Stitch Craft Create Blog

National Sewing Month: Q&A with Sarai Mitnick of Colette Patterns

In celebration of National Sewing Month, we are pleased to have a Q&A for you today with the lovely Sarai Mitnick, founder and designer of Colette Patterns. 
Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Portland, OR, Colette Patterns are often inspired by vintage style, but constructed to be modern, wearable and practical, and are available in modern sizes 0 through 18 with practical details such as pockets. Anyone who has used a Colette pattern knows what a joy it is, as each comes beautifully packaged in booklet form with fine linen-textured cover and stitched binding. The instructions are clearly illustrated, and each includes a glossary of sewing terms and special area for the sewist’s own notes.
Sarai’s fantastic book, The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress, was released last year by Krause Publications. Its content is based on five simple fundamentals: a thoughtful plan, a precise pattern, a fantastic fit, a beautiful fabric, and a fine finish. With five complete patterns for modern classic pieces, each project is designed to help you put these fundamentals into practice as you sew.
We hope you enjoy our quick chat with Sarai below!

Stitch Craft Create: How did Colette Patterns get started?
Sarai Mitnick: Before starting Colette Patterns, I was working in Silicon Valley for a large tech company. It was a fantastic job with great people, but I just didn’t feel creatively fulfilled. I’m sure many of you know what it’s like working for large companies: more time spent in meetings than actually getting things done! Sewing has always been my real passion. At the time, I felt there weren’t many great sewing patterns out there that I was interested in. I knew there must be other women who felt the same, so I started putting together a business plan and developing a product line. I left my job, moved from the San Francisco bay area to Portland, OR and launched Colette Patterns all around the same time!

SCC: We’ve got to know: where does the name “Colette” come from?
SM: It’s actually the name of my cat. She’s quite elegant. But she in turn was named after the great writer, Gabrielle Sidonie Colette (who was known simply as Colette). I’ve always felt that Colette was able to express the pleasure of being female so well, so I suppose I wanted to channel a bit of that.

SCC: Your book, The Colette Sewing Handbook, was published last year and is full of amazing techniques, designs, tips and patterns – how did the opportunity to publish arise, and how did it all come together?
SM: My editor for the book, Vanessa, contacted me directly after reading my blog and buying some of my patterns herself. I’d been vaguely thinking of pursuing a book, so it was great timing for me. Together, we hashed out a concept for it. Vanessa asked me to think about how I would teach someone to sew, and I came up with the five main fundamentals that are outlined in the book: planning your porject, working with patterns, understanding fabric, getting a good fit, and finishing. That dictated the structure of the book, and then I spent about a year writing the manuscript and creating the five patterns that are included. It was important for me to have patterns to go along with the concepts, since I think people learn best by doing.

SCC: What would your tips be for a new sewer who’s interested in making garments for herself?
SM: I think it’s important to make things that feel satisfying when you first start. My favorite way to do that is to use really easy, simple pattern designs, but dress them up with a really fabulous fabric. I’ve made some of my favorite clothes that way! It’s fast and really whets your appetite for more. I’d also say that it’s a good idea to try to learn as much as you can about fabric. You can learn all the sewing techniques in the world, but if you don’t think much about fabric choice, you will still run into problems. Give yourself time to get acquainted with all the fabric choices out there!

SCC: What are some of your must-have sewing tools?
SM: I love my thread nippers, which I wear on a ribbon around my neck whenever I sew. They are invaluable! My rotary cutter is another. It saves me so much time. Of course, my favorite tool is my Bernina sewing machine. I just adore it. It’s so well made and there are so many sewing tasks that it makes easier.

SCC: What can we expect to see next from Colette Patterns?
SM: I’m hoping to expand and create more instructional help for people who sew. Patterns are wonderful, but there’s only so much I can fit into the instruction booklet that comes with them! I’d love to be able to offer even more guided help. ~SCC

Thank you again, Sarai, for taking a few minutes to chat with us as we celebrate National Sewing Month! The Colette Sewing Handbook and a wide selection of Colette Patterns can be found in our webstore. Visit Colette Patterns online at www.colettepatterns.com, or check out Sarai’s personal blog at www.sweetsassafrass.org.

We’re proud to be part of the Sew Beautiful magazine National Sewing Month Blog Tour. Be sure to jet over to their blog for daily posts, free designs and fantastic giveaways all month long!

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