Collarless Grainline Archer

Collarless Grainline Archer

We’re having a bit of an Archer festival over here at the moment, with two versions in two weeks. And our versions couldn’t be more, well, different – which is what I love about Grainline Studios’ iconic Archer pattern – it’s so versatile. Google the pattern and all sorts of shirts appear that look like they were made using completely different patterns. It works equally well as a lumberjack-inspired plaid overshirt; a light chambray shirt for summer; or a crisp white shirt for the boardroom (or whatever other women-in-the-workplace cliché involving white shirts that you care to roll out).

You may have seen Klarissa’s basic black Archer here last week – it’s simple and classic (and I want it). Mine is certainly a contrast. For the first time in a long time I decided to go full colour in a garment, and made this one in a rather big red. So unlike me. It wasn’t a particularly strategic decision: I saw this shirt a few months back and liked it; then happened to be browsing the silky-viscose-rayon section at The Fabric Store during their big summer sale time, and came across this sweet red print. And thought, why not?




The Archer wasn’t my first choice for a pattern for this shirt – I was pretty sold on the Mandarin/collarless look, and was on the hunt for more of a ‘blouse’ than a shirt. I did a lot of online searching and fossicking through my vintage and Japanese patterns and had almost decided on a vintage one with slightly puffed sleeves, when Klarissa talked me into the Archer. It’s an anything and everything shirt, she said. Plus it’s really well drafted and the instructions are crystal clear, she said. And there’s a sewalong on the site if you get really stuck as it’s your first ever shirt, she said. All good points – the Archer won.

And I’m so glad it did. Because although I didn’t find making a shirt impossibly difficult, there are just so many stages in the construction – and therefore so many ways to go wrong. Jen from Grainline speaks about this in an interview she did on the Crafty Planner podcast recently (it’s so worth a listen!)  – I like her philosophy that patterns aren’t necessarily advanced or difficult – they just have more steps. Which require good instructions. I don’t think I could have finished a shirt without solid guidance, I’m just not experienced enough, and I’m not particularly intuitive or observant when it comes to how clothes are constructed. The end product is always a bit of a surprise to me!


Collarless Grainline Archer


So my Archer took time (lots of time), but step by step, it came together pretty painlessly. The fabric was slippery as all hell at the cutting stage, and I had to re-cut a few pieces as a result, but it was actually very well behaved during sewing. Everything hummed along smoothly until the collar, and then I hit a small wall. As I mentioned, I wanted a Mandarin collar for this shirt, and followed the Grainline tutorial for this variation which is included in the Alder dress sew-along. Sadly the first one I attached was really floppy and didn’t sit well at all, and I quickly decided I really did want a full collar after all.

So I unpicked and started again with a full collar, which wasn’t as difficult as I’d feared, and sat very neatly. But for some odd reason the moment I put it on, the fabric and the collar combined transported me straight back to the early 90s – and I freaked out. All I could think about was how my more junior self would have worn that shirt with the top button undone, and teamed it with some sort of choker, an A-line button-up denim mini skirt, tights and Doc boots – as I sat in some corner crying about Kurt Cobain and writing poetry in my diary. I couldn’t go there. Isn’t it funny how some fashions are easy to revisit, while others are completely non-negotiable?


Collarless Grainline Archer


What you see here is collar number three – a second attempt at the Mandarin collar, which seemed to work better. It’s still a bit floppy and by no means sitting flat when I unbutton it, but the curling and gaping of my first attempt have been resolved, so I can live with it. I suspect if you’re looking for a truly neat Mandarin collar, you may need to find a pattern with that as a feature (rather than adapting the collar stand of a collared shirt pattern). I’d blame my humble first shirt attempts for the floppiness, but I checked in with super-sewer Sarah from Fabric Tragic who recently made this lovely collarless Alder, and she agreed there were some minor flop issues.

Collar aside, I’m very happy with my first shirt, and quite proud that I pulled it off. I plan to go down a size on my next Archer as it’s a little roomy around the shoulders, but again, I can live with it.  I suspect my biggest challenge with this shirt will be getting comfortable with the colour – it’s so damn bright – but perhaps I’ll start small, and just wear it to sit in some corner crying about David Bowie and Prince, which I seem to be doing a bit lately. Some things never change.


Collarless Grainline Archer

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Looks great with the mandarin collar and I’m so impressed that you persevered to collar no. 3! I would have just shrugged and given in to attemp no. 1. You are a stronger woman than I 🙂

    • Thanks Bella – it’s a pretty scrappy first attempt at a shirt but I really had no choice with the three collars (the other two weren’t great!). I have so much newfound respect for all of those sewists out there who whip up a shirt in hours….

  • Very nice. I love the drapey fabric, it totally transforms the look of the Archer compared to a crisp cotton shirting.

    Have you seen the Charlotte Kan Garconne Shirt? It’s also very similar to your inspiration photo. It has a simpler button band, and slightly more feminine proportions than the Archer.

    • Thanks for your lovely message Kristi – would you believe I noticed that Charlotte Kan pattern was launched just as I cut out my Archer. I love the blue tester one you made – do you recommend it as worth a try?

  • Seriously this is totally fabulous! Your collar flop is non existent! I’ve got a couple of patterns in my stash similar to your inspiration pic and they definitely have a slightly different neckline drafting… I can’t believe this is your first shirt. It looks triffic! (Aww and thanks for calling me a super sewer! Xx)

    • Oh you are a super sewer Sarah – we love your makes! And thanks re the collar, it’s fine when it’s done up so I may just go formal whenever I wear it. I’m interested in testing a few other shirt/collar patterns now, will keep an eye out for differently drafted Mandarin collars. x

  • You gals are so inspiring. I’ve held off on the archer… but now I want one. Congrats on the deviation of your preferred colour palate. I hope this shirt gets lots of wear because it’s all sorts of fabulous!

    • Thank you Anna, you could whip up an Archer in no time! And thank you re colour encouragement, adventurous colour choices seem to come naturally to you.