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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Archer shirt

Yes I know I was a sort of sign upper for the Archer shirt sew-along and finished that shirt about a month ago, but haven't got around to posting anything on it yet.

Here is a simple hanger shot:

The fabric was a voile cotton with almost a suede finish which will explain some of the odd colour shading.

This is a very good pattern.

Well-drafted, which means it slots together well, and a great fit for a comfortable shirt. Good smart directions too.

My only comment is that it uses the traditional blouse continuous lap placket which is something I hate doing. Far too many fabric layers in a short space and as a result they never, IMO, lie flat (I have turned the sleeve around for the photo so you can see what I mean.)

Far better to use a nice neat, and if you want a more feminine version a smaller, proper shirt placket like the one I put in a Negroni shirt for my nephew last night:

I know there are versions of this being put on the Archers over at the sew-along. However again I think that doing it in two pieces is unnecessary - a one pattern piece version, as you find in the Negroni, is just so much easier and always turns out perfectly. The trick is of course to trace the stitching box on typing paper and pin it directly over the placket piece on the shirt sleeve and just stitch through the line on the paper with a small stitch (you can tear the paper away easily afterwards) to get around what looks like complicated marking on the pattern piece.

I know I should be doing some tutorials, but it really is getting a little nuts around here pre-Christmas time. Hopefully I will get a chance to catch up.

I have been reading a lot of indie pattern instruction sheets lately and I am also thinking I really need to write a sewing book.

Soooo many of these patterns (some of them designed by folks who are now publishing their own basic sewing books) are just telling sewers to do things the hardest way possible and with that the largest margin for error.

Over and over again I want to say "there is an easier way to do this, there really is, with better results". 

It seems to me that some of these talented young designers are looking up techniques in standard sewing texts. Fair enough but they are missing out on the knowledge of a whole generation of sewers, brilliant women who were under-employed as housewives and went on to write amazing books (often self-published and I have them) full of smart and nifty ways around sewing problems, and to teach and broadcast in some places really interesting classes where they taught their methods.

The problem was that this work was often not well captured and the new generation of sewers can't access it.

But I can. 

I read those books, I took those classes, I taught those classes. 

I knew those women. I was the part of the last generation they passed on a way of thinking about sewing to.

Someone has to get this information out there.

I really am seeing too many gapping knit necklines ( 3/4 ratio for self fabric, 2/3 for ribbing, pin-and-mark-in quarters) too many V necklines done in the way that has a 99% chance of ending in a little bump rather than a way that has a 99% chance of success first off.

So I need to write a book and have to figure out how to get that done.

Now off to packing that shirt off for Winnipeg.


Deb Glosek said...

I would be first in line to buy your book!

badmomgoodmom said...

I look forward to your book.

I am coming to the realization that I am in the last generation of women who code. Computer programming used to be a gendered activity; it was done by women. In the 1980s, the gender ratio flipped.

Ann said...

I really hope you do write a book! Love your blog, your honesty, your humour. Thank you.

Donna W said...

Well said on the sewing instructions. I have a sewing book written by Margaret Islander who worked for many years as a sewer in the industry and she shows in this book the way clothes are created in a factory setting. This book has been a very important part of my sewing over the years. If you did write a book I would buy it. I enlarged the picture of the shirt you made just shirt you made just to see the collar band and it looks perfect. I have so much trouble with collar bands....not the curve part but the part where the band attaches to the front of the short. More practice needed I guess.

Teri said...

Amen and amen!

Anonymous said...

I hope that beautiful dusty lavender shirt is staying with you – that you made it for you. The colour is unusual, beautiful and would suit you very well. I hope you will show us a picture of you wearing it.
The fabric sounds very unusual too. Where did you get it?
Lucky nephew!
Yeahhhh to the book. Heavens forfend, you don't want to be under-employed when you retire!
Vancouver Barbara

Karen in VA said...

Please write that book. I need those skills to be able to maximize the limited time I have to sew, plus I want them to look professionally done....

patsijean said...

I agree with Donna regarding collar bands. I have fabric for making shirts for my husband and am terrified of the collar.

Carol in Denver said...

If reading your book is as enjoyable as reading your blog, and if you pour all the sewing knowledge you have into it, you will have produced a sure-fire treasure. A delightful fillip would be little boxes with your granddaughters' observations. Is it unreasonable to hope to be reading this book this time next year?

Paceda said...

I would definitely purchase your book. Good luck!

Nashville, TN

Anonymous said...

Amen and hosannah!
Write that book -- make it a 2015 resolution. I adore the enthusiasm of the newer generation of sewists and their confidence in being able to tackle anything. (This from a woman who held on to a piece of cashmere for about 6 years before sewing it -- not very well, I might add. I knew I was going to screw it up and I did.) But there is something to be said about classes vs. the Internet for learning techniques that make sewing easier and better. In addition to classes there are books by folks who have experience. I hope you do this.

wendy said...

Would you share the titles of the books you mentioned and please, please write yours - it's already on my wish list :)

BeccaA said...

I would love to buy your book! I'm always leery of books written by young new sewing enthusiasts who are very hard working but self taught. It is fun to read their blogs, but I often feel that they are writing before they have reached a level of knowledge that would justify coming out with a book. You do have the requisite depth of knowledge, and I love the way you write.

MakeitAnyWear said...

I've begun working on a my first button front shirt and could use the tutorial for the shirt placket. The one on your nephew's shirt looks perfect. I just read a posting on PR regarding a one piece placket and I think it will take me as long to find a tutorial on youtube or figure it out myself as it will for you to write it up.

Unknown said...

Go for it Barbara! A nice retirement project!

Anonymous said...

Please do write that book. Oh to have the benefit of the wisdom of generations of women who had common sense and not simply marketing savvy. I've unsubscribed from just about every blog that's written by anyone under 50! I was tired of what amounted to being spammed on a nearly daily basis, particularly by the one that recently released the book I think you're referring to.

Anonymous said...

I'll also buy your book Barb.

ElleC said...

Oh please please please write that book. I did say please. I have given up on buying sewing books because they all seem to be the same. Yours wouldn't. I would even advance order it. Would whining help?? 8-)

linda said...

yes please write that book, it would sell well here in Australia, where everyone knows you from Stitches magazine.

Kaylee said...

It looks like there is a lot of interest in a book on "sewing wisdom that is tried and true". Add me to the "A" list to be the first to purchase the book! I enjoy your blog!

Lisa Laree said...

Yes. You definitely should write a book.


Unknown said...

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE write the book! I'd buy it in a heartbeat, put down an advance, etc. You have no idea how much I have looked up those pesky V-necks (the only type of T-shirt neck my daughter wants) and I just haven't figured out the trick to consistently getting the V-neck to lay down without a little bump. Honestly, if you wanted to set up a series of classes over the internet I would pay to attend them.

Sigh... begging over... unless more begging would help? LOL!

Unknown said...

In the meantime, would you recommend getting the Negroni pattern just to get the placket pattern?

Ginger said...

I hope you are serious about the book

Jacq C said...

I would buy your book in a heartbeat, and in multiples as a gift for other sewing friends too. Please write it - although, given how busy Christmas is, I don't mind waiting a couple of weeks!

jirons42 said...

PLEASE write that book!

Marianne said...

Put me in line to buy that book! May I suggest that you also consult with Kathleen Fasanalla when you write it? She is an industry pattern-maker but there are some really great tutorials on her site that are also useful for homesewers.

becky said...

Where can I pre-order this book? LOL Sounds wonderful! I also learned how to sew 20+ yrs ago in school and I really miss good teachers!

Tanya said...

It would be refreshing to see your book and how it is put across. However l will point out to you that the sewing bloggers that have released sewing books, many of them have been approached by publishing companies (to write a book) who may commission ghost writers and/or editors (dependent on the writing capabilities of the blogger) to ensure book completion. Publishing companies see it is more profitable to appeal to a younger audience, hence the recent explosion of blogger sewing books by younger people on the market. Personally, l like to see different techniques applied in different ways so a variety of books by different sewing abilities would be an absolute bonus.

Also on a separate note, the Colette Hawthorn dress also contains instructions on how to do the one piece sleeve placket.

Anonymous said...

Write. That. Book. Please!

the world and I need it.


Leigh in Portland (we are not burning down) said...

Yes, please! I'll pre-order right now!!

SimpleFibreLife said...

Oooh. I would snap your book up in a heartbeat. Please write a book. I'd love to learn even a little bit of what you know about sewing.

TinaLou said...

PLEASE write that book!!! The sewing world needs your pragmatism - and humor!

Unknown said...

Oh yes please write that book!!! Like you don't already have enough to do, BUT you always get everything done, so of course you can get a book written and you'll enjoy the process because that's what you do and we are soooo blest to have you!!!! Yea!!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes to the book! said...

I agree. I have often thought of writing your book myself :)

SewRuthie said...

Yes please write the book, I will preorder it. I must admit I don't have much time for those young indie patern designers who are telling others what to do before they have learned themselves and keep away from them as they make me cross!