The Great Waistless Wonder

So pretty in theory, so tricky in execution

The Colette Jasmine pattern is a pull-over woven top cut on the bias for extra drape. It has a couple of flat collar options and some shaping in the body. It is rated as a beginner pattern, and it is.

I made up two Jasmines last spring: a wearable muslin out of blue poly, and a final version out of Liberty lawn. I don’t get as much wear out of either of them as I would have liked.

I’d never before dipped my toe into the waters of indie patterns. I knew of and had used the Big 4 for decades, but sewing was not popular when I was growing up, and all we had around was FabricLand.

When my favourite local fabric store, Needlework, opened up, they had all of these very pretty and tempting indie patterns stocked, including all of Colette’s. Of all of them, the Jasmine top showed the most potential to me: the bias cut promised a drapey, flattering fit, and it didn’t require any buttons (my sewing machine at the time was particularly good at devouring any fabric so unfortunate as to find itself underneath the buttonhole foot). It looked like a basic, fairly simple, short-sleeved shirt that had the potential to be a work wardrobe staple. Alas, it was not to be.

First, the good: the notches matched up. The collars worked. The sleeves fit pretty well. It is a garment I was able to assemble from the pattern pieces and instructions and it looked mostly like the picture on the cover. I graded between a 12 at the bust and a 10 at the waist based on the sizing chart, and then slimmed it down a bit for a closer, drapier fit.

So why don’t I wear them?

Wearable Muslin: the blue poly never pressed as well as it should have. It’s a cheap fabric I bought for testing purposes, so that’s not a real surprise. Also, because it was a test, the sizing is not quite right. The bust darts were a bit on the low side (I know, but I have the shortest back-waist measurement ever) and it all felt a little baggy.

This I fixed in the final, but the problem is that cotton lawn, even cut on the bias, doesn’t really drape.

Horrible picture! My apologies. It's been a brutally cold winter and I'm trying to spend as little time outside as possible.

Horrible picture! My apologies. It’s been a brutally cold winter and I’m trying to spend as little time outside as possible.

Cotton is one of the recommended fabrics, but on my body shape, even on the bias, it simply does not drape enough to have a flattering shape. I look like the Great Waistless Wonder from the front, where I need to have all of that excess fabric to get the shirt over my bust.

This is just not the silhouette I'm going for.

This is just not the silhouette I’m going for.

Looking at the pattern sample with the benefit of hindsight, the model is … how to put this … carrying less mammary tissue than I am, and I’m sure that’s part of why the pattern is more successful on her.

Jasmine pattern sample from the Colette site

As a result, I really only wear this shirt when I can tuck it into something. Since most of my pants and skirts don’t go all the way up to my waist (that high waist thing), this isn’t very often.

I can’t count the shirt as a success, since I get so little wear out of it (poor Liberty lawn). But I did learn something valuable from it which is, for me, that I will only wear shirts that either drape well because of the inherent nature of the fabric (like knits), or have closures. There is no point for me in making a pullover woven top, certainly not out of cotton.

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15 thoughts on “The Great Waistless Wonder

  1. I’m so glad to have found this blog! It’s great to hear some honest reviews, especially a couple of months after the fact.

    I have an unrelated question for you — you must be in Hamilton? I’ve heard about Ottawa Street and will be passing through there this weekend. Are there any shops you can recommend for apparel fabric (other than needlework, which looks great)? I’ll be trailing two little kids and a husband so wont have much time. tia!

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    • I’m glad you liked it. 🙂

      I am in Hamilton! European Textiles has two locations on Ottawa St–one decor, one apparel–and they are worth checking out. The apparel shop has a bunch of designer cottons, a small selection of nice silks, a few bolts of Liberty, some really cheap good quality denims, and a good selection of basics at reasonable prices. The denims are $7/m full price, no lie. There’s a bunch of other apparel fabric stores on Ottawa St as well (Needlework is actually on James North, which is a really fun neighbourhood too, but not Ottawa), but in my experience they’re a bit more hit and miss.

      I hope you have a great time. I really love Hamilton and rarely miss a chance to boost it. 😉

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      • thanks, that sounds like just the place I’m looking for! I think my family *might* have the patience for one stop so that’ll be it 🙂

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  2. exactly my problem with woven boxy tops. I look like a giant fat toddler when wearing them untucked.
    Great review! I love reading why people wear/don’t wear a certain garment even if it ticks all the ‘fit’boxes.

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  3. It has taken YEARS for me to realize that “sew a new pattern” actually has TWO danger zones. One that we all talk about is fitting the pattern to the body. But the more critical to my success is “is this an appropriate shape for my body?”. I’m having more sewing success after having done a LOT of readytowear shopping to discover what lines and cuts to even bother with.

    Pet peeve: Cotton is a FIBER, not a fabric. Many cotton fabrics (batiste, twill, denim are a few fabrics) may or may not have appropriate drape to be slinky in a bias cut. Sewing successful flattering garments is much more complex than most people realize.

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  4. I’ve discovered that I don’t mind the waistless look (which is good, since I don’t have one!) IF the fabric is really drapey. Even better if it’s translucent, but it HAS to have a fantastic drape.

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  5. Thanks for this review. I’ve been wanting that pattern for a long time, but I have a bias dress pattern I could adapt. But I kept thinking it might be easier to buy this pattern just for the ease of having a pattern exactly as I want.
    I have a small waist, so I no longer want to make this up! I’ll stick to my TNT dress pattern.

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  6. Good review! Like you, I’m more amply endowed than many of the models used by independent and the Big Four. I have a long torso so need to lengthen tops. And I definitely need drape! I tried the very popular and free Sorbetto and it was a disaster for my body type. Like your experience here, it left me waistless and maybe on the maternity wannabe side as well. Not so good, thanks. I like Szarka’s observation about RTW garments helping us select flattering patterns. Again, thanks for the frank discussion.

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