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The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress Hardcover-spiral – November 16, 2011

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The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress + Gertie Sews Vintage Casual: A Modern Guide to Sportswear Styles of the 1940s and 1950s + Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking
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Product Details

  • Hardcover-spiral: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Krause Publ; Pck Spi edition (November 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1440215456
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440215452
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Featured Tips from The Collect Sewing Handbook: Seam Finishes

Bound Edge Seam

Finishing raw edges will extend the life of your garment, keeping the cut edges of your fabric from raveling and possibly destroying the integrity of your seams.

Bound Edge [pictured]

This is a method of finishing an edge, such as a neckline or sleeve hem, by enclosing it with bias tape. The seam allowance will vary, depending on the size of the bias tape you use. Use a bound edge when your pattern calls for one, such as the Taffy Blouse pattern in this chapter. You can purchase bias tape, or make your own.

French Seam

A French seam is sewn twice, encasing the raw edges within the seam. It creates a very neat, narrow seam, making it perfect for sheer or very light fabrics. It's not suited for heavy fabrics, since it will create too much bulk.

Flat Felled Seam

Flat felled seams are quite strong and are found often in tailored shirts or trousers. Take a look at your favorite jeans and you'll find flat felled seams. Use this technique when extra strength or durability is needed.

Bound Seam

A bound seam uses binding around the raw edges of a stitched seam. Because of its bulk, it can show through on lighter fabrics, so it's most often used with very sturdy fabrics such as denim, or on jackets and outerwear. It's a wonderful opportunity to use a fun color or printed binding, to add some flash to the inside of your garment.

Serged Seam

Serging is what you will see most often in ready-to-wear clothing. Raw edges are stitched with a special machine called a serger, which holds multiple spools of thread and trims the seams as it sews. If you don't have a serger, you can try zigzag stitching over the raw edges of your seam allowance, or use your sewing machine's overlock stitch if it has one. Be aware that this uses a considerable amount of thread.

Pinked Seam

Pinked seams are simple to create, requiring just a pair of pinking shears. The zigzag pattern of the cut edge keeps the fabric from raveling. Pinked seams are commonly found within vintage garments, which goes to show that they can last. Use pinked seams on cottons and other somewhat sturdy fabrics that are not very prone to fraying.


"Mitnick, founder of the fashion-forward Colette Patterns line, introduces novice sewers to the principles of fine garment construction in this simple guide to couture sewing." -Library Journal

"This book is packed full of information to help you learn everything you need to know to sew garments. It really has everything the newbie or intermediate sewer would need to either get started or take their garment sewing skills to the next level." - Brett Bara, author of Sewing In a Straight Line

"This book delivers what it promises, excellent sewing information presented in a lovely format. I highly recommend this book to sewers of all skill levels."-patternreview.com

"Mitnick not only teaches you the techniques to become a competent seamstress, but a confident one." - UK Handmade Magazine

"Update your wardrobe with the classic, feminine designs featured in The Colette Sewing Handbook." - Sew News Magazine

"This may be the first book of its kind that I actually read from cover to cover." --Darling Adventures

Customer Reviews

Her writing is clear and the color photos illustrate her instructions very well.
The author makes everything seem so manageable and while I have not yet tried to make anything from the book, doggone it, I really believe I can.
The Colette Sewing Handbook is the best modern sewing book for beginner/intermediate seamstresses I've read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

190 of 192 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover-spiral Verified Purchase
Let me preface this review with the fact that I have been sewing for most of my life.

I am a big fan of Sarai's patterns, so when I saw that she was writing a book, I am sure that I pre-ordered it within an hour of the announcement.

Upon receiving the book, I noticed it was packaged without the accompanying patterns, which, as a more advanced sewist, I was most excited about. Back to Amazon it went. However, I had a replacement in two days (big thanks to Ida in Customer Service. She was so helpful!)

In my first run-through of the book, I was most impressed by the presentation of the book. The book is Colette through and through, from the writing style to the color palette, and the layout of the mini-tutorials was clear, the text concise. The book doesn't assume any background in sewing, and demonstrates hand stitching as well as the basic functions of a few machine stitches. For someone with a great deal of sewing experience, the techniques weren't a great deal of use to me.

What I was most impressed with was Sarai's approach to "thoughtful sewing". Her chapter "A Precise Plan" highlights what a lot of beginning sewists struggle with: imbuing your sewing with your identity. Her notes on defining your style were beautifully thought out, and help beginning sewists actually think about what they want to sew, and why they should (because it fits in your wardrobe!). Sarai instructs you in creating a personal croquis to experiment with how a garment will look on you, which could save a new sewist a ton of stress in creating a garment that turns out the be unflattering.

"A Fine Fabric" is, of course, the prettiest chapter, but not very ground breaking.
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57 of 57 people found the following review helpful By IreneDAdler on August 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover-spiral
Instructional content:
The target audience of this book is total beginners, and I think they put together a very good introductory package for that kind of sewer. This book is a very user-friendly introduction, because it provides a reasonably broad overview of all the aspects of garment-making, followed by simple instructions for executing the ideas. The drawback of that targeted approach is that it is very incomplete in the information provided. For example, the chapter on fabrics covers the basics of fabric material and weave, but does not provide much detail on the best way to work with those fabrics: there are just two pages on working with denim and fabric with pile, and an inset about spraying down slinky fabrics with starch or stabilizer. The chapter on fit introduces the slashing and pivoting techniques for pattern alteration and provides step-by-step instructions for a number of common alterations such as bust and hip adjustments using only those two techniques mentioned. It brings up darts a couple times in the text, but never provides instructions for using them to adjust fit. For example, the instructions for making a larger waist uses the pivoting technique, instead of just decreasing the dart width or adding width on the side, nor does it discuss the differences between different techniques you could use. I'm sure the pivoting technique has advantages over other common methods I've seen used for alterations, but they are not explained at all.
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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Cikk on November 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover-spiral
What a great book. Wish I had it when I started sewing way back. Or when I started sewing again a few months ago. But I was lucky then to discover the Colette patterns, which are not only lovely, wearable, flattering vintage inspired patterns, but come in great little booklets with detailed instruction and illustrations of steps - I was lucky to start off sewing again with her wrap dress, Crepe, and not with one of the Big Four patterns which would have thrown me for a loop in my beginning throes! After that I ordered and made more of her patterns, and was really excited to see that she was going to publish a book - and pleased for her - she deserves a wide audience.

I pre-ordered this book, even before I saw previews of the patterns enclosed,, partly because from following the writer's blog and the great detailed, clever and thorough tutorials thereon I expected it to be a great resource, and partly because I knew it would be gorgeous - I love her aesthetic. Then after seeing the pattern previews I was dying for the book to come! I was more than satisfied in all respects - the book is thoughtfully written and beautifully photographed and laid out, and the sewing instructions and tips therein are excellent. Plus, I want to make all the patterns.....

The book made me think about planning my wardrobe in a way I hadn't before - I tend to crush on fabric, buy, make and then realise I have a skirt which goes with nothing....
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Sarai Mitnick is the founder and designer behind Colette Patterns, an independent pattern company known for beautiful design and excellent instruction. A lover of vintage styles and classic details, Sarai founded Colette Patterns when she discovered a lack of modern sewing patterns for design-oriented sewers, and it has been growing by leaps and bounds every since. She shares tips, tricks, how-tos, and free patterns on her popular sewing blog at colettepatterns.com. Sarai Mitnick lives in Portland, OR.

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The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress
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