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Book Review! Colette and BurdaStyle


I’m interning at a fabric store in Austin and we just got both the new Colette Sewing Hanbook and BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook (yes, they are both “sewing handbooks”) books in stock. I scouared through each, snapped some pics and now I’m sharing my thoughts with you!

First of all, both books are the same retail price, both have beautiful photos and both are spiral bound, making them easy to lay flat on your sewing table as you read.


Colette’s book is geared more towards beginner garment sewers while BurdaStyle is more for those with intermediate skills.

Colette Sewing Handbook

The Colette book has the classic, streamlined style you know from their patterns.

Colette Sewing Handbook

I love Colette’s approach to teaching. I remember when I first started sewing and I was so excited to work on projects that I skipped learning some essential skills. The book is organized in 5 sections, or “fundamentals”. You learn a few basics then dive into a project. Then you learn something more advanced and work on a new pattern and so on. This way you’re never in over your head but you always feel like you are progressing and putting your skills to work on something wearable.

Colette Sewing Handbook

The patterns are basic but each has a little twist – scallops here, pintucks there. One shirt has bias binding which teaches you to make and sew binding and also allows you to add your style to the shirt. Another dress has enough darts for you to work on a perfect fit.

Colette Sewing Handbook

Each lesson features ample illustrations and photos, just like Colette’s patterns.


What particularly stands out is the reference section. I love the up close images of different fabric types.


And I’ve never seen a book with examples of fabric wrapped on dress forms. What a great way to illustrate drape.

On to BurdaStyle –


BurdaStyle’s book focuses more on fashion and style than technique. Lots of eye candy for fashionista sewers.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

It features lots of input from users from sewing room inspiration to user created variations of five standard patterns (skirt, dress, top, coat, handbag) included in the book.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

Each pattern has instructions for the original look. Also included are a several other variation designs, a few with their own instructions. Every original design is cute but what’s really great is seeing what contributor does with the style to make it his or her own.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

At the end of each variation is a little Q&A with the BurdaStyle user who created it.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

This book is more for the fashion savy sewer who is advanced enough for pattern manipulation and is looking for a creative outlet rather than learning basic fit and construction techniques. If you like the concept behind the Built by Wendy books (basic patterns and alterations to the designs) then BurdaStyle will be right up your alley.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

Each design has a difficulty level and decent instructions but if you are advanced enough to alter patterns drastically you probably won’t need to read the instructions much.

Both books are great but are for slightly different audiences. I’d probably buy BurdaStyle’s for myself as inspiration but the Colette handbook would make a great gift to someone who wants to learn garment sewing.

Has anyone bought either of these books yet?

Comments (8) for post “Book Review! Colette and BurdaStyle”

  • I got the BurdaStyle book as a birthday present and I love it! I haven’t gotten around to any of the projects yet, but I especially love the blouse pattern. So cute!

  • Hi,

    I don’t have Colette Sewing Handbook but I agree with your points on Burdastyle Hand book.

    I have gone through the book and there are few mistakes. some are mistyped and on one occasion a big one.
    I was planning to make Karin’s coat described on page 150 of the book but i came across a little issue.
    On page 152, FRONT YOKE FROM FRONT BODICE( NEW PATTERN PIECE) section 1, line4 says:

    Draw a straight line extending about 6″(15cm) in from the bottom point of the neckline curve, perpendicular to the center front. Draw a 4″(10cm) reference line down from the endpoint of the first line, parallel to the center front. We’ll use these as reference lines.

    Now if you look at the illustration there is no sign of the 6″(15cm) line instead you can see a 2″(3cm) long line.

    I am confused, which is the correct measurement?

    or maybe I cant understand correctly.
    can you help me please?

    • Hey Somi, I work part time at a fabric store so I just read the books there. I don’t own them and haven’t made anything from them.

      But just based on how you phrased the instructions here’s what is sounds like to me – there should not be a 6″ long line, you have to draw that line yourself. It looks like that drawn line will be horizontal and the 4″ line that you also draw will be vertical. So there shouldn’t be any 6″ line already printed on the pattern. Instead you will draw a 6″ horizontal line with one end extending from where the neck line and center front line meet on the pattern piece. Gosh, I hope that makes sense. It is hard describing it with no picture.

      If that doesn’t work you might get a response if you leave a comment here:

      There are two reviews on Pattern Review for the book. You could comment and maybe someone will look into it.

      This person reviewed the coat pattern from the book and has a blog link:

      You could also start a post in the Pattern Review forums. There are lots of people roaming around there willing to help.

      I hope you find the the answer! Thanks for commenting.

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