We need to talk about the Rue dress some more.

My plan for this post had been to whip up a second muslin, share some photos of what I’d produced & the changes/alterations/re-drafts I’ve had to make away, & basically just keep hammering away at how much this pattern sucks.

But then Colette let it be known through the grapevine (ie, telling Deepika over on Pattern Review) that they would be making an “announcement” about the Rue on “Tuesday”. I refreshed the Colette blog throughout the morning waiting for the news to drop, but it just kept showing me the news about the latest issue of “Seamwork”. (To which I say, no thanks. It’s bonkers that I don’t read “Seamwork,” given that I read constantly, sometimes three books a day, & will read anything I can find about sewing. But “Seamwork” just doesn’t hold my attention, & it’s a big ol’ nope on the patterns.)

I decided to cruise over to the Rue sewalong page to see if there were any back-asswards new constructions tips over there for me to laugh at. There were not, because the sewalong has been suspended! This is where Colette dropped their big news: due to “customer feedback” (ie, blistering disgust across the internet), they are redesigning the Rue to drop the cross-bust style line below the bust (like in Sarai’s infamous plaid Rue), & they are also apparently doing something about the armscye & sleeve issues. People who have already purchased the Rue will be re-issued new pattern pieces for free in the manner in which they bought the original Rue. I bought a paper pattern, so I will be receiving paper pieces in the mail. They’re saying PDF customers can expect to receive their new pieces in about three weeks, & paper customers are looking at six. The sewalong will pick up again at the end of the month, starting fresh with bodice alterations relevant to the new draft.

So! On the one hand: good! They’re “fixing” the problem. People who have already purchased the pattern will be receiving corrections automatically, & people who bought paper to spare themselves the trouble of the PDF format will be getting paper corrections, which is a nice (& undoubtedly expensive) touch. I’m especially glad to hear that they’re addressing the armscye. In my journey with the Rue pattern thus far, I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that 85% of the problem is a shitty armscye/sleeve draft. Yeah, the curved style line hits in a weird place, but that’s fairly easy to address, even for a relative newbie. But even experienced sewers shy away from making major changes to sleeves & armscyes.

But there are still some problems.

  • Right now, the announcement of a fix in the works is only available on the sewalong blog, in the “errata” buried on the Colette website, & on the Rue pattern page. (Sales of the Rue are suspended until the new draft is available.) Colette is making a big fuss about how they want to be “honest & transparent” with their customers…which means that they could really do themselves a favor by including this news on the official Colette blog. It would also be nice for them to send it out to their newsletter subscribers, or at least as a mass email to the customers who bought the Rue. (I’m one & I’ve heard nothing, so…)
  • The sewalong post with the announcement has been closed for comments. I get that maybe they don’t want to risk getting dog-piled over an issue they’re trying to resolve, but closing comments doesn’t really scream “honest & transparent” to me. Maybe that’s just my bitterness as a person who has had comments deleted by Colette mods speaking.
  • This announcement is also the first time they’ve copped to the fact that there’s an issue with the armscye/sleeve. If you have some time on your hands, you can scroll through the posts about the Rue, both on the sewalong & on the official Colette blog, & find many people asking why their muslins have gaping, draglines, etc at the arm/sleeve. You can scroll through the “tester” photos (actually just dresses made for promo; no “testing” was done, & nothing against any of those bloggers–they didn’t know they were going to be handed such a shitty pattern) that Colette promoted so heavily right after the pattern release, & you will see lots of problematic fit issues around the shoulder (to say nothing of fit issues around the bust, because people were given a poorly-drafted pattern with odd style lines & no sensible garment shaping & told to sew it on a tight deadline with no guidelines concerning fit or alteration). Some of the most successful Rues so far have been the result of the sewer choosing not to include sleeves at all.

Here’s the original Rue armscye shape:


This shows how oddly square & shallow it is (as well as how narrow the shoulder is). This is the size 12 armscye, which ostensibly accommodates a 37″ high bust (like mine). & yet, the front armscye is only 5.5″ deep from seamline to seamline. That is more than inch smaller than the depth you’d expect to see on a size 0 pattern. The shape also does not seem to be designed for the ball-shaped socket that is the shoulder joint, & you can see that whatever shoulder slope may exist would be the product of the fabric being forced to twist to the side to meet front & back at such a squared-off angle.

Above is one of the sample dresses from the official Rue release. It was smart of them to use that fabric. People responded really well to it, & it plays up the opportunities for showcasing design elements by cutting different pieces on the cross-grain or bias.

It also serves as a good illustration of the shoulder/armscye issue. Look at the way the stripe runs vertically down the middle of the bodice, but fans out toward the shoulder on a more diagonal line starting at the center of the bust. There was a lot of curiosity & speculation about how that effect was achieved. Multiple pattern pieces for the upper bust? Some sort of interesting dart that manipulates the grainline?

Nope. Just a shitty draft. The armscye is so shallow & squared-off that the fabric is just pulled off-grain at shoulder point, radiating the distortion back toward the bust where the tucks create play in the fabric (as well as excess fabric across the chest, just looking for someplace to go). This causes all kinds of gaping & bubbling at the back & underarm. & the issue is exacerbated when you fit the poorly-drafted sleeves into the armscye.


Here’s the Colette sleeve cap. Rather flat, isn’t it? A flatter, wider sleeve cap can work quite nicely for a garment with a more relaxed fit through the shoulder. But the sample photos & line drawings make clear that this is a garment with a fairly fitted sleeve. A fitted sleeve with a sleeve cap this flat will just pull, causing draglines across the sleeve & around the armscye. Which is exactly what you see in pretty much every Rue floating around online so far.

I’m glad they have FINALLY copped to this being an issue, & that they are planning some kind of fix, but the dates they are giving people mean there’s not really going to be any time for thorough tests of the new draft. & there’s also the question of whether we can truly anticipate a well-drafted solution from the same company that let this mess out of the workroom in the first place. Once you understand how the garment is constructed, the fit issues are obvious in the sample photos, & yet, somehow, everyone involved with this release was like, “Lookin’ good! Let’s roll!” All I can figure is that they either decided it was good enough & that they had enough fangirls that any criticism could easily be dismissed, or they really didn’t see the problems until scores of irate sewers pointed them out. Neither option is good.

Now I have to decide if I should keep plugging away with my own fixes or if I should cool my heels until mid-November when the new draft is due to arrive. I did go out & buy fabric for my billionth M6696 yesterday. Maybe I’ll whip that up & give myself a mental health break from the Drafting Murders of the Rue Dress.

& PS–Thanks for all the thoughtful comments on my last post!


Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

23 thoughts on “We need to talk about the Rue dress some more.

  1. I will never buy a pattern from Colette again. The last pattern I bougth was the wren dress and I still regret buying it.

  2. Yeh, I’m super suss on this announcement. I don’t think they would have copped to a “mistake” (read intentional poor drafting, incompetence, laziness) if they hadn’t had such backlash from the sewing community. I bet Sarai is kicking herself for making that deal to have the Rue one of the Pattern Review challenges. So as much as they bang on about trust in their well-hidden blog post, they’ve lost the faith of a lot of the online sewing community. Except for those fangirls lauding their announcement on Instagram, that is.

    1. Total agreement. I think it was the Pattern Review partnership that really tipped the scales. There were some murmurs of dissent even in the tester posts, but by & large, the bloggers seemed to blame themselves for just not having the right experience to make the necessary adjustments. But then 27 sewers with a track record of skill & the enormous platform of Pattern Review “got” to make the Rue, & were deeply critical of it almost to a person. Really, thank God that misbegotten partnership happened, because if it hadn’t, I’m sure they’d still be doubling down on the bizarre placement of that seamline & refusing to publicly acknowledge any problems with the armscye. Pattern Review forced their hand.

      It will be interesting to see how/if they bounce back from this, & how their next release is received. Colette lost themselves a tremendous amount of goodwill with this debacle.

  3. I must admit I was a little pleased that it isn’t just me. I’ve had issues with Colette’s armhole/sleeve drafting since way back to the Sorbetto. But everyone seemed to love Colette, so I assumed I was just a dummy and headed back to the ‘safety’ of the Big 3 and Burda.

    1. Definitely not just you! If you dig around enough, you can find an underground of people who have the same issues as you.

      A former sample sewer for them told me that they draft from an industry standard size 8. The industry standard is a B cup, but they say they draft for a C. My theory is that they draft for a B & add in the extra ease for the larger cup size at some point down the road in the pattern development process, & that is what distorts their fit. If you’re working with a pattern designed for a smaller cup size than you have, & you try to compensate by adding ease in the wrong manner, you will end up with problems like a misshapen, overly shallow armscye, an excessively wide neckline, & a too-short bodice. These are the classic Colette fit issues. They really need to revisit their block, &/or hire a new pattern drafter.

  4. Thanks for an honest review! I’m a newbie and only made the Sorbetto (plus a few from other companies) and have the Colette book. I planned to “learn through patterns that teach” and my boyfriend’s mom turned her nose up when she saw the book and said “ugh. I think you should sew something that actually looks nice. You won’t get a good result from those, they’re not good for beginners nor good looking.” I like their ethos but you’ve convinced me not to waste time with their patterns (which aren’t cheap either).

    1. Yeah, there are probably better patterns to learn from. My philosophy in learning to sew is that even a poor result is a learning opportunity. There’s something to be said for just learning how to sew a straight line or perfect a dart, even if the result is a garment you will never wear. But of course it’s a preferable to learn while also producing garments that you might wear! The Big 4 get a bad rap for reasons I just don’t understand, but if you pick your size based on your high bust (the patterns won’t tell you to do that, but that’s the trick for choosing a size) & adjust from there, you’ll get much better results. Pattern magazines are also a fairly economical way to access lots of patterns without spending lots of money.

      The Colette aesthetic has a subjective appeal, but certainly there are some chronic fit issues with their designs.

    2. If you want to learn from patterns I would suggest Jalie patterns (if you’re interested in sewing with knit). They have wonderful instructions, some very well made youtube videos, and for one price you get every size from children’s to adult.

  5. It’s been my experience that the people who spend the most time *talking* about how they want to be transparent are the least likely to actually be transparent.

  6. Late to the game here having been too involved in the PR SB Final (meaning I passed the Rue test). I read everything I could find before starting on that project. Rather than make a zillion muslin attempts, I tried to analyze what was making the pattern not work in the first place. I am definitely no pattern drafter, so this was hard. But I found that by fixing the bubble in the back armhole let the front lay nice from the get-go, while the typical fix started with the front.

    You can check out my version (http://sewing.patternreview.com/review/pattern/128497) and see if going in that direction might solve some of your own issues. Personally, I hold to no faith that this is how they will “fix” their pattern, but it certainly worked adequately for me.

    1. Yeah, like I said in the post, I think most of the appalling fit issues with this dress can be traced back to the oddly-shaped armscye. My pattern is in time out for now. I’m working my way through a few TNT projects that I know will fill holes in my wardrobe & get worn. Colette has said they are doing some kind of a re-draft of the armscye, but since these kinds of issues are on-going for them, I’m not overly optimistic.

  7. I’m catching up on my commenting and I just wanted to say I appreciated hearing about this from you. I remember looking at the photos when this was first released and thinking ‘noooope’. I have a longish torso and I could just tell the waist would be hitting in a weird spot, and those pleats looked odd even on the smaller model. It’s a shame because it’s a nice design and hypothetically could work really well for a variety of body shapes, but it just seems like every single thing that could go wrong did go wrong. Like every single choice about it was weird and wrong. It’s a bit astonishing, frankly! Although thinking about it, I get the impression that there are some… interesting… decisions being made at colette. Makes me wonder if all is well there. Things like seamwork samples being poorly sewn and wonky, you know? I just get the impression that there’s a lot of panicked ‘quick, get it out the door!’ Perhaps that is unfair of me though. I hope they manage to pull things together.

    I’m interested to see how the re-draft goes…

    1. Also, this is not really apropos of anything but does anyone else feel it’s a bit weird that Colette drafts patterns that Sarai doesn’t fit into and has to make all kind of adjustments to? Like they clearly don’t draft fro a 100% typical block, why wouldn’t they also draft for a larger cup? I just find it kind of confusing I guess, when it would be a good point of difference and when there has been so much pushback on them over the years for not understanding how larger busts/bodies work. Surely it would be at least a token effort… she’s a D and they draft for a B? Idk. Just seems odd. Perhaps I just straight up don’t understand how running a pattern company works though.

      Also also I forgot to mention, I was reading this on holiday and when I saw that armscye I actually gasped and went ‘oh my GOD’ and my partner was like ‘what?? What??’ and then I had to explain about armscyes to him because he thought from my reaction that I was reading news of some natural disaster or something… Seriously though. That is one messed up armscye.

      1. I’m pretty sure Colette drafts for a C cup, which I think is what Sarai was when the company started. I think she has lost some weight since then & is now a D.

    2. I really wonder about the experience level of the Colette employees. Just about everyone makes mistakes in their sewing, & you can fudge the results a little without the average person seeing anything amiss. But when you are a pattern company producing sample garments, your photos are being seen by people who sew. Mistakes will be much more apparent. Those little tricks we might employ in our blog photos to disguise mistakes (throw a cardigan over it to hide draglines on the shoulder!) are completely transparent to people who are looking for detail.

      Obviously I’ve never worked at a pattern company. I don;t know everything that goes into it. But I am surprised that people who are more or less being paid to sew all day are not producing better work.

  8. I can’t remember what led me to your posts{s}…the Internet being one very big rabbit hole and all…but I am happy I landed here.

    I was in Season One of The Super Online Sewing Match and we were tasked with making the Colette Negroni. And oh my…the fit challenges I had with the…wait for it…armscye/sleeve head/yoke! At the time, I put it down to the shape of my hub’s shoulders, but the whole thing bugged me. A lot. I’ve made shirts for him in the past with no problems at all. Trust me, I would have thrown the pattern in the fire as another of your readers did, had I not been in a competition. But no…seven or so muslins later, I had a shirt pattern that fit. All that work, and it wasn’t enough to move me forward in the competition, LOL. I have used the pattern again, and it’s fine….now. Well to be honest, it is a little bitter tasting…still.

    I remember now…how I found you. A pretty striped Rue showed up in my blog roll, and being extremely wary of Colette patterns after my one and only experience, I googled the Rue and arrived here. My inside voice had always said that the Negroni was poorly drafted, but I didn’t feel confident or brave enough to speak up….instead blaming myself and struggling for a make it work moment. You’ve made me feel a LOT better. THANK YOU!

  9. Very late to the party here. Without wanting to jump on the ‘bash Colette’ bandwagon, after reading your posts and all of the comments, I’m beginning to think that my issues with Sorbetto and Addison aren’t me – they’re drafting related. The tops aren’t horrible, but they’ve never worked really well for me (as much as I would love to have something I could whip up in 3 hours). On both I’ve actually spent a lot of time trying to get the bust to fit right, but there is always always always gaping in the armscye. Maybe it’s not me!

    But I also want to say that I think it is so great that the internet has opened up this community where we can share and kvetch and not accept that we made the mistakes. Thanks for your honest postings!

  10. To this day, I have not tried to make the “new and improved” Rue pattern I was sent! I was so disheartened at my first go around and horrible fit! At that time, I was not as adept at understanding what adjustments needed to be addressed. Thanks to a lot of blog reading and trial and error I have improved in my skills! I doubt I will ever make that dress! I will use the material I still have for it on something NEW! Perhaps something you have suggesting in your new series! Thanks so much! 🙂

    1. Nor have I. I probably never will. I’ve re-purposed the fabric I had earmarked for the Rue for something else & am in no hurry to go out & buy anything new for such a shitshow of a pattern. I think McCall’s 7802 has some similarities, with the underbust gathering & wide waistband, & the Jennifer Lauren Handmade Raine dress has an interesting curved waistband & waist darts that could be converted to gathers.

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