Unfinished Project Sewalong

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It’s time for a new sewalong here on BurdaStyle! For those of you who took part in the Bow-Tie Sewalong you should have your creations sent into BurdaStyle before the end of April. Mine will be in the post tomorrow!

For the next month we will be digging into the piles we have scattered around or sewing rooms and the rest of the house and pulling out those unfinished projects.

Maybe your unfinished project was left behind due to a problem you encountered or a mistake you made or maybe you didn’t feel the love anymore or just didn’t have time to finish it. Well now is the time to get it finished! Maybe you will love it again once it’s finished or maybe you would like to swap it or gift it to someone. You WILL feel good knowing you have finished it. EVERYONE has at least one unfinished project. I’m too embarrased to tell you how many i have!

Are you in?! I most definitely am and i will be starting with my Bella jeans and Ute blouse i have cut out and draped across my workbench and sewing machine. I also have a JJ blouse i started while still pregnant! (Heidi is now one year old). I accidentally cut a hole in it and promptly lost the love for it. So i’ll be making an attempt to finish that too.

Leave a message in the thread telling us which projects you plan to finish. If you need help with anything ask questions, there will be someone who can help you.

At the end of May we will all feel great knowing that we finished that project and will have something new to wear without having to go out and spend more money and that’s a good enough reason for me!

What's Your Design Process?

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Tomorrow I am going to my factory in New York city’s garment district (everything I produce is exclusively made here in the big apple) to bring my technical specs, fabric & patterns to be sewn into designs for the Caress partnership I am working on. There are many ways to go about designing pieces for a project like this. One would be to do everything yourself, if you’re that ambitious. Another would be to sketch what you’d like to do and provide measurements and technicalities (a.k.a. specs, cutting tags, flats) to your pattern-maker so they can create a proper pattern and sample for you.
I always end up doing a combination of draping the original samples myself, making patterns from them, then passing those patterns to my sample room where they’ll perfect my patterns (they are seldom flawless) and make a gorgeous sample I couldn’t possibly sew myself, with lovely rolled hems, finely pressed pleats.

I found that, in fashion school, you aren’t necessarily prepared for things like this. I learned the language of sample rooms and pattern-makers from my own experiences (good and bad indeed) and I owe my gratitude to these people whom have helped me. Describing New York’s fashion industry as cut throat is truly watering it down. It’s like the survival of the fittest. Mary Gelhar explains this quite well in her book The Fashion Designer’s Survival Guide which provides the necessary tools to get a fashion line or label up and moving on the right track with tips as to how t0 write as viable business plan, the pros and cons of producing at home and abroad, and how to romance the press. "It is a comprehensive overview of the business side of fashion that offers detailed practices and specific tools that are required to become a working designer.” —Steven Kolb, Executive Director, Council of Fashion Designers of America.

I can’t wait to show you the final looks. I will be sure to cover a behind-the-scenes of a real magazine shoot when it happens next month! What is your design process? Do any of the users here out-source their collections? I’d love to hear your stories. xo

Sewing Charity Night with BurdaStyle!

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You are cordially invited to attend the first-ever BurdaStyle Charity Sewing Night!

Partnering with the American Cancer Society (ACS), BurdaStyle pledged in late November to give 150 user-made bow ties for auction at the upcoming ACS Pink and Black Tie Gala, raising money for the advancement of cancer research. Many users responded enthusiastically and sent in their handcrafted creations. As usual, we were impressed by your talents and grateful for your generosity. Nonetheless, we are still in need of more bow ties to complete our goal.

Nearing the deadline date, BurdaStyle would like to host a night filled with fun sewing for a great cause! Meet the BurdaStyle team and other members as we come together to sew for a great cause. You’ll be guaranteed wonderful conversation, fantastic bow tie fun and a warm heart.
The event will be held Wednesday, April 29th from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at our Brooklyn-based studio.

Unfortunately, due to such a great response, we had to close the RSVP for this event. Nonetheless, there still are ways to participate in this fun night!

Follow the festivities through Twitter and Flickr, where we will upload each bow tie as they are completed, as well as photos of all the people involved. On Flickr, you can join our special group, where those unable to attend can post their own creations on this special night. And we would love for you to continue sending in your bow ties, as we still have a ways to go in reaching our goal of 150 bow ties for the American Cancer Society’s Pink and Black Tie Gala. Your creations would certainly bring us closer to that goal.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and look forward to seeing your bow ties!

Hemming Leather

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Every year I try to either learn a new technique, work with a new material, or delve into a new aspect of sewing (stuffies, quilting, etc.). This year, I want to become proficient with leather. I’ve already purchased several different types of skins, I have my leather machine needles ready, and have read up on optimal stitch lengths (wide) and tensions (decreased as you sew multiple layers). However, I recently stumbled across this tutorial for hemming leather and I’m hoping she posts more! Not only is Kari’s post informative, but there’s plenty photos to help describe her steps. Have a good leather tip or trick? Post them here!

Weekend Designer Satin Stole the Show!

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We’ve said this already but spring is in the air, and with these budding times come proms, graduations, formals, weddings and parties. That’s right, it’s time to look glamourous again. This week I am featuring a project created by a special man who thoughtfully brings to pass FREE pattern-drafting tutorials on his blog Weekend Designer and shares them with the public. How divine.

The patterns on Weekend Designer are created from or inspired by designer items. By scrolling through the blog you will get the gist. I was so pleased to come across the Satin Stole posting, finding this the perfect, make-in-under-an-hour project to crown your formal wardrobe in a personalised manner. You can visit his blog to pursue the free, step-by-step stole making tutorial by clicking HERE.

I took it upon myself to make my own satin stole (pictured above left). Ok, I’ll be honest. I cut corners. I made my slit opening as one would make a machine-made button hole. I did not follow the instructions to create the finely faced slit as plotted on WD. Upon testing the instructions however, the only major difference between Weekend Designer’s pattern instructions and the stole pictured on the right (courtesy of Maggy London) is the length. If you’d like your stole to be longer than mine, I would add about 30 inches to the total length. That would mean either creating a seam in the stole (as I marked above in red) or finding a fabric which exceeds 60 inches in width.

Lustrous satin fabric shapes an elegant wrap designed with a pull-through slit opening for easy adjustability.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 yd. (0.90 m) of satin fashion fabric, 60″ wide
  • Coordinating thread
  • Small patch of fusible interfacing
  • Fray Check ® fabric sealant

Good luck, and thank you Don (from Weekend Designer). And my humble apologies for originally referring to WD as a she, I was coming down with a cold and my head was quite fuzzy…my tail’s between my legs.

The Girl With the Black Tights

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1965. Andy Warhol’s Factory the walls covered in silver tin foil – is brimming with activity, buzzing with musicians, drag queens, free-thinkers, porn stars, drug addicts, all there to inspire him and help him to create his art, starring in films, in photographs and always up for a party. 1965, a woman enters the factory, Edi Sedgwick a wannabe artist, a socialite from an upperclass though dysfunctional family. She had arrived in New York a couple of years before with a heritage from her grandmother, anorexic, and already drug-addicted. But she radiated and took the factory in a storm and would become one of Andy Warhol’s most famous “Superstars”.

She died early at 28, after the relation with Warhol had ended, and her drug addiction left her without job- but left a fashion legacy that is timeless. She was one of New York’s first it-girls, doing lots of partying, spending lots of money and earning little from a bit of modeling and a bit of acting. She may not have had “any real talent to speak of” but she left a legacy, not just in New York’s party scene but in the fashion world.

Her grandmother’s jewels with a long dress and bare feet; opaque tights, leotards, false eyelashes, thick layers of mascara around huge eyes her, bleached hair and chandelier earrings became her signature pieces. She combined luxury and vintage but most importantly, she set trends by not caring what was actually trendy or fashionable. Her style lives on: think of Kate Moss’ pixie haircut, or John Galliano’s / Dior Autumn 2005 creations

In a mysterious kind of way, she was extraordinary, – watch the film “Factory Girl” and you will know what I mean.

Featured Member: Sakko

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

I was born in Japan and I lived there most of my life. After I went to London to study Graphic Design for a year in 2005/2006, I traveled around Europe. During the trip I got to know a German guy, so I decided to come to Germany. Since 2007 I have lived in Berlin. My boyfriend and I have spent good time together, so we got married last year.

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

My first sewing thing with sewing machine was a bag, I think. My mother learnt to sew, and there was a sewing machine at home, but I couldn’t enjoy sewing that much at home because my mother tried to babysit me. In Berlin I found second hand sewing machine, so I just bought it. I felt much more free to try many things without my mother’s very very strict tutorial. My first wearable thing was a shirring dress, which I made last year.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Sewing is my day, my night, my everything right now. My thinking is almost everything about sewing. I daydream quite often and that time my thought is full of sewing.

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

My favorite thing about sewing and my least favorite thing about sewing are actually same; thinking about sewing project. I think about very often about sewing, what I want to wear, what kind of fabric I can use, colour coordination and fashion coordination with existing clothes and so on. That is the lovely moment in my day, but at the same time, I need to think about reality bites, how much it costs, if my skill allows me to make such a thing, I make too many same style thing and that is quite boring or so. My ideas are really big in my head, but my skill is not following it. But when I start the project, I enjoy everything.

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

I would love to make something for my baby, whom I will see hopefully in the near future. My husband and I wait for pregnancy, but it doesn’t work that easily. I often daydream about making baby clothes.

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

I enjoy on BurdaStyle website by seeing others’ creations most. That is actually amazing that there are so many free patterns. More I see the others’ creations from the same pattern, I surprised all the time how different they are. I can get many inspirations and next sewing ideas.

It would be really nice if everybody showed their sizes on the creations with Burda pattern. I am too small for most of Burda patterns, and I sew some people wondering about the size or fit of pattern. It helps people a lot to make “real fit” if they can see others’ sizes (maybe just height and bust sizes) with creation size! Normally body size is not something to reveal, but here is sewing community, so I could imagine that many people would love to share.

7. What is your motto?

In Germany as a Japanese girl, I cannot do many things so easily just as in my home country. I used to be so irritated with many things. Then my husband gave me the words “Lockerer bleiben (Stay relax)”. Since then that is my motto. I am not that good sewer yet, I did sometimes mistakes and choose wrong sizes or something like that. But I try to stay calm and say this words “Locker bleiben” to myself. When my creations are too big for me, I try to think “I need sometimes practice, this is a good practice!” and donate to Red Cross or some charity shops.

Sakko has over 70 ceations, 70! Her creations are beautiful and can often be found in the featured creations and best of the month slide show. Take a look at her favorite creations!

Ramblings...

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This week I came into the office and Alden was bragging about her upcoming trip to paradise. Well, not really bragging, but I’m green with envy that she’s set to fly away from gloomy old New York city to the white sandy beaches of Saint John this Thursday to soak up some rays in the Caribbean with her family. So what is more suiting than to design a lovely summer dress for her trip? She used Nayantara’s Patternless Drawstring Jumper Dress How-To to make it, it is so simple and lovely I had to share it!

Over the weekend I spent some time with my sister trying to find a dress for her to wear to a wedding she has this weekend. I kept thinking of the post I did last week on Our Patterns into Top Trends and thought it was a shame she couldn’t sew (she’s learning, she’s made curtains), I would’ve helped her but the clock was ticking and we really needed to find something that day. We scourged young designer boutiques to Bloomingdales and we couldn’t find the right piece. The young designers tended to make only 1 size (small) and the top designers in Bloomies sold their frocks for $500 and up, a price my sister couldn’t justify paying. We ended up in H&M and she found a silky beige cocktail dress that was perfect on her, as was the price: $48.

On another note, has anyone read any inspiring books lately? I just finished The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James and found it fantastic. It’s a story of a young, spirited, independent American woman confronting her destiny, whatever it might be. Isabel Archer is asked to join her Aunt in England and it is only through disappointment and loss, James seems to say, that one can grow to complete maturity. To top it off, one of my favorite directors, New Zealander Jane Campion made a film of it. See it. And all of her films.

Sewing Green

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So what was in my Easter basket yesterday? Betz White’s latest title, Sewing Green! Even if you’re an occasional repurposer, you’ll love the projects inside this book – in addition to felting recycled sweaters to make items like the gorgeous scarf that graces the cover, there are also water bottle cozies, lunch bags, reusable sandwich wraps, and capri sun pouches that are sewn into a car shade. Not only are all the projects ‘green’ but they’re very creative and downright cute, plus Betz includes tips on how to deconstruct your old clothing to use for new purposes. Don’t believe me? See for yourself – Betz is currently on her month long blog tour which gives you the perfect opportunity to get a few sneak peaks of her book and maybe even win your own copy!

Our Patterns into Top Trends for Prom

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It’s Springtime here in New York and it’s gotten us all giddy over our own prom and graduation memories. This month we are focusing on looks specifically for prom, graduation, evening and formal wear. We’re excited to offer some new gown designs and accessory ideas, but for now, we’ve rediscovered these simple dress options for you to make for yourselves relatively quickly and easily, to personalize your formal wardrobe.
1. Cate

Cate is a lovely option for a prom/evening dress sloper. Laurenfortgang used Cate to draft a long, strapless floor length dress, see it, along with simple instructions, HERE. Nuiwida23 made her junior prom dress in pink from the Cate pattern. See her lovely dress HERE.

Not sure about strapless? This blog tells you HOW to wear it.

2. Kyla

Kyla is the perfect sloper for drafting a chic prom or evening dress. Our member Scriptandserif also created a HOW-TO for another sexy version of a lycra bandeau dress that you can wear 7 different ways!

Danigreenpeace made a lovely version of the Kyla dress. Click HERE for some inspiration on incorporating a non-stretch material into the dress.

Teachoue created a HOW-TO for a Yacht Club inspired strapless dress that’s absolutely adorable. Click here for Gedwood’s HOW-TO for a simple A-line dress pattern drafted from the basic sloper.

3. <a href =“http://www.burdastyle.com/patterns/show/3852&#8221;&gt;African Dress

The African dress is a very simple halter dress. The allure of this dress is all in the fabric. If you have a beautiful print or bold graphic waiting to come to life, your wish shall be granted using our elegant pattern.

Cut out + Keep has a halter dress step by step tutorial too.

Need more instructions? The Green Girls offer a How-to video on making a halter dress in ANY size.

4. Heidi

The dress has adjustable cap-sleeves and tucks instead of front and back darts. You can easily change the tucks into style lines for a more formal fit or leave out the pockets for a more elegant version but hey, you can have somewhere to keep your lip gloss!

This gorgeous pattern has also been turned into the Heidi prom dress variation pattern. Here’s the How-to.

5. Envelope Clutch Bag

No prom or evening out can be complete without a clutch. You can make one in the same fabric as your dress or in a fun metallic vinyl as pictured above! Check out this pattern to make your own!

Threads has a simple clutch tutorial for your enjoyment as well.

If you were any thinner you wouldn't exist

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A few weeks ago, I watched the Machinist, a film directed by Brad Andersen (the title is a quote from the film). Trevor Reznik (played by Christian Bale) has killed a child in a hit-and-run accident and haunted by this accident, has not slept, nor eaten properly for a year. The film is striking. What is most haunting is a skeletal Christian Bale who lost 60 pounds (4st 4lb / 27 kg) through a crash diet of coffee and apples. By the end of the film, Bale weighed 121 pounds (8st 9lb / 55 kg) (in comparison, for his role as Batman he weighed about 190 pounds (13st5Ib/86kg).

I am not interested in Bale’s figure, whether skinny or muscular- I am interested in the character Trevor Reznik: a traumatized young man who suffers under a severe eating disorder that he monitors accurately by noting down his weight losses and pinning them on his bathroom wall. The film is not about anorexia but it cries out: man can suffer under eating disorders as well. Trevor Reznik is a special case, being responsible for the death of a child and fleeing prosecution. But there are many other boys and men, who slip into anorexia, bulimia or other eating disorders not because they are guilty of something but they suffer under social and psychological pressures. Surveys suggest that at least 10 to 16% of people who suffer from eating disorders are men, but hardly any of them are adequately treated. An example is Thomas Holbrook who after he had to stop running became so concerned about getting fat, that he started a strict diet on cabbage and carrots and walked for six hours a day.

It is difficult for women to acknowledge their condition and seek help; for men, the fear of being diagnosed with a “girl’s disease” and having to undergo therapy in places which mainly cater for girls create great barriers to get the treatment they need. And many doctors don’t realize by themselves what is at stake. Social pressures, a job that requires a certain size or weight (athletes, jockeys, models, etc) lack of self-esteem, a traumatic experience (as in the Machinist)… Everyone has his own story to tell, and his very own history to deal with. What they all need is attention, that most of the male share doesn’t get.

Featured Member: Sushi

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

I am originally from St Johann in Tirol, which is a small place in the alps in Austria. The last 5 years I was living and working in Dublin, Ireland, and recently moved to Utrecht in the Netherlands.

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

The first thing I made was an apron – and it was the last thing I made for a long time. When I was about 10 and in secondary school we had to learn cooking and all the basic handicrafts like knitting, sewing etc. additionally to the usual subjects. For our cooking classes we had to sew an apron – using a pattern. I didn’t like tracing patterns at all – not to mention sewing by hand. Though I was always dreaming of becoming a fashion designer and filling journals with my designs when I was little, I swore myself to never touch needle and threat again. Years later when I was already in Ireland I picked up a Burda magazine in a shop and I so wanted to start sewing that I bought a sewing machine and started again. I also attended some pattern drafting classes for a while and learned some of the basics of pattern drafting. This and a lot of exercise taught me patience and now I love spending hours sewing.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Sewing is very important to me as it allows me to express myself creatively. It is such an amazing feeling to be able to realize one’s ideas. When I moved to the Netherlands I decided to take a few month off to spend more time on sewing and being creative. I am glad I took that chance because now I am sure that I want to pursue it further and I am currently applying for a place on a fashion design course. I also recently set up a small shop on dawanda (WunderMaedchen).

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

I love buying fabrics and notions and just everything I can use for sewing and I spend hours arranging them on the dress form. When I finally have all pattern pieces cut out I really enjoy sewing them together – it’s so quick and easy (I always admire people who have the patience to knit…)

I guess the least favourite thing is still the copying of the pattern pieces. It’s a lot more fun when I can draft them myself. And I always seem to be fighting with button holes – but I am blaming my sewing machine for this..

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

I guess you just discovered my weak point. At the moment I pretty much only sew for myself – except for the few pieces I offer on my online shop. But my boyfriend is pestering me for a while now to sew a coat for him. So I guess that will be next on my list.

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

I spend a lot of time looking through the creations. They are so inspiring. And also uploading some of my own and getting such a nice feedback on them helped me to be more confident in what I do. Naturally I like the free and cheap patterns on the website and the ‘How tos’ provide inspiration and sometimes help me to solve a sewing problem I encounter.

7. What is your motto?

I don’t really have a motto but I guess something like: think positive, dare to dream and nothing is impossible would be descriptive for my approach towards life.

Between her wonderful pictures and fabulous creations it’s pretty easy to fall in love with Sushi. Check out her store and browse through her favorite creations

A Label That Sticks

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I recently met a young man aspiring to be the next cutting edge custom designer. I asked whether he had come up with a name for the label and if he’d reserved a domain for his website. His response was “No, someone has already claimed the domain”. “And what’s that?” I asked. “Perfection” he states.

This conversation got me thinking about the importance of branding in fashion. As we know, one learns an art through experience and thus, one probably won’t have achieved perfection in their first year of business, one should hope, otherwise, there would be nothing left to work towards. The aforementioned designer had a very interesting surname I urged him to utilize, assuming in a couple of years he’d realize the faux paus of “Perfection”. He wouldn’t budge.

The first step in branding is identity. You should be able to write a solid paragraph explaining the qualities of your brand and your target customer. Who wears your clothing? How old is he/she, what do they do? The foreboding economic climate should not only push us away from flippant excessiveness, but bring us closer to carving out our own niche. I keep hearing over and over, that now is the time to use your creative powers to offer something to people that is special, stirs an emotional connection, and is of wonderful quality. Choose a name that is one, meaningful to you, and two, catchy or unique. If you want to stand out, avoid generic names like “Quality Fashions” or “Designs by Alison”, those names are a dime a dozen and do not stand out amidst the myriad of “Designs by…” websites.

Once you’ve settled on a name it is time to begin branding your product. Your logo is the defining source of brand identity and should be memorable and utilized in all of your packaging and promotional materials (i.e. look-books, line-sheets, hang tags, mailers, letterheads). This is a great article on logos. My sister Megan is a very talented graphic designer and gave me the most amazing Christmas present, a shiny black box she made herself full of Dahl letterheads, envelopes, business cards, mailing labels, stickers & hang-tags! We always use the same logo. This logo is on every single invoice, order form, website page, hang-tag and label. What changes season to season is the decor surrounding the logo. This season Megan designed a bold, Gothic floral motif (pictured above) and we used this throughout the look-book & line-sheets. These days the web is bursting with printing companies which allow you to upload your own artwork and create personalised business cards and stationary. I love MOO, you can create these cute little business cards the size of a piece of gum and the print quality is high. Zazzle is another site of a slightly lesser print quality but their prices are great.

Retailers love, and often demand, hang-tags and signage that offer a glimpse into the soul of the label. For the launch of Dahl, which debuted shortly after my stint on Project Runway, my sister designed hang-tags with the Dahl logo and a promo of me in one of the looks (I was against it at first but it helped define the brand). The image showed a glimpse of the creator behind the label and also how they wear it.

The good news? Now, more than ever, independent designers are very desirable. Yay! People are seeking something special that is not mass-produced. They want pieces that have some sort of story or narrative, they want to have a personal experience with the designer. With places like Etsy or your own website, you can have your own virtual shop for just pennies. Just make sure you follow the branding checklist so your label will be one that sticks.

Start a Local BurdaStyle Sewing Club!

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[Updated 7/1/2011 – For information on how to start a club or connect with one of your own, please visit this dedicated blog post.

Badges to promote your BSC can now be found directly on site. Download them here.]

Several members have expressed the wish to meet with other sewing enthusiasts near them. So we thought it would be great to help initiate BurdaStyle Sewing Clubs!

A BurdaStyle Sewing Club (BSC) is a group that meets regularly to discuss sewing related issues. Each one is uniquely tailored to fit its members, and each leader is given control over what is discussed, taught and created.

Festival Style with Fire Mountain Gems

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Try this quick and easy bracelet DIY for summer! It’s a fun project to wear with all those summer outfits.

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