Bead It!

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From zippers to buttons, from buttons to beads; while zippers and buttons have a practical function, beads are really only decoration – or are they? Old civilizations used beads (often made from natural materials like shell, stone or bone) as type of currency for trading purposes. In almost logic consequence, a little although very pretty glass bead, contributed to the conquest of continents. The Venetian chevron had high purchasing power in historic trade with Africa but also in the Americas. It is indeed incredibly beautiful, with its simple red-white-blue or green-yellow-black colorings made from several layers of glass.

Apart from being a decisive element in colonial history, the bead and especially beadworks from 19th century Southern Africa tell a fascinating story of the development of clothes in Africa. Check out this beaded cloth skirt of fabulous craftsmanship: just like the glass bead, cloth was introduced by the Europeans and was slowly but surely integrated into African clothes making, partly replacing indigenous fabrics made from grass, local fibers and leather. Most fascinating, these newly introduced materials would not just completely replace indigenous clothing traditions but were used to innovate and create a unique fusion between old and new (to divert from fashion and clothes: there are similarly fascinating example of cultural fusion in religious belief in Latin America: in Bolivia you find paintings of the Virgin Mary fused with the indigenous Goddess Pachamama).

Even more interesting is the example of the beaded breast-covers, also from 19th century South-Africa. What is so special about them? – the fact that women started to cover their bodies! Thanks to the climate, but also to the absence of Christian taboos around the female and male body, pre-colonial Africa didn’t have the need of covering what has been declared “objects of desire”. With colonization but especially Christianization, women just as man were increasingly made to cover their bodies. Therefore, much of what we might associate with “traditional” African dress, is actually quite recent!

There is an important thing we should learn: people in Africa, Latin America and Asia were not just passively colonized but in the little space of freedom they had left, they innovated and created new things and ideas building on the influx of foreign concepts, tools and technologies.

For many more beads from all around the world check out this site.

Photo © O.Ned Eddins

Celebrate Spring with BurdaStyle and Simplicity!

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Two companies, one look:



Simplicity and BurdaStyle have joined forces this spring and offer you a great deal on a fresh look.



Vote for your favorite look and get your spring wardrobe ready!



In our “Celebrate Spring with Simplicity and BurdaStyle!”photo album we offer you five combinations made out of one Simplicity and one BurdaStyle pattern. Select your favorite look and spread the word!



Voting will end on Sunday, March 15th at 12 am EST. The outfit with the most votes will be published as featured project on BurdaStyle.com and Simplicity.com on Monday, March 16th.



Take advantage of Celebrate Spring!



The patterns of the winning combo will be offered on Simplicity.com and BurdaStyle.com for incredible spring discount prices for one week: The Simplicity envelope pattern, all printed out and ready to go, instructions included, will come to your house for less than half the price: a mere $5.00 (Shipping included in the US). The BurdaStyle downloadable sewing pattern with instructions will be offered free of charge for the duration of one week.

Springtime Romanticism

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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.

Featured Member: jåne

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1. Where are you from and/or where do you live?

I’m from Kgs. Lyngby, Copenhagen, Denmark. There I lived whit my mother and a younger sister. For a short time I stay in Skælskør. I’m 21 years old.

2. What was the 1st thing you made? How did you start sewing?

Clothes for my Barbie I think. I have sewn as long I can remember, and as years have past I been better sewing and special for me. I love to sew dresses. But now I have so many dresses that I want to sew sewn other things, like blouses and blazer. I have sewn many make-up-bags for my friends.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Everything, I sew almost every day and when I don’t sewing I think about it or looking for some inspiration. I want to live off sewing one day and have my own little shop. I also make other things, like earrings, bracelets, knitting and repair old furniture.

4. What is your favorite and what is your least favorite thing about sewing?

I love that people can make so beautiful things out of so few things. I’m not satisfied before my creations are perfect. Some times that’s a mental problem for me!

5. If you could make something for anyone who would it be and what would you make?

I want to make clothe to the Danish singer Pernille Rosendahl from The Storm. It could be some kind of dress or jeans and shirt in black. I would use leather, pieces of laces, tutu, silk, feather and pearl.

6. What are you looking for on our site? What do you think should be improved and what do you really like?

I’m looking for pattern and inspiration from other members, and out of that I create my own still.

7. What is your motto?

I don’t have any motto, but all my creations are labeled with “J.C.MUNCH” and my logo.

Jåne creations are sweet and at the same time very rock and roll. Check out her favorites!

Queen for a Day

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A few months ago I was asked to participate in an interesting opportunity. Having been a contestant on the t.v. series Project Runway, certain perks are thrown one’s way from time to time (sometimes ridiculous, though at times, worth the hassle).

Saturn car company, being one of Runway’s few sponsors, creates vignettes of their favorite designers pairing them with a car to be “inspired” by and airs these commercials during the series.

When asked, I wondered whether this act would antagonize my morale, but I decided I had already lain my ethics aside while participating on the series and have since reaped the benefits of the exposure. So I was queen for a day.

The task was to create an outfit inspired by the Saturn Aura, a bulky, boxy sort of sedan with inky-black interior and a sunroof. A messenger delivered an envelope of cash to my door and I went fabric shopping. I knew I wanted this “quirky” (a word I was later forbidden to say in the same sentence as Saturn) washed silk print to make a dress from, so the “inspiration from the details of the car” came off the cuff the morning of the shoot…“the open back emulates the sunroof…”the playfulness of the print elicits the modern, fun design of the Aura…" You get the gist.

Thank goodness we didn’t shoot in my loft, as suggested by the producers, as it is such a big production! My call time was 5:30am on the balmy, spring day of the shoot and when I arrived I was escorted to my very own RV. I felt important. I proceeded to have a bit too much eye make-up applied for so early in the day, and with my hair too processed I was escorted to “my studio”. The production team rented out the most beautiful studio with Victorian details, giant windows, black marble fireplace and old smokey mirrors. They had collected some of my belongings the day before so it really did look like my studio, as though I were peering at it through rose colored lenses.

We proceeded to do some takes, describing the design process, etc. and then relocated outside where I got to drive the car 10 feet forward over and over again. The law states that both of your hands must be placed at 9 and 3 o’clock on the wheel if it will be shown on t.v.

All and all it was quite fun, I made some money to put towards my business and I was lucky to sell many of the Saturn dress I wore throughout the commercial.

Watch the video <a href =“http://www.saturnfans.com/cars/aura/project-runway-vignette-alison-kelly-rethinks-design-saturn-aura&#8221;&gt; here.

March: Romanticism on the Runway

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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.

The Curious Case of the Button

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What’s the logic sequel to the zipper? The button! When I buttoned my trousers this morning, I knew little about the diverse family of this innocent and very simple looking black closing device. I am stunned (!) – by the diversity, the richness, the craftsmanship and the aesthetic of buttons; and of course as always the politics behind this little ornament. And I am obviously not the only one fascinated. Some people dedicate entire academic works to this object like Stephanie Hackstein whose book is the basis for my knowledge about buttons and this blog.

As always we can trace back the button as functional thing way back in history: Persians around 500 before Christ used the simple button-sling concept to fasten their shoes. The button with buttonhole was “invented” in 13th century in Europe and quickly developed into a status symbol: the aristocracy decorated their clothes with buttons from precious metals silver, gold often ornamented with jewelry or ivory, whereas the common people used buttons from wood, bones or animal horn.

As quickly as people show exuberance there is someone somewhere putting an end to this: in 14th century Italy a law was issued that prohibited excessive decoration with buttons and only allowed simple buttons made from cloth or silver. Nevertheless, the button manufacturing industry prospered: supposedly King Franz I. of France (16th century) decorated himself with 13,000 golden buttons. Most impressive, they were not sewn onto his clothes but rather fastened like cufflinks so that they could be transferred from one robe to another, by the way, I remember my Grandmother’s little button box where she collected buttons from old clothes for future purposes; some decades back most housewives did that.

And buttons are still much more: in Africa, they form part of jewelry (check out the photo), Sinti and Roma consider them lucky charms and until today some ethnic or religious groups don’t wear buttons because they consider them vanity.

But really, I think you should take a look and be fascinated yourself: check out the online Button Museum; Paul Knopfís cool ideas (although in German) using fragrant Eucalyptus seeds or keys from typewriters; or Vintage Button.

And if you want to give it a go yourself why don’t you start with the Fabric Covered Button How To.

Photo © Mathew Stinchcomb

Sew like a Rockstar!

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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

Featured Member: IchiGoGirl

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1. Where are you from and/or where do you live?

I’m originally from and grew up in the north of Sweden (Östersund/Härnösand), I was born in, and studied in Uppsala (a university-town) but I now live in the middle of Stockholm. I love living in the city but I miss nature and I dream of a bigger flat (a proper hobby-room, oh sweet thought). I’ve also spent a year near Melbourne (during High school), a year in Manchester (at university) and nine months in Tokyo (during a break from my studies), so I feel a bit at home there too.

2. What was the 1st thing you made? How did you start sewing?

The first “real” thing I remember sewing was a jeans-miniskirt when I was about 11 and wanted to perform as Madonna. I made it from my dad’s discarded old jeans (real 70’s flares, probably very cool!). The next thing I made was a copy of a twill jacket, that I made in denim from my mum’s stash, when I was in High school. I got so many compliments, people came up to me and asked me where I’d bought it, I guess that was the perfect encouragement to take up sewing as a hobby! Come to think of it, it’s about time to make something in denim again (it’s been a while!). During the last few years I didn’t sew much at all, but thanks to Burdastyle I took it up again, I’m very glad I did!

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Sewing is a quick release for my desire to create. I work as a landscape architect, which is a creative job but a very slow process. It takes at least a year until my work is realised, and even then it’s not finished since all the plants need to grow for at least a full season first. So for me it’s marvellous to be able to design something from scratch and to see the finished result within a couple of weeks (or less even!). It’s also the ultimate luxury to know that no one else will wear the same clothes as me when I go to parties, and to be able to make things that I want but can’t find in the stores, or to be inspired by things I can’t afford to buy. I love the feeling of using and wearing things I’ve made myself. And sewing can be very meditative.

4. What is your favorite and what is your least favorite thing about sewing?

My favourite thing is the freedom to imagine something I would like, and to be able to make it come true. I also like the process, to bit by bit make something that is really nothing turn into something real. My least favourite thing is all the preparation before sewing (I love the pattern-construction-bit though) and to finish things off. I’d love to be able to hire someone else to sew the buttons and lining…

5. If you could make something for anyone who would it be and what would you make?

I wish I had more time to make things for others. At the moment I’m really only interested in making things for myself (selfish!). But I wish I could find the time and peace to make something nice for my mum. I always like to see what other BurdaStyle members make for their mums! My dream-project for myself would be a formal dress to wear to the Nobel-prize dinner and party, if I was ever invited (I live near the city hall where it’s held, so I bicycle past the arriving guests on my way home from work every year, I’d love to be one of them!).

6. What are you looking for on our site? What do you think should be improved and what do you really like?

I primarily look for inspiration, and I find it.
I really like the generosity of this site, that it’s about sharing. The members are very kind and encouraging to each other. And Burdastyle really is such a great source of inspiration, I think it makes a lot of people sew more than they would without it (I know I do!). I also very much appreciate the way it connects people, it’s great to find sewing-buddies all around the world, and that it’s interactive.
I wish more of the information you add when adding projects would be posted on the site, like related projects and more pattern information. I’d also like it if there were links to people’s creations from the How-to’s, like there are from the posted patterns. And links to the projects featured in photo-albums, that would be a great way of finding inspiration and information. And I’d love to be able to change the order of added pictures after adding them, especially to change the first picture of the posted projects, and to have easier access to browse through favourites, it takes quite some time to look through them when you’ve added many.

7. What is your motto?
To be true to myself and respect others.

Read more about IchiGoGirl and check out her great creations creations. Also, don’t miss her top ten favorite creations.

David Bow Tie Sewalong!

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Welcome to the first sewalong of 2009!

As you may know, BurdaStyle aims to donate 150 bow ties to the American Cancer Society’s Pink and Black Tie Gala. The bow ties will be auctioned off at the Gala, and the funds raised will help support the ACS in their life-saving work, including patient services, national research, education, and advocacy initiatives. Unfortunately, cancer is something effects all of us, either directly or indirectly. In the United States alone, cancer accounts for 1 in 4 deaths, and 1.5 million new cases will be diagnosed this year.

Help us help make a difference and join our Bow Tie Sew Along. Download the free David Bow Tie pattern and check out our many bow tie How To’s. Using pink and/or black fabric, we’ll all sew ours up, then send them in to donate to the good cause. The sew along will last two weeks starting from today, and Nikkishell will be answering any and all questions in the forums. While you’re at it, sew one up for yourself… If you haven’t noticed, bow ties are all over fashion right now, from the Gossip Girls to the tailored looks strutting down the runway.

There are a few points to remember while sewing for the American Cancer Society:

1 The ties must be pink or black or a combination of both.

2 We need to receive them by May 4th.

3 Send your bow tie to:BurdaStyle 325 Gold st Suite 201 Brooklyn, NY. 11201.

4 Include your personal story on a note card if you wish.

Head on over here to download your pattern which is FREE then check out the Sewalong thread in the forums. Let us know your plans, what combination of pink and black you will choose, whether you will make any alterations to the pattern and if you decide to make one for yourself, how do you plan to wear it.

We’re looking forward to seeing your wonderful creations!!

Forum Manager: Sew4my3

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Hi Everyone! We are so happy to introduce you to (though many of you already know her) our new forum manager: Sew4my3. You will see her around the forums Monday through Fridays, helping out and answering your questions. Without further ado, here is a little background and welcome Sew4my3!

I was born in Flint, Michigan USA in the late 60’s to hippie parents. Let’s just say creative thinking has always been a part of my life. Throughout my childhood I lived in many places, much like traveling gypsies and gaining insight into how many people live. Sewing has always been a part of my life. My grandmother, who had her own techniques for sewing, taught me to make doll clothes when I was six years old. She taught me to use the sewing machine, which I had sewn my finger right in to.

By the time I reached high school the desire to create my own clothing was strong and my parents fueled the fire by taking me to local fabric stores to purchase needed supplies. After high school, I soon married and started a family with twin girls being my first born. They were premature and required very tiny baby clothes, that either was not available or extremely expensive to purchase, so I began making their clothes. Five years later, we added a son to our family and I learned to appreciate the talent that goes into making boys clothing. Over the years I found sewing classes wherever we have lived to learn new techniques such as smocking and embroidery.

When all three of my children were in school I took the job of a pre-k teacher and was able to be at home when my children were home. Today, I live in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA and am still married to my high school sweetheart since 1986. My twin daughters are in college and my son is in high school. My son is also a member of BurdaStyle.com and you can check out his creations by searching for “”http://www.burdastyle.com/member/NathanL&quot;&gt;NathanL".

I became a member of BurdaStyle to continue learning new techniques and found so much more, including a job! I am so flattered to be asked to be the “Forum Manager” and a part of the BurdaStyle team. My job is to help provide answers to questions and respond to concerns that the community has in regards to sewing and the site. Please be patient as I learn the ins and outs of my new job and I will try to provide you with the best services possible in the BurdaStyle spirit.

Happy Sewing!

Sew4my3

Magazines We Loved And Lost

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Over the past two years there’s been a disheartening trend – the demise of crafty magazines. Some of the most popular titles, Adorn, SewStylish, Martha Stewart’s Blueprint, and most recently Craft have ceased production. What’s the cause? Is it the economy? A shift away from DIY? or could it be that blogs and online sites are just as interesting and chock full of information as their ‘paper’ counterparts?

What’s your take on the situation? How do you feel about the demise of craft magazines and the popularity of online blogs and communities? And most importantly, would you pay to see your favorite magazine go digital?

Seam Rippers

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They say there are no mistakes, just life offering us lessons big and small. This is certainly true for the budding home sewer. And to deal with and enhance these ‘lessons’ we have tools such as the stitch or seam ripper. On a forgiving piece of fabric it allows us to take out stitches and start over or correct misalignments. There have also been periods in history where garment details such as collars and trims were routinely changed by the wearer or her maid, depending upon her station. The seam or stitch ripper was probably crucial to this kind of formal refashioning of an existing garment. The ripper has changed shape over time but it is still a simple yet indispensable sewing tool.

Aside from the invention of the sewing machine and the needle which far predates it, the ripper is my favorite sewing tool. When I packed the notions case that was going away with me to college, I searched deep in the bowels of my mother’s sewing chest to find and appropriated the familial ripper. It was really a nice one. I still have it to this day. It had a distinctive square — instead of cylindrical — handle and a nice neat cap to prevent the accidental cuts I am so prone to.

For me the ripper has been a creative tool promoting the design and testing processes. Before the advent of BurdaStyle and the guidance it offers, I once came up with a one seam skirt pattern based on the circumference of the hip and a few darts near the waist. There was much trial and error but it was all a breeze thanks to my trusty ripper. And the ankle length skirt that hung like a tube on the body was finally born. Ah, creativity…Then there was the time. When I craved a new style of sweat pant but was not prepared to invest my allowance in the mod, wide leg affairs that were double the price. I simply took my handy ripper and opened up the seam creating the rubber casing at the bottom of my old sweats. Et voila! The sweat pants of my dreams hanging freely at the ankle.

There were many such moments in my early home sewing career as I graduated to more challenging projects like suits. I have guarded the old family ripper with my life and still enjoy using it when altering or when a full-on sewing effort needs adjustment. Today there are so many different kinds available that a ripper can be a very personal expression of your sewing attitude.

Open Studio: From His to Hers

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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:

Tops

Emily

JJ

Vests

Franzi

Pants

Anita

Nichola

Jackets

Jorinde

Steffi


And these How Tos:

Change a Mens Shirt into a Dress

Anda Out of Old Dress Shirt

Emily Recycled

Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure: The Zipper

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Thank you, theclosetseamstress, for uploading your centered zipper How To and supplying me with a wonderful blog idea: the zipper. The zipper had a similarly turbulent history as the sewing machine. In fact, remember Elias Howe, who patented the first sewing machine? He also patented the first zipper, which was then called (hold your breath) “an Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure”. That sounds more like a children’s poem than something practical and indeed, it wasn’t practical: it didn’t have the essential thing, the slider, but a number of clasps on both sides to be joined by a string that you had to pull to fasten two sides of your clothes (see the picture!).

The next better thing was the “C-curity Fastener” which was based on the hook and eye model. That wasn’t too useful either since it came apart easily when the clothes were loose. Finally in 1914, a Swedish born American immigrant Gideon Sundback came up with the idea to design a zipper with interlocking teeth, the same system that our zippers use today. “Hookless Nr 2” solved all the defects of earlier models: it held garments together without them needing to be stretched, it didn’t wear out, and was easy to zip and unzip.

Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973), Italian surrealist fashion designer, supposedly loved new inventions. She was one of the first couturiers to use colored plastic zippers in her designs thus really boosting their popularity in the 1930s. Supposedly she was paid by zip-manufacturers to use and promote them.

In contrast, the clergy (as so often) didn’t really appreciate the ease with which people could unzip their clothes, they thought it would facilitate illicit sexual activity. Of course the ones who have to bear the backlash were women for whom it was inappropriate to wear zipped clothes until the 1950s. I guess, the underlying assumptions are debatable and definitely diverge from reality, feel free to discuss!!

Photo ©MaryBellis

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