achievement unlocked: Archer tuxedo shirt

I am pretty thrilled about this shirt, guys!


This is the Archer button-down from Grainline Studio. As much as I love me some easy basics that I can make over & over again to build a handmade wardrobe, this was my first Grainline pattern. It seems like the general styles & silhouettes of Grainline patterns are geared toward women with less “pneumatic” figures. The Archer is a loose-fitting button-down, very menswear-inspired. It has all the classic button-down shirt elements: an enclosed yoke, a two-piece collar, separate pieces for the button placket, the curved shirttail hem. There’s also an option for some kind of ruffled butt cover, I guess to give people a more feminine option? I love ruffles, but, um, nope. Notably, there are NO darts in this pattern. & that makes it really not a great go-to option for the bustier among us.

I got this pattern as part of the Monthly Stitch’s indie pattern swap. My swap partner said that she picked it because I said I liked useful basics, & I’ve been sewing a lot of shirtdresses. I was actually really pleased to receive the pattern, because I was on the hunt for a button-down & didn’t really want to spend the money on this one myself, thanks to the dartlessness & the fact that I am a D-cup. But in the end, it wound up working really well!

I did do an FBA on this one. I used the “slide & pivot method,” where you trace off the armscye & then pivot the pattern to add more room to the bust. I was skeptical, but it worked perfectly. It’s a good way to do an FBA on a pattern that doesn’t have darts, like this one. I also added a bit of extra width to the hips, because my muslin felt just a little bit tight there.


But of course, the biggest change was all those pintucks!

I’ve been wanting to add pintucks to something for a long time, & actually prepped pattern pieces for McCall’s 6696 to make a pintucked shirtdress. I then got sidetracked by other projects. I made this Archer for the “RTW copycat” challenge at the Monthly Stitch, inspired by Patti Smith on the cover of “Horses”.


I decided to cut the front of the shirt in panels so I could incorporate flat piping made from black satin, to mimic the effect of the black ribbon that Patti has hanging around her neck. & then I realized, if I’m already breaking the shirt front into panels, this is a perfect opportunity to experiment with pintucks!

It’s easiest to add pintucks to a garment that doesn’t have darts so you’re not messing with the structural shape too much. Since the Archer doesn’t have darts, & I wasn’t planning to add any, because I wanted to maintain the boxy androgyny of the inspiration look, it was perfect canvas for experimentation. I will try to explain how I did this, but be forewarned: I may not do a great job.

First I had to figure out how many pintucks I wanted to make, so I could figure out how wide to cut my panel. I decided on six on either side, with the flat piping making a seventh decorative element. Odd numbers are just generally more aesthetically pleasing, for whatever reason. I decided to make each pintuck 1/4″ wide. Too narrow would look weird on me because I’m not a small person, but too wide wouldn’t be much of a challenge. I did a few panel muslins, trying to decide how far apart the pintucks should be. I decided I wanted a bit of space between them, but not much. 7/8″ was way too much, but 1/4″ wasn’t enough. I settled on 3/8″–the width of one pintuck with 1/8″ breathing room.

I traced off a copy of my shirt front & drew a line where I wanted the fold of each pintuck to be. I added a seam allowance for the panel & that was my basic pattern piece. I then cut along each line & added 1/2″, the width of each unfolded pintuck.


I used this taped-together monstrosity of a pattern piece to cut my panels. I don’t know if you can see the lines drawn in with purple colored pencil, but I traced those lines off on to my fabric. That’s where I folded, & I stitched 1/4″ from each fold to make each pintuck. I pressed them away from the button placket.

To make the flat piping, I just cut strips of black satin 1″ wide. I pressed it in half (as well as I could–it didn’t take a press very well) & sewed it to the seam allowance of the body of my shirt fronts, with the folded part facing toward the side seams. When I sewed the panel to the shirt body, a 1/4″ fold of satin was left visible. Easy peasy!

& since I was doing all this, I also went ahead & did all my topstitching in black thread & used black buttons on both placket & cuffs.



The result is a lot like a tuxedo shirt! It’s certainly not a carbon copy of the inspiration image, but it’s there in spirit. & I think I will wear it a lot more than I would a plain white shirt with white topstitching & white buttons.

To finish things off, I flat-felled the sleeve & side seams, & hemmed the whole thing with 1/4″ double-fold white bias tape, which was a bit of a struggle, seeing as my shirting material is thick, bouncy, & very prone to fraying, but it turned out surprisingly well.



Man, it took me so long to write this post. I started it this morning over breakfast, & then took a break to sew while Jared went out with Ramona, & picked it back up just in time for them to come home. I had to stop & take Ramona to a birthday party at the wading pool, & I started it again after we got home & she was eating lunch. Then I had to stop again to put her down for a nap & take a shower. I feel like it took me longer to write the post than it did to sew the damn shirt!

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

7 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: Archer tuxedo shirt

  1. Another amazing sewing job. That shirt is so cool. You do all this and the Mommy thing! Wish I had half of your drive and energy.

    1. Well, this & the Mommy thing are pretty much ALL I do. I got into sewing to give myself something that was just for me when my kiddo was a tiny baby. I lucked out in that kid has always been really chill & easy, so I manage to get quite a bit of sewing done while she’s playing or whatever. My sewing stuff is all set up in the living room so I can work on it while she is right there with me. She’s only three, but she knows all about things like organza, cuffs, winding bobbins, etc. She’ll point at someone’s shirt & say, “Is that called a button placket?” & their minds are blown. It’s pretty cute.

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