Pre-Shrinking Interfacing -- Do You or Don't You?

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Readers, you know that saying that goes “the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know”?

A while back, I was interfacing the collar and cuffs of a cotton shirt I was making, using a hot iron at a medium-low setting, no steam, and pressing for 10 seconds. (The way I’d always done it, which I’d learned…I can’t remember where!) The results were not encouraging.

Hunting for Vintage Fabrics with Sandy Stone

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Was I born too late? My love of all things vintage makes me wonder sometimes if I was really meant to live in a different time period….and I sew! Who does that anymore?

For many years I have been collecting and tinkering around with vintage fabrics and furnishings in a way that has recently been labeled “upcycling” and you can see many of my (mostly) home-dec creations in my first book, Fabric Remix.

Guy-Cons, or 10 Famous Men with Style for the Ages

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Readers, today I want to discuss male style icons, or what I call guy-cons.

Coming up with the names of ten people I wouldn’t mind dressing/looking like wasn’t hard. I’ll be honest though: I added some of them not because they’ve influenced me personally, but because I think they’ve achieved guy-conic status in the wider world.

Best Books for Couture Enthusiasts

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Actually, it’s top nine, readers! The first one doesn’t count – it is, in fact, a 1959 Soviet book with a title “Conversations About Housekeeping”. Forgive me, as it was my first and most precious sewing reference, inherited from my Siberian grandmother!

Photos: Chance or coincidence? My first sewing reference was printed in 1959, when USSR sanctioned the first ever couture show in the country’s capital Moscow. Yes, it’s Dior!

Go Behind the Scenes of Sew Retro with Gretchen Hirsch + Get 50% Her Bombshell Dress Class!

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Hey, BurdaStyle members! I am so excited to be here guest blogging about my new online course, Sew Retro: Perfect Bombshell Dresses! The course was produced by Craftsy.com, and it features a fantastic BurdaStyle pattern.

Learning to Sew: Peter's Top Ten Tips!

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I am often asked how I learned to sew and what advice I would give beginners. Since I started sewing only two years ago, it’s all very fresh in my mind!

So here, in no particular order, is my entirely subjective, highly biased top ten tips list:

Into the Cloth: The Science Behind Various Fibers

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Jeremy Fordham is an engineer who is excited about encouraging dialogue in unique spaces. He contributes to resources promoting Ph.D. programs and is an advocate of sustainability and green energy.

Fabrics are an essential part of everyday life. From their functional purposes as clothing, carpets and curtains to their to aesthetic incarnations as wearable art, fabrics have enriched human existence for centuries. While cotton, wool, silk and linen have been utilized by cultures around the world for generations, scientific research over the last century has yielded a plethora of new, synthetic fibers. While these innovations have made lives infinitely richer, they have also greatly complicated the arts of sewing and fabric design.

Summer Style vs. Summer Comfort

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Readers, summer has arrived here in New York City and it is definitely having an effect on how I dress.

In my heart of hearts I long to dress elegantly — head to toe linen, white shoes, maybe even a vest, like a dapper 20s dandy sailing on the Ile de France (that’s an ocean liner) en route to, I don’t know, Capri or something.

Toile, Anyone?

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Do all garments you sew fit perfectly, readers? Pockets are where you wanted them to be, the neckline is not gapping and is high enough, and there is no ugly pulling on the back of your pants?

I have to confess, my early sewing attempts had a rather low success rate. Whatever didn’t end up in a UFO bin, was worn once at most. This is when I started this self-imposed couture challenge – I really wanted to wear every project I cut, with dresses that fit, trousers that don’t pull, and jackets that have flattering proportions for my figure. Have I achieved it? Yes! With the help of a toile [twal], or trial garment.

Madeleine Vionnet and the Bias Cut

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Madeleine Vionnet was a revolutionary designer for her time; not as universally well known as Coco Chanel but just as influential to the world of fashion. She is credited with creating the bias cut, a technique of cutting on the diagonal grain of the fabric which creates a sinuous and slightly clingy silhouette. The designer regularly had fabric custom made for her as wide as 180 inches to cut her dresses from.

The Wacky World of Men's Shirt Patterns

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Readers, I am a huge vintage pattern fan and spend more time than I care to admit searching online, usually on sites like Etsy and eBay, for treasures. There are so many to be found! Vintage patterns are a wonderful window into styles of the past as they were actually worn — even in the relatively unchanging world of men’s fashion.

Men’s shirt patterns are generally all pretty similar, but I have discovered quite a broad range of shirt styles, some of which I actually remember as the fashion of the day, others from old Hollywood movies, and others still from a recurring nightmare where I’m watching nonstop re-runs of I Love Lucy.

Found Treasure: Needlecraft of the Baker Lake Artists Vintage Calendar

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One of my favorite things about living in Brooklyn is the informal recycling program that takes place on the city streets. Instead of trashing unwanted items, people often place them on the stoop of their building for others to take. My natural tendencies toward being a scavenger find it impossible not to at least take a peek, especially when it comes to the books!

It was through these means that I came into possession of Needlecraft of the Baker Lake Artists 1974 Engagement Calendar.

I Guess You Can Call Me a Dreamer....

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How a dream led me into quilting.

One night I woke up from a dream with an idea to do Quilted Photography. The idea was how to make photo pixels out of fabric and then sort the fabric by color value – I thought that my idea was either crazy or genius! It took me a week to try out the idea and I found out that my dream was a real gift…because it worked!

In my first career I was a fashion industry professional…but I had never made a quilt. In fact, the only thing I knew about quilting was what I saw on Simply Quilts and Quilt In A Day television shows. I had also never seen anything like this new quilting style, so I was inspired and very excited by it and my excitement grew with every new quilt I made.

Trend Watching: The Future of Home Sewing

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Readers, when you sew all day and write a sewing blog like Male Pattern Boldness, it’s easy to lose perspective on the popularity of home sewing.

Before I learned how to sew, I didn’t know anybody who even owned a sewing machine. Today, I think it’s totally normal to sew your own boxers and snicker at the men who don’t. I just assume everyone sews!

A Classic French Jacket: 70 Hours to the Dream!

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Ok, let’s start with a cliché: Chanel jackets are one of the most coveted garment pieces for women all over the world. Check! Their Haute Couture versions reportedly sell for some $30,000, while a ready-to-wear version sells for around $5,000 and up. Check! It inspired countless imitations, by runway designers as well as home seamstresses. Check!

Pictured: The jacket that spawned a thousand copies – a Chanel tweed next to jackets by the likes of Marc Jacobs, Milly and Tory Burch which have obviously been inspired by the original.

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