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As Good As It Gets

For a long time since I made my first button down, I have been striving to make the perfect shirt. I’ve made myself three other shirts since then, plus two for Stef, but I never felt like I did with that first one. I wear each all the time and each one looks better than the last. Making a classic shirt is very satisfying, there’s so many details and techniques to master. The thing is that my idea of ‘perfect’ has shifted and will probably keep shifting. ‘The perfect shirt’  for me then was a combination of the right fabric, the right pattern and discovering that I could make a shirt. Now I have so much more eye for detail that it seems ‘perfect’ will always be just out of reach. With this new plaid Archer I’ve come pretty close though, and maybe that’s just as good as it gets.

Plaid Archer
Plaid Archer

Ever since I found this fabric last year I’ve been itching to use it. I’d been looking for a good plaid for a while and this was exactly what I was looking for. It was only 3 euros per meter, lying in the bins outside Les Coupons de St. Pierre. It’s probably a cotton blend, soft to the touch but not really a flannel.

Cutting took some time, the fabric is yarn dyed but was really warped and I had to tug and stretch it to get a straight grain. I managed to match the sleeves, side seams and fronts, but somehow messed up at the button band. It matches horizontally, but not vertically. I cut the yoke and the pockets on the bias. For plaid matching tips, check this post by Jen for Sew Mama Sew and this post by Really Handmade for more in depth articles. I used the Colette Negroni plackets again, I love making plackets. Plus all the other usual adjustments that are already in my pattern at this point. You can read about those here.

I sewed it over the course of a few days, a Sunday and then mostly in the evening hours. In my last post I wrote how acknowledging your true sewing speed can help adjust your expectations. And that this may mean that you can plan less projects because you’re not as fast as you’d like to be. I still think this is true, but I rebelled against my own words and instead of accepting my speed, I’m trying to up my productivity. I have so many great fabrics and so many ideas, I don’t want to give up on executing them all. So my new strategy is to sew just a little bit every day. I used to watch series at night and knit, but now I watch one together with Stef and then it’s back to the sewing table.

The key to succes with this strategy I think is to try and be relaxed while sewing, not to rush it. This time spent sewing was before spent as ‘down time’ and I still need that. Sewing slowly and deliberately always benefits the project anyway, so it’s a good way to get better too. This gave me the right mindset to finish the shirt well, I flat felled armscye and side seams and the collar might be the neatest one so far. So even though this is as good as it gets, it still gets a bit better with every shirt. This plaid version completes my year-round Archer collection and I already knew it would be a favourite before I cut it!

Are you striving to make a perfect garment too? Do you feel like you’ll ever reach it?

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4 Comments

  1. Oh there’s always some little thing I stuff up, whenever I make something! I aspire to a perfect collar and cuffs. Practice makes perfect! This looks great on! Lovely and wintery!

  2. This might be close to my ideal shirt too! Such a gorgeous colour and the sewing looks absolutely exemplary. Hope you enjoy wearing it!!

  3. I also have traditionally spent a lot of time in the evenings knitting and have transitioned to more sewing time in the evenings. Sometimes I like the quiet, a chance to process my own thoughts, but sometimes I also enjoy audiobooks. There are a lot of really good audiobooks out there now.

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