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Editor's Pick: Open Studio, Let's Make a Clutch!


Don’t you love clutches? Have you ever made a clutch before? I have not, and during one of our Burdastyle editorial meetings we decided to offer you all a patternless How-to for a lovely clutch, complete with ruffles and an antique brooch. We’re in love. The steps are quite simple, the outcome shining elegance. This is the first in a series of 2, the next one to be unveiled in May.

As to compliment our prom, formal, wedding season theme we hope this project inspires you to create this useful accessory and we can’t wait to see how you embellish your own. Get started HERE. Good luck!

Weekend Designer Satin Stole the Show!


We’ve said this already but spring is in the air, and with these budding times come proms, graduations, formals, weddings and parties. That’s right, it’s time to look glamourous again. This week I am featuring a project created by a special man who thoughtfully brings to pass FREE pattern-drafting tutorials on his blog Weekend Designer and shares them with the public. How divine.

The patterns on Weekend Designer are created from or inspired by designer items. By scrolling through the blog you will get the gist. I was so pleased to come across the Satin Stole posting, finding this the perfect, make-in-under-an-hour project to crown your formal wardrobe in a personalised manner. You can visit his blog to pursue the free, step-by-step stole making tutorial by clicking HERE.

I took it upon myself to make my own satin stole (pictured above left). Ok, I’ll be honest. I cut corners. I made my slit opening as one would make a machine-made button hole. I did not follow the instructions to create the finely faced slit as plotted on WD. Upon testing the instructions however, the only major difference between Weekend Designer’s pattern instructions and the stole pictured on the right (courtesy of Maggy London) is the length. If you’d like your stole to be longer than mine, I would add about 30 inches to the total length. That would mean either creating a seam in the stole (as I marked above in red) or finding a fabric which exceeds 60 inches in width.

Lustrous satin fabric shapes an elegant wrap designed with a pull-through slit opening for easy adjustability.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 yd. (0.90 m) of satin fashion fabric, 60″ wide
  • Coordinating thread
  • Small patch of fusible interfacing
  • Fray Check ® fabric sealant

Good luck, and thank you Don (from Weekend Designer). And my humble apologies for originally referring to WD as a she, I was coming down with a cold and my head was quite fuzzy…my tail’s between my legs.

Our Patterns into Top Trends for Prom


It’s Springtime here in New York and it’s gotten us all giddy over our own prom and graduation memories. This month we are focusing on looks specifically for prom, graduation, evening and formal wear. We’re excited to offer some new gown designs and accessory ideas, but for now, we’ve rediscovered these simple dress options for you to make for yourselves relatively quickly and easily, to personalize your formal wardrobe.
1. Cate

Cate is a lovely option for a prom/evening dress sloper. Laurenfortgang used Cate to draft a long, strapless floor length dress, see it, along with simple instructions, HERE. Nuiwida23 made her junior prom dress in pink from the Cate pattern. See her lovely dress HERE.

Not sure about strapless? This blog tells you HOW to wear it.

2. Kyla

Kyla is the perfect sloper for drafting a chic prom or evening dress. Our member Scriptandserif also created a HOW-TO for another sexy version of a lycra bandeau dress that you can wear 7 different ways!

Danigreenpeace made a lovely version of the Kyla dress. Click HERE for some inspiration on incorporating a non-stretch material into the dress.

Teachoue created a HOW-TO for a Yacht Club inspired strapless dress that’s absolutely adorable. Click here for Gedwood’s HOW-TO for a simple A-line dress pattern drafted from the basic sloper.

3. <a href =“http://www.burdastyle.com/patterns/show/3852&#8221;&gt;African Dress

The African dress is a very simple halter dress. The allure of this dress is all in the fabric. If you have a beautiful print or bold graphic waiting to come to life, your wish shall be granted using our elegant pattern.

Cut out + Keep has a halter dress step by step tutorial too.

Need more instructions? The Green Girls offer a How-to video on making a halter dress in ANY size.

4. Heidi

The dress has adjustable cap-sleeves and tucks instead of front and back darts. You can easily change the tucks into style lines for a more formal fit or leave out the pockets for a more elegant version but hey, you can have somewhere to keep your lip gloss!

This gorgeous pattern has also been turned into the Heidi prom dress variation pattern. Here’s the How-to.

5. Envelope Clutch Bag

No prom or evening out can be complete without a clutch. You can make one in the same fabric as your dress or in a fun metallic vinyl as pictured above! Check out this pattern to make your own!

Threads has a simple clutch tutorial for your enjoyment as well.

A Look at Sewing Lounges


Has anyone ever partaken in classes/workshops offered at a sewing lounge? This week I’m focusing on 3 sewing lounges in 3 countries: Australia, England & the USA. Aside from sewing in a supportive community, sewing lounges offer tutorials on how to actually navigate through commercial pattern instructions (something we all know can be exhausting) and always offer beginner classes.

The Studio London
“‘These Gals are getting London sewing’ Amy Lamè BBC London”
Based in London, England, The Studio London offers an array of classes & workshops designed to fit any budget. Run by fashion designer Libby Rose and the multi-talented Beth Nicholas, they “offer this studio space for sewing and craft enthusiasts to learn and flourish in a fun, supportive social hub with lots of handy tips for aspiring designers”.

The Studio London is currently bringing their expertise on the road to events & festivals, for more information click their link above or you can email them here: thestudiolondon@googlemail.com

Make is a New York city based workshop extraordinaire created by Diana Rupp, a creative writer and fashion designer who has also written the book SEW. Make is a craft school, design studio, podium for displaying your handy-work, supply source, etc. offering classes in, a-hem, shoe making, jewelry, fashion, embroidery, knitting, letter-press and more. It sounds like my college curriculum and it sounds like I may enroll in a class. For class schedules, click their link above or send Make an email: info@makeworkshop.com

Next we travel to Melbourne, Australia, to Thread Den, a “a one-stop shop for sewers who do not own their own equipment, or just need a space to work”, a platform for classes, and rooms of vintage patterns and clothing for sale. Thread Den was created by 4 unique individuals all possessing a passion for sewing. “All our classes are facilitated by local designers and craftspeople currently working within the fashion and textile industry”. If you’re in Melbourne you’re right in time for the re-launch party at Thread Den this Saturday the 4th April (12:00pm – 3:00pm). If you’d like to learn more about Thread Den, click on their link above or inquire here: adam@loveydoveydesign.com

Photographs 1 & 3 provided by The Studio London Thank you!

Do you know of a sewing lounge or group in your area? Email me and I will include it in a future sewing lounge feature: alison@burdastyle.com.



Photos courtesy of Tommy Cole

Spotlight is the first in a series of profiles on emerging, independent and established designers.

I spent my last 2 years of college in Boston, Massachusetts, earning a BFA in Fashion Design from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. It was there that I met Roy Caires, co-founder of ALTER and creator of the clothing line This Old Thing?, which is made up of one-of-a-kind, reconstructed vintage pieces.

Roy and his partner Tommy Cole have always held an interest in fashion and retail. I remember while in college I admired Roy’s keen aesthetic and was not at all surprised that he worked in avant-garde designer Alan Bilzerian’s Newbury Street store. Roy and Tommy’s eye for an amazing find has led them from trunk sales of vintage clothing to opening shop without investors or any formal business training- they’ve achieved their success with persistence & tenacity, and of course, good taste.

ALTER is based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on a quiet stretch of road adjacent to the East River overlooking Manhattan. Far from most subways and a little out of the way, Franklin Street has become a mellow stretch of residential brownstones, clothing shops, cafes, bars & restaurants. Roy was kind enough to share with us his story below.

1. When was ALTER conceived?

The original Alter (the men’s shop now known as ALTER 109) was conceived on February 2nd 2007, which is Ground Hog’s Day. We thought it would be funny and easy to remember the opening of our first shop on this day. The women’s store (ALTER 140) was conceived on 08.08.08 another day of ironic coincidence.

2. How did you manage to set up shop in the beginning (i.e. overhead, inventory, materials)?

Alter was created, designed and executed by myself and my partner Tommy Cole. When the shop first opened it consisted mainly of vintage pieces that we hand-picked and curated ourselves from special wholesale rag houses that we have been fortunate enough to get into and work with. We also carried a few Cheap Monday jeans and our in-house line This Old Thing?.

We have grown quite rapidly since ’07 and currently house about 40 or so designers from all over the US, Canada and even Sweden. We constructed the shop with our own hands using vintage tools, found objects and materials from our neighborhood of Greenpoint. We turned found wood into our cash wrap and redesigned tables, bookshelves and other common fixtures found in the trash into unique sculptural pieces for display. The overhead was low to begin with as we did all the work ourselves and with what very little money we did have, we purchased a few key denim pieces from Cheap Monday which has now become our largest and sought out label.

3. When did you begin to sew, did you study fashion design formally?

I was formally trained at Mass Art in Boston, Ma., where I received a degree in Fashion Design. Tommy is a self taught photographer and graphic artist who I taught to sew when we first had the inclination to start our own line 4 years ago. In 2005 we began selling This Old Thing? to a few select shops in NY, LA and TX. It was then that we had created a stock of vintage garments with which we would work from. Many items we didn’t have the heart to cut up so we kept them as inspirations. This pile started to get out of control so we decided to create one-day-only pop-up shops to make some extra cash. We did these in Boston (our hometown) as well as in Brooklyn at the space now called Public Assembly (formerly Galapagos).

The popularity and quick success of our this new endeavor gave us the idea that we should combine all of our retail knowledge (15 years between Tommy and I) that we have ever had and make it official with our own permanent shop. So hence the first ALTER came to be.

4. Do you follow a design philosophy or is your process more organic?

We are very organic in our approach to fashion, merchandising and buying. It all comes from our gut. We do not have a specific design philosophy but do approach things in hopes to create a fresh view on retailing, styling and curating.

5. What do you find advantageous about designing & selling your collections in Greenpoint, Brooklyn?

We enjoy our neighborhood and working in it. It is a small community filled with great people who are enjoying what we do. Our customer base is very fashion conscious and savvy and look to us to give them clothing that they can wear all the time at an amazing price.

6. Do you have a muse?

We don’t have a specific person who we would call our muse. We respect and look up to many different people/ companies from all different disciplines. We try to meet our eye for great, fun and wearable fashion with the needs of our customers.

7. What is your favorite restaurant in Brooklyn?

Diner in Williamsburg… amazing food in a low key atmosphere.

Alter 109 (Men)

109 Franklin St.

near Greenpoint Ave.

Brooklyn, NY 11222

tel: 718.784.8818

ALTER 140 (Women)

140 Franklin St.

near Greenpoint Ave.

Brooklyn, NY 11222

tel: 718.349.0203

Do you have any tips for a spotlight feature? I’d love to hear from you: alison@burdastyle.com.

How-to transform a coffee filter into a dreamy neck piece...


Non-textile projects can be a fun beginner’s project or satisfy one’s desire to make an inexpensive, fun accessory. This week we are offering a how-to which anyone could make. Our very own magnificent intern David, who goes by a curious alias in his new online magazine Open Lab, was kind enough to share with us his “Make A Victorian Ruffle” how-to this week. This isn’t your ordinary neck piece either, this coffee filter bunch of joy is a lovely and thrifty project.

Check out the How-to here!

If you’re inspired by David’s project, you should check out these links for some other beautiful projects:

Creature Comforts D.I.Y. Coffee Filter Garlands

A “design for all creatures great and small” blog which features many lovely projects and inspiring tidbits, this blog shows another creative way to assimilate paper creatively into your world (and has amazing fashion finds)!

Got Coffee Filters?

“Got Art?” features used coffee filters transformed into flowers, the petals look like dried hydrangeas, absolutely gorgeous. The artist also uses watercolors on the filters to make a colorful array of paper flowers, she even made a skirt for her doll. (scroll all the way to the bottom)

Coffee-Filter Fairy Godmother No-Sew Halloween Costume

Even Martha Stewart’s team has taken to the coffee filter. Here is a quick and easy no-sewing involved project.

Open Call: Do you have a great how-to that you have not yet posted to Burdastyle that you would like us to feature? Contact us!

Our Patterns into Top Trends


Spring is an incredibly beautiful and inspiring time here in New York city and what makes it even better? A new wardrobe!

This week I’ve taken some of my favorite current trends and poured through the Burdastyle archives to find patterns which can easily be utilized to recreate these looks. To make these silhouettes modern and fresh, wouldn’t it be great to use bright prints or bold graphics, perhaps add droopy pockets to the mushroom dress or make the Charlie bag in an ethnic upholstery print?

Here are the links to the patterns pictured above:

1. Anda

The Anda Dress is a quick and easy project, and is great for beginners.

2. Andrea

Andrea is a simple blouse with lovely seam lines that can easily be altered and adjusted.

3. Charlie Bag

It’s easy to make, and even easier to tote with you, since it folds into its own pouch!

4. Sibylle

Whatever event it may be that you are trying to find the perfect dress for, this one will do!

5. Bow by Jane

You just really cant say no to this piece of lovely.

6. JJ

The simple ruffles and delicate puffed sleeves make the top perfect for date night, but the fit and collar make it also perfect to wear to work!

7. Mushroom Dress

The mushroom dress is a simple, versatile design perfect for patterned chiffon or silk-type fabrics to allow slouching and gathering.

8. Kasia Skirt

Great for Springtime, this skirt features gathering of the pocket backing and bold bib-front buttons.

Springtime Romanticism


The purpose of this new category is to inspire. I am excited to bring to you each week a piece of inspiration; a project, an idea, a glimmer of excitement to tickle the vivacity of your imagination and, optimistically, arouse your creativity.

Bows, ruffles, wide-brimmed hats, beautiful prints, electric colors…I am pleasantly in awe of the fresh direction fashion seems to be floating in this Spring. Azalea pink, grass green, daffodil yellow, I love the idea of toying with
the boldness of these colors, I find them hopeful, cheerful and energizing. Nods towards an exaggerated Edwardian silhouette have led many designers down the path of leg of mutton sleeves, ruffled blouses, high-waist lines and tulip skirts. I am looking forward to combining the femininity of these themes with masculine accents, and covering myself in bright, bold prints.

March: Romanticism on the Runway


With March comes Springtime, and after the long cold winter we are so inspired to update our wardrobes with color, prints & touches of Romanticism. Hats, bows and ruffles graced the runways this season and we’re inspired to recreate these looks with our own personal touches. This month we’re focusing on combining the old with the new, pinching our pennies while creating certain must-haves in a bold, bright & beautifully accessorized manner.

We have an exciting accessory to reveal mid-month that you can create at home, and it is not made of fabric! Also, we’ll be featuring a new pattern with a transformable bow…stay tuned. We’d love to hear from you to discover what you want to create this Spring and how you will style it.

Sew like a Rockstar!


Want your work to be seen by many for a darn good cause?

As we mentioned back in December, we are asking our members and friends to donate handmade bow ties to be auctioned off at the ACS Pink and Black Tie Gala on May 7th 2009. Hosted by Brooklyn’s own Stacy London of TLC’s What Not to Wear, the first annual Spring Gala of the Brooklyn Regional office promises to be a night to remember.
Think you’re up for the challenge? Download the David Bow Tie pattern and sew it up in pink and/or black fabric and send it to us here at BurdaStyle by May 4th 2009. You’ve still got time to make a difference. If you feel inclined to include a personal note to go along with the bow tie, write it on a small card and the lucky winner will be sure to receive it.

BurdaStyle 325 Gold st Suite 201 Brooklyn, NY. 11201

Open Studio: From His to Hers


It’s fashion week here in New York and all over the runways the trend is clear: tailored garments. Much of the women’s wear that is strutting down the runway clearly takes it’s inspiration from classic menswear. This androgynous look is achieved through the material choice, tailoring and simple elements like shoulder pads.

Don’t get us wrong, just because the fashions are inspired by menswear does not mean that they can’t be feminine as well. Check out how our members have transformed men’s patterns, clothing and style into their very own.

Check out these patterns for ideas:












And these How Tos:

Change a Mens Shirt into a Dress

Anda Out of Old Dress Shirt

Emily Recycled



We’ve noticed a reoccurring theme this season: Tailored jackets, Victorian twists, and men’s wear translated into a feminine silhouette; we’ve designed our monthly theme around these concepts.

We’ve dug through our archives and are excited to delve into coats that you have created and re-explore our double-breasted Talea jacket. There are so many great examples of how you transformed it into the perfect late winter coat. How about making it out of a bold print or bright red, to make the last weeks of winter fun and fresh? You could also crop the pattern for a shorter, mod look and wear it with a voluminous skirt. It is a classic style that will outlast seasonal trends while providing instant satisfaction!

Here are a couple of How Tos which will help you transform the Talea into your very own:

Talea- Variation 2- Double Breasted Pattern Alteration

Sew a zipper in the Talea coat

Lengthen a pattern

Bound Buttonholes

Gathered Sleeves on Ruched top


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