Sarai and her Colette Sewing Handbook



Sarai was one of the first people I met when I moved to Portland. We had a mutual friend in common (Ms Gertie) and I figured she would know all the things I needed to know about my new town, mainly the best places to buy fabric. I was right!  Last summer she was heavy in the pattern testing stage of her book, The Colette Sewing Handbook, and being without work gave me plenty of time to help by working my way through the garments. The flawless design was already there. As a tester, I confirmed the pieces worked and fit together paying special attention to the written instructions and diagrams to help ensure they were as clear and helpful as possible. I mostly worked from fabric I had or muslin, thinking that I would go back and remake my favorites in proper fabric.  I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to help Sarai on such a massive endeavor, even in such a small way, because she is truly a kind and generous person.  And what a resource she created! 5 NEW patterns (a skirt, a blouse, and 3 dresses), each designed to enhance the 5 fundamentals covered such as fit, fabric, and finishing. As we celebrate the release of her publication, I thought we'd get to know the woman behind the patterns a little better.

How did you decide on the name "Colette" for your pattern company?

The short answer is that the company is named after my kitty, Colette. She's a very elegant little lady.


Colette (the cat) was named after the French writer, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. I love Colette's novels, and there's something about her femininity, eye for beauty, and love for life that I wanted to be part of the company. So I guess I'd say the company was ultimately named after the writer. 

What's your favorite part of the design process?

I've always liked the earliest stages, doing research and coming up with lots of ideas. It's fun to just free your mind to come up with new ideas before whittling them down to the ones that will actually work. 

But I also like the final stages, and doing things like photography and styling, coming up with the final presentation. It feels good, like you're putting the final polish on something you've put a lot of work into.

Taffy & Meringue

What do you love about your life in Portland? About having your studio in the SE?

Portland is an amazing place to live, and there's almost too much good stuff to name! I love how green and beautiful it is. I love how nice everyone is here, and how much creative talent there is. Having a small business like mine can be a little isolating because you're not always surrounded with people, and that goes double for writing a book! So it's great to have so many people to reach out to and collaborate with. I think all the rain and darkness inspires us to be more creative with all our indoor time.

I've lived in SE since moving to Portland, and I love it here! So I was thrilled when I found a studio space nearby, and now I can walk to work every day. I love my little studio, but I must say that the walk is the absolute best thing. I love having the time twice a day to be outside and take in the world around me. Plus there are some fantastic bars and restaurants between home and work, and there's nothing better than walking five minutes to a fantastic bar to meet a friend after a long day.

Thanks for chatting, Sarai!

Bolt and Modern Domestic are proud to be sponsoring a party to celebrate the release of The Colette Sewing Handbook!  On Thursday, November 17th, the party will take place at Ford Food & Drink starting at 8:00pm. Come enjoy giveaways, beverages, crafty fun, and show off your best Colette sewing. I *hopefully* will be wearing my new Peony dress. Don't hold me to that though!