Grainline Archer, and a Cambridge love story

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Just before the heatwave hit here, J’s Canadian cousins came to England for the first leg of their honeymoon, and the four of us spent a happy, drizzly day wandering around Cambridge, punting and pubbing. Fresh from my success at dressing for the weather in Canada, I thoughtfully layered up with a camisole and my new Grainline Studio Archer. Upon arrival however I realised quite quickly that Cambridge in July somehow still manages to be colder and wetter than the high slopes of the Rockies, and had to borrow a ‘rain jacket’ from the ever-weather-ready Canadians. It’s embarrassing when you’re less prepared for your country’s weather than two foreigners who don’t even own umbrellas.

However, in the bright moments in between showers we did manage to get some snaps of my first attempt at the Archer, amidst the cloisters of my old college. I said ‘my’, I should say ‘we’, because it’s where J and I met, over ten years ago. It makes me chuckle, looking back. We were corridor neighbours, and in spite of having almost nothing else in common, friends. After a cracking start in my gap year, I was determined to continue my misspent youth (sleep was for the old), whilst J was determined to pass his exams and learn Japanese on the side (sleep was for the successful). As such, he thought I was crazy, I thought he was a grown up, and we didn’t fancy each other one bit. It took eight years for that to change, eight years of my mother steadily brainwashing me after deciding (after a one-off, brief encounter on the day we moved in, no less) that J was the one for me. She probably cast a few spells to be on the safe side. I don’t know how she got to J too though.




Anyway, if you’d told me back then that ten years on I’d find myself the girlfriend of J, helping him show his Canadian cousins around our old haunts, I’d have laughed – a lot. The only bit that wouldn’t have surprised me was that I’d be wearing something home-sewn.

I’d been kind of ambivalent about the blogosphere’s favourite shirt pattern because loose and masculine aren’t words that sit comfortably with my usual style. I really like my FBA-ed Sewaholic Granville pattern. But then I was seduced by this Jack Wills shirt, came across the perfect fabric for it in Sew Over It, and as one of my favourite areas of sewing is recreating high street looks, I decided to give it a go.


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I cut a size 4, and it’s fairly roomy, but then without any bust shaping it would have to be on me. In such a light cotton, I don’t mind the looseness, but I’d be tempted to rethink the fit for a fabric with more body. It was lovely working with something so light when it came to the collar and cuffs, although I still feel my neatness here could be improved. One thing I have got down and dusted now however is turning my corners! I’ve learnt such a neat trick for this that I might try and film it and share on here, as it’s almost impossible to explain without visuals.

Anyhoo, I actually started the shirt way back before Canada, discovered I HATE flat-felling seams, and may have rather naughtily left it to one side in favour of my holiday makes. I picked it up the day before our Cambridge visit and gave myself ‘tomorrow’ as a motivating deadline. It worked – ish. I made myriad little mistakes on this shirt that scream to me ‘less haste more speed’ – my cuffs are both buttoning in the same direction rather than symmetrically, for example. The thing is though, if you want to wear something, you either have to redo it (sigh) or just quit obsessing, accept that most other people will never spot the flaws (I’m never wearing this to a sewing meet-up, however), and move on, celebrating the fact that at least your corners are proper pointy.

Do I love it, warts and all? Well, I like it, and can definitely see more Archers in my wardrobe, but I’ve realised that lately I’ve made a lot of practical items and my sew-jo yearns for something a little more me. To that end I’ve just cut out McCalls 6696 in some really fabulous Liberty lawn… x

P.S. Interesting fact: my surname, Chang, is derived from the Chinese for long-bowman, i.e. an archer!

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6 thoughts on “Grainline Archer, and a Cambridge love story

  1. What a wonderful day reminiscing about where you met. Shirt looks great too. I know what you mean about accepting little flaws, no one else usually notices but we still know they are there😃


  2. It looks very chic and classy Nina, perfect for a visit to Cambridge! I grew up in Liverpool which has a large Chinese community, so it was interesting to hear about the origins of the name! Must tell my mum (who also casts spells!) x


  3. Another great looking make, and perfect for the Cambridge backdrop. Would like to see your method for turning points (wondering if it’s the same as mine). Also enjoyed hearing about how you and J met. 🙂 Looking forward to seeing how 6696 turns out, I’ve had the pattern in my stash for ages but am waiting for the right fabric.


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