- Hardcover-spiral: 192 pages
- Publisher: Krause Publications; 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
- Domestic Shipping: Item can be shipped within U.S.
- International Shipping: This item is not eligible for international shipping. Learn More
- Average Customer Review: 145 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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
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!
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.
The lack of technical detail can be viewed as both good and bad: giving the reader just a glimpse of the depth of the craft avoids overwhelming the reader and will likely induce a great deal of further interest and curiosity, which is a great path for getting them hooked on sewing; but it does mean that the reader will quickly outgrow this book. This book is designed to let a completely inexperienced person pick it up, blindly follow directions, and make something that looks nice. If you are looking for more meticulous instruction that will fully explain the theory and rationale behind everything you are doing, you will probably not get quite as much out of it.
There are 5 patterns included, and you can see a preview of all 5 patterns on the Colette website. I mostly bought this book for the patterns because they are all really cute and versatile, so they made great additions to my pattern library. The patterns will have much broader appeal than the instructional content, I think. They are perfect for beginners because of their simple construction. There aren't any huge pattern pieces that would be fidgety to lay out smoothly, the seams and darts are in good places for adjusting fit, and they really are great exercises for the techniques introduced in the text. But even if you don't need the practice, you might want to make these patterns anyway, because they are great templates for a lot of styles. The third pattern, the Truffle dress, is introduced in the book as a way to experiment with different fabrics and prints, but I think all the patterns would look great in a wide variety of fabric. I also particularly like the Truffle dress because you can easily add little details to it to customize the look. For example, you can add a fluttery peplum to the waist seam, instead of the front drape, and you'll have a cute dress that incorporates the peplum trend but won't look dated in a year.
The patterns cover a very large size range, from bust 32" to 46". The size chart on the back says Size 0 is for 33" bust, which is the same as the measurement for Size 2, but if you look at the finished garment measurements provided with each pattern, the Size 0 finished bust is generally 1" smaller than the Size 2 finished bust, so I'm inclined to think that the entry in the size chart is a typo. The size chart does not include back torso length, which is common, but unfortunate, as that is another important part of fit, and it would be nice to have an idea beforehand if you need to make alterations.
I was slightly disappointed that the patterns came on onion skin paper like you typically get from the big company commercial patterns (like McCall's) and not sturdier paper that you can trace off of. Even though it's more work, I like to trace patterns from sewing books so that I can keep the originals neatly folded with the book itself. It's still possible to trace off this paper, it's just flimsier than I'd like. If you were hoping to get sturdy thick-stock paper or parchment like some of the nice boutique pattern shops, I'm afraid you will be disappointed.
The text seems to not have been edited at all. I found a few typos, as well as a couple redundant sentences. This is a small nit-pick, as most of the time you don't lose information due to poor grammar and spelling, but it is something that irks me.
You should buy this book if you are just starting sewing and want a guiding hand to help you build good habits, as well as give you fun and cute projects to practice on. People who already have some general knowledge and experience might still learn something new, but nothing you won't learn from a more in-depth and comprehensive text that costs about the same, which would make this book not the best choice for the money. However, the patterns are, in my opinion, quite a strong overriding factor. You will get a lot of use out of these patterns, no matter your sewing experience. They are great basic patterns to have: easy enough that you could whip them up in an afternoon if you suddenly get an itch; cute enough you can wear them everyday; flattering enough they suit any figure; and flexible enough you can build a wardrobe out of them. This book would be a great gift for a young woman interested in fashion, as it would give them the basic tools to start channeling their creativity and execute their ideas.
The patterns are 5-star, but the narrow range of usefulness of the text makes me rate the book overall as a 4. In reality, how much you will get out of the book depends too heavily on your personal factors such as sewing experience and learning style, so hopefully I've given you enough information here that you can decide if this book is worth the money to you.