Editing For Your Style – Inspiration From Colette

Productivity that I can share here has ground close to a halt in the run up to Christmas. If I’m not hurtling through a gift make, I’m out on the town! My coat has laid neglected and I’m itching to get back to it, or even to make a skirt or a top – something, anything. Fortunately, the day job will soon break up for Christmas and I’ll have many more spare hours. Yippee!

In the meantime, my copy of The Colette Sewing Handbook has arrived and been lovingly pawed over and read in bed. It has a great narrative tone – understated, quietly sophisticated yet encouraging.

I’d love to know how anyone is making any money out of a ringbound, hardback book with five free patterns that retails on Amazon for £13.52 and will have had shipping costs to the UK. I can only assume the print run is MASSIVE – go, Sarai! But also my bad for buying from Amazon: their deep and aggressive discounts often mean few pennies find their way back to author purses. But then, is this book even available in the UK from more traditional sources? Oh, the ethics of book-buying in a 21st century recession! Perhaps the publisher views UK sales as a worthwhile loss leader to raise the profile of the book – which with Sarai’s firm UK fan base may be a canny choice. Who knows, who knows, do any of you care?!!

I won’t give a detailed review here, as there are several already online, but I thought I’d take a section of the book to inspire a blog post.

In the chapter ‘Editing For Your Style’ Sarai suggests taking from your closet five things that you love to wear. I decided to make my five choices things I’ve made. I thought it would be really interesting for me and hopefully you to see which items rise to the surface of the pile and get worn on regular rotation – and why.

1. The Sorbetto Top

I’ve made, ahem, five of these beauties. This one and my spotty one each get worn on a weekly rotation. What do I like about this top and why do these two in particular get worn so much? I like the simplicity of the design. It can sit neatly beneath cardigans and bring a bit of understated interest to an outfit. Both this and my spotty version barely crease. The spotty version doesn’t even need ironing. I think this top is a great canvas, and with the right fabric choice, they are immensely practical.

2. The Skirt of Extreme Happiness

Made nine months ago, this skirt has seen a lot of wear. I can tell you exactly why:

  • the colour
  • the cashmere wool
  • the A-line design

It was made from a vintage pattern that I’ve gone back to several times. You can’t beat an A-line skirt. It’s simple, but made in cashmere wool, it also feels gorgeously decadent to wear. I really like that principle of taking something very simple and giving it the best treatment possible.

3. The V8667

This dress has probably had about half a dozen outings since I made it in April. So it’s not worn frequently, but when I do wear it – oh, how I love it. I recently wore it to a gathering of editors. You have never heard so much excited squealing from a group of educated, intelligent professionals! The dress got a lotta love, what can I tell you. Again, I have fairly strong ideas what I like about this dress:

  • the colour
  • the wool fabric
  • the slight retro feel
  • the excellent fit

I think patterns are starting to emerge, aren’t they… What next?

4. The V1179

I’ve made three versions of this dress. They get worn on a seriously heavy rotation. (Although my first turqouise make is looking a bit sorry for itself now.) Again, I know exactly what I like about this dress:

  • The simplicity – it has three pattern pieces.
  • The comfort to wear.
  • The myriad options for using different fabrics.

And finally…

5. Snood Sensation

How could I possibly leave out the snoods? These makes embrace my twin loves of simplicity and strong, solid colours. Enough said!

So, moving forwards, I think we can agree that I am drawn to:

  • Strong, solid colours
  • Relatively simple silhouettes
  • Understated designs
  • Wool! Both fabric and yarn.

Are there any other patterns that you’ve spotted? Anything that you think I’d like to make? What would you say your style is?

This was a really interesting exercise. Perhaps tonight I’ll take my inspiration from Stitch and Witter and prance around the house like a French mime artist in deeply unflattering tight leggings and T-shirt. No, not because I’ve finally lost my marbles, but because I am intrigued to see what my croqui will look like! (For an extremely thought-provoking blog on making a croqui, visit Lazy Stitching here.)

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22 Responses to Editing For Your Style – Inspiration From Colette

  1. leahfranqui says:

    Okay, this may sound creepy, but I’ve been watching your creations for a while now, and I have to say, you like prints, in moderation. Like, printed tops, or dresses. Solid bottoms, but something fun or different on top. Some neat detail, be it the print or the collar, something that makes it pop. Rarely do you go as all out as you did in your rose print dress, but you seem to like one element, usually on top, to be a little jazzy, like your blouse with the ruffles, or your many printed sorbettos. I know I sound like a stalker, and I’m okay with that. You asked, right?

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Love your top five! Good luck with the race up to Christmas!

  3. Tasia Pona says:

    I liked reading your top five! I had brightly coloured snoods on my top five too 🙂
    I’d also add that you like jewel tones. And relaxed fits, nothing too snug or restricting. Simple silhouettes that don’t hug the body too much, that fit where they’re supposed to and then hang elegantly. (If that makes sense!)
    And brooches – in your dress and skirt photos you’re wearing a brooch. It’s not a sewing thing necessarily but it’s part of your style!

  4. Argh… my copy is wrapped and under the tree 8′ away from me. My husband didn’t even bother trying to disguise it.

    Great choices, I love them all. You know there is a bit of a theme to the necklines. None of those are v necks, neither overly high nor low, the two collars are a feature of the dress.

    • Oh yes, you’re totally right! This is SO interesting – seeing what other people notice. I do like an interesting neckline, but definitely nothing too close to my fat face, which just accentuates roundness. I love this feedback. Thank you!

  5. Rebecca Howard says:

    Like Seraphinalina, I think you have an emphasis on necklines. You like necklines that sit up a bit around the edges but are not too close to your neck. Like a sort of low cowl. What the heck are they called? I know Stylearc have a pattern (Emma dress) like this as well coz I just ordered it. Love your blog.

  6. Leah says:

    Ooo… I ordered that book yesterday, I was also taken in by amazon’s cheapness, but after I ordered it I realised that if I had made use of the book plus two patterns offer on the Colette website including the shipping it would have worked out slightly cheaper than buying all 3 in the UK! Crazy right?

    I need to do some wardrobe purging in the new year maybe I should start by choosing my five favourites and going from there…

  7. That red skirt looks even better in real life! Interesting exercise. Just 5 items. I could probably manage 5 items per season in my list! 5 total. Hard.
    You also like coloured tights! Dhhaaaarlink, you are a colour blocker.

  8. Joanne says:

    Yay join me with the croqui! I have yet to do this exercise but I love your five choices. Each of them has that playful/sophisticated feel, whether it’s a pop of colour or a funky print, or pairing them with red tights and awesome shoes (where are those buckled shoes from I have got to have them?!). It says to me you are a woman of taste but you’d hate to take yourself too seriously because that would just be boring. I like!

  9. Jane says:

    Oooh this is really interesting – a cross between colour-me-beautiful and psychoanalysis! I love all the choices you’ve made but for me, the Skirt of Extreme Happiness is my favourite, it’s so gorgeous and classy. Your post has made me want to try the same experiment – to see what I choose and also to see what others say about the choices. It hasn’t made me want to make a croqui though! Although I agree Lazy Stitching’s post on them makes really great reading.
    But the Colette Sewing Handbook eh? What a gem! So much more than just a sewing book. x

  10. Roobeedoo says:

    If I don’t get that book for Christmas, there will be trouble in this house! 😉
    Great exercise!
    Do share your croqui / crochet / croquet experiences with us, won’t you?

  11. lazystitcher says:

    Ooo… hope you rocked the croquis! (to be said in the tune of rocked the kasbah).
    I haven’t done this exercise yet but it seems really telling though.
    Ps. Are you visiting the market today? I’m heading up to Walthamstow now for some “essentials”.

  12. Marie says:

    What a great exercise, I’ve loved seeing bloggers’ top 5 garments! Can’t wait to do this myself if Santa comes good and brings me this book ;o)

    It’s so interesting to see what you’ve chosen and I really love all five of your makes. I do want to stress, however, how cool, chic and beautiful you are in your 4th choice…everything about that outfit makes me wish it belonged to me!

  13. Felicity from Down Under says:

    Your make of the V8667 is something that, were I to see it in real life as it were, would provoke me to comment that it couldn’t be a bought number because it fits and hangs so well and is so beautifully made. It’s flattering. That’s another feature, clothes that flatter. And, yes, interesting accessories.

  14. mooncalfmakes says:

    Ooh interesting. I *just* bought that book for myself – it was still on my amazon wishlist so I had to get it as a present to myself 🙂

    I’m really looking forward to opening it over the holidays and taking some time to read it thoroughly. You’re so inspiring with all your beautiful me-made wonders. I want to follow (clumsily) in your footsteps in 2012…

  15. Clare S says:

    That sounds like a pretty accurate breakdown of your tastes (together with what others have mentioned above), but, I’m more commenting to say … I was pleasantly surprised to find this book in my local Waterstones, as I had expected I would have to order online. So, it’s worth keeping an eye open!

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