colette patterns | zinnia

thanks for all the responses on my last post, it was interesting to hear the wide and varied opinions! after making this skirt, my own opinion is rather torn, but i’ll get to that in a bit.

first of all, i’m very pleased with how this skirt came out. it is just as i imagined and will be great for fall-wearing. the fabric is rayon and perfectly opaque enough to not require a lining. it’s ever so slightly heavier than some other rayons i’ve worked with and has a twill weave on the right side. that twill weave caused a nightmare for hemming! oy. didn’t think i would ever get that hem evened out! i let it hang for two days and it stretched anywhere from 1/2″ up to almost 2″. usually the growth will happen at least symmetrically, but… no. this one was cray cray. add to that the fact that the stitched pleats made it so i couldn’t fan the skirt out and just measure. i ended up putting it on my dress form, measuring from the waist and just hacking away until it looked even. it’s not perfect, but i’m not in the mood to keep futzing with it!

IMG_1707 so what are my final thoughts on this pattern? first the good:

i think the pleated version is nicely drafted. many people are concerned about full skirts and having excess fabric at the waist. to overcome this, the skirt pieces have an a-line shape, and pleats that fan out. this skirt has a 90″+ hem, so really it’s the best of both worlds: full skirt, sleek tummy.

i love the belt loops for being able to add a skinny belt, but they also blend in if i choose to go sans belt.

the waistband is a perfect width—not too skinny, not too fat. i chose not to interface the waistband, but instead underline it with muslin. i can’t seem to get good results fusing onto rayon, it always ends up puckering after a wash or two. underlining gives the waistband plenty of structure while not being stiff.

the sizing seems accurate. and since you only have one measurement, it really should be. that said, i finally got smart and went up a size from what i measured for. i have a fairly high waist, and prefer that my skirts sit an inch or two lower. so, i measured where i wanted the skirt to sit and cut my size accordingly. revolutionary, i know, but with as little ease as this is designed for, i didn’t want to fight with it every time i wore it. plus, being a fall skirt, i may have bulkier shirts to tuck in. plus, plus… i can cinch it in with a belt. i should have raised the pockets though, because now they sit pretty low. oops.


alright, now the less-than-good:

the directions and construction methods on colette patterns continue to confound me. they call for so much hand stitching, basting and frankly, techniques that don’t provide professional clean results. on the pleats, you are supposed to baste them, press them, edgestitch them, then remove the basting. why? because my rayon was kinda funky to work with, i basted them by hand on the front piece (i was afraid that bringing the skirt to and from the machine so much might cause the waist to stretch out). there are 16 pleats altogether, so this is not for the faint of heart! on the back pieces i basted by machine, and everything was fine. however, removing the basting was quite a chore. and i can’t see a good reason for removing the basting, so i’ll definitely skip that next time. or just not stitch down the pleats at all. i think in a nice drapey fabric, stitching the pleats wouldn’t be super necessary if you are disinclined.

and then the waistband directions were a bit strange. you are instructed to sew the edges of the waistband before sewing the waistband to the skirt. however, it is so much easier to sew the waistband to the skirt first, then finish the ends. i opted to skip basting the inner waistband before topstitching, and just pinned and went for it, as is my custom.


also, if you plan to make the belt loops, do yourself a favor and don’t use the pattern piece. it is way too small. i cut mine 1/4″ wider, and a couple inches longer. you sew the belt loop piece lengthwise, turn the tube right side out, then cut into six belt loops. i always find that the ends get a bit beat up in the tube turning process, and then you only have 1/8″ to turn under on each end of the belt loop when you sew it on. that, my friends, is just not enough. after struggling with the original piece for about 5 seconds, i recut a piece so i would have 1/4″ to turn under on each side and that was perfect. you’d think such a simple thing as belt loops they’d get right… weird.

lastly, i bought the .pdf version and there is something wrong in the printing. when scaled at 100% my test square was larger by more than 1/8″. i adjusted the scale until i got the test square right, but then the margins were off. the pattern indicates that the margin is  6″ x 10″ and when the test square was the right size, the margins were not. so… i guess i’m not sure which is faulty: the test square or the margins. i noticed that a few other people had issues with the skirt pieces being too small, so i wonder if the .pdf is faulty. my pieces matched up fine, so… this is kind of a question mark.


i realize this is a lot to say over a skirt, so yippie if you made it to the end of the post! overall, i like the skirt and the pattern a lot. not thrilled about the construction techniques, but i tend to go my own way so this doesn’t make much difference to me, though it may to you, which is why i’m putting it out there. this is billed as a beginner pattern, and the gathered skirt i imagine would be beginner friendly. the pleated version… maybe not so much. with sixteen pleats to manage, a lot could go wrong.

okay, i’m done!

links: zinnia by colette patterns | chambray archer by grainline

—lisa g.

52 thoughts on “colette patterns | zinnia

  1. Sunni says:

    Good to hear, although kind of a bummer that even with such a simple style they have janky stuff happening in the pattern and the directions. I too hate it, HATE IT when patterns have you do impossible things like the belt loop conundrum when there is so many other ways that are easier!!!! I used to test Colette Patterns and I have to say, I would give them feedback on things that I felt needed to be rechecked with the pattern, sewing methods that could be drastically improved and still, when the final pattern came out – nothing was different. The only time it was different was when I tested the Lady Gray. So sad, but you know, whatever.

    • lisa g says:

      thanks sunni, i think this skirt will get a lot of wear! and it’s too bad CP would completely ignore tester’s comments about construction, etc. maybe i’m just confused as to who their target customer is… someone who likes unnecessarily complicated directions? strange!

      • Sunni says:

        I came off sound rude and arrogant in my previous comment. Suffice it to say that I didn’t realize that when testing a pattern, not everyone would have the same problem as I when encountering certain things – something I didn’t really even stop to think about until someone pointed it out! I’m only on one side of the coin, so I definitely do not see what happens at the other end when all the feedback comes back and you have to make sense of everything. This goes for pattern directions too, I think and not just problematic drafting issues.

      • Sunni says:

        Whoops, hit enter before I was finished. It is possible that this pattern was tested by several beginners who felt that things like the waistband situation/direction was easier than the the converse way of doing it??? I don’t know. Sometimes when I’m teaching beginners to sew, things that I think are like easier than pie are not for them and it is surprising at what they think is easy and what is not. OK, I’m done – sorry about the kajillion responses here. You’re going to think I’m a stalker, and I kind of am so there’s that.

      • lisa g says:

        haha it’s okay… stalk all you want! and that is true, perhaps they thought this type of waistband construction would be easier than the traditional way of doing things. as my skills develop i find what works best for me and others do the same–no doubt we all work out different methods to achieve the same end! i guess we’re just passionate about our craft 🙂

  2. joellestlaurent says:

    thanks for the honest review, nice to hear your thoughts! your zinnia turned out wonderful anyways. perfect for fall!

  3. crab&bee says:

    This is a great-looking skirt and the pleats look incredibly flattering! I like your autumnal outfit, too. It’s nice to know that you have the skills to overcome a confusing pattern.

  4. kathi giumentaro says:

    I love your skirt. It is perfect for fall. I did not have any luck with the 3 Colette patterns I tried. I gave up on them. I so wanted them to work for me but for the price the frustration was not worth it.

    • lisa g says:

      thank you! and there are so many other patterns to pick from, no sense in beating you head against the wall for something that’s just not working!

  5. Mary Danielson says:

    Lisa, I absolutely adore your Zinnia! That fabric makes for such a lovely piece for fall. Gorgeous!

    As another early Zinnia sewist, I totally endorse your complaints about the instructions that accompany the pattern. I looked at them, wondered why anyone would ever put in a waistband that way, then went with a traditional insertion. Despite years of sewing experience, I’ve never seen an insertion method so needlessly convoluted! When I first began sewing, I loved Colette for the ease of their instructions, but they seem to have devolved in clarity over time. You are completely correct – the gathered version is the way to go, for beginners. I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending the pleated version, no matter how lovely it turns out, without substantial precautions first.

    Again, though, yours is rockin’! I have some autumnal rayon laying around that may become a copycat.

    • lisa g says:

      thanks so much, this fabric has my favorite fall color combos so i’m excited to wear it! copy away!

      and sometimes i feel like it’s just me being picky about stuff, but if i were putting a product out i would want every little thing perfect. glad to know others share my view!

  6. Katie says:

    Your skirt is darling!

    I very much appreciate your review — I was on the fence about Zinnia, and now I think I’m pretty much off the fence. Don’t think I’ll be buying this one. Seems overly complicated for a silhouette I can get elsewhere for less with better instructions. A quick question: I read on another blog that the PDF is 77 pages long–is that right? Seems ridiculously long for such a simple pattern.

    • lisa g says:

      thanks! it is a large pdf… i printed only one version (one nice thing about CP pdfs are that they include different printing options) and it was 40 pages long–still longer than i would have expected, but the skirt pieces are pretty big. the directions were another 20-odd pages, but i didn’t print them. so yeah, if you print the entire file it is super long.

  7. Shar says:

    I love your skirt! The fabric is just beautiful! Like others have commented, I really appreciate the detail you go into when reviewing the patterns you’ve made. It’s so helpful. I’m going to take a pass on this pattern. I think the pleated version would be the most flattering for me, but I’m not sure that I’m ready to ‘negotiate the pleats’.

    • lisa g says:

      thank you, the fabric does make me so happy. 🙂 admittedly, i wasn’t in the best headspace when i was making this skirt (a little sick, a lot busy…) so it may have felt far more cumbersome than it really was. at any rate, i don’t regret buying the pattern, i just wish the directions would have been better!

  8. K-Line says:

    This is a great review. Once again, you manage to make a garment I have no interest in and it looks terrific on you – and exciting! I cannot believe Collette has made such a fuss out of this pattern. It’s a simple skirt. Sure, it’s adorbs on you and I’m sure on many others. But it’s not exactly pattern of the year.

    • lisa g says:

      that’s too funny, thanks! maybe CP should go back to releasing a handful of patterns at a time like they used to. then, a simpler pattern wouldn’t have all the attention and fanfare, but rather be a single piece in a collection–which is really how this skirt works for me.

  9. poppykettle says:

    Yikes. The general feeling I’m getting from the interwebs is that the Colette patterns honeymoon is kinda over. Yes? I know there are multiple ways to do things and end up with the same result, but if you’re not researching out there to find the most efficient and easily explained option, then I’m going to be harsh and say your job is not being done properly. One of the attractive things about Independent patterns is the potential ability to provide good instructions to those who like it. Rant aside, your skirt is lovely, and such a good match with your tights and chambray archer! I love colour 🙂 Looking great!

    • lisa g says:

      i don’t know, maybe we’re just expecting too much. with all the information online, and their ability to post a great tutorial post-release, perhaps the time spent on instructions is getting short-changed. no doubt, sales and feedback will guide their future. and thanks, i was’t totally sure about the red tights, i’ve had them forever but couldn’t figure out a good outfit for them. i think i like them with this skirt though!

      • poppykettle says:

        You know that thought hadn’t actually occurred to me, but now you mention it… seems valid. I find it very easy to not care about instructions now, but then I remember back in my early days of sewing how much I relied on them! But then as your knowledge about sewing grows and you try new techniques… well, that just brings me full circle back to your comment. ha!

  10. tworandomwords says:

    Oh lordy the fabric is GORGEOUS!! I recently saw a similar twilled rayon fabric in paisley which I was sorely tempted by, but wasn’t sure what to make from it + it was only 112cm wide + paisley isn’t quiiiiite my thing. I don’t think I could have passed this by though.

    Like others have said – thanks for your honest review. I have so far made two Colette patterns (ginger and rooibos), which have had really good instructions; it’s a shame the last few (?) haven’t been quite so good. And they have been soo simple, unlike the unusual patterns like the Ceylon

    • lisa g says:

      thanks! i’ll definitely think twice about using a twilled rayon, certainly not again for a full skirt! colette really seems to be lacking in the unusual designs of their earlier days–i’d love to see them mix it up more. there’s nothing wrong with throwing in some basics (those are really my bread and butter after all!), but i bet they would be better received in a pattern collection instead of one pattern every few months.

  11. Suzanne says:

    Thank you so much for the review. I bought the pattern but I’m really hesitant to sew it until I get feedback and reviews from more experienced sewers. And I can definitely understand Sunni’s frustration when you don’t see your feedback incorporated.

    • lisa g says:

      sorry if this all comes off as negative, i still stand by my opinion that it is a lovely skirt pattern! i hope you get around to sewing it, you just may want to double check those waistband instructions. 🙂

  12. dokucug says:

    I skipped this pattern too, mostly because I’m not a huge fan of pleats. The problem with pleats is, once you wear the garment and wash it, then you have to iron those suckers out! Just don’t have the patience! But also I skipped it because the last few patterns from CP seem not to have the same level of innovation as the earlier ones – I have tons of back issues of Burda and vintage envelope patterns that have garments just like this and the Laurel dress. Saving my money, for once! (I did buy the Hawthorne, though. Of course, I have yet to make it.)

    However, I do really love this skirt on you, and I adore the fabric you chose. This skirt looks so quintessentially “fall” – especially the way you styled it.

    • lisa g says:

      i love pleats, but i do haaaaate the ironing of them after washes… i think a single years subscription to burda would give you just about every shape you could need. boy do they repeat! and thanks, as a fall-lover i’m so digging these colors!

  13. Wendyp says:

    Your skirt looks really beautiful! I love the fabric and the stitched-down pleats are really pretty, without bulkiness!
    Thanks for your review of the pattern, such a pity that there are so many things faulty with the pattern and directions… It’s not like they’re giving their patterns away for free…

  14. Susan says:

    Ahhh I love this skirt on you, and the styling with the red tights and boots is fab. I think this was a great review Lisa — I didn’t read it to be negative, and for those who love the design, your commentary will help them achieve a successful result. 🙂 And holy $h!# about the growing hemline, that is NUTS! Good thing you hung it…

  15. runningcuzican says:

    Beautiful skirt! Appreciate the honest review. I am not a CP person because the style is not me-although I did end up trying one with lackluster results.However this skirt is my style. But I have other patterns that can be used, at a fraction of the cost. As for instructions and construction techniques, pretty much every pattern company I have tried, Big 4, Style Arc, CP, Burda have either lacked detailed instructions, utilized ridiculous construction techniques, had terrible fit, or just had some flat out kooky details. The only patterns I have used that didn’t suffer from these issues are Grainline and Jalie. I am such a huge Grainline fan. The finishing details,instructions and drafting are a sewing trifecta. I also really appreciate her pricing. Big 4 patterns go on sale all the time, it is perhaps easier to overlook issues when you paid under $5 for a pattern.

  16. Debbie Cook says:

    Your skirt is gorgeous! I appreciate the honest review and didn’t take it as negative, and instead found it helpful. You pointed out issues that you encountered and that others would want to know. That is helpful … not negative.

  17. Ms. McCall says:

    Fantastic skirt and wonderful review – thank you!

    I guess the takeaway is that both the fabric and the pattern have their quirks, but I’d say you got a really great result from both. I was in the ‘this pattern is so simple and basic’ camp, but I do appreciate the drafting you’ve pointed out that did go in to it. I hope that CP take all of the feedback on board. I’m not crazy about their style, but it’s good for everyone for there to be a thriving pattern industry out there, indie and otherwise.

  18. francescapia says:

    Love your skirt – the print, the way it falls, and the styling! And what a great review. I am bookmarking you:).
    I know what you mean about the patterns – i think they have made a bit of a mistake in deviating from their own vision to being customer driven – asking what people want doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be happy with it when they get it! I adore my Juniper pants, and this winter will definitely make their last jacket. And I haven’t had time to make it, but love the shirt dress and will make that too for winter. And I am getting this pattern – your review actually pushed me go get it. I would never get a PDF of Colette’s patterns though – I hate PDFs unless they’re the only way, a la Grainline, Named, and Liesl&co. And I hate cumbersome PDFs after being spoilt by Liesl’s clever positioning, and Named’s overlapping of pieces a la Burda.
    I actually think the problem is they’ve grown a little too big. Having said that, I still buy each pattern of theirs, unless it’s something like shorts which I never ever wear! I hope they continue to do well and go back to their old ways, and that the web love doesn’t go sour – I can’t say I am happy about the way I fell for a pattern recently cos of web love and deeply regretted it. I’m talking about BHL’s Anna dress – looks so cute, great packaging too but IMHO badly drafted. I’m looking at you, straight bottomed skirt panels that don’t match in length…

    • lisa g says:

      thanks so much for this comment! i’m right on the same page with you. CP definitely do not do pdf’s well–i think i’ll stick with their paper patterns in the future. i’m usually a tracer, so i’m curious to try out Named, and i’ve finally acquired my first Burda! i haven’t tried any BHL, but i’ve had drafting/patternmaking concerns about their product so i haven’t jumped on that ship yet. i’m a minimalist, so the fancy packaging is nice, but doesn’t sell me!

  19. francescapia says:

    I always trace. Even if I don’t need to do adjustments. Except for circular or semi circular skirt patterns – those, I don’t. I feel exactly the same about pretty packaging, if a pattern and it’s instructions are good it can be a folded paper in a ziplock a la Sew Liberated:). I fell for the pattern after seeing quite a few cute versions and liking the idea of something simple and fast to make in linen for our hot summer. But now that I haven’t been flamed for daring to crit the latest lovefest I can say more – the drafting is terrible. I have been wracking my brain to figure out why it didn’t work for me – I may not have a perfect body, but I can use most standard patterns with a bit of grading out at the waist and sometimes a narrow upper back adjustment – This thing drooped badly, I had to keep pulling the front down and then it would creep back up. Then I looked properly at the bodice patterns, and do you know, they are exactly the same length etc. What?! how on earth can you have them the same length unless it’s for someone totally flat? And even then, the front torso is still longer! Just now, it came to me as to why the versions I’ve seen look ok and mine doesn’t. The torso is darted to fit tightly under the boobs, and the panels are drafted to fit very precisely with very little ease to one’s measurements from waist to mid-hip and then flare out. Thing is, I don’t like my clothes that tightly fitted – a woman needs to breathe! and eat! – so I sewed a very slightly smaller seam….. so my guess is that everyone’s work because they use the right size for their waist to hip so it fits really tightly and that way it’s hard for the bodice to be pulled down in back by the weight of the full skirt.

    Whatever. The fact is, the panels having straight bottoms and not matching in side seam length (only in actual length) was enough to put me off – I have a 12gored (or 8gored) skirt pattern I adore by Sew Chic patterns – extremely well drafted – and the narrower gores of the 12 gore skirt are smaller than some of the Anna panels – and they have a curve at the sides of the hem. I didn’t need to trim anything at all. By Hand patterns aren’t cheap, and I feel ripped off.

    Oh – if you haven’t used Burda before, I just ordered this amazing looking little gadget I saw on House of Pinheiro’s blog – a seam allowance guide that sticks (magnetised) to your scissors – I can’t wait for it to come!

    Ok, long rant oer.

    • lisa g says:

      i just love that sewing incites so many emotions 🙂

      that SA gadget looks super handy. i’ve read that burda has excellent pant drafting so i’m hoping to check that out soon!

  20. Amj says:

    Love this skirt! Just making up the zinnia and google image searched it for fabric inspiration- yours looks perfect on you and gorgeous with the denim shirt! Very pleased to have found your blog! Ami xx

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