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Studio Snapshots: Colette at the coast

One of my goals for the new year is to take more photos with my film camera and share them here.

Of course, a week after I set this goal, my trusty 35mm Canon FTB broke. With my film stuck inside.

While that’s being repaired, I thought I’d share some iPhone photos from our recent #coletteatthecoast team offsite! We packed up the office for a couple days and headed out to Rockaway Beach, where we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather, gorgeous views of the ocean, a hot tub, and plenty of brainstorming.

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This is the first time I’ve ever done an annual planning offsite, and it was a pretty amazing experience.

We spent a day generating tons of ideas for things we could work on in the next year, then whittled that list down further and further until we had just five main initiatives for 2016.

What really impressed me is that, even though many of the ideas we had to choose from were exciting, creative, sexy projects, the team ended up zeroing in on the truly practical, important things that will actually help us stay true to our mission.

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2016 plans

So here’s an idea of what we’re focusing on in 2016:

  • Learn more about our customers. As we’ve grown from a few people to 9 people, keeping everyone focused on who our true customers are and what they need has become more even more important. We’re planning to do some surveys, interviews, and more to really get at this.
  • Update our visuals and branding. Colette is now 7 years old, and our look and feel has morphed unevenly. It’s a little bit of a hodgepodge, and Taylor is working to whip it all back into shape with some refreshes here and there to bring things up to date.
  • Improve our processes. Project management has always been a bit ground-up here, but we’re working on getting things running more efficiently, starting with our pattern development process.
  • Grow Seamwork. We’d like to increase the number of subscribers to Seamwork, and the main way we want to do that is by adding more and more value, especially for long term subscribers. We’ve got a ton of ideas for adding even more fun stuff.
  • Make the Seamwork site more interactive. Right now, Seamwork is a pretty one-way street in terms of interaction and feedback. We’d like to build some new features that give people a chance to connect and have fun on the site this year.

So that’s what 2016 has in store for us. We’re excited to work for you guys, it’s going to be hard to top 2015, but I think 2016 is going to be even more amazing with these ladies (and Kenn).

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In case you missed it, here are some of the other goings on lately:

What would you like to see more of in 2016 from Team Colette?

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.



January 28, 2016 #

It’s so refreshing that you’re sharing your goals. The team sounds awesome.


January 28, 2016 #

I love that you want to get to know us more and that you plan to make Seamwork more interactive. I love the work y’all do!


January 28, 2016 #

Thanks Julia!


January 28, 2016 #

I always enjoy your snippets in my inbox – some of those suggestions have been enormously helpful so I’m always up for more tips, helpful web sites, videos are my favourite :) but I really really enjoy Seamwork’s monthly interview. I haven’t missed one and find myself anticipating your next by month’s end so if you did more of those that would be fabulous.


January 28, 2016 #

Do you mean the podcast? I’m working on putting together the next season of them now, we have some good ones. :)


January 28, 2016 #

Yes the “podcast”! When I wrote that I was having a senior moment and couldn’t for the LIFE of me remember what they were called :) I love them! I’ve shared them a couple of them on fb I enjoyed them so much myself. I don’t think honestly you have to be a sewer to enjoy them. They are truly about finding and living your passion with integrity.


January 28, 2016 #

Sometimes the practical things can be just as exciting as the unpractical. Looking forward to seeing the new cohesive branding. Also: those rocks on the beach look an awful lot like the ones that match the doubloons in The Goonies! Is that Astoria you visited?


January 28, 2016 #

We were in Rockaway Beach, so not quite so far as Astoria. I love Astoria, though!


January 28, 2016 #

Looking forward to seeing what you do with Seamwork – I was a subscriber, but after a few months of patterns that weren’t for me, I ended up cancelling due to a backlog of unused credits; I now have to wait for 3 months of patterns to accrue before it makes financial sense to subscribe again, based on the current system. Would love to see a few alternative uses or revised program for those seamwork credits.


January 28, 2016 #

It would also be great if there was a way on Seamwork for people to post photos of their finished products for each pattern, or ask questions and get feedback (whether from your staff or other subscribers who have used the pattern)! I am a subscriber and love many of the patterns, but it’s not as easy to ask questions or find others who have made the pattern to get ideas as for the regular Colette patterns.


January 28, 2016 #

I have completely devoured the “vintage inspiration” posts that used to appeat on the Colette HQ blog and I really miss them! The posts on pockets (that incredible yellow dress with the bag pockets), unusual rick rack, overlay, piping and the tutorial on vintage placket fans were my favorites. I also would definitely back up what Sarah said about wanting a way to ask questions, share alterations and get hack ideas for the Seamwork patterns. I just started teaching myself to sew this year and finding Colette Patterns – most especially Seamwork magazine – was the best thing to happen to me. Whenever someone asks how I got started or what I’d recommend for beginners, I always point them to Seamwork first. Hands down, the absolute best resource. And I LOVE the Behind the Seams article at the end.


January 29, 2016 #

I love reading Seamwork each month and look forward to it being published. I really enjoyed the tips for exercise for sewers last month – I get very stiff shoulders so am trying to do those before a sewing session, they are really helpful! However, I also ended up cancelling my subscription as I just wasn’t making all the patterns. I don’t have a huge disposable income and it makes more sense for me to buy the patterns I really want rather than subscribe and not end up using all the patterns. Also I just don’t sew fast enough to make them all!! I do really like some of the patterns though – Mesa was a favourite last year, and I have finally just got round to making Oslo. I would also like to see other sewers versions of the patterns and be able to share ideas. Looking forward to the next issue!


January 29, 2016 #

First of all, I am madly in love with Seamwork! And I have just recently purchased my first Colette patterns. (Haven’t sewn them yet, though).

I have made several Seamwork patterns and they have not disappointed.

As far as what I am looking for? Fitting is always a major concern of mine. How to tweak for better fit. I am also learning to let go of the notion of “perfect” fit. It will never happen because my weight fluctuates so very much.

I am also ALWAYS looking for appropriate work wear. I work in education (though not a teacher). I like making it because it is my off time hobby, but also I get a sense of satisfaction. Hey! I MADE this! It makes me feel good.

I also like making accessories like handbags etc.

Keep up the good work, guys and I envy the opportunity to skip off to the coast for a think!


January 29, 2016 #

Most of my wardrobe is Seamwork at this point…I adore the magazine and all the lovely patterns. The Handmade Beauty segment is one of my faves, along with the interviews and personal essays.

I would like to see a couple more ‘sexy’ or edgy patterns like a little robe or some more loungewear perhaps, as my wardrobe is lacking in that department!

And I know it’s a little off-topic, but it would be cool to learn how to make a couple of accessories (i.e. simple jewelry and hair stuff) to go with my Seamwork clothes! Regardless, I can’t wait to see what 2016 will bring.


January 29, 2016 #

I would actually love to see more traditional patterns! I was hoping for more than three non-Seamwork releases last year as only the Wren really grabbed me. Seamwork is great but all the PDF printing/taping gets tedious. Plus I would like patterns that I can really sink my teeth into.


January 29, 2016 #

I wish tha you would consider folks outside of Oregon to have the opportunity to apply to work for you. Would love to see a list of small retailers around the country who carry seamwork. How about a seamwork retreat once a year? I attend a lot of knitting workshops and it would be fun to do something with seamwork.



January 29, 2016 #

I love Seam work and even though I have a bunch of the patterns waiting to be sewn up I consider it a really good investment. I would spend more on a hard copy sewing magazine that is mostly advertising. I would really love to see a few more Colette patterns released. Especially if they were a little more challenging. There are LOTS of patterns and resources out there to support new sewists and it would great to have a few patterns with interesting construction or design details for us old timers.


January 30, 2016 #

I like Seamwork and the podcasts, but I will never subscribe to Seamwork because the patterns are useless to me. If you start offering petite versions of your patterns, you might have a new customer.

One thing I like about the studio photos is that the workers look like people at work. I don’t wear dresses and heels and it’s refreshing to see sewing- relates photos that have women in jeans and flats and not all made up.


January 30, 2016 #

When Seamwork was announced I thought it was a really good idea that wouldn’t work unless it was supported. I have subscribed to a similar product, on and off for the last few years. Also a great idea but they have been on the edge of folding a couple of times due to lack of subscibers. I’ve supported Seamwork from day one, but I was going to pause it soon. Now I am not sure because it sounds like you have less then you need for it to be sustainable.


February 1, 2016 #

Hmm, not sure why you say that? Seamwork has been doing great, and we just want to reinvest back into it to make it even better, particularly for those long-term subscribers.

We could keep it the way it is and it’d definitely be sustainable, but I’d much rather add more goodies and cool features. :)


February 2, 2016 #

I was wondering if it would be possible to do a Maternity version of Seamwork… maybe with some easy patterns or a block, paper, scissors on how to convert patterns to be wearable during pregnancy?

Betty Jordan Wester

February 6, 2016 #

I really like Colette patterns.
For me personally, I hate fitting, so if I take the time to fit a pattern, I’d like to be able to make a few garments from it.
For instance, the Phoebe
– could have had a long sleeve with 3/4 and short cutting line options as well.
– v-neck versions
If including a sleeve is an extra cost burden for printing, maybe release it as a pdf extra.
This way people could get a dress with sleeves or a pinafore. And they could have the option of 2 different necklines, in case the jewel neckline is too high for them.

The other thing is, I know minimalist is very popular right now. But, there also seems to be a number of people who miss your ultrafeminine vintage style. Maybe your releases could have one version that’s minimalist, and the other version could be more vintagey with details?

This of course refers to your standard releases and not Seamwork.
Now that you’ve expanded to plus sizes, those are the only two remaining areas I see popping up in the comments. I realize though that you can’t be all things to all people.

Well done and good luck in 2016!


February 7, 2016 #

Thank you for sharing your goals. I am looking forward to future developments for Seamwork. I really enjoy your Wardrobe Architect and Seamwork. I would love to read about and see more photos of how others plan their wardrobe and their sewing. I love the posts showing what others have been making. I would love to see more of this and more on hacks or different versions for your patterns. I really enjoyed reading the articles on the Seamwork hacks in the annual. I would also love some kind of forum where sewers could post questions and comments on each pattern not unlike the forums at Oliver + S but maybe you are planning this already with your plan to make Seamwork more interactive. In any case I really enjoy your patterns and posts and look forward to more in 2016. Many thanks!


February 8, 2016 #

I may be in the minority, and you will go where your business takes you, but as a Colette customer, what I want is a thoughtful collection of interesting, and accurate sewing patterns. While I think it is nice that Colette sends playlists, makes a magazine, podcasts, has a book club, and makes a line of inexpensive and simple patterns, my expectation has been that all this should be a “bonus”; above and beyond, if you will, a thriving and high quality pattern line. But my experience is that the main pattern line has suffered for these “bonus” projects.


February 17, 2016 #

Hi, I read all the comments and agree with many of them. You have done and still are doing a great job. Your websites are completely my favorite among all the sewing websites. What I miss a little bit are your tutorial that as a quite novice in sewing I always follow. Your old ones are particularly accurate and precise. I hope you will make some more.