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.


Indie4Less: Granville Shirt by Sewaholic

Sewaholic’s Granville shirt has just been released to massive fan acclaim after months of teaser IG posts. And, true to Sewaholic’s form, it looks spectacular: princess seams in the back, darts in the front, tower plackets, a nice two-piece collar, and some beautifully-made-up pattern samples. (Hey, just because we like to snark doesn’t mean we can’t give compliments where they’re due.) It’s a lovely, fitted button-up shirt that would work in light woven fabrics.

Sewaholic Granville, $15.98 paper, $11.98 PDF

But Sewaholic’s target market is the pear-shaped woman. If you are busty of chest or slender of hip, the alterations required on the Sewaholic patterns might be off-putting; or, you may just want a similar pattern for a smaller price.

Well, you’re in luck! The Big 4 and Burda have been putting out button-up shirt patterns for decades, and there are plenty to choose from. Here’s a small selection:

  1. Vogue 8747
  2. Vogue 8689
  3. Vogue 9029
  4. McCall’s 6076
  5. Burda 09/2012 #111 / #112

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A Practical Guide to SSSF and GOMI

Believe us, on GOMI, if we don’t like your skirt, we won’t lie about it

It’s great to see that our new blog has already inspired some constructive criticism and commentary in the SBC. We are huge fans of sewing and sewing blogs, and this is often misunderstood. We all sew, most of us compulsively; we love patterns, fabrics, machines, notions, gizmos, and writing and reading about them. Trust us, we don’t hate you. Sometimes, we hate what you make, what you say, or what you do. But we don’t hate you.

We particularly loved Communing with Fabric’s recent thoughtful post. We also feel that GOMI Craft contributes to the SBC by being the balance—the gadfly. But there are some misunderstandings we would like to clear up about how things are done here on SSSF, over on GOMI Crafting, and on GOMI in general.

SSSF, the Blog

The editors of SSSF (Sew Sorry, Sew Fat) all met on GOMI and found we shared a similar (but not identical) approach to sewing, blogging, and snark. These were all hashed out through long, rambling, sometimes confrontational and even painful, conversations on GOMI before we ever decided to start a blog. Our rules can be found here.

These rules only apply to and are only enforced on the contents of this blog, both posts and comments. The SSSF editors do believe in these rules, and as a result, the snark you find from us on the GOMI Crafting Forums tends to follow these rules.

Basically, Shams, we agree with you: “sagging boobs” comments and the like are not GOMI’s finest moments, and it’s not something you’ll find here on the blog. We’ve all got something about our bodies that could be snarked on. We hope if we do cross the body-snark line here on the blog, you’ll call us out.


GOMI (Get Off My Internets) is a set of message boards and a front page newsfeed that discusses all kinds of blogs. The boards are organized by blog interest into separate forums, such as the Fashion/Style Forums, the Healthy Living Forums, and the Crafting Forums, among others. These forums are where all members of GOMI weigh in on what they really think about the various blogs out there.

The editors of the SSSF blog do not own GOMI and are not involved in the site’s moderation, administration, or policy-making. The only official rules for GOMI in general are found in the site-wide comment policy, which can be found here. Additionally, GOMI and its owner, Partypants, are not involved in the running, administration, or founding of this blog.

Notice that there is nothing in the policy about keeping comments constructive and away from topics like body image, age, orientation, or race. The policy aims to keep GOMI snark contained inside of GOMI and not to spill over and disturb the lives of bloggers outside their blogs. As a result, there is some vicious commentary on some of the more popular GOMI threads—commentary that, we like to flatter ourselves, would be taken apart in short order on the Crafting forum.

We like to think that our commentary on the Crafting forum is largely constructive and insightful (your opinion may differ). These are mostly things that some bloggers, particularly of the “I quit my day job” variety, don’t want to hear…but we think they should. However, when these types of comments are brought up on some blogs, interesting things happen:

  • The comment never even makes it out of moderation.
  • If comment moderation is off, the comment is immediately deleted.
  • The comment lives, but the commenter is piled on by fangirls for hurting someone’s feelings, being mean, insensitive, being a “jealous hater” (a personal favorite), or an internet troll. See #5 on StitchWench’s “How to Write a GOMI-Worthy Sewing Blog”.

Not every comment on GOMI is constructive. Some people suck. Sometimes people have a bad day. Sometimes things written on the internet are misconstrued, and something is unfairly attacked on GOMI. But whatever is said on GOMI is sure to incite a vigorous debate, and we do love those conversations.

This is GOMI: it is not here to be nice.

The silk-linen sheath dress of doom … is doomed

How it’s supposed to look. You’ll notice the line drawing has it fitted and without an a-line skirt–but that’s definitely not what’s in the pattern. Then again, maybe the use of drawings rather than photos should have been my first clue.

In May of this year, I posted the story of the silk-linen sheath dress of doom on my own blog. For those of you who don’t want to click over, the short version is: I decided to use the sheath dress pattern from the Built By Wendy dresses book I already had to save money (ha!), made a muslin first out of fabric that as it turns out has more give than the silk-linen the pattern was destined for, and ended up having to re-draft substantial parts of the pattern both in the muslin and in the final:

1. The raglan sleeves, which had a pile of excess fabric both front and back
2. The back, which had no shaping
3. The waist, which was too big
4. The nape of the neck, which was way too high (that could be my high-waistedness — but still)
5. And worst of all, the skirt, which for reasons known to perhaps no one but God and his left-hand man, was a-line and very loose on a sheath dress.

It is the first, last, and only time I will be using a Built By Wendy pattern. Too frustrating for words. According to the size chart on p. 33 of the book, I should be a size L at the hips and bust and a size M at the waist. But using this size–even after the modifications introduced in the muslin stage, like taking out 1.5-2″ per side on the raglan seams at the neck, front and back, adding in a big waist shaping seam at the back to take out about 2″, and taking about 8″ out of the hem in width, it was still too big. Looking back, I should have stopped using this pattern after the difficulties encountered with the muslin and found one with a more sheath-like fit and regular sleeves.

mmmay-9-3But the silk-linen was so dearly beloved that I just kept hammering away at it until I had a sheath-like sheath dress that I could wear out of the house, and then I embellished it with hand-painted and hand-embroidered fabric flowers. Success!

Three plus months later, it hasn’t worked out as well as I’d have liked.

You know how it is: you work so hard on something, and you want it to be fabulous, and in the first flush of finishedness you overlook things that become, over time, less overlookable. In the case of the dress, it was a direct result of all the modifications I made to the pattern, particularly for the raglan sleeve seams in the front. It’s almost, but not quite, flat. There is bubbling along that neckline hem. It drives me bonkers. The issue is, I’ve come to think, that the modifications to the pattern pieces for the dress and the lining were imperfectly transferred between the right and left sides of the dress, and so the lining is not quite the same length as the dress fabric, resulting in those little ripples.

I know it’s the kind of thing that your typical observer would likely not notice, but I notice it.

At any rate, at first, at least the flowers obscured most of it, right? And they were cute. But as it turns out, not washable.

So, ok, I wore the dress on a date, and I spilled something on myself, as I do, and put the dress in the wash, as one does, because I’d already pre-washed the fabric and lining so I knew it would be safe. And it was! Nothing shrunk. Except the flowers wilted up and curled in on themselves like week-old lilies.

I tried stretching, re-wetting, and pressing them. Nothing made them stretch out flower-like again. After weeks of looking at the dress hanging sadly on a hanger in the dining room (what? where do you keep your ironing?) with its shriveled little blooms staring disconsolately at me, I made the decision to snip the flowers off so I could wear the dress again.

Post-flower-removal neckline bubbling

Post-flower-removal neckline bubbling

Of course, now the neckline wavers are more visible. Argh.

I’d like to fix it, if I can. It’s silk-linen! It’s a beautiful pale yellow! It’s got such a lovely weave! It would be morally and ethically wrong to have such a fabric relegated to the wadder pile, right? Right. But how to fix it? Do I put the flowers back on? Make new flowers and find a way to attach them so they’re held partially open? Embroider on flowers instead so it’s not an issue? And what about the neckline? Should I just use some very small gathering stitches to hold it flat? I’m not sure I could open it up again to fix it even if I wanted to, it’s been sewn and unpicked and cut down and resewn so many times.

It’s not urgent; summer is gone here in Southern Ontario and I won’t be wearing the dress for another eight months, so I’ve got lots of time to figure it out.

I’ve got to say, though, the whole experience has soured me on the idea of buying and using pattern books. They look like such a good deal ($30 book nets you 10 patterns, so $3/each!), but if the patterns are no good, you’ve spent $30 on 10 patterns you can’t use, and now you’ve got a big book on your shelves to figure out what to do with. And you’ve got to go and get new patterns.

RuthlesslyPractical says:

Re, neckline: re-finish it with multiple pin-tucks to help get rid of the bubbling? It can be a subtle design element.

On vertical fit: I am noticing in the pic with the barbeque grill that the side seam around the waist area is pulling forward, so a redistribution of material from back piece to the front piece would remedy that in the next iteration of this pattern.

On bust fitting: At the risk of sounding like every other person on the PR boards, I think you need an FBA. At first, I thought it was the pose that was creating the diagonal drag lines from bust to shoulder then bust to waist, but when I looked at the first in-progress pic on your original post, on the side with the arm that’s hanging down straight, there’s a bit of telltale armhole dart wanting to happen. (I feel your pain, truly, armhole gaping is my nemesis.)

Andrea: I know! It’s an issue. I’m not advanced enough yet to know how to approach an FBA on a raglan-sleeve garment though, especially when the sleeves on their own are already an issue. Tips appreciated if anyone’s got them. 

On salvaging: If the bodice is too much trouble to modify at this stage, why not call the bodice a loss, chop it off, and turn it into a high/natural-waisted straight pencil skirt? That way, most of the silk-linen is saved, plus that shade of yellow and the fabric looks like it’s a great wardrobe basic for office wear.

LadyxBec says: 

I like this post, the only thing I suggest adding is a discussion on pattern sizing (I bet you made the correct size), like what is the difference between the size chart and what you should have sewn (if there is one), how does it fit compared to how you expect it to based on photos/line drawings, are the finished garment measurements accurate? I think that people are ALWAYS talking about how much better indies fit and how much ease the Big 4 haven which in my experience is not totally true.

Flowery Applique Camel Toe says:

I think the changes you’ve made are really good and the pictures are super helpful in illustrating your points. I will refrain from reporting you to the pressinatrix for the wrinkles, because omglinen.