When I announced The Colette Sewing Handbook, one of the first things you guys asked for was a preview of the five patterns it contains. I am more than happy to oblige. I’ve planned a series of posts showcasing the designs, with a little background info and even a few outtake photos that don’t appear in the book.
For the book, I had the usual goal of designing patterns that are simple, beautiful, and versatile. I pretty much always have that goal. But I also wanted these patterns to be good teaching instruments. They are integrated with the techniques in the book, so that you can practice various lessons in a really hands on way and still make something you actually want to wear.
Let’s start with Taffy:
Taffy actually comes toward the end of the book, in the chapter on finishing. Among other things, with Taffy you get to practice sewing darts, making your own bias tape, sewing French seams, and binding edges with bias tape. A handy skills checklist at the beginning of the pattern gives you the page numbers of all these techniques (and more).
Taffy is a floaty little blouse, cut on the bias so you don’t need closures. You can make it in a sheer fabric if you want, because the edges are all neatly enclosed in French seams, or bound with bias tape.
The bias tape adds a fun design detail, but it also makes it much easier to finish the edges of the curved sleeves. No fussing with deeply curved hems, even with these circular sleeves. This is a great technique you can take to pretty much any curved hem.
Taffy is only made up of three pattern pieces. That means you spend your energy on the fine finishing details, not hours cutting.
We made the book sample in a bright aqua chiffon, but you could use just about any lightweight, drapey fabric. Lawn, georgette, voile, or crepe would all be lovely choices.
For the bias tape, believe it or not, I made it out of an old black and white striped silk shirt! That’s one of the awesome things about making bias tape, you can make it out of small amounts of fabric and even old thrifted clothes!
Now let’s talk about Meringue:
Meringue is the first real project in the book, so it’s made to be quite simple, with the emphasis on using patterns properly and trying some different techniques for transferring markings.
Obviously, the cut is very simple. There isn’t even a waistband to sew. The fun is all in the scalloped hem, where you have a chance to try pivoting corners, notching curves, grading seams, and sewing a catchstitch by hand. This is an easy-peasy pattern with a really eye-catching result.
We used a striped cotton twill here, and a solid cotton twill for the black version above. This skirt works beautifully in both prints and solids, is quick to sew, and pretty much always looks adorable.
Stay tuned for another preview next week, guys!
And of course you can buy The Colette Sewing Handbook on from our shop right now!
Some other posts you may be interested in: