So I wanted to make a button down shirt. Not only one, but several. And not only plain, but variations. Sewing production style is not my thing, so each is naturally a bit different. I couldn’t make 3 of the exact same thing if I tried – even something great. So I’m searching for the perfect button down shirt pattern.
Before I can make variations, I needed to master one. So given that my Butterick 5526 is cut in the wrong size, I decided to try something new and purchase the Archer shirt from Grainline studio. It is a loose fitting button down shirt. It was very highly recommended on Pattern Review. And I really liked the variation with the ruffled back.
It has waaaay more pieces than I had ever used on a button down shirt before. That meant I needed to actually follow the directions. (I usually regard the instructions as merely suggestions.) To be fair, sewing a button down shirt is a laborious process and I wasn’t quite mentally prepared…
I cut the Archer version 1 from stretch cotton shirting. I wasn’t too fond of the bright color – the bane of buying fabric online is not getting exactly what you were hoping for. So for a muslin it would be fine.
Size & Specs
I cut a size 8 but cut a 10 at the shoulder seams. This gave me 1/4″ more room in the underarm. I also cut the 10 for the neck in front as well. So on the collar pieces, I cut accordingly. I also cut the sleeve without adding my usual 1″ for length.
On Pattern Review, many have raved about this pattern. I agree it is well drafted. The written instructions are lacking though. Good thing they offer a series of blog posts they used as a sew-a-long. One or two were necessary!
With the exception of the buttons it’s complete. It fits OK.
Changes to Pattern
I did make the cuffs 1/2″ wider so the sleeves would be a good length. I’ll lengthen the pattern there for the next time.
The overall length could be longer by about an 1″, so I’ll change the pattern there too.
On the armholes, I decided to cut back the 1/4″ where I cut the size 10. I was watching Joi Mahon’s Fast Track Fitting in the Details (affiliate because I love this class!) on sleeve fitting and discovered that woven shirts will pull if the underarm seam is too low. Mine definitly pulls, so that’s why I’m going to try it with a smaller armscye.
After watching the Craftsy class segment, I also made a few changes to the sleeve cap shaping, as I learned in the video how to account for my forward rolling shoulders. Who knew?! I also learned to increase the sleeve head to make room for ease. As you can see, this first shirt is rather tight up there.
The collar does not lie flat either. It could be that the neck sits too high. Not sure about that one. Hmmm. I did find a great tutorial at Sewaholic for a trick to make a collar lay around your neck properly. See that here. I will definitely try that little trick next time!
Overall the pattern is a good one. If you like well tailored items and making well tailored items, this is the pattern for you. I personally prefer things less fussy. Which does make me question if I want to mess with button downs in the first place. But since I have never, ever, not once ever, had a button down that actually fit well, I am going to soldier on and see if I can master this item!
Out of curiosity, I pulled out my old Butterick pattern and compared it to the altered Archer shirt. They were remarkably similar.
So I decided to try making a shirt with the Butterick pattern. It is a much easier pattern as there is no back yoke, the front button band is cut attached, (which means you don’t have to cut the right and left front separately) and the collar is also simpler. On the Archer, the under collar has a seam because it is cut on the bias. More on the Butterick version in an upcoming post.
What is your tried and true button down shirt pattern?