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4.6 out of 5 stars77
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Hardcover-spiral|Change
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on 28 December 2011
I may not be a beginner dressmaker, but I have found this book both useful and a pleasure to read. I tend to pick up lots of sewing guides and the like and still the Colette Sewing Handbook has what others are missing:

* A focus on dressmaking. Many sewing introduction books are more generic, so they might show you how to make a cushion, but they don't necessarily explain how to set in a sleeve. Sarai Mitnick shows you exactly how.

* Clothing patterns that are actually stylish, unique and that you'd actually want to make and wear. But if you know about Colette Patterns, then you'll expect this already. I'd recommend having a look at the five different patterns and checking out what other stitchers have made online to get some inspiration and an idea of whether you would make these designs.

* A discussion not only of how to make items, but how to decide what to make to suit you. I've seen this in books on style and buying clothes from the likes of Gok and Trinny and Susannah, but this is the first time I've seen this kind of advice in a sewing book. And it's blooming important! If you're going to spend hours of your time (not to mention your hard-earned cash on fabric and supplies) on an item of clothing, it's pretty disheartening to find that it doesn't suit you (I speak from experience!) or that it simply doesn't suit your lifestyle. Again, Mitnick comes up trumps with some friendly pointers to set you off in the right direction.

Some of the other things I love about this book: it sits flat when it's open, so you can refer to it while sewing; Sarai Mitnick's tone in writing is encouraging and conversational, without being in your face with fake, over the top enthusiasm and exclamations; it is very pretty, which makes it an utter pleasure to read through and dip into. There are many other things I could mention, I'm sure, but I'll let you discover these for yourself. Enjoy.
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on 23 January 2015
A great book whether you are a beginner or a more experienced sewer, Sarai's experience and enthusiasm show through in the writing. Even if you only like one or 2 of the patterns in here (or even none of them) you can learn something from the text. Most importantly, as with her blog, it's the infectious prose that makes you want to sew! My only problem (as with most 'How to' books and manuals purchased over the net) is that I wanted to see more in the 'Look inside' than I actually got. I understand that for copyright reasons the explanation pages have to be limited in preview, but pictures of the finished results for each pattern would have helped. For this reason I would prefer to buy, or at least look at, any cookery, gardening or sewing book in person rather than over the net, to make sure that it is 'for me'. In this case I took the risk and was really pleased, but I have been disappointed before. (If you do not already know the 'Coletterie' style, which is quite quirky and not for everyone, I would recommend visiting her website to get an idea of what to expect, pattern and prose wise, before buying)
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on 17 June 2012
I love this book to bits and thoroughly recommend it. I bought it to follow on from a beginners sewing class as I wanted to make my own clothes. This book guides you through all the things you need to know to make a good start on dressmaking: planning, patterns, fit, fabric and finishing skills. There are five patterns included with the book, which considering that Colette patterns are over £10 each represents a great saving. The patterns are for a skirt, three dresses and a top, each designed to teach you skills taught in the book. Unlike a lot of sewing books these patterns are really wearable and if you search the blogosphere there are lots of people out there who have made them. In a couple of weeks of ownership I have already made the skirt and am halfway through the first dress.

In time and with experience I expect there will be more books out there that will help further - more coture techniques or even more information on pattern fitting. For now though I'm really pleased to have a good handbook and five projects that I can turn into something lovely.
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on 18 December 2011
I have waited for this book to come out since reading about it on the Colette Patterns blog page. It is a well put together book fullfilling a really good spot in the market. Full of work as you learn projects for the hands on student. If the styles in the book don't appeal they are simple enough to be altered to suit different needs. A super gift for any would be seamstress out there.
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on 7 October 2012
Lovely book debated about buying but glad I did. Good illustrations and instructions.Patterns included to encourage you to use skills. Looking forward to chance to make dress, in the meantime makes nice bedtime reading!
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on 15 February 2014
This is a lovely book and, whilst I've only just started reading it, it covers all the basics and more in a lovely, calm manner.

The problem is the conversion from inches to centimeters - in one section 1/8" is 30cm and another 24" is 6.6cm. In this day and age converting from one to another should be simple and accurate. It's jarring for someone used to converting but if you're a sewing novice and reliant on the instructions it could be misleading and add frustration where it isn't needed. Material specs seem to be ok, but I'll be triple checking everything from now on.
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on 20 September 2012
I bought this book because of my thirst to learn more sewing skills. It's a text and a project book at the same time, which is quite valuable for a learner. The techniques are explained thoroughly, with plenty of photos and illustrations and you have the opportunity to try them all out on the five patterns included. It covers all the basic stuff like zippers, setting in sleeves and more in depth sewing concepts like pattern alterations. You could easily improve your sewing skills just with just this book.

Despite the author being a pattern designer I don't think the strength of the book is in the patterns. They are printed in manila paper, like commercial patterns, but I've had a hard time using them because some of the lines were faded or too close and I couldn't trace them. I also had to make quite a few alterations to the two garments I made, more than I usually make on other patterns (which it really is not a big deal because you have all the tutorials for a perfect fit within the book)

Although I could live without the patterns, in terms of sewing techniques I have learnt to make things better by reading this book, and I refer to it when I'm stuck on a lining or on a stubborn zipper.
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on 14 January 2012
In economic terms alone, the purchase of this book is a no-brainer. Colette patterns retail for US $18. But I agree with all the other reviewers that there is plenty more besides, and I believe that whatever your skill level you can learn something, be inspired, and become more creative in your approach to sewing through this book. It doesn't claim to be a comprehensive manual, but there seems to be enough here for a beginner to get started and make progress. And in case you are thinking from the cover that it might just be a designer putting a stylish pretty pastel gloss on the tired fromula of 'learn to sew with a few basic designs', no no and no. I particularly like the emphahsis on adaptation of patterns and fitting as an essential part of dressmaking, alongside the sewing techniques - so often writers concentrate on one or the other. So, if you weren't lucky enough to receive this at Christmas, treat yourself now, and kickstart your 2012 self-sewn wardrobe!
Note the included patterns are sized rather differently from the big commercial pattern companies. The bust sizes are 33in to 46in, drafted with a C cup. They are on thin pattern tissue paper, and tracing off is recommended.
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on 24 March 2012
Unlike so many other books that try to be all things to all people, this book knows what it wants to achieve and focusses on that, recommending other books for areas not covered in detail.

What can I say that hasn't already been said? I have been sewing for 25 years and wanted to go back to basics and relearn techniques as I've got into bad habits and corner cutting recently. This book is perfect for this. I have been sitting reading it on the bus, which is the first time I've actually read any of the 'extra' bits in a sewing book, and they weren't just there for padding. I've picked up lots of good ideas already which have helped with my current project.

I love the idea of working through 5 patterns to focus on a different technique each time, and especially love that it's all about the fit, so the patterns are quite simple, to encourage you to spend time on getting it right and doing it well.

Even better, I seem to have enough fabric in my stash to make most of them without any more trips to the shops...

A couple of typos, which I hope will be ironed out in the second printing, which is already going ahead, but nothing that affects understanding.

Written by a professional sewer, rather than a fashion student who makes everything on a dummy then has to try to size it up, as per my last purchase, this has consistent, generous sizing and intelligent shaping.

A fabulous website with blog, forums and tips, which expand the whole experience, provide even more info and a chance to see how other people have got on with the same patterns.

It's fun, but not too quirky and never patronising- there is serious sewing in here, but never stuffy or lecturing. It's all I can do not to hug it!
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on 10 June 2013
I'm only a beginner when it comes to sewing and I've found this book extremely helpful. I know I could watch you tube videos and browse the internet for information, and I do. But this book contains the basics all in one place and with it being spiral bound it sits neatly on your table without closing on itself. Sometimes It's just quicker to look it up in a book.

I also like the patterns that come free with it, I haven't made any of them yet but they are on my to do list!
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