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Imagine the medieval ages, where fabric was woven on looms in tedious processes. Even if the fabric may have been somewhat crude, it was still precious enough so that clothes would be made using the whole rectangular piece rather than cutting away edges and curves. Finally, in the 15th century, considered by many the dawn of “modernity”, uncut pieces of fabric were replaced by pieces carefully crafted to the body shape.

Up until the Industrial Revolution, if you wanted to have clothes that fitted properly you needed to be rich, since not anyone could afford a tailor who would meticulously fit garments according to your body shape. Ill-fitting clothes remained during the Industrial Revolution: the first industrially used patterns, were inaccurate and badly designed so that factory-made men’s suits were sagging rather unfittingly.

But the ages of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century not only produced commercial mass produced patterns but graded patterns for home sewing that we are using today: in 1863, Ebenezer Butterick born in Massachusetts, launched The Butterick Company creating cardboard templates for children frocks. In 1873 they started to use tissue paper, which was much lighter, foldable and easier to send by mail. On followed James McCall, in 1919, Vogue Patterns, (1899) and Simplicity (1927).

But where is Burda? Aenne Burda , wife of Franz Burda founder of the publishing house, was only waiting for her turn, and what better opportunity could there have been than Germany’s post-war years. Shops were empty, and yet, Aenne knew, women wanted to feel and look beautiful. She created BurdaMode, a magazine that delivered style to the doorsteps of Germany’s post-war women, and today to millions of other women around the world.

BurdaStyle is the logic continuation of the print magazine BurdaMode. Although for Hubert Burda, son of Aenne Burda, it might be a bit more: with BurdaStyle he fulfilled the dream of his mother to establish her idea in the United States. What Aenne Burda could probably not foresee was that thanks to the Internet, the offspring of BurdaMode would ultimately reach out much further than the United States. What personally fascinates me most about BurdaStyle is the diversity of women and men that exchange ideas about sewing, style and fashion.

picture Courtesy of OptiTex

8 Comments

  • Missing

    Dec 22, 2016, 09.13 AMby lucinamaoka1969

    There is a need for great sources. That is the aim of a lot of people. – Antiquities of California

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    Jan 24, 2009, 04.23 PMby kyw

    wats the name of the website that you are on ??? that looks cool
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    Jan 18, 2009, 07.27 PMby gedwoods

    Hmm, the book I am reading is actually something very different – it is a science fiction/fantasy children’s book called “Seeds of Time” by “kc dyer” where the kids go back in time to the time of the plague. But I read this fact years ago in another historical novel – “Shogun” by James Clavell. In both books, this was simply a fact mentioned in passing, but I do remember having read it elsewhere from a more “factual” source, although I can’t remember where now.

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    Jan 18, 2009, 08.27 AMby harmke

    I love to read your “stories” very much and I’m always waiting for the next issue because it is very fascinating and exciting to learn more about the history of fashion. Thank you so much!

  • Noraabousteit4-1000x1000_large

    Jan 16, 2009, 08.13 PMby nora

    We all love to hear merryk’s history on fashion! And gedwoods, thanks for contributing this really interesting fact. And yes, please share which book you’re talking about!

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    Jan 16, 2009, 08.06 PMby gertie

    gedwoods, would you please leave us the title of the book you’re reading? It sounds fascinating!

  • Photoge01_large

    Jan 16, 2009, 12.45 PMby gedwoods

    This discussion dovetails with a book I’ve been reading about the Black Death in medieval times. I appears that one of the contributing factors to the spread of the plague was the fact that, because clothes were costly to make and obtain, most people were “sewn into” their undergarments for the entire winter. This provided a situation where fleas and other bugs thrived close to the body, and since the plague was spread by fleas, this one was of the major reasons the plague propagated. The story is interesting because it underlines the important relationship between clothes and health in a time when we think nothing about the easy availability of clean and inexpensive clothes. The ready availability of patterns today is also part of this story, along with their scarcity in medieval times. Fascinating reading as always, Merryk.

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    Jan 16, 2009, 12.10 PMby safemme

    I love reading little bits of history like that! I personally discovered burdastyle online this summer while visiting my parents in the States. I fell in love with the patterns and searched for them at the local sewing shop – and found nothing! I was devastated – until I returned to Belgium and found burda patterns galore! It is interesting though to see how it all got started…

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