Sleeveless Grainline Archer Hybrid in Silk Habotai

Jennifer's Sleeveless Silk Archer 1

You guys, I finally checked off one of my sewing bucket list projects.  I’ve been wanting a sleeveless silk popover for years! Years! I am so, so glad I finally took the plunge! I LOVE this shirt.  The style is exactly what I wanted and the fabric feels absolutely dreamy to wear.  Seriously, multiple times while wearing it, I blurted out pure admiration for it.  It was over 90F and yet, it still felt cool because the style is so breezy and the fabric is so lightweight (the jeans were a somewhat different story 😉 ).  I’ve never worn habotai as anything other than a lining and that was obviously a mistake.  This definitely goes in the “so comfortable I feel sneaky wearing it out of the house” category.  And yet it’s silk, so everyone else thinks I’m dressed up! HAHA!

In case you can’t recognize it, the base pattern I used for this dream top is the ever-loved Grainline Archer. Can you believe this is my first one!? I muslined it last year before the intense Christmas cocktail dress took over… but that’s a story for another day. Obviously, I made a few modifications, but it turned out they weren’t so complicated. I knew I wanted a popover with a tunic collar, and while Googling to see how long others had made their plackets, I came across Andrea’s tutorial for changing the pattern to a v-neck and knew I had to follow suit! I never wear my shirts buttoned all the way to the top, so why not tweak the neckline to make it lay nicer?

I didn’t quite follow the tutorial, in part because it was for a full-front placket, but instead pulled out M6702 for a starting point for the placket and ended up with something quite similar, except with a slightly curved v. For mine, I removed 1 3/16″ from the CF neckline and curved down 8″, with the placket extending 4″ beyond that.  I removed the same 1 3/16″ from CF of the collar band, redrawing the curve, slightly shallower, at the new edge. The concern was that collars are generally drafted to fit over one’s shoulders and clavicles, so removing the excess from CB would have moved that drafting to the wrong part of the body.

Then, to avoid the “torn-off sleeves” look that my better half finds so unflattering, I brought in the shoulder line by ~1″, then tweaked the shirt back piece by 3/8″, per Grainline’s tutorial. I finished my variations by simply inverting the back pleat to encourage the shirt to lay in my back, rather than billowing away. In total, the alterations took me less than an hour.

Construction, on the other hand, took a fair bit longer, but, you know, silk. And really, it wasn’t half as painful as I expected. To start, habotai is definitely more stable than other common silks, like crepe or georgette. In fact, my first thought was that it would be a good choice for sewists new to working with silk. To make things go even more smoothly, and I mean that literally, I used Stitch & Ditch tear-away stabilizer under every seam. This prevented my machine from eating, stretching, or puckering the silk. It was my first time using it and I probably won’t sew silk without it again. (If you’ve tried tear-aways before, but had trouble with them pulling stitches or not removing cleanly, give this one a try. It’s for heirloom sewing, so it’s perfect for delicate fabrics.) Another staple in my silk-sewing arsenal is cotton lawn. Underlining silk with a lightweight cotton is a great way to make it full more hefty and luxurious, but also more stable. I actually auditioned several interfacings for this project, but fusibles weren’t suitable as the glue dots showed through the white spots, and honestly, just didn’t give it the same feel. To make things easier to manage, I cut the lawn the same size as the silk pieces, for the collar, yoke, and plackets, hand-basted it to the silk, sewed everything as normal (with the stabilizer under the silk-only piece) and then trimmed the lawn back to the stitching line to remove the excess bulk. I expect this to be standard practice for me when making silk shirts in the future. Oh yes, there will be more!

To finish the shirt, I made nude silk double-georgette bias binding for the armscyes, used a double-folded baby hem, and attached two [functioning – seriously terrifying-to-sew] smoke mother-of-pearl buttons to the placket. And now I have a new favorite shirt. And a new addiction to silk ;D

So, tell me, are you addicted to silk, and the Archer, too? 

Jennifer's Sleeveless Silk Archer 2Jennifer's Sleeveless Silk Archer 3Jennifer's Sleeveless Silk Archer 4Jennifer's Sleeveless Silk Archer 5Jennifer's Sleeveless Silk Archer 6Jennifer's Sleeveless Silk Archer 8

Happy sewing! x

Jennifer M, from Jenny Maker

Hi! I’m Jennifer, or Jenny if you’d like, and I blog at Jenny Homemaker. I currently reside in Atlanta with my fiancé/sounding-board/photographer, Brandon, and fur baby/supervisor/photobomber, CoCo.

I started sewing in 2009 after a long-distance move, when it became clear I needed a new hobby. I was fearless, choosing a fully-lined, polyester satin, bubble-hem party dress as my first garment. As you might expect, it was a bit of a disaster and was never worn (we dubbed it the “shiny trash bag” dress), but I saw potential in the idea of sewing my own dresses and didn’t hesitate to jump back in.

What started as a way to pass the time has turned into one of the things I’m most passionate about! I’m well on my way to having a fully handmade wardrobe, sewing everything from lounge clothes to silk dresses! When I’m not sewing, I’m learning. When I’m not learning, I’m planning.

Since fabric is such a great part of sewing (sometimes the best part, right!?), I’m really looking forward to being a part of the Cali Fabrics team, sharing some amazing fabrics and helpful tips with you!

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24 thoughts on “Sleeveless Grainline Archer Hybrid in Silk Habotai”

  1. Ooh, I love your fabric choice! I too love sewing with silk (or did before I had kids haha). I like the modifications that you made, it looks perfect for warm weather.

    1. Thank you!! I was so excited to finally find a scattered black and white(ish) dot design. Since our weather here stays warm for far too long, I’m certain you’ll see more of these Archers from me 🙂 I hope you can get back to sewing more soon!

    1. That’s great! It’s so lovely when a craft is passed from generation to generation. You must have learned so many tricks of the trade growing up that close to it 🙂

    1. I’m flattered, thank you! 🙂 You really should give it another go. There’s nothing lovelier and we’d all love to see a silk something from you!

  2. Gorgeous top, I love this top, the silk makes it so flowy and classy, I’ve not sewn with silk yet but your tip about the stabilizer is great.

  3. A simple and classic look. I love the top. The whole outfit is slimming and versatile, very appealing.

    I started sewing when I was 5 but still find some things a challenge after all these decades, One of my favorite things to create is a quilt.

    1. Thank you, Sharon! Classic and versatile are exactly what I’m aiming for.
      How lovely that you started sewing so young! Quilting is a wonderful craft and certainly challenging in its own way. I’m often so impressed by the art quilters can create 🙂

  4. I love the look! I was pretty proud of myself for making an archer and mine was unaltered and out of chambray and not flimsy translucent fabric so color me impressed

    1. Thank you, Edda! You should be proud 🙂 You made a classic piece! And I’m a little jealous – I love all of the chambray Archers I’ve seen and one of my own is definitely on my list.

    1. Oh, so am I! It happens to us all 🙂 Thank you!! I can see why everyone becomes addicted to Archers… I can’t stop planning more!

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