Style Arc Blaire Shirt 2
I started this Style Arc Blaire Shirt pretty well straight after I photographed Kate’s white one last year. It really is such a perfect, boxy, versatile shirt that I’m convinced you could make it in almost any lightweight fabric and it would work. With that in mind, I searched my stash and chose perhaps the loudest fabric in the pile – a very vibrant purple and grey check. I could get away with it in a Blaire, I reasoned. Anything’s possible with a Blaire. The thing is, I don’t actually like purple. I almost never wear it, I don’t buy it, I have no dreams of an old age spent wearing baggy purple velour, surrounded by cats. It just ain’t my colour. But I was strangely drawn to this check, and crossed my fingers it would work.
Oh boy this was a sewing project of frustrations – every single step of the way. I made some flat out silly mistakes – starting at cutting. These innocent looking square checks that look non-directional? They’re rectangular. Rectangles not discernible to the human eye! I discovered this the hard way AFTER sewing together most of the shirt. I tried and tried but I couldn’t pattern match – because all pattern pieces MUST be cut on the grainline (as directed by the pattern, doh) but I’d cut some on the cross-grain so I wouldn’t waste fabric. That turned out to be a totally false economy, as I had to order more fabric from The Drapery and start again. Sigh. I like to think the Drapery ladies sensed my angst when they slipped in a little packet of old fashioned boiled lollies – sugar and a timely break to sew a pile of fete stall stuff helped with the pain of beginning again.
Second time around I lessened the pattern matching pain by omitting the horizontal seams on the front of the shirt and cutting single pieces. I kept the seam across the back and gave in to the mismatched checks (I figured I don’t have to look at them when I wear it!) as I figured the button bands were enough pattern matching for one shirt. What I think I’m trying to say here is, save some sanity and make this shirt in something other than checks!
Style Arc’s pattern pieces are satisfyingly accurate and the drafted shapes are beautifully considered. I love the shape of the sleeve cuff, the boxy cut of the shirt and the drop shoulders. I did skip the layered side panel detail and lower the shirt hem curve for modesty – I also lengthened the shirt by a couple of inches. My only small gripe with this pattern is that the instructions are so concise and abbreviated that I had a few moments of pure confusion. The tiny type is so tightly spaced that it’s tricky to follow – the instructions fit on two pages (compared with the Grainline Archer instructions, which are 21 pages long!). Compact instructions are sweet looking and no doubt the trees are grateful, but I did crave some extra detail on a few steps. I think the pattern is designed for a more experienced sewist than myself – after all this is only the fourth shirt I’ve sewn – but I was glad I’d made a couple of Archers beforehand because I referred back to those instructions for more detail at a couple of points.
Even with this extra help, the mistakes kept coming. When I came to attach the collar I was frantic that mine was too small and wouldn’t fit the shirt. It was a truly baffling sewing moment – I just couldn’t work out how I’d got the collar sizing wrong. After much muttering and remeasuring and mentally writing an email to Style Arc I realised I had missed a vital instruction on one of the diagrams: the collar and shirt notches need to be matched first and THEN the shirt needs to be eased into the collar – just like easing in a sleeve. Again, a more experienced sewist would have done this step automatically (Kate realised she had made the same mistake at this step too, but brought in her plackets to fit, which means her collar doesn’t sit quite right).
My only other word of caution when it comes to the instructions is in regard to the placket/button band. The shirt front tab is entirely fused with interface, which makes the two plackets a little bulkier than I’d like. The Archer pattern only fuses half of the button band and does not interface the seams – I think I’ll try this on my next Blaire. The pattern only instructs you to add the first front placket – it’s logical to add the second in the same way but it’s just not mentioned, which again had me scratching my head for a while. Can you tell I rely heavily on my pattern instructions!
Luckily I got there in the end, and I’m so happy with the result that I’ve (almost) forgotten the pain of my mistakes. I just love the shape and lines of this shirt, I’ve been wearing it quite a lot and I even get comments…though it could just be the shock of colour!? I’d love to make another Blaire but sadly the weather has decided to flash straight to arctic winter. Luckily this one has a pretty cute collar that would peek out nicely from under a woolly jumper so I plan to wear it all winter long. Perhaps I am a purple person after all.