope 2015 might bring. I certainly need to continue working on getting into (good!) routines and procrastinating less – I've got a lot I need to sink my teeth into and I have to be better at managing my time.

It's been lovely reading about other people's plans for 2015 – does anyone have anything special planned?