My Makes of 2017: Sleeveless, collarless Archer shirt with Western yokes

It took about a fortnight of living in Paris before I finally unpacked my sewing machines - I hadn't sewn at all for almost a month by that time because of all the packing and moving, so I had plenty of things on my 'to sew' list.Since making a Kennedy Tartan Archer shirt last year I've been really into shirt making. They're so fun to make (I *love* precise sewing), and they're a staple in Dr Frocks' wardrobe so it's fun to be able to sew something for him too.

One of the first fabric shops I went to in Paris was AnnaKa Bazaar, which is run by the people who design Atelier Brunette fabric. They were holding a 'braderie' that week, which is a clearance sale, woohoo! We picked up a beautiful origami bird fabric for a man's shirt, and this gorgeous print for me:



Also yes, those are my Eiffel Tower scissors - no shame in matching your sewing accessories to your new city!

This isn't the sort of print I'd usually go for, what with it being quite understated and very classy, but I thought it'd be great to upgrade my wardrobe a bit. The cotton is ever so slightly sheer, which makes me feel like a saucy Parisienne lady!

As I already have the Grainline Archer pattern from when I made my first version, I decided that I'd just alter that instead of starting from scratch. I went to Dollywood in 2008 on a family holiday, and ever since then I've had a soft spot for all things 'country', so I re-drafted the front and back pattern pieces to add Western-style yokes.



Re-drafting the front pieces was fairly easy - I just drew round the original pieces on a large sheet of paper, then drew the yoke shape I wanted, and cut one out for either side. The back piece was slightly more complicated because the original pattern has a pleat in the back where the yoke meets the back panel. To get around this I drew around the original back yoke piece on plain paper, then extended it to a point in the middle. Then I re-drew the main back piece so it was the same width as the yoke at the top (i.e. removing the pleat), then tapering back out to the original width at the hips by pivoting the old pattern piece. In hindsight I didn't actually have to pivot it so much because the hips were already plenty wide, and I tend to wear it tied up anyway, but I was just being cautious. Better to make it too big than too small!

I also narrowed the shoulder seams by around 3cm as recommended in this blog post. This worked fine, but I think I'd perhaps only take them in by half that if I made this again - I think it would help balance out the hips a little.

Here's a photo I snapped while I was attaching one of the front button bands, but you can also see where I attached the front yokes:



I should also note here that although the pattern calls for interfacing in the button band, back yoke, collar stand and collar, I omitted it from my version because I wanted it to be really floaty and summery.

This was the first thing I made using my HUGE new self-healing cutting mat. It made everything so easy, I love a rotary cutter!



Having yokes on the front and back meant that this floaty shirt was at risk of being too bulky at the shoulders, where 4 layers of fabric meet. Check out this tidy seam grading:



I didn't take any more photos of the construction because it was fairly straightforward, but you can see the bias bound armholes here:



I topstitched everything into submission so it'll need minimal ironing. I don't think I've ever done black topstitching before, but I think it really works here - it accents the design lines but doesn't overpower the fabric design.

Here's a close up of the inside back yoke. I stitched the label onto the facing before construction so the stitching won't show through outside the shirt. It's just a small touch, but makes me feel like such a pro ;-)




Here's the whole shirt lying flat. It makes the arm holes look suuuuuper big, but the proportions look much better when it's on an actual body:



You can kind of see what I mean about the shoulders looking disproportionately narrow on this back view, though:



But it's so easy breezy to wear - here's me doing a little shimmy in it on our balcony!

How do you feel about western yokes? I can't get enough of them! Should I put them on all my shirts....?!