For me, sewing is a form of meditation. I tend to lumber around leaving a path of havoc in my wake. As a 7th grade teacher told me once, with a hint of disdain, ‘you’re so destructive’. My father is an engineer, and I grew up encouraged to take things apart to see how they work.
Sewing makes me slow down, think through the steps, practice, undo work (and do it again), and be a student of precision which sometimes requires me to walk away from a project and come back to it with fresh eyes.
Admittedly, I’m an intermediate sewist only on my best days, and feel fortunate to work in a community of skilled makers. As anyone who has sewn for a while will tell you, the craft provides infinite opportunities to learn whether it be variations of fabric, sewing techniques, fit & patterning, and lest we forget the wonderful world of notions!
Today, I’m going to share with you a pattern review from a local institution here in Portland, Colette Patterns. They started in 2009 with an aim to provide clear, concise, and informative patterns. If you’re like me, with some of the bigger name pattern instructions, I’m left wondering “What the heck is that picture even of?” and sometimes they will assume you know certain steps or terms.
Colette has a wonderful intro guide to sewing called The Colette Sewing Handbook, which we sell, and I highly recommend it for new sewists. Sarai, the creator & founder of Colette, is a regular at our stores, as are her staff, so it was a big deal for me to get to tell her how much I learned and cherished the info in The Colette Sewing Handbook. I’ve read it cover to cover probably 3 times!
Last year, they launched a fantastic online sewing magazine called Seamwork, plus a podcast! If you haven’t already, check them out!
I downloaded this pattern from Seamwork’s site. I was searching for a simple pattern to showcase some of my lovely fabric! I have researched simple tunics quite a bit, and it doesn’t get any better than this! I recommend this pattern for a beginner sewer, or someone who hasn’t sewn for a while and wants to ease back in. For starters, this shirt is just ONE PATTERN PIECE. ONE! Can you believe that? Second reason this pattern is awesome…you can make with less than 2 yards of fabric! In the Bargain Room, you can pick up a low bolt (2 yards or less) at Mill End for 60% OFF on the weekends! Lastly, I LOVE that Colette/Seamwork patterns include extended sizes. Akita ranged in sizes 0-26. I made two shirts with this pattern, one with rayon challis, and one with linen. Pictured is my striped linen Akita shirt! I can’t wait to try it with a knit!
A few notes…
- Don’t use stripes. Since this is just one pattern piece, stripes can be tricky (to impossible) to line up. My stripes were pretty spaced apart, and I placed with where I wanted them to hit on the front side of the shirt. They didn’t match up with the back side…BUT I don’t think anyone will notice, but me! Per the garment’s instructions, something with more drape would hang a little better than my linen, but I was determined to use it!
- Since the sleeves and hem are on a curve, I found staystitching and Wondertape useful. My muslin was made with a very delicate rayon challis which was a little shifty. I staystiched 1/4″ from the edge, clipped the curve, and then used Wondertape for the curved edges before I topstitched the full 5/8″ seam allowance. I think I also just like cheats that reduce the need for ironing and measuring.
- Throughout the pattern, there were links to follow to get more info on the techniques in the instructions.
- Since it’s just one pattern piece, it can be tricky to cut it out. You’ll need to do on the floor or on a long table.
Have you made any of Seamwork’s patterns? What did you think? We really liked and recommend Akita.
I just made this today in a super thin knit. It too was striped, but honestly, this was a first try and I wasn’t terribly concerned with anything but fit. For me, my knit was way too stretchy, but I got a great sense of what this top will be like when I make it from this amazing cotton lawn I found. My next trick will be attempting to line this top as my next fabric is super sheer!