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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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Featured Tips from The Collect Sewing Handbook: Seam Finishes
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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Top Customer Reviews
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. Anyone with More Fabric Savvy: A Quick Resource Guide to Selecting and Sewing Fabric will already know all of the information presented here, and more (again, advanced sewist talking). I've noticed Sarai has a strong bias towards silk, which is all well and good, but I doubt most beginners will start with something so expensive.
The patterns were the reason I bought this book, and I was not disappointed. Colette Patterns drafts for a C-Cup, which is a size above what most pattern companies draft for, and it's a huge step forward in accommodating the changing American figure. And pattern sizing is more similar to ready-to-wear, which I'm sure is a huge help for the beginning sewist. For me, many of the patterns fit pretty well straight off the block, with only minor adjustments to fit, which Sarai covers in the chapter "A Fantastic Fit". For those with more complicated fitting issues, this book may be a little lacking, but picking up The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns or Fit for Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using ANY Pattern (Sewing for Real People series) will help with any fitting problem you could fathom.
All in all, it was a lovely and well put together book, even if the material wasn't anything groundbreaking for me. If you're struggling with creating garments that you'll love, or a beginner who wants a unique and thoughtfully created first project, I cannot recommend this book enough. If you're more of an advanced sewist, I'd pick it up for the patterns and just because it is a lovely book to have around. I fully intend to leave it on my coffee table to hopefully inspire some of my non-sewing friends to learn!
Initially, I wasn't psyched about the included patterns. (For one, they don't extend into plus sizes, but it's hard to blame them for that.) I just couldn't imagine them in other interpretations. But then I found The Coletterie, which is the blog for Colette Patterns that shows different interpretations and modifications. I wish the book included some of these ideas because they're really fantastic.
Aside from the pattern piecing tutorials, this book is worth it just for the alteration manual if you have any interest in tailoring patterns to your body. This book has earned a permanent place on my sewing table, while my other sewing books stay on the bookshelf 99% of the time.
My favorite chapter is Chapter 2, which talks about planning your wardrobe. She talks about how it's a bad idea to just randomly pick a pattern and fabric, without thinking about how it fits into your wardrobe. There are so many times that I've made a garment that I never wear. She talks about picking the items in your wardrobe that you really love, and figuring out why you love them so much. She goes into planning your fall and spring wardrobes, and having a clear idea about what pieces you would like to make to complete your wardrobe, BEFORE you go pattern and fabric shopping.
I love the tips that she gives for different construction techniques, like how you can machine sew a dress lining to the zipper tape of your invisible zipper. I will definitely be referring to this book for tips like this when I am sewing up my patterns.
I don't think that I will be making any of these patterns. I find that the dresses and tops are a little too exposed, and I like my necklines to be quite high. Also, because it's winter right now, I can't imagine making a sleeveless party dress. But I will definitely be referring to this book for the techniques, which she does an excellent job of explaining in a lot of detail with excellent photos.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to both beginning and intermediate seamstresses. One last comment is that this book is gorgeous, and has a coil binding which makes it very easy to lay flat.