Thank you for 5 amazing years (and here’s to the next 5)!


It’s a very special day.

Today marks the five year anniversary of Colette Patterns, an incredible milestone for our little company and for me personally.

It’s all thanks to you.

I’ve grown so much and learned more than I could have imagined in the last five years. Sometimes this involved discovering talents I didn’t know I had, like time management, business development, and storytelling.

Other times, it’s pushed me to face my weaknesses, like fear of rejection, confronting people who disappoint me, or assuming any sort of authority whatsoever (ugh, still so hard).

I could list a thousand lessons learned, mistakes made, and small triumphs achieved.

But there’s one discovery that rises above all of that, that informs everything I do now, and that has transformed the way I run this little ship. It’s the importance of sincerely, deeply caring about the people that I work for.

That’s you.

I started this business because I thought the idea was interesting, because I wanted to create something that I’d want to use, and because I wanted to change my life for the better.

All of that happened, but in the end, it isn’t what drives me anymore. Sure, I want a business that sustains me and my crew. But I believe the way to do that is to create things that sustain you.

I want to be a force for good, even in a small way, in your creative lives. I want to spread the joy I feel in making and learning, because I know what a powerful force it is. I want just a little more happiness in the world, and I think making things with your hands is a path to that.

So please raise a virtual glass to the last 5 years of Colette Patterns, and here’s to the next 5. I anticipate many adventures, new ideas, and great conversations along the way.

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Why do you sew?

Why do you sew?

I mentioned last week that I went on a little writing retreat.

I packed up our mazda with a week’s worth of food, a bottle of wine, some dark chocolate, and my laptop and booked myself into a teeny little wooded cottage. It was magical, and I plan to do it at least a few times a year now.

While I was there, I did more than just write. I did a lot of thinking – about you guys.

I thought about what a diverse group of people we are. We have girls in high school reading this who are just starting out. We have women in their 80s who have been sewing for many decades. We have single women in college. We have moms. We have women living in big cities, and women living on rural farms.

But what brings us all together is the simple hobby of sewing. Why?

Because here’s what I realized: We’re all going way against the grain here.

Clothes are cheap and plentiful, or at least they can be. Most people are perfectly happy to shell out a few bucks and have someone else do all that labor. It is much cheaper, at least in terms of time but also often in money, to buy something produced overseas in a factory.

But we don’t. Why?

I know why I love sewing. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it a lot and am writing a whole separate blog post about that.

But given how different we are, I want to hear from you. Why do you sew? How does it improve your life? How does it make you feel?

PS: Maddie is holding a little giveaway for The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits right now, so you may want to pop over for a quick entry!

Friday chatter: Have you ever taken a sewing break?


Breaks are on my mind this week.

See, I decided to do something a little different this week. You may recall that my watchword for 2014 is “focus.” Focusing is not always easy for me. As the person running the creative side of things around CPHQ, I have a lot of different jobs. I often find myself bouncing around from task to task and question to question. I often feel I’m in fire-fighting mode.

I think this can really hinder my creativity and ability to see the big picture. So this week, I rented a tiny cottage out in the middle of Oregon, where I’ve been holed up doing nothing but writing. It’s wonderful.

Stepping away in order to recharge my creativity has been vital at other times too. When I start to become burned out on something or no longer feel inspired, sometimes all I need is a little break.

I’ve done this occasionally with sewing, with photography, and I’ve definitely done it with knitting.

Have you ever intentionally taken a break from sewing or another creative hobby?

[image above: Hammock by Florin Gorgan]

Video: How to clean finish a lined armhole

RSS or email subscribers: Can’t see the video? Click through to view it on the web.

Version 1 of the Moneta dress features a bodice that is fully lined.

If you’ve struggled before with lining sleeveless tops or dresses, we have a little trick to show you today to get a perfectly lined, clean-finished armhole, all by machine.

The secret is not sewing the armholes all in one go. You sew the front armhole, then the back armhole separately. The video and photos below show this with the Moneta dress, which is made from a knit fabric and sewn with a serger, but you can also use this trick on a woven garment with your standard sewing machine.

Watch the video above and follow these steps to try it out.


1. With right sides together, start by stitching the shoulder seams and side seams together on both the bodice shell and bodice lining.


2. Turn the shell right side out.

3. Place the lining inside the shell, with wrong sides together.

Note: For Moneta, the neckline is left open because a collar is sewn to it later. If you also want to clean finish the neckline at the same time, you can do that before step 3. Place the shell inside the lining with right sides together. Stitch the lining to the shell around the neckline. Turn the lining inside the shell, with wrong sides together, then continue to step 4.


4. Turn the seam allowance under at the front armhole. Press if you find it necessary. You only really need to turn the seam allowance under on part of the armhole.


5. Reach between the lining and shell layers and grasp the two seam allowances of the front armhole. Pull them out through the waist.


6. With right sides together, stitch the shell to the lining along the front armhole. Stitch from the side seam to the shoulder only, don’t try to sew the entire armhole.


The armhole is now finished along the front. Let’s move on to the back.


7. Just as before, reach between the lining and shell layers and grasp the two seam allowances of the back armhole. Pull them out through the waist again.


8. With right sides together, stitch the shell to the lining along the back armhole. Stitch from the side seam to the shoulder only, meeting the stitching of the front armhole.


9. Complete the second armhole in exactly the same way, and you are done!


Behind the scenes at our photo shoot (spoiler: I get a bloody nose)





This photo shoot was a dream come true.

For at least a couple years, I’d had a dream of doing a photo shoot in Palm Springs. Not only do I love going there, but it’s the perfect setting when you need to feel like summer in the middle of a soggy and cold Portland winter.

So this February, the whole team packet our bags and went on a workcation.


We stayed (and shot) at the beautiful Demimonde, a mid-century home you can rent for very reasonable rates. It was absolutely perfect. I felt like I was in a 60s California dream world.


I tend to really prepare for photo shoots, but this one was planned to a tee. Above is the call sheet I used for planning, so I could track the shots we needed, the looks we wanted to do, the times the girls needed to get to hair/makeup, all that fun logistical stuff.



Kristen managed the styling, which involves planning and arranging the looks, keeping the clothes looking neat, and generally making sure nothing is getting weirdly bunched up or wrinkled in photos. It’s amazing what you can miss when you’re behind the lens, so it’s vital to have extra eyes and hands.






Oh, and did I mention my bloody nose?


You know how these mid-century homes always have gorgeous floor-to-ceiling glass doors?

When they’re kept clean, you can’t always tell at a glance if they’re open or closed. Apparently, I thought it was open. I was mistaken.

I walked right into the glass door and smacked my nose pretty hard. I actually thought I’d knocked a tooth loose at first because of the blood, but it turned out I’d only bitten my lip. So I spent the rest of the shoot with a bandage on my face.



We actually shot another batch of photos for our next pattern while we were here too! Those will be under wraps for the time being, but you’ll see more from these lovely ladies soon.


image credits:

Models: Kassidy Marley, Briana Harrington
Hair/Makeup: Jen Plus Colour
Styling: Kristen Blackmore
Location: Demimonde Palm Springs

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