Why Colette’s corrections to the Rue pattern are too little, too late

This post represents my personal opinions.  As this is my personal blog, I reserve the right to share them freely.

Integrity.  I think most of us would agree that this is something we all aspire to in our personal and professional lives.  It’s something that we look for in businesses when we’re choosing the recipients of our hard-earned money.  To me, integrity means honesty, transparency, and a willingness to “do the right thing,” whatever that may be.  Integrity is a characteristic of a well-meaning person who is hopefully worthy of our respect.

Based on the events of the past year or so, I would argue that integrity is something that Colette has been severely lacking.  They have been selling patterns with obvious and glaring flaws, publishing photos of unfinished garments with unsewn hems flopping open, and worst of all, disrespecting their own customers by repeatedly and consistently deleting customer comments that point out these obvious issues.  The only reasonable assumption, in my opinion, is that Colette has been ignoring and, when possible, actively covering up these issues in an attempt to (a) shield unsuspecting customers who might not know any better, and (b) continue to collect their cash.

To me, this is not honest, not transparent, and clearly an unwillingness to do right by their customers.

I think any hope of Colette displaying integrity is now lost.

Too little

Colette’s recent admission that “we made a mistake” with the Rue pattern is admirable, but only if you ignore the fact that (a) they published a pattern with such significant drafting and design issues in the first place (why weren’t these issues caught before the release?), and (b) they refused to acknowledge the issues for so long after the release.  Let’s be honest: everyone is allowed to make mistakes; we’re all human.  But this was a pretty huge pile of mistakes, and it was pretty unsettling to watch them being swept under the rug for so long.

Sending out corrected patterns to customers, as they have now promised, is a solid step in the right direction.  However, if I had purchased the Rue (which I haven’t) and experienced the drafting issues firsthand, I would have demanded a refund.  If you’re reading this and have purchased the Rue, I would encourage you to ask for your money back.  You purchased a defective product from a company with a history of deceiving its customers.  Will you be satisfied with a replacement product from such a company?  Personally, I would want my transaction voided and a complete refund.

Too late

Regardless of how Colette chooses to proceed with the Rue from this point on, I’d argue that their professional reputation has now been irreparably damaged.  In light of their long history of pattern debacles and unprofessional treatment of customers, this rather large debacle with the Rue isn’t all that surprising.  They’ve established their reputation in the sewing pattern business, for better or for worse, and any attempts to rebound from this latest crisis are simply too late, in my opinion.  The damage has been done.  I have officially written off Colette and, sadly, Sarai as its responsible party.

On integrity

As a scientist, I have to be brutally honest and completely transparent about my work on a daily basis.  This is the only way the scientific process can succeed.  I admit it: it’s hard.  We are so used to injecting our opinions into our everyday conversations that it’s really difficult to only report what you observed, nothing more, nothing less.  It’s also really hard to admit when I don’t know something, to admit when I’m wrong, and to admit that I’m imperfect.  But I’m an adult and a professional, and so I do it.  Without academic integrity, my reputation as a scientist could easily be ruined, and my professional aspirations squashed.

Why should any other business be different?

Can someone really sleep at night, knowing that they’re sacrificing their personal and professional integrity in order to swindle people and collect their money?

Sadly, many people can.  I refuse to be one of them.

Sometimes we do business with companies who are deceiving us, but maybe we’re not aware of it.  (In reality, this probably happens to all of us, everyday.)  Sometimes we do business with companies who are deceiving us, but we don’t have another option (e.g., cable companies with local monopolies).  But sometimes, on the rare occasion that we’re pretty damn sure that a company is deceiving us and we actually have a choice as to whether we do business with them or not, why in the world would we choose to give them our business?

I encourage you to ask yourself this question and vote with your dollars.

For me, Colette’s attempt to rectify the Rue debacle is far too little, far too late.

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67 thoughts on “Why Colette’s corrections to the Rue pattern are too little, too late

  1. This was an excellent post, Carolyn. I’ve written about the Rue/Colette recently and have came to the same conclusions as you: that Colette was aware of the drafting issues but sold the pattern anyway, hoping brand loyalty would prevent any purchaser from making honest criticism. This non-apology is another insult.

    As a sewing community, we are great at support, but not so good at honest appraisal of indie pattern companies for fear of insulting friends or not seeming “nice”. I hope that changes because as you say there are many, many other fields where businesses must (and should!) be held to account.

    • I agree, Siobhan, and you brought up a lot of good points in your post as well. Brand loyalty with sewing patterns is unbelievably rampant, and I really don’t understand it. As you mentioned, BHL was a great example of this.

      And yes, I did notice the distinct lack of an apology in the Rue corrections post. Not holding my breath on that one.

    • hello, Siobhan – I read your post about Indie patterns and added your blog to my blog reader. I was shocked at how By Hand London ripped off the sewing community. And how the sewing community continued to be “nice” about it. If I had contributed to the BHL startup I would have been furious!

      • Me too! I understand Kickstarters don’t always succeed, but BHL’s lack of business sense and deception was shocking. What shocked me most was the total lack of criticism from backers!

  2. Great post. Brutally honest, totally snark-less and on the spot. I don’t understand why they do this, I really don’t. Why the indie sewing businesses should be kept to a lesser standard than other companies I do not know.

    • It’s puzzling. I suspect part of it is that people think we’re all friends, happily sewing away, sharing tips, and giving each other virtual hugs all day long. While this may be true in many cases, a line is crossed once money changes hands, and expectations should be adjusted accordingly.

      • When I first began sewing, I didn’t understand the backlack from criticism of Indie *patterns* (not people). And the first time I was given the “support them” line I asked, do you not realize they want your hard-earned dollar just like BMV? Simplicity? Burda?! They aren’t your BFFs; they want you to pay them for a product. I don’t get it!

        • Yes! People get this love affair going with a certain brand–their blog is so nice! they’re so helpful and so sweet!–and they forget that the point of the whole interaction is to sell a product.

  3. When converted to Australian prices a lot of indie patterns are almost $30. That’s a lot of money and you expect a top notch product for that price. A big issue for me is the culture that you can’t criticise indie patterns which give false impression of the quality of the pattern. You would have noticed that the post admitting the drafting issue has comments disabled.

    • Haha, yes, I did notice the closed comments, and given Colette’s history of censoring comments, I wasn’t surprised one bit. This further plays into their lack of transparency, which just makes a bad situation worse. I firmly believe that a blog should be a forum for open conversation, supportive and critical alike. If Colette doesn’t want critical comments, they shouldn’t be writing a blog. Then again, when a business can’t or won’t respond professionally to critical comments, that is a sign of a huge customer service problem.

      And I agree, for $30 you should be getting a pretty damn good sewing pattern!

  4. I could not agree more! What they did here is inexcusable. And let’s not forget all the people who might have bought the pattern from an outside vendor and don’t participate in the SBC. They could have no idea they are even due anything! They definitely need to apologize, but really I’m done with them anyway. Their blog is uninspiring, and I have zero interest in their product. It’s all rather disappointing, given that they were on the leading edge of the whole Indie sewing movement. What a shame to have squandered their reputation!

  5. Well, one good thing about Colette closing the comments on their oops-we-were-so-so-so-transparent-but-fml-we-still-effed-up post is that I’m seeing a lot more bloggers (and commenters thereto) step forward and call them on this and the other past BS. Ahh. Breaths of fresh air, and I thank you for adding your own post.

    The more we see others offering critical, but fair and deserved, opinions on indie sewing practices/patterns, the more everyone will realize that offering those opinions doesn’t mean the writer is a mean girl, or is instantly going to be lose all her BFFs, or explode in a puff of green smoke, or whatEVER. Because someone/some company is local, independent, artisanal, crafted or [add in your favorite millennial marketing descriptor], doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held to the same (or hey, even higher!) standards as Big Corporate. They’re all selling. They’re all taking my money. I might get a prettier package or a hand-hold but they’ve still taken MY money.

  6. i totally agree. and i don’t think colette has behaved with integrity here – if rue wasn’t in the pattern review sewing bee and getting slated, i doubt anything would have happened. and i think it makes a mockery of the “pattern testing” process – it is clearly there for promotion and there is no testing done or expected.

    i also really dislike the shutting down of criticism that appears to go on in the SBC under the guise of “women supporting women”. i will support women all the way, but one way i would do that is by giving an honest opinion of products whether that is patterns or fabric, so that other women don’t buy something that is not fit for purpose. i don’t feel that this carries through and i think a lot of suppliers to the SBC prefer to shut down any criticism as “snark”/ “just those people from GOMI” (and those people from GOMI are presumably all active members of the sewing community and therefore customers, whether they blog or not).

    • YES, thank you! Here’s my strong suspicion: I think Colette wrote off the SBC a long time ago, as we are no longer their target market. Hence the deletion of comments and ignoring of issues in order to shield their (presumably much larger) target customer base. Now that the Rue was in the PR sewing bee, which presumably exposed the pattern to a much larger market (Colette’s target market?), they are forced to act to save face in front of their target customers. This really rubs me the wrong way: silencing one set of customers in order to siphon cash from another. I don’t have any evidence to back this theory up, but this is my logical conclusion based on their actions.

      As for “women supporting women,” I am in total agreement. I’m all for supporting women, as I’m sure we all are, but at the end of the day I want a good product in exchange for my money, period. I won’t knowingly buy a crappy product no matter who is selling it. I don’t know why this is even an issue – seems like a no-brainer to me.

      • A question came up about my previous comment on the Pattern Review thread about the Rue debacle, and I wanted to take a moment to clarify. I agree with the PR commenter (DonnaH) that using the term SBC (“sewing blog community”) was a poor choice of words here. In writing this blog, most of the interaction I get (i.e., via comments) comes from other sewing bloggers, and I sometimes forget that there are many sewists participating in the online sewing community who don’t have blogs. I apologize if I offended anyone – this is simply a result of me sitting in a bubble writing this blog and not participating in social media very much. I certainly didn’t mean to sound exclusive or patronizing, and I apologize if I did.

        I think what I was trying to say is that sewists with a decent amount of sewing experience and who have been following Colette closely for the past several years will probably be able to recognize all the drafting issues and unprofessional behavior. I tend to think of these sewists as sewing bloggers, but of course this description applies to many more people than that. In contrast, I suspect that beginner sewists, more intermittent sewists, and sewists who don’t follow the online sewing community very closely may not have enough experience or knowledge to recognize the problems, and therefore not notice the critical comments being deleted and not be plugged into the critical conversations happening on various online sites, blogs included. It frustrates me that these sewists may unknowingly fall for all the smoke and mirrors being put out by Colette and consequently spend their money on what may ultimately be a disappointing sewing experience.

        I also suspect that the number of sewists who participate in Pattern Review is larger than the number of sewists who are plugged into the blogging community, but please correct me if I’m wrong! It seems like the Rue being featured in the PR Sewing Bee generated a lot more exposure than the pattern would have otherwise received, and thus Colette was forced to act in front of this larger audience. But, this is just my impression of the situation.

        Anyway, long story short, please excuse my poor choice of terminology here and any incorrect assumptions I’ve made. The bottom line is that I suspect a lot of people are unknowingly falling for Colette’s crap, and it makes me sad.

  7. Wow! I really liked the new Rue pattern. I’m big on letting other people test out the bugs on things, though, so I rarely get brand new indie sewing patterns because they’re often buggy. Definitely didn’t realize Rue had actual drafting errors! That’s…terrible, frankly. The whole point of a pattern is to use something that comes together accurately. Otherwise we would just freehand things.

    Anyway, thank you for writing this post to hip those of us outside the loop, to what’s really going on. I met Sarai once and she was super sweet, so it’s really disappointing to hear this is how she’s been running her business. But at the end of the day I’m like you — I vote with my dollars, and I’d feel foolish spending money on product well known to be faulty, or a company well known to put out faulty products.

  8. Much thanks for the honest post!
    It’s so frustrating to try and sew with a bad pattern.
    The waste of precious time and precious fabric is a drag…

  9. Completely agree with you. It’s far too little and far too late. I also really question their use of “testers” on Rue considering they were little more than promotional tools. It’s dishonest on their part (along with everything you mentioned) to put out a call for testers and not actually indicate that it’s not “testing” a product, but pure promotion.
    Loved the post!

  10. Thank you for writing so professionally about this problem. I was looking at one of their patterns this week and was contemplating buying it even though I have heard about troubles in the past. This just reminded me of why I do not buy their patterns. Thanks.

  11. I’m glad to see the Colette chickens are finally coming home to roost.
    I’ve made two of their patterns (Negroni and Rooibos) and made a muslin of a third (Lady Grey) and I thought the drafting was dodgy. I hated the Negroni with the passion of a burning sun by the time I was done with it. The Rooibos never fit me properly and I’m a c-cup that they supposedly draft for. The Lady Grey was so badly proportioned that it made me look as wide as a house. I don’t need hand holding directions and even if they jumped off the page and sewed the garments for me they wouldn’t make up for the suckdacious drafting and fit. Yet when I did venture to say something negative (though accurate) about the drafting, I was shouted down and told that I should support them because they are a woman owned business. Why? The product is bad, the attitudes of the owner and staff are smug. They should spend less time eating cakes and doing yoga and more time in basic pattern and design classes.

    • I made a Negroni and hated every minute of it – weird drafting and strange construction and styling. Was glad it was over. Had no idea other people had problems with Colette patterns but glad it wasn’t just me!

    • I couldn’t get the Sorbetto to fit after three muslins. With help. How bad is that? The person I hired told me the pattern was badly drafted and she had heard other horror stories, usually involving the placement of the bust darts.

      My encounters with Colette Patterns have not been positive. I once was shut out of a sale because their software failed and the company refused to help me after I contacted them. They’re cheap and all they care about is marketing. The patterns on the models often look awful: awkward and ill-fitting.

    • “The product is bad, the attitudes of the owner and staff are smug.” Can’t agree more. The co-owner Tweeted on his account something like “You know you’ve really made it as a business when random people hate on everything new you do.” or something. Totally flippant and ignores the real, true issues people have brought up regarding their company. I’m over them; clearly, they’ve learned nothing.

  12. Another example of their “integrity?” They changed their seamwork model midstream from “subscribe and get xx free patterns per month,” to “subscribers get credits to use towards patterns of their own choosing.” But if you unsubscribe, you lose your credits. Why? Because you didn’t already pay for them? But, wait… you did!

    @thenaughtybun… I love your username! I have a dear little wild bunny who lives in my front yard, and it makes me picture him/her when he/she is in a “mood” – ears aslant.

  13. THANK YOU for a really great post on this whole kerfuffle (a nice way of putting it, undoubtedly). Your approach to addressing Rue is logical, fact-based, and so admirable; one might even call it scientific! =D

    I have been watching this chain of events from the sidelines–albeit like that Michael Jackson “Thriller” .gif with him eating popcorn–and am so pleased that more people are willing to publicly call a spade a spade. And perhaps in that way, I am part of the problem: I’m no expert, but I’ve had instruction from a real patternmaker and know, among other things, what an armhole *should* look like on the flat; and even if I hadn’t, anyone with some modicum of visual acuity and some sewing and fitting experience could see the issues with that pattern on basically every version of it if they looked or allowed themselves to see it. (Except for that glaring “happy accident, blame-it-on-the-bias” disingenuous BS that happily, accidentally fit better than all the other examples and had the style lines in the place they ARE supposed to be, no matter how much they tried to deny THAT, either. UGH. That whole moment with Sarai’s plaid dress really turned my stomach re: Colette, and it further adds to the lack of integrity present at “Colette, The Business” these days, other examples of which you have so deftly pointed out above.)

    It always seems like it’s frowned upon to be critical of certain businesses in the sewing community at-large, even when criticism is warranted. Perhaps we have finally hit a tipping point with respect to enough people being unwilling to sit back and let garbage like Rue be lauded as something that it’s not–in this case, well-drafted and designed, or off-limits from critique and honest evaluation. At this point, I don’t really care what they do with this pattern to fix it: I didn’t buy it and am never going to bother with a Colette product again! But lots of people did buy it, and I hope that they are made whole one way or another. It’s a little sad, as my first-ever finished garment was a Colette pattern. It fit pretty well (because I’m pretty easy to fit and also didn’t know much about fit and got close enough!) and the instructions helped me be successful. But as far as I’m concerned, this Rue mess is an irredeemable mistake/lack of institutional control/quality control failure; I don’t know how–or if–they’ll come back from it.

    TL;DR: Great post, and thank you for posting it! =D

  14. I’m not surprised. Their Emperor’s New Clothes posts with sample garments that look like they were sewn by a first-semester Home Ec student complete with poor fit, cheap fabrics and shoddy workmanship did not inspire me to part with a single penny of my hard-earned money. I have scratched my head, wondering who in the world is buying these terrible patterns. To say we should cut them some slack in order to support Indies and women is ridiculous. Actually, it’s pure bullshit. A crappy product is a crappy product, regardless of who is selling it.

  15. Excellent post Carolyn. Thank you for sharing you thoughts. I have been in the middle of the Rue debacle as I am in the PR Sewing Bee. Even though my dress is finished, I am very annoyed by Colette’s poor, error-laden product and their “we’re going to fix this” response, and I got the pattern for free! You are spot on when you say it’s too little too late, because it is.

  16. Excellent post! I appreciate your honest assessment and I am in total agreement, too little too late. Now, can we stop this woman supporting women bullshit? My dollars go where they are respected and gender has nothing to do with it. You earn my respect, you get my money, no matter the gender. And if I am really happy with your product, I will sing your praises to the mountain tops. Who cares the gender? I truly think this myth is perpetuated by Indie designers and their fangirls, at least the ones lacking integrity, skill and experience, sort of like propping up a leaking balloon. I am sure we are all for gender equality here. Why do some think women are supposed to support women differently than the way they support men in business? I truly just don’t get this.

    This Indie bubble has been poised to pop for sometime and it really seems to be coming to a head lately. More to come???

    • Very well said, Bunny. I have nothing to add!

      As for the Indie bubble popping… wait a second… I think I have indie pattern goop splashing in my face as I type this.

  17. Echoing previous comments on how disappointing this is. Not just the initial fit issues but how this has been handled. Make a mistake by all means but when it comes to light, get that sh!t fixed sharpish and properly. The women support women thing applies both ways if Colette want to trot that line out. Don’t let your customers down by not respecting them enough to produce a decent product.

  18. I’ve never attempted a Collette or Seamwork pattern, all the copies I have are PDF’s and I just can’t be arsed doing the printing/glueing thing with A4 and haven’t made it to the copy shop yet. I am now very reticent to try any. Which neatly sums up how I feel about the indie patterns in general. As Vanessa (above) comments, their patterns are incredibly expensive here in Australia. Add in the time and money cost of printing & glueing or the print shop and I am not keen on experimenting with my beloved fabric, time and money just to correct the pattern’s drafting errors. I’d rather draft from first principles. Or use one of the Big 4 patterns.

    I’ll throw in another objection to indie designers, they so rarely use metric measurements! Metric measurements are the standard throughout Europe, Asia and Pacific Rim for every industry. They are the standard for engineering and health the world over. Is it really that hard to include metric on patterns? My other concern about Indies are the propensity to not pay for pattern testing. The Big 4/Simplicity and Jalie do their testing inhouse, by employees who are paid appropriately. Can’t say that for sure with a lot of the Indies.

    I have had good experiences with In House (who uses both metric & imperial), Thread Theory and Grainline. I believe they are all drafted by trained and experienced professionals. I’ve stopped buying anymore patterns unless they are that delightful combination of good drafting and metric measurements.

    • Maybe also consider Style Arc? They do have more traditional styles mixed in with their edgier looks, they are drafted fabulously, they’re Australian, and they use metric and imperial measurements. AND you get one free pattern with your order. AND their size range is huge: 0-30. 🙂 This is not a sponsored message! I just really love Style Arc.

  19. Great post, critical and thoughtful.
    I’ve steered clear of Colette simply because I tried them early in my sewing adventures and decided they simply must not draft for me.
    However I think as the years have gone on it has becoming apparent that the issues don’t always lie with the sewing public and the customers – in so many cases. But it’s too easy to blame yourself without there being anything out there to tell you otherwise.
    I think the Rue is a lesson to everyone.

  20. I have never seen a Colette pattern, but have seen various commentaries over the years regarding difficulties experienced by those who have used them. Your post and many of the comments here reiterate what any customer expects whenever they purchase a product, service or experience.

    Merely re-issuing a corrected copy of the Rue will not compensate the contestants in the Sewing Bee for the frustrating hours spent in making several muslins before reaching for their fashion fabric. If it were me, I don’t think I’d want to attempt another Rue after that. I’d be looking for a refund.

    You build a reputation & earn trust based upon your actions or lack thereof. As I recall, the tag line of Colette patterns is “Patterns that teach”. What has the Rue Pattern taught? There is a lesson to be learned…

  21. Yes, the deleting of very reasonable comments pointing out valid issues has bothered me for a while. As the PR sewing bee progressed I thought, surely they are going to say something but nope. Instead I see a single instagram post, the errata is buried on the sewalong page (with comments closed which I found very sad, as if they feel we are just trolling them, not voicing our valid opinions) and nothing on the main blog or on the pattern review forums. That plus months of posting garments that are beautifully styled and photographed but very poorly fitted and sewn as an ongoing issue. New sewers don’t see it but experienced sewers do and I actually find it all very insulting. Another great post highlighting the issues, and I agree wholeheartedly with all your points.

    • I’m reminded of the response (or non-response) of the people who took over Sewaholic patterns. They refused to post any comments with questions or criticisms, while accepting comments criticizing customers who probed for more information. People were shocked that Tasia was leaving and of course wanted some answers. I’ll never buy another Sewahoic pattern.

      • I think this is really different! We don’t own Tasia and she has every right to keep the reasons for her decision private. What if she had major burn-out and depression? Alcohol abuse problems? A serious disease herself or maybe her partner? What if she just felt is was a whole lot of work and she wanted a calmer job? Is that any of my business? Is it any of yours?

        The patterns so far were well drafted and beautiful and boycotting the new owners makes it basically impossible for any indie designer to sell their business, putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on them. I think it is nice that the patterns remain available! And as far as new patterns go if I’d buy one fully depends on how well they continue the good work of Tasia. And I also think that it must have been a huge relief for Tasia to be able to sell her business and not having to give it up and the new owners took a financial risk when buying.

        I see why it doesn’t seem right that someone we feel we knew just disappears from our online lifes, but honestly, we didn’t really know Tasia and she has every right to her privacy.

        • From my perspective, I think the difference here is deleting customer comments as opposed to responding professionally. Of course Tasia has a right to privacy, and I wish her all the best. However, why delete the comments? A simple and professional response would have been that Tasia is requesting privacy and that all new inquiries should be directed to the new owners.

          Colette has a long and sordid history of deleting many critical customer comments, and I think it has badly damaged their reputation at this point. Again, why delete the comments? Just post a professional response.

          If a company is hosting a blog, comments and open discussion should be welcome. If they don’t want critical comments, they shouldn’t be hosting a blog.

  22. This is well-written, as always, Carolyn. I watched the Rue thing unfold with interest – as soon as the teaser shots were released I knew this pattern was going to be a problem, but had no idea just how much! Like many other people in the SBC, I have been done with Colette for a long time – since the Peony pattern was released, basically! I was still reasonably early on in my sewing journey when that pattern came out and my complete inability to get it to fit made me so unhappy and it made me reluctant to sew for ages. I look back on it now and – well, with more sewing experience I can see that the draft of that bodice was not for me at all but also that it has some of the trademark Colette issues – the too-wide neckline, the shitty bodice and the horrible armscye. But it’s only experience that has made me see that.

    Your comment thread is so interesting too – I think you have it spot on when you say that Colette is closing down comments from the SBC because we’re no longer their target market. But is is SHADY AS SHIT to do it to stop word getting out about their issues. Yeah, I’ve been done for a long time now but you’ve totally articulated why.

  23. Boy did I ever learn a lot. I always assumed that if it was an Indie pattern that more care was put into making it. I expected that some Indie pattern companies made patterns for tall girls, “pear” shaped girls, whatever. If they didn’t work for me, then it was because I wasn’t the shape that they were designing for. Did they not do any pattern testing before releasing the pattern? It’s a shame when someone gets so big that they don’t care about the work they produce. No matter what your occupation – coffee shop employee or president – you should do your job to the best of your ability and strive to do better every day.

  24. My feelings exactly! Whatever bodice block they use has serious issues, and they have had these issues for a long time.

    I remember the Dahlia where people with vastly different body sizes and shapes had the shoulders falling off. Even the person who ran their sewalong had to make the neck narrower for herself! Then the Wren, with gigantic armscyes. This time round the Rue had both these problems, as well as those baffling tucks that compress over the full bust and release fullness towards the collarbone.

    I think they would have continued to ignore users and bloggers had it not been for the Pattern Review Sewing Bee, where every contestant had problems and slammed the pattern. That’s what made them decide to redraft and reissue the pattern. I’m so glad I didn’t buy it, although I like the style lines (if they had been positioned correctly, below the bust) very much, so I’ll probably recreate it using a well fitting sloper.

  25. Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
    I’m so glad I’m not the only one pointing out these crazy online-sewing-community things that everyone seems to ignore or smooth over (sometimes I used to feel like I was in a twilight zone, like “really? aren’t you guys seeing this too?”).

    I figured out a long time ago that Colette just wasn’t my style so I haven’t bought a pattern from them in a long time (although I don’t remember the fit on the Macaroon being bad, just too girly). Anyways:

    1) I thought the Rue was potentially really pretty and a unique dress design, but not something I’d ever wear in real life so I passed. And, since I’ve seen so many difficult to fit patterns from them in the past, I’m always a wait-and-see type of person, with all pattern companies that aren’t Big 4. But it was a neat idea, unlike a lot of their recent designs that didn’t look designed at all, like the Laurel dress. The fit thing is kindof silly too because they supposedly employ professional pattern drafters I thought.
    2) I had no idea they were deleting comments, that’s crazy! I can’t imagine what that discussion was like at the office. just wow.
    3) If the ill fit isn’t new with any of their patterns, how could they not see this coming and think it was a good idea to sponsor and have an entire sewing bee challenge focused on them? Sure, it could have been free advertising, but it obviously backfired. I just don’t see how the down side didn’t occur to them. The sewing bee was probably the patterns main downfall from the reviews I’ve read.
    4) It’s still a little sad so see a company that had built up so much good will from being somewhat ground breaking when they started to falter so badly. Maybe their original patterns didn’t fit that great, but it was just a one person venture at that time so it was forgivable, but it should have improved over time and it obviously didn’t. I won’t say it’s their demise just yet, but Colette will need a very significant about-face to fix this. It really sounds like a company culture problem.
    5) I’m not surprised at all that indie pattern companies are starting to disappear almost as fast as they’re popping up. The void has been filled for sewing patterns, or at least there are very few voids left and I don’t see those voids being tackled (where are the ultra futuristic Tilda-esk patterns?!). Indie sewing companies are not a new phenomena though. For someone who is pretty young (under 30, millennial category), I’ve actually been aware of the greater sewing industry for a long time because I’ve been sewing clothing since the start and my mom and grandma have also been sewing forever. There was a surge of indie pattern companies in the 90s too, but they were focused on older/artsy women I think, which is why they aren’t prominent anymore (pretty sure quite a few still exist though). So to ever say these indie companies are doing something new is at least half false. It’s obvious that selling patterns on their own it’s profitable unless you’re a big company, which is why so many women branch out into teaching.

    Colette has some intriguing ideas, but they just never follow through to make it a good product before moving on to the next thing. It’s sad to think there are still tons of new sewers who won’t see the reviews before buying simply because they’re not nose deep into it, and thus continuing the typical cycle at Colette.
    whew, that response got a little long!

  26. Those of us who sew garments have sometimes really fallen hard for indies. If it is indie, it is good! We have to get over it. I think there are a number of good and thoughtful people working at the Big 4, and on indies. A pattern is only a place to start, not the end of the story. There are hits and misses all over the place.

    That being said, Colette has irritated me for kind of a while now. Too many “tips” that aren’t anything helpful — or even up-to-date, sometimes. A point of view in their designs that seems to be all over the place. And the yoga, and the lifestyle branding, WTH? We’re not friends.

    I’ve never managed to get out of the muslin stage with Colette — too many changes necessary to bother with. Now with this latest product so decisively a disaster . . . not too surprising. I have met (oh Lord) so-called pattern testers who cannot sew, it’s really bad, people.

    In the final analysis, I think a pattern company that lasts has lots of talented people working there. It can’t be a one-woman show. We’ve seen this a lot recently as some of our favorites have taken a powder.

    And yeah, maybe it’s time for the nicey nice thing in the SBC to yield to some honest discussion.

  27. I do hope other indie pattern companies don’t get lumped in with Colette’s problems. There are some very good companies out there that spend the time on professional drafting and grading. I am more than happy to spend the money for a good product, but I expect to make only minor tweaks, not to redo the whole pattern.

    It was a low blow to use this pattern for the PR sewing bee. Everyone forced to participate in this challenge should have been moved into the fourth round. Any pattern that says chose a dress size based on waist measurement should have never been considered.

    • Yes, I agree. My comments above are solely aimed at Colette. While there is certainly a wide range of quality in indie sewing patterns, I’ve had success with certain brads and will continue to support them.

      As for choosing a dress size based on your waist measurement…. I am speechless. Does anyone at Colette actually sew??

  28. It’s so odd to me that a company wouldn’t take in feedback about a product and change it before a debacle like this happens, but there have been strange, glaring fit issues with Colette for years. I haven’t bought anything from them since the Laurel dress- I looked at all the versions out there, and they all had the same strange thing going on with the armscye. To me, that would have been a great time to revisit the block and techniques that they were using, and really, a better time to bring on some new patternmakers. I can’t understand why anyone would want to release an inferior product- the roundup of finished Rues that they published on their own blog should have been enough to convince any potential customer that this wasn’t a pattern worth having! I don’t mean any disrespect to any of the women who made or modeled their dresses- it’s the style lines that are all wrong and the design itself is so… counterintuitive? It feels like it was designed without taking women’s bodies into consideration! It’s disappointing, to say the least, and I really hope that their stockists aren’t getting ripped off. Passing a bad product on to your brick and mortar retailers is bad business, indeed!

    I will continue to sew from my favorite indie pattern companies because, overall, I prefer sewing with them to big 4 (personally, I just don’t enjoy gambling on them… they’re too hit or miss for me, and it annoys the @#$% out of me that the ease is so different from pattern to pattern. If they were a buck or two for me, I’d be down, but if I wait for an online sale, I’m still paying $8 by the time I pay for shipping and taxes and I’d rather just go with a company that I know works for me, like True Bias or Grainline, where at least the changes I make are standard). But I really wish that pattern companies would slow down and take the time to make sure that designs work before releasing them. It seems like some of them try to stick to a timetable that’s not really possible for them to maintain, and then the quality suffers. It’s only going to hurt their businesses to release bad products! I just don’t understand it!

    • I agree – I questioned the odd bust seam early on and received such a peculiar answer on the blog: the seam was supposed to run 5/8″ below the bust apex when clearly, Sarai’s plaid dress showed the seam under the bust. The pulling and stretching at the bust was just so wrong on the test garments; people kept asking about that seam and the same answer was cut and paste all the way down. And that whole ‘supporting women’ thing doesn’t hold much water for me: Burda Moden was founded by Aenne Burda in 1950 – a woman whose offerings even then were extraordinary for their fit and fashion. I love Indie patterns but always go back to Burdastyle for really important pieces: dresses, coats, etc. because they will fit right the first time. No excuses, no pandering, no pouting, it’s time Colette acted like professional pattern company.

  29. The few Colette patterns that I’ve made have been such a nightmare for me that I’ve given up on them. The armscyes on the Laurel were drafted so badly that it took quite a bit of manipulation for me to get something remotely wearable. I fell in love with the Phoebe earlier in the year and knew that it would be trouble but decided to try it out. As I suspected it took 3 muslins before I got a decent fit. I always figure that it’s an issue with my body but then when I see how badly the samples fit the Seamwork models I figure that it’s not just me. There are many Indie pattern companies who consistently put out well drafted patterns that work for me with minimal adjustments and those are the companies that I will support. This was a great, though provoking post and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading all the comments you’ve gotten.

  30. Wow, I had no idea about Colette, though I do recall all the problems people in the PR Sewing Bee had. I’m late to the party, but just had to comment because of something that happened to me that made me question the integrity of the company I was working with. I teach kids how to sew and am a “registered instructor” of Kids Can Sew. Students are required to buy a $30 pattern pack that contains about 6 simple garment patterns. One of my students made the shorts. We used the pattern size indicated by her hip measurement and she could not pull the shorts up over her hips. It was embarrassing for me to tell her mother that the pattern didn’t fit, after they spent $$$ on both pattern and fabric. I took out the shorts pattern and did a lot of measuring and calculating and found that the ease in these shorts were all over the place. One size had 3 inches of ease and another had 1 inch (Really? For pants?) Other sizes were somewhere in the middle. Kids Can Sew has a Facebook forum so I went on it to see if other instructors had any issues with the shorts. A few said they did and others said that I should have made up every pattern in every size so the kids could try them on before making them. What?!? Lo and behold, the whole thread got deleted by the company and no one followed up with me re: the sizing. This company has been in business over 30 years and their patterns rarely change. They couldn’t spend the money to get this pattern redrafted in all those years? At first I felt like I was being disloyal, but now I realize it was their integrity in question. It left a really bad taste in my mouth. I had another issue with them as well, which I won’t go into here, but involved them mailing $300 worth of patterns in a postage paid USPS box that included only $50 worth of insurance. Let’s just say the box opened during delivery and I was out $270. Whew! Thank you for letting me vent here.

  31. I’ve had terrible experiences with Colette patterns, specifically the Jasmine and the Mabel. I made the Jasmine when I was getting back into sewing after a long break, so I chalked it up to my own inexperience. When I sewed the Mabel though, I could see there were major drafting issues. For a knit skirt! I measure my 2 creations against the listed finished pattern measurements, and they weren’t even close. I think whoever is making the patterns (Sarai?) has no professional pattern drafting knowledge. After that experience, I became very careful about buying from Indie pattern companies. Now I look for some kind of assurance that either the owner has had pattern drafting training, or hired one. (Was impressed that Cashmerette hired one, according to the blog.) I think Colette gets a lot of love because, frankly, the website is well done. Too bad the patterns are not.

  32. I saw that a more recent post was taken down. I hope you’re not being bullied. I agree about Colette. After the Rue debacle, I cancelled my Seamwork subscription and haven’t seen sewn any more of their patterns.

    • I did take that post down, but it wasn’t in response to any feedback from Colette (I haven’t received any). I think the post got picked up by some sort of Google content generator, and it was getting way more traffic than I was comfortable with, from non-sewing people, as far as I could tell. Honestly, I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on, so I just pulled the post. I hope to put it back up in a few days.

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