View all the latest fabrics to arrive at Minerva Crafts... Click here »

Need help? Contact us on 01254 708068 from 9am til 5pm Monday to Friday

Colette Sewing Planner by Paddy

Hello again! I'm Paddy from Dragon's Flame Designs, and I've got another product review for you!
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty disorganised when it comes to my sewing patterns. I file them away quite neatly, but then have scraps of paper lying around with notes of fabric requirements for each pattern, which isn't ideal. So when I saw the opportunity to test the Colette Sewing Planner, I thought it would be a great way to try and get myself more organised in 2018.
The planner has a hardback cover with spiral-bound pages so when you open it, the pages lie completely flat.
It is designed to give you a guide for the items you want to make for the year, split into Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. At the front, there's a double page "Style and Favourites" spread to assist the decision making, where you're encouraged to think of the styles and colours you prefer, so that you actually plan something you'd enjoy making and wearing.
The season sections start with a double page "Inspiration and Goals" section.
There's plenty of space for more than one goal here, plus the steps you would need to take to achieve those goals. On the opposite page, is space for the list of projects you want to prioritise, and the top three of those can be put into the boxes at the base. I couldn't narrow mine down, so I left those boxes blank for the time being!
The next double page covers colours and a palette of inspiration.
I'm not a great fan of mood boards, but this would be a great place to include ideas cut from magazines. Rather than narrow down my selection to a particular colour, I wanted a reminder to use colours other than black. You could even go crazy with an Instagram-worthy page...
...just remember to put a piece of paper behind this one if you're using heavy ink on the page, as it will show through on the reverse!
Next stop is the "Projects" section, which is where this planner shows just how useful it can be. The left-hand page has space for every detail you could need about the pattern, ranging from the name and size, to the supplies you already have (and those you need to get). Beneath that is space for the resources you want to reference – maybe that blog post you bookmarked a while ago which would be ideal for this project.
There's a handy space for a fabric swatch, plus notes and customisation boxes at the base of the page. I wasn't too sure the best way of attaching my fabric swatch to the page. I didn't want to staple it, as that would affect the sketch space on the previous page, so I used Sellotape instead.
I don't tend to do much in the way of customising patterns, but that space on the page is actually inspiring me to try making some clothing that is more 'unique' this year, rather than always following the patterns exactly.
The right-hand page has a feint grid so you can sketch out how you want the garment to look. I admit my sketching skills leave something to be desired, so I was hoping that the page would be thin enough to trace off one of the croquis from the back of the planner to use as a base. Unfortunately the paper is a little too thick to work without using either a light box or a window on a bright day, although with either of those options, it is possible to trace off the outline.
On the plus side, the paper is super smooth so the pencil glides across, and if you make a mistake the lines erase really well. As I turned back to a previous page, however, I noticed that some of the text I'd written was visible through the back of the paper. This isn't a terrible problem, as it didn't stop the sketch from being visible, but it made me want to test out a few different types of pen to see which would work the best.
I tested two fountain pens, purple biro, a blue rollerball, two colours of fine line pens and several colours of gel pens to see if it was the 'wet' ink which caused it to be visible, or just the dark ink. All of them wrote like a dream, but both fountain pens (using black and blue ink) were strongly visible on the reverse page, with the blue glitter gel pen, rollerball and purple fine liner showing through slightly less. It might not worry everyone, but if this is something you really wouldn't be happy with, you're best off using a biro, or a blue (or similarly light-coloured) gel pen.
With 25 double-page spreads for Spring/Summer pattern planning, I'm wondering if there'd be enough sewing time in the week to get them made! Following on from Spring/Summer, obviously comes the Autumn/Winter section, with the same "Inspiration and Goals" section to start off, then space for a further 25 sewing projects.
The "Resources" section comes next, which tends to be the part of any planner that maybe just gets skimmed and forgotten about. But I think this section will come in very useful, with the really clear guide to sewing needles and the ever useful stretch guide to save the hassle of trying to work out if the fabric has the pattern requirement of 20% stretch!
Ever been totally stumped by a pattern telling you to use a 6mm seam allowance when your sewing machine's plate is marked in inches? The resources section has a list of conversions, plus a handy chart to tell you the multiplier if you need to figure out a measurement yourself (that's right, no more getting Google to work it out for you).
Along with a guide to abbreviations, there is also a glossary of some of the clothing sewing terms you're likely to come across.  Dotted through the planner are sewing tips, ranging from tips on pressing, to how often to change the sewing needle (something I'm guilty of never doing frequently enough), and even ideas to use as pattern weights.
The next four pages have croquis which is a word I'd never come across before, but is helpfully explained in the glossary too. I traced off the one that was the closest to my shape, with the intention of then tracing that onto the sketch page.
The back of the planner is designed to be used at the end of the year, giving a space to reflect on what you've made, and to compare that to your sewing goals. Maybe I will have realised that I planned a little too much in this year, or maybe a particular project will go a lot better than I'd anticipated; obviously that page is staying blank for now!
Finally we come to the notes section, just in case there's nowhere in the rest of the planner that you feel you can scribble down those ideas. And for anyone still resorting to using loose pieces of paper to write down ideas, there are two handy folder-style pages where you can slip all those papers into the planner so they stay together.
Overall, I was really pleased to have the opportunity to test out this planner. The layout encouraged me to actually think about the type of clothing I want to make, and proved a useful way of indexing all the patterns I have, so all the fabric requirements are in the same location. I would probably use this across a couple of years, as I doubt I would actually sew everything in there in just of twelve months!
However the planner does have a few negatives for me. The ink bleeding through the paper, while not a real detrimental problem, isn't really ideal if like me, your pen of choice is a black fountain pen. Personally, I feel the planner is a little too big to carry if I'm heading to my local fabric shop; the less I can carry when I walk there, the more fabric I can buy and carry home! Also, I would prefer the pages to be removable like a ring binder, rather than being spiral bound. Then I could then move my completed projects to the end of the month section, rather than having them dotted throughout. The month sections are in a thicker card than the rest of the binder, but a little tab on the end would've made that even easier to find the right page, although that is easily remedied with a little sticky note tab.
But those negatives aren't going to stop me using it, and trying to get myself more organised this year! I'm already feeling inspired to start sewing. Now I've started adding my next projects to this planner!
Paddy @ Dragon's Flame Designs

Comments (0)

Please signin to leave a comment