Yesterday I went to the Colette Patterns Fall 2012 Launch at A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland. My husband, son, and I started off next door at James and the Giant Cupcake. Yeah, delicious cupcakes and an awesome low key atmosphere. They even had a table with paper and markers for kids to sit at. Unfortunately I ended up with blue frosting on my pants. What can I say, you can’t take me anywhere. Seriously though, if you’re in the area, check them out.

After the cupcakes, I went next door to A Verb for Keeping Warm. Their shop is lovely. I really wanted to see examples of the Colette patterns made up and I wasn’t disappointed. They were even better in person than in the pictures, as well as a little less intimidating. To expand on that- I discovered that they would also look good on my tall, small breasted pear shape and aren’t just for busty women.
It was interesting to see the fabrics chosen for varous designs. Quite a few were cotton/batiste/voile as opposed to a rayon or challis or other typical dress or blouse fabrics. I LOVE working with cottons so that was a big plus. The patterns have amazing details. Very vintage-y without being costume-y, which is important to me. I love vintage designs, but some clothing from the 40s or 50s, if done accurately, tends to make the wearer look upholstered and honestly, matronly. Beware, it’s a small step from Joan Holloway structured brilliance to looking like my Grandma’s ottoman. The Colette patterns sidestep this problem nicely by having small details like notched sleeve bands, tucks, small gathers, and clever, unobtrusive pockets without being fussy or overly cutesy. Quite a few would look perfectly at home on the set of Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom.” I fell in love with many patterns. There may be some Colette fan art from yours truly in the near future.
Despite my crippling shyness I did manage to meet Sarai & Kenn & have her sign my copy of the Colette Sewing Handbook. They were both polite and neither mentioned the blue frosting on my pants. I also ended up buying the “Anise” coat pattern. I was on the fence bc it doesn’t have bust darts and thought it would flatten me out more than I am. But, after looking at the samples I decided to take a chance. Worst case scenario- I add bust darts to the muslin.

I have something to admit: I am only a recent fan. Colette patterns are drafted for a c-cup {most patterns are drafted for a B} and I was reluctant to add another pattern alteration to the legion I already have. They also have their own sizing- I’ve written before about my loathing of vanity sizing as well as using random numbers to describe a size. My dead hobby horse is that sizing should just be measurements. Oh look, a 34″ bust, this is the one I buy. BOOM- problem solved. It is a little weird that on Colette sizing i’m a 2/4 when in tradtional sewing sizes, and my vintage clothes, I’m a 12/14. I buy a 6 or 8 in most stores (hello vanity sizing). It may seem obvious, but definitely double check your measurements for their size.

The Colette Sewing Handbook is the best modern sewing book for beginner/intermediate seamstresses I’ve read. Even better than my beloved Burdastyle {book, not magazine. The magazines are a totally different beast and are not for beginners} and Built by Wendy. The Colette book takes you through five projects of increasing difficulty. Everything is laid out in an easy to understand way and there are profuse photographs of everything. After reading through the whole thing, I started the “Licorice” dress at the end {I’m already an intermediate seamstress} and shortened it into a blouse. It’s almost finished despite me and my son Karl battling this ridiculous 2 week cold. The pattern was wonderful. First of all, the size 34″ bust fits my shoulders and arm scythe perfectly. I had to do a front & back gaping neck adjustment, move the bust darts down an inch, lengthen the sleeves & torso… and that was it. {That may seam like a lot to you, but trust me, I’ve had patterns where nothing fit correctly.} I only sewed the bust darts and omitted the waist darts bc I wanted it a little blousen. I think bc of this I didn’t have to do a small bust adjustment, which was a nice surprise. I’ll post photos when i’ve finished.

My sweet Karl at the beach.

Perusing my Colette Sewing Book {now signed!}

The Anise Coat pattern

The little book of instructions inside the pattern

a place for your notes

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