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Dark Denim Grainline Archer with Western-Style Pockets

Dark Denim Grainline Archer with Western-Style Pockets

There was a time when I avoided any garment with a buttonhole. Or a zipper. And basically anything half-way complicated because, well, I was kind of lazy and afraid and apprehensive about what my sewing machine would do to my fabric and blah blah blah. So I kind of ended up with lots of shapeless clothes that I never wore and that my husband hated…stuff with no closures or details to speak of…the same ole, same ole… Nothing wrong with a little instant gratification sewing every now and then, right? But you guys know what I’m talking about.

Well, I’m happy to report that as this pattern (and a couple others I’ll be sharing soon), I am LOVING sewing garments that offer a little bit a challenge learning experience. It’s a combination of my AMAZING NEW SEWING MACHINE (thanks, Janome!), a brand-spanking-new iron (which I’ll also be sharing soon) and a newfound realization that sewing more challenging patterns is FUN. That is, if they are well-written, well-drafted and fashion-forward.

Enter the Grainline Archer.

I have been pinning denim and chambray shirts for a long time now – looking for the perfect one that wouldn’t break the proverbial bank. Right color, right shape, right fit, right pockets…you know…THE PERFECT SHIRT.

Instead, I finally decided to make it! Something came over me, and I found myself purchasing the Grainline Archer with some funds I’d stashed in my PayPal account for weak moments such as these. And considering that I made two of these babies in the last week, I’m thinking that was a good decision.

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty details, shall we? 

Dark Denim Grainline Archer with Western-Style Pockets


Okay. If I have to say anything non-amazing about this pattern, it’s that the instructions had me scratching my head a couple times. There were a few instances where I don’t think a beginner would have been able to figure out what was going on. I just kind of knew instinctively what to do, and things worked out. I did refer to the sew-along on Grainline’s blog a few times, and that really helped. All my confusion was clarified there.

Pattern Pieces

Glorious. No, really. They are beautifully drafted and came together perfectly. No complaints from this peanut gallery.

Dark Denim Grainline Archer with Western-Style Pockets


Perfection. My measurements are spot-on for a size 4 (34-27-37), and a size 4 is what I made. You can judge for yourself how it fits. After reading several reviews, I lengthened the pattern by 2″ during cutting…but then, I thought it was too long…so I ended up cutting it back off at the end before hemming (I am 5’6″ with a long torso). I also noticed that the same reviewers to lengthened theirs complained about the shirt being too tight around the hips. My realization was that yes, this is true if you lengthen the shirt without also deepening the curve of the shirttail hem. Mine felt tight around the hips prior to shortening it, but it was fine after the alteration. I made a second version in blue gingham with no modifications to the length, and it’s just right. I will say that if you’re looking for a slouchier shirt, you should go up a size. But I don’t really wear my clothing very tightly.

Modifications I Made

Not many. The 2″ that I added to the length eventually was cut off. Oh, and, well…I obviously changed the pockets. I wanted a more western look, so I pulled out a vintage button-down shirt pattern from my stash and borrowed the pocket from it instead of the ones included in the pattern. And I used pearl snaps from Jo-Ann instead of buttons for a more authentic look. I used jeans topstitching thread in gold because I’m awesome I was out of regular thread in gold and just went with it.

Things I’d Change Next Time

Nothing. If I wanted a slouchier version, I’d go up a size. This size is perfect though – fitted enough without pulling at the shoulders or chest.

Fabric Choice

I used Sew Classics Bottomweight Fabric Dark Wash Denim 4 oz (affiliate link) from Jo-Ann. It was on sale for 50% off, so this shirt cost me less than $20 (including snaps). I highly recommend this fabric for its soft yet substantial hand. And the price is RIGHT!


OMG, seriously? Do you even have to ask? I will be wearing this thing OUT as soon as the weather cools off a bit. And until then, it will be my go-to, pull-on-over-a-tank-in-the-evenings shirt. Wearability, check.

Overall Impression

Yes. Many times, yes.

Dark Denim Grainline Archer with Western-Style Pockets

  • Kristi

    This Archer is awesome! Love the snaps. I’ve had my Archer pattern assembled and cut for months, and still no shirt to show for it. I’m feeling a bit more motivated.

    • Lauren Dahl

      Kristi – it is a surprisingly quick sew! Get on it!! xoxo

  • Sara

    It looks great! Love the snaps!

    • Lauren Dahl

      Thank you, Sara!

  • Renee //nearestthepin

    Some super impressive topstitching Lauren – looks fantastic!!

    • Lauren Dahl

      I thank my machine! :) Thank you!

  • Deb Cameron

    Oh my gosh I’m having western pocket denim shirt envy! Shirt is glorious Lauren!!

    • Lauren Dahl

      Thanks so much, Deb!

  • Lauren Ann Wernli

    Oh my gosh! That is a great shirt! I must say yr blogg seems to have doubled overnight I am sure I didn’t see so much content before!

    • Lauren Dahl

      Ha, I have been doing quite a bit of sewing/blogging lately. ;)

  • Charity

    I love this shirt! Gorgeous fabric, beautiful fit, and perfect finishing touches. I also appreciate that you are cool enough to pull off a denim shirt with jeans… I’m not!

    • Lauren Dahl

      Hahaha! thanks, charity. :)

  • Anneliese

    This shirt is awesome on you!

  • Maris Olsen

    I’m with you, Archers rule! I am going to make a couple of sleeveless ones for summer. Pur-tay!