Weekend reading: Pre-spring, Hedy Lamarr, and basket weave insets



I’m getting pretty excited about this new pattern we’ve got lined up for you in July. I’ve just finished editing all the photos (we shot them in Palm Springs along with Mabel and Moneta, so you’ll recognize the gorgeous models).

I’ve also been working on some tutorials to go along with it, but I don’t want to share too much until it’s a little closer.

In the meantime, check out this beautiful African wax print cotton I got this week! I picked it up from this etsy seller. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it yet. It’s quite stiff, so I need to wash it and see how it feels. I’ve been reading up on wax prints since I got it, and want to learn more.

Have a great weekend, and enjoy these links:

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 22


Just a heads up, these wax print cottons are not colour fast. First rinse with vinegar and salt. Secondly, the stiffness washes out quite quickly to a soft, malleable, very wearable cotton. Expect some stretch/relaxation in the garment, so don’t make it too fitted. They can grow up to a size up! Loose circle skirts etc or the Sorbetto can be great in this. I know you might be inclined towards something more fitted like the Rooibos when it is stiff, but you will wear it for two months and stop after it stretches out. – I live in South Africa, home to Shwe Shwe!


Thank you so much for the tips, Sarah!


Love to see any African wax projects you do as just returned from travels in West Africa and a bag full of colourful prints which I love but not quite sure how to turn them into wearable items for a white, freckley woman living in England!!

miss agnes

Love your weekend reading posts, I keep them up long enough to have a chance to read through all the links. I had read about Heddy Lamar a few months back, she was an incredibly smart lady.
This print is totally awesome.
Your blog is inspiring me to learn how to sew. Last Sunday a friend lent me an old Singer for an indeterminate time, so I can finally get started, except I have no clues on how to use a machine. Any idea where to start? Or should I simply register for a sewing course? (That migh be the wisest option).


I’d definitely look for a class at your local shop! I think that’s the fast track to learning, really.


Just read “The world doesn’t owe you a room with a view”… wow…. just wow…

amy w

The article on Heddy Lamar was so interesting! I think I need to find a biography/autobiography on her and add it to my to-read list.

The African Wax print fabric is great!


It seems these african cottons in traditional prints never get really soft on the first washes, at least the ones I’ve got. They eventually improve with regular washing, but never drape really well. I’ve got two mozambican capulanas with plans of making a dress or a skirt, but they ended up becoming my official beach blankets and cover-ups. Some really beautiful beach blankets, anyway.

Katrina Blanchalle

Great reading selection, as always! Madalynne’s piece definitely resonates – I think many of us are still feeling the effects of Wardrobe Architect in so many positive ways. An unexpectedly life-changing experience!

I have a collection of gorgeous African prints but the designs are so huge that I usually end up using them for home dec rather than apparel. I have noticed a variation in weight and drape between different manufacturers, and the printing process seems to affect the stiffness as well – some of the metallics are much stiffer than plain colors, for example. I have also found that the fabrics do soften with multiple washings.

Thanks for the reminder of Caitlyn’s tutorial – I had completely forgotten about it and was actually considering buying a pattern with a similar yoke. Much better to do it myself!

Have a lovely weekend!


For anyone who felt that the WA series was helpful, I HIGHLY recommend getting on the news list I created for it (you can sign up here).

I’m building the series into something even better, and getting feedback along the way, so anyone who signs up gets to contribute their ideas and perspective and gets first access to whatever comes out of it in the end.


Thanks for the shout out Sarai! You made the piece so much stronger.

A local maker sells waxed bags of all sorts – – it would be neat if you made a Cooper out your fabric


Those are cool! To clarify my description, the fabric isn’t waxed… “wax” refers to the resist printing method that’s used to create these prints. Similar to batik in that way.


In a circuitous loop of internet searching, I came upon a free bomber pattern by Vlisco – a purveyor of THE most amazing, amazing fabric. ust days later I read a post by a woman who had picked up some fabric from Ghana and was going all Stella Jean on it. Stella Jean is a Haitian/Italian designer who makes extensive use of this fabric. I am so in love with it, but don’t necessarily feel tall enough to pull it off. I live in Chicago and some friends have turned me on to some fabric shops on Devon Avenue (the world on a street) that I’m visiting this weekend. I’m so excited to hear tips and see examples, this fabric is so, so beautiful, and some is so whimsical;)


You know, I’m going to disagree with the message in “The world doesn’t owe you a room with a view”, this is actually terrible advice, especially for women (which is exactly what she’s targeting). The article presents a view that entitlement is somehow epidemic among women, but really, isn’t the problem that entitlement isn’t acceptable for women? If you take what the high fashion designer is saying at its core, she’s saying that you should demand the respect you deserve, you can’t just wait for it to be handed to you. Why do women have to be the keepers of modesty, morality and humbleness? Why are women discouraged from reaping the benefits of their hard work, in particular, by other women? Eating disorders, self-imposed guilt, living as close to poverty as possible under the guise of a higher morality – is it any coincidence?

That aside, you always go out of your way to share cool links, so I’ll share some with you:
– One of my favorite artists on the internet, she frequently explores the beauty of diversity in her paintings:
-My favorite chocolate company of all time, Dandelion Chocolate, explains on medium how they make their chocolate using only cocoa beans and sugar:
– The best version of spaghetti squash casserole I’ve tried (vegetarian)
– One of the better tea companies I’ve discovered in a while, I highly recommend the white coconut cream tea or the mandarin silk oolong:


That’s a really interesting counterpoint!

I didn’t read it as being specifically aimed at women, just that the example she happened to read about was a woman.

I agree that women need to take responsibility for getting what they deserve, and especially not tearing down other women for their success. But I think there’s a difference between demanding what you’ve earned and *expecting* things to be handed to you. Especially under the rationale that you are a “first class” person (which implies that other people are below you, I suppose).

That’s what I got out of it, anyway.

Thanks for contributing the links… it would be fun to have everyone contribute their favorite link each week perhaps!


interesting that linked to an article about Entitlement, it is the hot topic right now here in Australia. Since our prime minister and his party called an ‘End to Entitlement’. While I can’t stand the moronic man that currently runs our country, I do agree that there is way too much of a sense of entitlement here (and I suspect in other developed nations). My generation and younger hasn’t experienced any real hardship in their life, so think everything should be easy all the time, and served up on a silver platter. here is a good show exploring this issue:


despite that my recent fabric purchases are all navy and black, since being in Paris I am jonesing for some of the amazing waxed African print fabrics I see on the streets here! Roisin from just bought some here and used it to make the most gorgeous dress. you should totally check it out on her IG feed as it uses the Iris bodice and a circle skirt. it’s got me planning a trip to the same shop she got her fabric and I’m dreaming up a wild dress!


Looks like you’ve actually got a block or roller-print imitation kente cloth there, not Dutch (aka “African”) wax! If you’re interested, the (old) website of one of the best exhibitions on the topic, and another book on innovation in kente, and adinkra, another Ghanaian fabric.


Interesting! Can you tell me how you can tell the difference? It was sold as genuine wax print, and has a dutch label/seal on it!


Hi Sarai,

It’s hard to tell 100% without seeing your fabric in person or the label & seal, but there are two things that stand out to me.

In terms of process, the fabric doesn’t have a “crackle” or “splatter,” those tell-tale signs that show real wax was involved in the printing process. The design is generally mirrored front/back and the color is equally intense on both sides with real wax. Rollers and blocks are used in wax printing processes, but when you use either of those processes without wax, the print appears more solid. Granted, you can print a faux crackle…

In terms of style, kente is valued and expensive because of the weaving process used to make it. Even a single piece can run upwards of $300! Roller printed kente is a cheap substitute, and often is made to appeal more to tourists or to non-African markets. Black and white is not a usual combination for kente.

While there are wax printing factories in both Europe and West Africa, there is a large market for counterfeit Dutch wax fabrics, both online and physically in Africa, primarily based out of factories in China.


That’s fascinating, thank you so much for the explanation. I do still love the print though. :)


You’re welcome! I can see a fun shift dress being made out of that. Looking forward to seeing what you turn it into.

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