Learn How SIMPLE
Digital Patterns Really Are!

Sign Up to Receive
The Ultimate Guide to Digital Sewing Patterns eBook + a FREE Skirt Pattern!


This week, we interview BurdaStyle editor Jamie Lau, who is the co-author and lead designer of our latest book BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your personal style.
I’m originally from San Francisco and grew up in the Mission District. I moved to New York about ten years ago for undergrad, and continued on for graduate school at Columbia University studying something that was definitely not fashion-related. If you met me back then, I probably would have told you that I wanted to be a human rights lawyer (who also happened to have a penchant for fashion).

I would describe my personal style as feminine, but a tomboy at heart. When first getting to know me, people usually start to notice pretty quickly that I only wear dresses. And on days when I wear pants, people really notice. I like comfortable, easy-to-wear cuts (think A.P.C., Steven Alan, and Japanese aesthetics), but styles that are also elegant and timeless. I don’t find super tight, body-hugging clothing to be flattering on me, and usually go for something more demure with a standout fabric.

(Left) Jamie wearing her Sunny Disposition Dress, (Right) Jamie modeling her Peter Pan Collar Pinafore dress variation

2. When did you start sewing?
I took my first sewing class in the fall of 2007 and got a sewing machine as a birthday present the following spring. I was intimidated with the whole bobbin winding and threading process at first, but once I tackled that, I was on my way to making an insane amount of reversible tote bags for friends so I could practice sewing in a straight line. I eventually got involved with the local craft fair scene in San Francisco and started selling sewn accessories from my line Jamie Lau Designs. I then delved into learning patternmaking and draping while I was still working full-time so that I could progress into designing clothing – my true passion – and eventually left the cubicle to become a career changer.

Photos of some of Jamie’s earlier creations, clockwise from the left: 1. Eiffel Tower reversible tote, 2. Passport covers, and 3. Tote bags from the designer’s very first craft fair

3. What is your design process and sewing experience?
For me, it’s all about figuring out a good cut and then moving on to fabric selection. I like clean lines and tend to gravitate toward styles that are adaptable with a multitude of fabrics as the seasons change. Working on BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern was perfect for me because I am a firm believer that you really can create an entire wardrobe (or collection) around your basic pattern blocks by simply altering necklines, lengthening hems, color blocking, etc. My wardrobe staples, in fact, happen to be two of the styles I designed for the book – the Jamie Shift Dress and the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress.

The next step is my favorite, as I find fabric shopping the most enjoyable and cannot help but be drawn to expensive fabrics. I love color and I love prints – everything from the abstract to something with a more defined repeat. It’s amazing how diverse cotton can be and I particularly like working with Japanese fabric since it’s so high-quality and has a nice texture to it, in addition to beautiful prints. I also like working with cotton ikats, lightweight wool, and have been getting into sewing in luxurious metallic brocades since they have such a nice body to them.

I’m an extremely detail-oriented and thorough person (as you can tell from the technical instructions in the book), so my sewing experience is oftentimes a long and arduous one accompanied by music (anything from Neil Young, WFMU, to unbearable psych rock) or a TV show that I can watch multiple episodes of in the background. It’s usually an all-day affair, kind of like when I used to work in a darkroom developing photos, and I’ve been known to sew for sixteen-hour stretches at a time. I always tell people that it’s not the actual sewing that takes long, but the prep work (laying out the pattern and cutting), and of course the pinning and pressing.

One of Jamie’s most recent creations – a variation of the 1950s Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress in a metallic brocade

4. What are your fashion inspirations?
I think the silhouettes, lines, and cuts of vintage Balenciaga are genius. I also like the geometric and architectural influence of ‘60s designers such as Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges, as well as Miuccia Prada. As for other inspirations that dot my mood board, I love the richness and colors of William Eggleston’s photography and film stills from French New Wave movies. I like the challenge of mixing prints, or playing around with colors that pop by pairing with another that’s more muted. When traveling, I also love to scout out hidden away local gems, haberdasheries, and of course, go fabric hunting.

Pages from Jamie’s personal mood board and fabric inspiration book

5. Who are your style icons?
Françoise Hardy and Hiroko Matsumoto.

More pages from the designer’s personal mood board and fabric inspiration book

6. What was your favorite project to design for the book?
In terms of the designs, I worked mostly on the dresses and tops in the earlier decades (the 1920s to 1960s) and the 1980s. It’s a tough choice as I really think the 1930s styles are quite stunning, but I would have to say my favorite is the 1960s Jackie Dress. I feel like the sample garment photographed for the project truly embodies what this book is all about. When I found this French brocade in the Garment District, I instantly knew that this was “the one” to truly make our modern Jackie O. look come alive – an unexpected print and fabric reminiscent of a pixelated Tetris motif in what would otherwise be a traditional silhouette.

(Left) The 1960s Jackie Dress from BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern, (Right) The 1920s Louisa Drop-Waist Dress pattern that the Jackie Dress is based on

7. In addition to working at BurdaStyle, what else do you do?
I teach sewing and draping classes at 3rd Ward and Textile Arts Center in New York. I also design for my line Jamie Lau Designs, specializing in handmade dresses. I do custom orders as well and am currently getting ready for my last holiday fair of the year – the Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market in San Francisco this coming weekend.

Jamie’s display of dresses at a recent holiday fair in New York

8. If you were to give a beginner one piece of sewing advice what would it be?
Can it be two pieces of advice? Snip your loose threads and be diligent about pressing along the way to get those nice, clean finishes. Refrain from taking any shortcuts. Otherwise, you may have to take out the seam ripper.

Jamie Lau is a designer, sewing instructor, fashion editor, and author based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Check out her website, and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.


  • Missing

    May 24, 2017, 11.40 PMby bhangad

    if you want free GP and coins on your PES 2017 account, please check out this pes 2017 cheats for free.

  • Missing

    May 22, 2017, 10.43 AMby bhangad

    read this article about injustice 2 hack android for free gems, gold and energy.

    read this article about dokkan battle hack android for free dragon stones and zeni

    read this article about battle bay hack android for free gold and sugar.

    read this article about battle bay hack android for free gold and sugar.

  • Missing

    May 2, 2017, 02.42 PMby bhangad

    check out this ultimate dragon ball z cheats android, works perfectly with android and iOS, no survey required.

  • Missing

    Apr 8, 2017, 02.52 AMby bhangad

    you must check out and read this article if you really want to get free hacks for clashroyale if you want free gems and gold on your clash royale account.

    Also you muct check out this french article if you really want to get free gems and gold clash royale hack français without any surveys.

  • Missing

    Apr 3, 2017, 01.25 PMby bhangad

    interesting images. really worth reading. check out our latest gta 5 money hack and cheats online generator tool, which will help you in getting free money on your GTA 5 account for free of cost.

    must read this article on how to get free resources on yu gi oh duel links hack. our hacks for yu-gi-oh will work perfectly with all android and iOS devices.

  • Missing

    Apr 1, 2017, 11.24 AMby andiff878

    I love this beautiful collection. That would be actually a great bag for my sister. Make sure you visit my block where I also have similiar content to yours. Read more clashroyalehackdeutsch

  • Missing

    Mar 29, 2017, 01.40 PMby bhangad

    thanks for showing this ultimate collection, i have seen this before somewhere on instagram, get free instagram followers with this tool which works on android and devices. also i found an ultimate online tool which can help anyone who want to spy on someones private instagram. this ultimate tool works online too and very easy to use. check this out here : private instagram

  • Missing

    Sep 20, 2016, 11.53 AMby Instafan

    Wow that the amazing collection, I am see stuff like this before instagram account but the actual things that can want to see followers of the instagram free, how to get free followers on instagram online and read more about to get these followers online, if you want to see the private profile is the things that can see online photo to get more about the private viewer at instaprivateprofileviewer.com its a fantastic entertainment to use to see private profile of someone else instagram account.

  • Green_hornet_and_batmobile_large

    Dec 12, 2012, 06.28 PMby lesyoung

    hi jamie

    what a great article.

    love your new dresses.

    the gold dress looks great but the green one is marvelous and awesome

    have a great time at the san francisco craft fair this weekend

    also, on the dec 18 looking forward to see you at the book party at Britex in san francisco

    please, tell us about the book party in new york

  • 043011donna_large

    Dec 12, 2012, 06.11 PMby dborecky

    I really liked your article and instructions on how to draft a skirt, and I wish Burdastyle (or just you) would make a book on drafting basic pieces. Is there one already out there that you would recommend that has simple to follow instructions? BTW, LOVE the blue Jackie Dress! I’m hoping Santa will buy me this book.

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Dec 12, 2012, 08.15 PMby Jamie Lau

      Thanks so much! When learning how to draft, I find that having as many visuals as possible is the way to go. I highly recommend “Building Patterns: The Architecture of Women’s Clothing” by Suzy Furrer as a patternmaking book. Good luck and I think your book idea is a great one!


  • Meg_healy_burdastyle_90_90_large

    Dec 12, 2012, 05.36 PMby MegH

    Great article girl! I also LOVE the brocade dress..my fav.

  • 10696179_10153140774217586_1884977338661526552_n_large

    Dec 12, 2012, 01.47 PMby woman

    I loveeeee the metallic brocade dress! <3

    • This is a question
  1. Sign in to add a post


  • Editors' Pick
  • Pattern Collections
  • BurdaStyle Academy
  • Burda Challenge
  • Backstage Report
  • Fashion & Trends
  • DIY to Try
  • Tips & Techniques
  • Member Highlights
  • Sewing Projects
  • Outta Town
  • Contests & Competitions
  • Archive
  • Guest Columns
  • Videos
  • Meg's Magazine Mash Up
  • As Seen In
  • Podcast
  • Holiday