| Sewing Patterns for the Modern Woman - Blog Post: How to Sew an Archer Shirt Dress

How to Sew an Archer Shirt Dress

By Allie

Allie is the co-founder of Indiesew and creator of all things pretty on the site. Follow Allie and receive other Indiesew updates by subscribing to the blog.

Indiesew Tutorial | How to Sew an Archer Shirt Dress with Drawstring Waist

When I shared this Archer Shirt Dress on the blog a few weeks ago, we got lots of requests for a tutorial on how to achieve the same look. So on this last day of Shirt Month, we’ve got it ready for you! Here’s how to sew an Archer Shirt Dress with a drawstring waist.

Archer Shirt Dress | Grainline Studio


Lengthen the Archer

First, you’ll need to modify your pattern pieces to add length to the Archer Button Up. I added an extra 10” to the left front, right front, and back bodices and to the button band and corresponding interfacing. The diagram below shows a sketch of the original pattern pieces in black, and the changes I made in a red dotted line. 

But I also needed to grade out at the hip, since my hips are 2” larger than the finished garment hip measurement for the size I sewed. You’ll notice below that at the natural waist I started grading out a bit so that I’d have about an extra 1” at the hip on each side of each bodice, for a total of 4” of extra room through the hips. Since I knew I’d be wearing this dress over jeans, I wanted to make sure it fell nicely over my hips.

Also notice the curve I drew through the hip and down to the hem of the dress. I didn’t want the dress to be A-line, flaring straight out from the waist. Gradually curving the side seam in a bit towards the hem gave it a really nice shape. 

I also eyeballed the shirttail hem of the original Archer and replicated that at the hem of the dress.

Here’s what my modified pattern pieces looked like:


Lengthen Archer Button Up | Indiesew Shirt Dress

The step I most often forget when lengthening a shirt pattern is to also lengthen the button band and corresponding interfacing pieces. Don’t skip that step! 


Add a Drawstring Casing

Then I sewed up the Archer Button Up exactly as instructed. I prefer to add my drawstring casing as the final step, to ensure it sits right at my natural waist.

To do this, try on the finished dress and use a belt or scrap of fabric to cinch in the waist at your natural waistline. Wiggle around a bit until the dress blouses above the belt to your preference. 

Using a pin, mark on one front bodice where the drawstring casing should go. Take off the dress and mark on the wrong side around the entire waistline where the drawstring casing will go with tailor’s chalk. If you’re using a striped fabric (that is striped matched on the side seams), you can use a stripe as a guide for where to place the drawstring casing.

On the right side of the dress, mark where the drawstring casing will go just a couple of inches on each center front bodice. Reinforce a small .5" square section of the front bodice about 1” away from the center front placket on the line that the casing will be sewn on. Sew a vertical 3/8” buttonhole on each front bodice about 1” away from the center front placket. Don’t worry about the visible interfacing patch, this will be covered by the drawstring casing. Open each buttonhole, taking care not to snip through the bar tacks on each end.

Sew Buttonhole for Drawstring Waist | Indiesew Blog

Now, cut a long strip of fabric that is 1” wide and as long as the finished waist measurement (on bottom of page 3) plus 1”. For example, I sewed a size 2, so I cut a strip of fabric that is 1” wide and 36.5” long.

Press the two long raw edges of the strip of fabric towards the center so that they meet. On the wrong side of the dress, position the casing over the chalk line and pin well. At the center front bodices, trim an extra fabric and tuck the raw ends of the casing under itself by 1/2” and press.

Press drawstring casing | Indiesew Tutorial

Edge stitch a rectangle around the entire casing with a 1/8” seam allowance. The dress should looks something like the diagram below from the wrong side. Sleeves have been omitted for simplicity.

Sew Drawstring Casing | Archer Button Up

This is what it should look like from the right side:

How To Sew a Drawstring Waist | Indiesew Blog

With a safety pin on one end, feed your drawstring (I used navy blue twill tape) through one buttonhole and out the other. Tie the ends of your drawstring into knots to secure. 

Try your dress on, cinching the drawstring and gathering the dress bodices evenly around it. Tie the drawstring into a bow and see how your Archer Shirt Dress instantly has a different shape. Here's a close up of mine:

Drawstring Waist | Indiesew Sewing Tutorial

Button Up Dress | How to Sew a Drawstring Waist

This process is very similar to adding an elastic waist to an A-line dress. It instantly adds a little shape to any garment! 

Happy sewing!

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