Coming Soon! The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits: Professional techniques for beautiful everyday garments


As you all know, over the last year or so I’ve been thinking a lot about creating a functional, beautiful wardrobe. I want to make things I both love, and will wear the heck out of.

So I started examining the clothes I actually wear all the time. And what did I find in my wardrobe?


Knits knits knits everywhere.


There are the leggings and t-shirts and workout wear, of course. And the underwear and bras and loungewear. And the sweaters and cardigans.

But there are also the dresses I reach for day after day, because they make me feel put together while not thinking about my clothes at all. There are knit skirts I pull on when I don’t feel like tugging at a waistband constantly. There are soft drapey tops whose comfort is belied by how darn pretty they are.

And that’s when I realized, it’s time to dive into this whole knits thing.

So I turned to my friend Alyson Clair. Alyson has her own knitwear label, but also has 8 years of experience as a patternmaker and technical designer working for large companies in the activewear industry. The lady knows her way around a serger. She also knows the difference between what’s done in factories and what we can do on a smaller scale in our homes and small studios. It turns out, the differences are not as great as you might think.

I asked Alyson if she’d like to write a book for us all about sewing knits. She’d write everything she knows, and we’d put it together in our own clear and beautiful Colette style and publish it for you as both an ebook and a physical book. She agreed.

It also made complete sense to work on some knit patterns together, so you could take all that sewing knowledge and use it. So Alyson also helped us create two patterns for gorgeous knit basics that we’ll be releasing at the same time.

(If you were wondering what we were doing in Palm Springs recently, we were shooting these lovely new patterns. Plus floating around in a pool on a swan. As one does. Note Alyson’s sewing tattoos.)


This book is for you if:

  • You are itching to try something new with your sewing.
  • You’ve always wanted to sew more wearable basics, but are intimidated by knit techniques.
  • Comfort is important to you in choosing what you wear.
  • You love making clothes that are fast, fun, and easy.
  • You like to spend your time sewing, not fitting, finishing, and pressing.
  • You want to learn how to sew knits without a serger or a coverstitch (or before you decide to invest in one).
  • You have a serger (or coverstitch) and want to learn how to do more with it.


You’re going to learn:

  • How to seam and finish knit garments, no matter what kind of equipment you have.
  • How sergers and coverstitch machines work, so if you have one, you can use it in a professional way. And if you don’t, you’ll learn what’s worth investing in as you grow.
  • Industry techniques from someone who has spent years on the factory floor (and how to adapt them for home use).
  • How to shop for knit fabric and what to look for.
  • Basic fitting and quick-fit techniques that work well for knit patterns.
  • A variety of methods for finishing edges, like necklines, armholes, and hems. You’ll learn techniques you can swap out on almost any knit pattern!
  • Fun embellishments that work particularly well with knits, such as using stretch lace, decorative elastic, and more.



Knits are easy-peasy

I have learned so much in the course of working on this book with Alyson.

But above everything else, the main thing I’ve come to realize is how doable it is to create a highly functional, comfortable, and lovely wardrobe once you start sewing with knits. They are so fast and fun and once the book and patterns come out, I can’t wait to share all the knits I’ve been sewing up!


The what and when

We’ve created a gorgeous book that will be available either as a lovely full-color paperback or instantly downloadable ebook.

We’ll also be releasing two brand new patterns designed with Alyson Clair just for knits. Think lovely, versatile, feminine basics.

All of this is coming to you next month, on April 15th. In the meantime, I’ll be sharing excerpts, the cover, and some behind the scenes stories in the coming weeks as we get closer.

I’ll also have one more thrilling announcement about the patterns next week. There’s one more thing that makes them pretty special.

Like what you read here? Subscribe to our blog via email so you don’t skip a stitch! And sign up for our weekly Snippets email for even more sewing tips and tricks.


Sneak peek tomorrow: It’s a big-un!


First, I want to say thank you to everyone for the warm, thoughtful, and kind comments on yesterday’s post. I couldn’t respond to every one (though I wanted to), but many of you brought a lump to my throat with your experiences and thoughts. So thanks.

I also wanted to let you know that you should definitely tune in tomorrow, because I’m going to be talking about a big, big project I’ve been working on in collaboration with a talented friend and colleague. I think it will be perfect for many of you, based on some of the answers you’ve been throwing out in the recent giveaway post when I asked what you wanted to learn more about.

I’ll also be talking a bit about some upcoming patterns. Come back for that tomorrow!


Progress, Not Perfection


I heard this pithy saying a little while ago: “progress, not perfection.”

For me, it was a lightbulb moment. I’ve always struggled with the paradox of simultaneously accepting who I am and wanting to be better.

There is even a Zen koan that deals with this issue: “All of you are perfect as you are, and you could all do with a little improvement.” But try as I might to understand this paradox, it never clicked.

I’ve long struggled with this, in relation to my body, my habits, my work, just about everything in life. It’s difficult to simultaneously want positive change and NOT beat yourself up for falling short. Or compare yourself to others who seem to be doing better.

How can change and self-acceptance co-exist?

But when I heard these three words, I realized that the answer is obvious. Look at what you’ve accomplished and celebrate that. Let that be what guides you forward.

Why hate doesn’t help

Today, I’ve got a swimsuit to show off, but first I would like to share a little of my story with you in regards to my body.

I was not an athletic kid. As an introvert, team sports held zero interest for me, and I just didn’t think of myself as a physical person. At all.

Couple that with being constantly surrounded by junk food (seriously, how is it possible that Pizza Hut and Taco Bell can sell food on school campuses?) and some pretty gnarly emotional eating problems, and I was not a healthy young woman, in body or in mind.

In fact, I hated the way I looked. I also felt divorced from it. I rarely looked at my body clearly in the mirror, it was so painful. I also had the added impact of my scoliosis to make me feel abnormal and at war with my physical self. I just wanted to forget about it all.

I never decided to make a big physical change. But I did decide to stop hating myself. I remember reading Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and feeling the tragedy of so many women’s internalized misogyny and self-loathing. And I simply decided I didn’t want to be one of those women.

Slowly, I overcame my depression and emotional eating problems. I was now living in New York City and walking miles a day for transportation. I discovered that I really liked cooking, and I even might like exercise. Over the course of the next year and a half, I lost a good 40 or 50 pounds.

I never dieted; I never even set out to lose weight. But once I started, I loved seeing the progress just from making better choices, and that kept me going. I exercised more, found new activities I enjoyed, learned more about nutrition. It was a positive feedback loop.

But first I had to stop hating myself. It’s the exact opposite of what they sell you, that if you compare yourself and hate yourself enough, you’ll have the motivation to do better.

It’s a lie. You know why? Because the hate won’t stop. Self-flagellation might help you make some changes, but once you accomplish what you set out to do, you will not magically feel good enough. The hate will still be there. I’ve been there, many times.

So today, I am celebrating progress and saying to hell with perfection. I’m not going to point out every “flaw” in my body to you, as much as I want to. I will look at myself and be proud of a body that has run a marathon, can do pull-ups, and hikes in the forest, no matter what its size, shape, or level of symmetry.

It won’t be around forever. I want to enjoy it while it lasts.

The swimsuit

Now, on to the swimsuit!



I found this amazing cloud print fabric at Spandex House online. It’s a poly-spandex blend and it’s absolutely perfect for swimwear. I lined it in swimsuit lining fabric. I’ll warn you that ordering from them is sort of a weird process where you have to give your credit card over the phone. I have no idea why they don’t just use paypal or something, it’s really strange.


I drafted the pattern and decided to make it in the style of a longline bra. Traditionally, swimwear would have more covered elastic rather than the decorative elastic with the little picots and whatnot, but I had it and it looks cute, so whatever.


I added underwire for support, but no foam in the cups. The spandex is so sturdy with the lining that it really didn’t need foam.


I struggled a bit with what do to with the back of the top. I wanted to use a swimwear hook, but because the top is longline, I didn’t want to taper the back from several inches at the side seams to only 3/4 inches at the back. So I hit upon the idea of doing two sets of straps in back.

I rather like the unusual look, and it helps provide quite a bit of support. I have to fix the fact that the top strap rides up, though.


The good

This suit is all kinds of adorable. I love the longline style and the simple style lines let me use this crazy print. The fabric was awesome. The cut is perfect for me.

Overall, I love it and want to make more variations!

What I’d change

Fit wise, it could use some minor tweaks. The cups are a bit minimizing, so I’d probably deepen them a little. I’d make the back band tighter. And I need to angle the top back band, because you can see how much it’s riding up.

I also would sew the bottom elastic band differently, since the cups wanted to sag over it a little.

I stretched the elastic slightly when sewing the waist and leg openings, and that really wasn’t necessary. So I’d sew it 1:1 next time.

One final note: Before you ask, this is not supposed to be a preview of an upcoming pattern! At least not any time soon. This is definitely more of a fun experiment right now. I wouldn’t mind hearing if you’re interested in sewing bras or swimwear, though. At the very least, I can recommend some great books.

Giveaway: The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Instruction


I’m happy to be taking part in the blog tour for my friend Christine Haynes‘ brand new book, The Complete Photo Guide To Clothing Construction. Today, we’re offering one lucky reader a free copy of the book (see details below).

CPG Clothing Contruction High res

First, I wanted to share a few pages of this fantastic book with you, to give you a sense of what’s inside.

Personally, I am a big believer in photo-heavy instructional books. I’m a visual learner, and I tend to think that clear color photographs are one of the absolute best ways to demonstrate any sort of needlecraft technique.

And the sheer number of photos in this book means that Christine has fit a huge abundance of information into this slender and beautiful book. There are over 600 full color photos, demonstrating everything from how to install zippers to sewing with knits.

This book is like a an extended class in garment sewing, only in book form. With a wonderful teacher like Christine at your side, you can basically learn anything.

Here’s a preview of the kind of clear, quality instruction you’ll see in this book:

page 58

page 59

page 62

page 63

page 87

I highly encourage you to pick up a copy, and I say that not only as Christine’s friend and admirer, but as a collector of fabulous sewing books. This is the sort of book you will find yourself turning to again and again.


To enter to win a free copy of this book, leave a comment below telling me one sewing technique you’d like to learn or get better at.

I will choose a lucky winner by random number generator after Friday, March 7 at midnight Pacific time. You have until then to enter.

International entries are welcome, and we will pay for shipping (though if you are outside the US, you are responsible for any local duties that may be charged).

Good luck, and be sure to pick up a copy!

PS: Tomorrow, the blog tour will move to another friend’s blog, Erin of Miss Crayola Creepy fame. Be sure to visit Erin too!

UPDATE: The winner of this book is Stella, who answered our question with: “How to use my serger/overlocker and whip those stretchy fabrics into shape!” Congrats, Stella!


Friday Chatter: What non-garment sewing do you do?


I’ve been working on a few projects for my house lately.

Nothing fancy, just some simple linen pillowcases with pretty trims. It took me forever to replace the worn out, cat-damaged ones I’d been using, but now that I have, I’m amazed at home much better they look, how much more comfortable they feel, and how much cheaper they were to make than buy.

I’ve done some more complex home sewing too. I made roman shades for 5 windows a while back. And of course, there is the very slow-going quilt that I rarely work on.

I was curious, do you sew for your home, make quilts, or do other kinds of non-garment sewing?

[image above from my instagram stream]

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