Thursday, 8 December 2011

Colette sewing book and personal style

As those reading sewing blogs may have noticed, Sarai who owns Colette patterns released a sewing book during November, The Colette Sewing Handbook. I've been reading reviews of it all over the internet, and everyone loves it! It seems like a great book for beginner-intermediate sewists, it comes with 5 patterns and it covers some areas I usually miss in sewing books, namely planning, choosing a pattern and fitting. The chapter on finishing also sounds interesting, new techniques are always good.

Tasia from Sewaholic wrote a great review here, focusing on the part about wardrobe planning. Casey also adressed this part of the book in her review, and she had some more pages from the book for us to read. Sarai's tip is to pick out 5 garments/outfits/accessoiries that you really love and feel good while wearing (meaning that you not just love the idea of them, but actually enjoy wearing them as well). Then analyze these pieces and see if you can find some common feature, like type of colour, fabrics, fitting, etc. Tasia wrote a follow up post where she did this, found here. I liked this idea, so I figured I'd try it myself! =)


Red doubleknit cotton-jersey dress, swing/40s style (me-made). Pattern made from my blockpattern. I love the colour, the heavy weight of the fabric and how extremly comfortable it is to wear.


Wool winter skirt with grey cardigan. Wool is my all-time favorite fabric! And this is my favorite cardigan; I love the length, the loose-fitting sleeves, the lacepattern on the bodice and the little tie-band just beneth the bust which ensures that the cardigan fits correctly.


Blue cotton skirt (me-made) with purple knit top. This skirt is perfect! It never wrinkles, it's mostley cotton so it breathes, it moves beautifully when I'm dancing, the pleating makes it comfortable to sit in all day at work. I love the top, the sleeves are just my length and I adore the detail with the lace inset and the small covered buttons.


It goes without saying that of course The Coat is a favorite to wear. For the first time in my life outerwear actually fits! The back isn't too wide or long, the overbust isn't too small, the waist fits, and the width of the skirt means the coat is loose over the hips and doesn't gape open when I walk.



Thrifted green vintage dress of unclear decade. This dress is just so nice to wear. Simple as that. =)

A few things springs to mind about my taste:
-Solid colours, dark or jewel, are a favorite.
-Fitted in the waistarea, loose around the hips, not overly loose around the bust but with enough width for easy movement. Waistseams sits in the natural waist.
-Natural fibers; wool, cotton, linen, silk. Jerseytops and cotton cardigans.
-Necklines that are not tight but not deep enough to show cleavege.
-Hemlines on skirts right beneth the knees, 2" longer on winter skirts.
-Always some sort of sleeve, either short or full-length, seldom elbow or three-quarter for every-day wear (too hard to layer).

Now, these things were far from new to me, and I already sew with this in mind. For example I know that the fitted over the hip/calf long/blous-y at the waist - dresses of the 30s  that I just love isn't what I feel most comfortable in. Instead, I'm sewing 40s style and 50s style skirts and dresses to wear at work.

However, while I knew this in the back of my head, this was still a very useful exercise. Maybe it's time to focus on making more of the styles I know I like? Maybe it's not boring to plan more clothes in the same category as the one's I have, it's insightful of me to know what I feel good in =) And perhaps my taste is not the flashiest, lot's of people would feel grey and frumpy in it, but since I feel good in it, why should I strive toward other styles?

This brings me back to the Colette Sewing Handbook... Take a look at the patterns that comes with this book (I'll just link as I don't want to steal photos):
The Truffle dress and the licorice dress. Both very cute, but the sleeves are all wrong for me and the parts I do like (the fitted bodice) would be a lot easier to do using my block pattern than doing the 1 million alterations I'd need to do on the bodice. The skirts are not quite my taste...
The pastille dress. Adorable, but not my kind of sleeve nor skirt. See above about the fitted bodice.
The Taffy blouse and the Meringue skirt. Again, the sleeves on the blouse are not my style, the bodice on the blouse is too loose for me. The skirt pattern I could do myself in less than an hour, with the length, waistband, opening and pockets I prefer.

What I'm trying to do here is to decide whether or not to get the book. The patterns are super cute, all of them, but they really don't fit into my style. Of course referece books on sewing techniques are always fun, but I have a bunch of them and shouldn't I read them all before I can justify getting a new one? But at the same time this one seems so very interesting... And maybe some of my friends who sews would find these patterns useful? =) Having a major case of in-decision here!

Ah well, no need to get it now before Christmas, I can think about it for a while. I did really like the wardrobe analysis though, it was great fun to do, and a big help to being comfortable about my style and thereby likely helpful in the future for choosing sewing projects. Maybe the book have many more of those thoughtful gems, and I can justify buying it for that reason?

What do you think, have you bought the Colette sewing handbook? Do you plan to? Have you done any similar wardrobe analysis and what did you come up with? Should I buy the book?!!! =) I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Love, Erika

9 comments:

MistressCatgirl said...

That green dress looks lovely on you and I love your coat! I have a hard time finding coats to fit my body. I usually need to go a size up for my bust.

Kitten said...

Hm, jag skulle nog låta bli att köpa men mest för mönstrens skull, de var inte direkt i min stil heller. Kan tänka mig att sy-tekniken finns till stor del i de böcker du redan har också. Men så tänker jag, du måste givetvis bestämma själv.

Intressant övning där med att välja ut fem plagg, hm, nåt att fundera på själv kanske? :) På nåt sätt känner jag på mig att mina plagg skulle bli rätt lika de du valde ut-men i andra färger. Det finns kanske en orsak till att alla kjolar i min garderob är lika långa...

Anna | Mormor hade stil said...

Jag har beställt den, och den är på väg hem till mig från engelska amazon. Till skillnad från dig så gillar jag både the licorice dress och the pastille (men inte ärmarna, utan jag kommer nog rita om det livet).

Kan du inte önska dig den i julklapp? ;-) Så slipper du göra ett eget övervägt val...

Erika said...

Thank you, MistressCatgirl! I feel with you, I've been having the same problem all my life. Wearing, everyday, something that I've made and that fits, is a great feeling.

Kitten; Jag är ytterst tveksam, trots att den säkert är bra. Det finns ju en klar risk för att falla över i konsumptionstänk runt sin hobby likaväl som för teknikprylar (större risk för min del, t o m. Teknikprylar intesserar mig inte hälften så mycket). Försöker avgöra om boken bara skulle stilla ett ha-begär eller faktiskt fylla en lucka i syboks-biblioteket. Svårt. Mycket svårt.

Men övningen var som sagt väldigt trevlig. Skönt att höra att det är stil-insikt att alla mina kjolar är lika långa - inte tråkighet =)

Anna; Spännande! Då väntar jag med spänning på att höra vad du tycker om den ; ) Funderade på att önska mig den, men känns som att om jag skaffar den och inser att den eg inte fyller någon plats hos mig så känns det bättre om det bara är mina egna pengar jag slösat på den. Det är klart, jag skulle ju kunna ge bort den om jag inte gillar den...

Mrs J said...

I've already ordered from Amazon a while ago and my book will probably arrive tomorrow. I could probably bring it on Saturday, so you can have a look!

Erika said...

Oh, thank you so much Mrs J, I'd love that! You're a doll =) *hugs*

malin said...

that green dress is so beautiful and looks lovely on you! :)

Lady D said...

I've been contemplating weather to buy it....reading all the good reviews..but the patterns included don't jump out at me as my style (I'd like to take bits from each pattern and make a composite). And I'm only just getting to the stage in my sewing where I'm starting to alter patterns to my taste.
I love your green dress. I have two coats with an A line skirt to them. One was a total bargain from a shop sale.

Erika said...

Thank you, Malin!

Lady D; I decided that the patterns just were too far from the styles that fits me, so instead I'm waiting for Gertie's book this fall. Love her style, and even if the patterns themselves will need a lot of alterations to fit , it feels like it will be better suited to my taste.
It takes a bit of time to learn how to alter pattern, but there's a lot of good books and How-to's out there so I'd say take a jump at it! It's so much more satisfying with a garment that's styled the way one prefers it to be.