Jasmine Tea

I used to really enjoy people-watching, always secretly scanning for those who are looking good and for those who have the good fortune to be good-looking.  But something changed after I discovered Colette patterns, in particular the Jasmine.  Now I only look at women, wondering: “why the hell isn’t just one of them wearing the Jasmine top?”

I’ve become the sewing equivalent of an alienated teenager looking to others’ band t-shirts in the vain, desperate hope of finding a kindred spirit…

If I didn’t know how to sew and was at that hesitant stage of wondering if it was worth giving it a try, I think this “beginner” pattern would give me the push to buy a sewing machine.  The design features tick so many of my “must-have” boxes that all RTW tops I’ve seen recently pale in comparison.

What’s to like:

1. The broad neckline.  This accentuates one of the very few of my body parts that I’ve never had an issue with: the collarbones.  Surely a totally undersung part of the body in the female?!

2. The practicality of the necklline: the perfect balance between the suggestive and the decent.  Any higher and an average-to-large-bust might look droopy.  Any lower and the top would be totally inappropriate for bending over desks.

Teachers, try it!

3. The shaping at the waist, courtesy of the bias cut.  This is great for pears or those on the short side who often find tops too boxy.

4. The sleeves: a perfect cover-up for the upper arms.  And in creating version 2, I had the option of creating contrast cuffs (for which I admittedly have a fetish).

5. The overall effect of utmost femininity.  If like me you have quite broad shoulders, then certain girlie touches such as ruffles are a no-no.  Jasmine has all the bits that make it pretty and summery, but with no extra bulk.

Fabric Used:

a) 1.7m x 140cm of Cotton Lawn with a peacock print suggestive of Liberty.  It came from Classic Textiles (44 Goldhawk Road) at £8 per metre.  I made size 4 (UK 8).

b) 1m of Tea-Dyed Lawn. I was determined to make the collar and cuffs in a contrasting fabric and spent ages looking in vain for something suitable in blue, turquoise or green.  Then I noticed that the two pale brown colours in the peacock “eyes” were similar in shade to the tea stains on my clothes….

How to tea-dye:

I suffer from a very British addiction to tea which means that running out of it is one of my greatest fears, second only to my fear of the Sun going out then everyone turning cannibal.  You might be horrified to learn that I used a total of 10 tea-bags of the most expensive, compost-degradable kind which was the only one I had in the house at the time: such was my zeal to get the project going!

For the first half metre, I used a couple of tea-bags too many which resulted in a strong nicotine-like tinge.  It would have been fine but it wasn’t perfect so I gave it a second go, submerging the lawn in a not-too-full saucepan with 4 tea bags and a handful of table salt.  After simmering for 20 minutes, I left the dye to cool before rinsing the fabric in cold water.  This produced an almost ideal result: a soft-looking texture of some uneveneness which reminds me of chamois leather people once used to buff their cars.

The hue and softness is also somewhat suggestive of Blogstalker’s fur!

If you want to give tea-dying a go but aim for an even tone, ensure that the fabric is wet before immersion and give it enough water and space to simmer in.  The material will absorb the dye more uniformly.  But for my purposes, the patchiness is ideal as it avoids the contrast collar and cuffs looking too formal.

Fitting issues

Including my top tip for making Jasmine.  If you’re too wayward to make a muslin, consider cutting the neck facing and collar after you’ve sewn and fitted the bodice.  You might have a gaping neckline to reduce and will need to adjust the facing and collar to match.

In my experience, after making the bodice, the neckline gaped considerably even though I’d made a smaller size than I  sew usually and I absolutely did staystitch all neck lines straight after cutting, in case you’re wondering, like! 🙂

So, I made the following adjustments:

1. I took off 2 cm from the bodice front by narrowing from the widest point of the bust towards the neck.

2. I took off 3 cm from the back bodice, this time narrowing from the waistline to the neck.

3. The neck still didn’t lie quite flat so I added two back darts to the back neckhole,  each above the shoulder blades.  These were 0.5cm wide and 3cm long.

4. Now the neckline looked too narrow in relation to my aforementioned broad shoulders.  So I reshaped the neckline slightly.

5.  I then had to redraw the patterns for the facing and the collar.  I traced the neckline then copied the width of the original pattern pieces.

Despite all of the above, the top was quick and simple to make.  I’d have finished it in a day if it hadn’t been for the advice to keep it hanging overnight before hemming (this is for the bias to settle).

Other changes:

6. A minor adjustment was made to the cuffs.  I sewed the shaped edge with a 1cm (3/8″ in Colette-speak) seam allowance instead of the recommended 1.5cm (5/8″).  This is why they might look slightly bigger than in all the other lovely makes.

And what would I do differently next time?

I’d possibly make the Version 2 loop 1cm shorter.

I’d originally intended to offer this pattern as a giveaway but can’t quite bear to part with it yet.  But if you’re in the Southern hemisphere and are thinking of making Jasmine for the upcoming spring and summer, check back in a couple of months and the giveaway might just be ready. 

13 thoughts on “Jasmine Tea

  1. Actually, I did notice your elegant collarbones in the top before you pointed them out. And it is a flattering and feminine top without being girly. Enjoyed looking through (and reading) the rest of your blog. You’re certainly tackling and succeeding at ambitious projects for someone who’s “learning” to sew.

  2. This is a lovely Jasmine! I have made three and I really love the shape for the exact reasons you pointed out. I was only really happy with one of mine the other two were poor fabric choices I think. You have motivated me to try again.

  3. I love people watching too – in fact I often see a style or garment that I would like to make on someone walking by. Your fabric is lovely and, as always, beautiful finishing details. The tea dying is something to try.

  4. Wonder if it would adapt well to not have the ties at the collar. They are a bit sailor/schoolmarm/flight attendant for my tastes. If you could just connect them in a simple scoop in a less contrasty color…will have to try

    • I’m sure you could redesign the collar easily, maybe along with the cuffs. Personally, I love the ties, but here, chez the insensitive sew2pro household, I get the ‘girl guide’ comments a bit…

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