11 April 2012

Colette Patterns S/S12: Interview with Sarai


Last week I was lucky enough to get an early sneaky peek at sewing pattern favourite Colette Patterns' Spring/Summer range - exciting! I took the opportunity to conduct a mini interview with founder and designer Sarai about the gorgeous new line. Enjoy!

Where do you find your design inspiration? And what were your particular sources of inspiration for the new collection?

"A lot of my design inspiration simply comes from what I want to make and wear myself. For Lily, I've long wanted a really cute, classic, sort of sultry summer dress. I even knew I wanted to make it in white pique, which I did for my trip to Argentina this past December. Caitlin and I nicknamed this one 'the Sophia dress' because it reminded us both of something Sophia Loren would have worn.

The Hazel dress was partly inspired by a vintage dress in my own collection, which I bought at my favorite vintage store here in Portland, Xtabay. It had the V-shaped seaming on the bodice, which was just so flattering when I put it on. It really gives that hourglass sort of look. But I wanted to design something that would work for certain types of fabric, namely stripes and border prints. This one was really fun to design, and I particularly love the striped version.

The main inspiration for Iris came from customer requests, actually! Many people asked for shorts, and I wanted to do something with a slight nautical style, but still with fairly clean lines and easy to sew up. I imagined them as the sort of thing you could make ten of in different colors."

Can you give us an insight into the design process? How do you go about starting a new pattern or line?

"The design portion is definitely the most fun. There isn't really a set process, but Caitlin and I gather a lot of inspiration and then sit down and go through it, sketching and talking through ideas. I really take into account what our customers love and want more of, and any holes that seem to be in the current offerings. We also have to consider the practical aspects, like skill level, how many pattern pieces, etc. Finally, once we have the main designs down, we'll work out design details."

How long does it take you to produce a new pattern from design to promotion and all the steps in between?

"We release every six months, and that's about the amount of time it takes. The printing and binding takes quite a while, because we coordinate with 4 different companies to get everything the way we want it. I'm already working on Fall patterns right now!"

What can we expect from Colette Patterns in the future? Where do you see the company going?

"Sewing patterns are definitely our core business, but I'd love to branch out into other sewing-related areas, perhaps more media and publishing focused. We're starting to dip our toes into digital patterns with this release, which opens up a lot of possibilities. We're also in the very early stages of a collaborative project with another small company I really love and respect, so that's very exciting. But it's way too early to talk about!

We're definitely a growing company, and sometimes it feels like we're growing a bit too fast to keep up with! This year, I'm trying to make smart decisions about where I invest our time and resources so we can keep making things we love and feel proud of."

Congratulations, Sarai, on producing another delightful line of sewing treats!


  1. Ohhh I think I might just have found my summer shorts pattern :D

  2. Fab post! I always really enjoy your 'day in the life of' series, too. I'm hankering after the Hazel - the fabric used for it on the shot above is immense!

  3. I loved hearing insight about what inspired Colette's new patterns. Thank you. And it's refreshing to hear that the whole process takes six months. I thought I was slow but I now know that the process of creating pattern and garment should and does take time.

  4. This is an excellent post Tilly! You are an interviewing genius. Great questions to find out the full background story xxx

  5. Im loving the Hazel dress, especially the fabric they've used, as said above it is "immense"! I really do like it but I'm hearing that warning siren in my head again at the gathered skirt, I've yet to find one that suits me but I can't seem to prevent the gathered skirt hunger that I suffer. The shorts are also great, I can definitely see them in lots of different colours, great versatility. Thanks for posting this, it's given me some Summer sewing food for thought!

  6. Colette Patterns always do so well with their styling. It's so yummy! I'd love to have a go at these, but to be honest I'm swimming in projects for now! Ah Colette, so inspirational :)

  7. Ooh, I want the Iris pattern right now!

    And thanks...very interesting.

  8. Sarai's right: their designs really do fill a hole in what the other companies are doing. A Colette garment is more of a must-have and somehow fresher.

  9. Great post! I love the new patterns from Colette! I am going to get some downloads this weekend - I can't wait the few weeks the regular mail will take to get her super-cool pattern booklets here to Canada!

  10. Sarai's designs are beautiful, plus the fact that the joy of making details are there in the garment and the patterns sets her above the pack of giant pattern makers. The Colette book was genuinely lovely. I wish a long life for Colette, which means new and fabulous things for us;) Thanks for this inspiring interview.


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