Craft Stars: Sarai Mitnick of Colette Patterns, Sewing Guru

sarai-book-011-650x433.jpgAbove: Sarai Mitnick with her guide to sewing gorgeous clothes the Colette way.

I've always had a seasonal approach to crafts: knitting in the winter, sewing in the summer. This little idiosyncrasy grew out of the sticky hot summers and freezing cold winters of my native New York State.

As the spring thaw begins, I can't think of a better way to prepare for the sewing blitz to come than to read this fab interview with Colette Patterns founder Sarai Mitnick. It's up now on the ever-inspirational Dress a Day blog, the vintage freak's go-to source for all kinds of sewing (and buying!) ideas.

Sarai has a lot of great advice for starting out as a seamster. I particularly love her idea of embracing a pattern you've become comfortable with and using it as a starting point for trying out new fabrics.

When you stop worrying about fit - after all, you already know the pattern works!- you can experiment on a grander scale.

colette_pattern_jasmine.jpgLeft: Colette's light-as-a-feather, bias-cut Jasmine blouse.

Want more? Sarai's now on tour to promote her Colette Patterns book.

It's stuffed full of both the delightful Ms. Mitnick's wisdom and patterns for five of the delightful confections that have made this growing company the place to look for feminine, vintage-inspired fashions.

The Coletterie blog has info on upcoming events and loads of images of finished Colette items - plus nice sneak peeks of Colette headquarters.

If I can share a tip of my own, I second Sarai's suggestion that skirts are the place to start. When I started to sew, I soon found a skirt pattern I completely fell for - the legendary Burda 8176.

And it's not just me - check out the miles of positive reviews. (Note: to save my dignity I would like to say I look very, very different from the crazy teen models on the packet when I wear this. Just sayin'!)

Burda8176.jpgRight: scary styling, amazing finished product - the surprising Burda 8176.

It's a great skirt for two reasons: it's simple, and it's a fantastic showcase for all kinds of fabric. It works equally well with tiny traditional Liberty patterns as with massive IKEA picture prints. I've made it three times now (at least!) and it's the perfect summer skirt - it looks great with a camisole and sandals.

Got a favorite skirt pattern? Know the perfect beginner sewing project? Please share your own starter sewing tips in the comments!

[Image of Sarai Mitnick via Bad Mom Good Mom, image of Burda 8176 copyright Burda.]

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