Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review: Colette Sewing Handbook

Book Index/Chapter headings;

Chapter 1: Getting Started
General basic information like different hand and machine stitches, gathering, darts, installing zippers. I really like the information on using 3 lines of gathering stitches for a more even gather as I've only ever used 2 lines.

Chapter 2: A Thoughtful Plan
Making a sewing plan including dressing for your shape, colours, making a mood board.

Chapter 3: A Precise Pattern
Information on pattern markings, marking out and cutting out.

Pattern: Meringue Skirt

Chapter 4: A Fantastic Fit
Some very basic information on fitting. I'm actually a tiny bit disappointed in this section, I know this isn't a specialised fitting book but I feel that the information is so brief that it's not overly helpful. There's information on how to do the basic alterations but not how to tell if you need that alteration. All in all, if you need help fitting get a good book like Fit For Real People.

Pattern: Pastille Dress

Chapter 5: A Beautiful fabric
Basic information on fabric types.
I like the tip about using a Fabric Stabilizer spray for fabrics such as Chiffon (I've just got to find it for sale here now!)

Pattern: Truffle Dress

Chapter 6: A Fine Finish
Includes making bias tape and different seam finishes and some basic information on lining.

Pattern: Taffy Blouse

Chapter 7: Keep Learning

Pattern: Licorice Dress

A note on the Patterns: As usual the instructions for the patterns are beautifully clear and the illustrations are lovely. Very easy to follow and I love that the book is spiral bound so it lays nice and flat when you are sewing.

Does this book have clear illustrations or photographs? Yes - the whole book is beautifully presented

Would you recommend this book as a MUST HAVE?
Even though this book is aimed towards beginners it tends to just touch on a lot of things and doesn't quite go into enough detail. I really wish she'd been able to include a more comprehensive fitting section, but hopefully its enough to interest a beginner to then get some specialised fitting books.

Having said that though it is a beautifully presented book and I like Sarai's relaxed writing style. The patterns are the main reason I bought the book and I am very happy with them, it's great value if you just work off the patterns themselves (5 patterns at $18 each = $90 value) and I must say that it is the best sewing book I've bought that includes patterns. Its not a craft book it is a proper dressmaking book (no cushions or slipcovers in sight!).

So in summary; Buy it for the patterns and the sheer beauty of the book and photos.


  1. good review! and pretty taffy blouse!
    you can *make* your own spray stabilizer - just grab an empty spray bottle (I have quite a big one... about a litre), stuff in about a fistful of water soluble stabilizer and top up with warm water to dissolve the stabilizer. It makes my slippery fabrics manageable, but not crunchy.

    Embroiderers use the water soluble stabilizer a lot, and I've found it in any sewing machine that sells embroidery machines, and most fabrics shops too (in Canada). Never found the Sullivan's stuff that Colette recommends.

  2. Is the water soluble stabilizer the kind of plasticy/film like stuff that you can sew with, then disolves in water?
    I'll be giving it a go, Thanks! I can't seem to find the Sulivans brand for sale either, maybe its only in America?

  3. that's the stuff! works great!