I have to say…I’m particularly jazzed about this make. At the beginning of 2016, I had a some sewing goals for myself. The main two being: make a button-up collared shirt and make jeans. At the end of January, I found out I was pregnant, so there went my goals. I had terrible morning sickness (for the entire pregnancy unfortunately) but that fatigue in those first 4-5 months absolutely killed me. I had no energy to do anything after I had a full day of work. Plus, I didn’t want to invest a lot of time into clothing that I needed to be a normal size in order to fit to myself.
Well, my daughter is now 3 months old and I’m back at the sewing machine! I traced all of the pieces of the Grainline Archer and set about cutting it out of my Cotton & Steel Metallic Arrows fabric that I’ve been keeping for this occasion. I didn’t do a toile because I figured it’s supposed to be a looser fitting shirt. I decided to go one size up from my bust size because I tend to have broader shoulders for my size and I lengthened the sleeves by 1.5 inches since my arms are a bit longer.
I used the sew-along instructions as my go-to instructions and the day-by-day steps made sewing this really manageable. I think when instructions are really long, I get overwhelmed by how much there is to do, but each day of the sew-along is a nice chunk where I feel accomplished and I’m not at my machine for hours on end (which is hard to do with an infant anyway!). The only deviation of instructions that I did was to use the Alder Shirtdress sew-along instructions for the yoke and Andrea’s alternative collar instructions for the collar.
Can I tell you…the sense of accomplishment is ridiculous?!?! I didn’t think that I would be able to sew something like this with its many pattern pieces and need for accuracy…but I did! And I love it. The longer sleeves are perfect for me and it is warm and comfortable to wear. I love it so much…I’m making a black/white/grey gingham version right now!
The first project with buttonholes that I tackled was the Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges dress. At the time of sewing, I was pregnant and needed something that would be roomy enough to hide (in the first 3 months) and later fit my growing bump. At the time, I couldn’t be bothered to tweak the waistline of version 1 so I went for version 3, the tunic. The first one I made was out of this cotton lawn weight chambray. All of my versions have pockets because…well…pockets. That’s self explanatory.
As you can see, the fabric is really light and even though I made the dress length, it was still a bit short for me so I always wore them with tights or leggings. Super comfy and roomy though.
My next version was out of this black viscose fabric from The Textile Centre. It has a flower-like pattern on it that reminds me of Chinese characters. I think I got the most wear out of this version, because it didn’t need ironing. Even though it’s a viscose fabric, it has a nice weight to it which made it surprisingly warm.
Last but not least, a linen sleeveless version. This probably got the second-most wears because when it was colder, I could layer with a turtleneck or long sleeve top, and when it was warmer, I either wore it on its own, or with a short sleeved t-shirt underneath.
From what I remember, these tunics fit me up until my 8th month, and I continued to wear them after pregnancy because they were just so loose and comfy.
One big thing to point out is that Megan’s post about sewing closures is an absolute gem. It has transformed how I find doing buttonholes and sewing buttons onto clothing. The tip about putting the pin through the sewn and open button hole to line up perfectly with where the button will go…genius. Sewing buttons with a machine? Even better. I am terrible at hand sewing and my first few attempts at doing so meant I had a flimsy button on there. Using the machine is a time and life saver. Check out her tips!
My first By Hand London Victoria Blazer was this denim polka dot one that I really love. Since then, I decided I needed to work a couple more into the rotation. I found these particularly useful for layering when I was pregnant because it has a relaxed fit, and has enough ease to be comfortable through pregnancy weight gain. I’ve gotten plenty of wear out of these whilst not pregnant which is nice.
This bright green jersey one is by far my favourite. It’s stretchy and comfy and adds a nice splash of colour which I like to do year-round. The lining is a black and white polka dot cotton that I had in my stash.
At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about the slouchy lapels (I’d topstitched on my denim version so they’d lay flat) but I then decided that I liked them kind of slouchy and just did a catch stitch on the corners of the collar and top of the lapels.
This black version is made of a thick brushed cotton and lined with this polka dot polyester fabric. Aaannd, I just realised that I must have a thing for polka dot material!
It’s very wearable and a nice stylish basic to wear over and over.
The nice thing about the blazer’s looser sleeves is that in colder weather, I can put a long sleeve on underneath to layer. With more wear, I’ve realised that the length of the sleeves is slightly awkward since it hits me right at my elbow bend. Whilst still comfortable, I think I’m going to lengthen the sleeves on my next version. I’m currently debating between a lovely camel melton wool or a twill vest version like Heather’s…or who knows…maybe both!