Tattoo....YOU?

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BurdaStyle readers, a question: How do you feel about tattoos?

I’m on the fence about them, especially as their popularity has grown and almost everybody seems to have one. Tattoos can certainly be stunning works of art, as above. And they can make a powerful statement — every day and for the rest of your life. I’m not sure there’s any statement I’m THAT committed to making, but that’s me.

A Hankie a Day

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I’m an avid collector. Or, an obsessive collector, depending on whether you ask my family or not. I’ve happily come to terms with this part of me, although I can’t say that the storage space in my house has in equal measure. As well, I have also come to terms with why I love to be a collector: I love the thrill of the hunt. I love finding a missing item from a collection, running across a Mary Brooks Picken’s-related piece or finding something completely new that charms me from the minute I see it.

My Vintage Vinyl Fashion Inspiration!

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Readers, is it normal that a grown man should find style inspiration in an 11 1/2-inch vinyl doll?

Meet Mattel’s Ken!

Avoid the Homemade Look with the Right Sewing Tools

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Getting asked “Did you make that?” by friends and family is a loaded question: Are they asking us because they know we sew and are making pleasant conversation, or because it looks—horrors—homemade? Michael Kors routinely cuts Project Runway contestants down to size by telling them their fashions look “Becky Home Ecky.” A popular fashion blog recently described a celebrity’s clothes as having “a tendency to look a little home sewn…you can see the darts at 20 paces.”

Why I Bother Sewing With a Treadle

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Readers, have you ever sewn with a vintage treadle sewing machine? Have you ever wanted to?

I bought a 1920’s-era Singer treadle a few months ago, and I use it all the time. It’s not the only sewing machine I sew with, but it is one of my favorites.

I was making men’s shirt on it recently, and I thought to myself: Why am I putting myself through the trials of treadling? I could certainly make an equally-good-if-not-better-looking shirt faster on one of my many mechanical machines, like my precise, fully-electrified Singer 15-91. It’s not as old as my 1920 Singer 66 treadle, but it’s still nearly 60. Isn’t that enough? The short answer is no!

Redesigning With Denim

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The current trend to recycle, upcycle and reuse is wonderful to see. However, as sewers this is nothing new to us. Sometimes it’s as simple as a button, other times we’ll tear down a vintage dress and remake it into something altogether different and altogether spectacular. Interestingly, over the years I’ve found that one material has consistently been repurposed more than any other: that material is denim.

Why Do YOU Sew?

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Readers, sometimes I get so caught up in the drama of whatever sewing project I’m involved in that I forget why I’m sewing in the first place. Does this every happen to you?

Is Glamour Dead?

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Readers, I recently borrowed an interesting book entitled Glamour, A History by Stephen Gundle, a British writer. It’s a study of the concept of glamour throughout history; its origins and its varying definitions during different eras (the 1930s and 40s in particular), up to and including the present.

I haven’t quite finished it but it has me wondering: Do women aspire to be “glamorous” anymore? Do you?

Grommets: A Hole Lotta Style

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I thought it was about time to write a short, simple post on an unheralded style trend of which I’m quite fond: grommets. Now, there’s nothing terribly exciting about a grommet, which probably explains its lack of broader adoption in the fashion world. This functional little ringlet, whose name originates from early the 17th century French word “grommette,” (i.e. the curb of a bridle), made its debut as functional detail on saddles, armor, bridles and tents. Later, its highly functional usage began appearing on flags and luggage.

Age Appropriate Dressing

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Readers, have you ever heard the expression that goes, “If you were old enough to wear it the first time around, you’re too old to wear it the second time around”? (I think this originally applied to mini skirts.) Not very affirming, is it?

Do you think this truism still applies today? I believe that — at least here in the USA — it does not. We are living in an “anything goes” period fashion-wise, where sixty-year-olds routinely dress like teens and teens routinely dress like…well, you decide.

You Know You're a Couture Aficionado If...

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Last autumn I took an online class in hand stitches (after several years, I finally decided to perk up my rusty sewing skills, and it was the only class available that month) and after the first session I knew that all I wanted to do was learn couture sewing. Fortunately, there are now many resources available for anyone who wants to master this amazing and exquisite craft. Couture sewing is not cheap, neither it is fast, but the results are worth it! Even if you use only one technique in a garment, such as a balanced dart for example, you will be surprised how it elevates your garment from mass production. And you know what? There is a remarkable number of home seamstresses using couture techniques in their sewing.

Do You Have a "Look"?

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Readers, I do not have a look. Or if I do, I am not aware of it.

I have always wanted a look but it never came naturally to me, which is strange since I am, and always was, interested in fashion. I just lacked the energy to make it happen, I guess. It also has to do with my being raised to believe you weren’t supposed to put too much emphasis on appearances, as well as growing up male in a culture where men are not supposed to be overly interested in clothes.

Vintage Patterns: The Importance of Paper

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It’s no secret that I have a deep love of history, especially when it comes to fashion. Over time, I have come to appreciate and understand how the domestic arts have empowered women and, in turn, affected their societal roles. This is one of the reasons I love sewing. This simple craft has, over time, had a measurable affect on women across generations. Sewing gave women control. In the early days, it gave women a place to find solace and, within the confines of their homes, allowed them to maintain their traditional roles while exploring new ones.

Rose Bowl Flea Market: Shopping for Vintage Sewing Supplies

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You might think that a flea market in a major metropolitan area like Los Angeles would be overpriced but I can assure you the Rose Bowl Flea market still has many diamonds in the rough to be found. That’s because prices for stalls range from about $250 for the best situated to around only forty dollars in the farthest reaches. So this flea market runs the gamut from professional dealers selling at retail prices to people just cleaning out their garages.

I have sold there myself, and there are a LOT of people so you want to get there early not only to get the pick of the day but also because the Pasadena area gets very hot in the late spring and summer months. The Flea Market is huge, taking place in the parking lots and around the perimeter of the famous Rose Bowl Stadium, where college teams play on New Year’s Day after the Rose Parade ends.

Sewing as a Protest

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BurdaStyle readers, a question: Since so many of us live in parts of the world where clothes can be purchased relatively cheaply and few people are forced by economic necessity to make their own, why are we doing it?

I had this conversation with a friend recently. We agreed that there is a growing do-it-yourself crafts movement afoot and wondered what might be fueling it. My friend wisely pointed out that few of us are doing work that actually involves making anything anymore; we’re writing at a computer, or processing numbers, or providing services. It feels good to create something with our own hands. It’s a form of self-expression.

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