Featured Member: Erdronen


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

I was born and grew up in Cincinnati, OH, and after college and my first job, I got married and moved back :) I’m the oldest of four girls, and now have a wonderful husband and two crazy (but adorable) pooches. Maybe someday we’ll venture out of Cincy. I would love to live overseas for a year! Or in a warmer climate (it would be nice right about now).

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

I grew up around my mother sewing. She used to make us clothes- most notably Easter outfits & Halloween costumes :) Then, when I was in high school, she started costuming for the yearly musical. She did this for a total of 10 years, and then last year actually found a job costuming for Cincinnati’s Children’s Theater! All of this to say, my mother is quite the seamstress and while I didn’t actually do much sewing growing up, it has helped me tremendously since I started to have her help and advice. The first thing I can remember sewing was a cell model (yes, you read that right) for biology class freshmen year of high school. I did it all by hand and used puffy paint for the smaller parts of the cell, but it was just like a little stuffed cushion. I wish I had a picture! :) In college I did some pillows and curtains for my first apartment, then a simple skirt. Last year, I joined my mother’s sewing group (of her costuming friends), and now I can’t stop myself!

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

As of last August, a huge one! It’s now my biggest hobby. It’s great to get away from my very technical Engineering job and use my imagination and create something! Although, I have to say I think my Engineering background has helped in my sewing endeavors- especially when it comes to trying to recreate something I’ve seen.

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

My favorite thing would be perusing BurdaStyle for inspiration :) Along with fabric shopping (of course) and dreaming up and planning my projects. I’m now learning to use different seam finishes which is lots of fun!

My least favorite is the stuff that takes lots of time & you have little progress to show for it. For instance, the handstitching at the end- I just have no patience for it :) I want it to be finished (hence, a large pile of UFO’s)! Also, piecing patterns and cutting. I tend to procrastinate most before doing this… Once it’s cut though, I can’t stop working until it’s finished.

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

Well, over Christmas I managed to make something for each of my hard-to-please sisters :) Granted, they mostly picked out what they wanted. I’d say this will tide me over for awhile (so that I can enjoy making stuff for myself again)! I don’t have any big aspirations for my sewing, but I admit it would be really really cool to make just one awesome dress for a celebrity some time in the very far future when I have all my skills ironed out.

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

As I mentioned, I love the inspiration this site provides- in the form of how-tos, user creations, and the amazing outfits sewn up by the team for their patterns! I also really love participating in minichallenges (or big ones!), and seeing what others create from the same challenge! I love a challenge :) This is all I’m really “looking” for, but having free/cheap patterns and an amazing forum for advice is icing on the cake!

I can’t wait to see the upcoming changes to the site! Maybe some of these things will be included! But, my biggest pet peeve is the search feature- it’s just not all that user friendly and requires too many clicks! I think putting this in each section of the site would be best (so that you are searching that section), and being able to narrow it by category would be awesome. I also have noticed that when you enter a pattern (from which you made a creation) that is not from BurdaStyle, it doesn’t show up anywhere on your posting. And lastly, I would love an “edit this creation” button to show up on your creations when logged in (so that you don’t have to go through your profile to get there). But these really are minor- I very much love this site!

7. What is your motto?

I don’t really have a motto. I’m not all that introspective :) But, I am very much a realist, and sewing is my chance to dream!

Follow Erdronen on her blog, through her amazing creations and learn from her wonderful How To. Also make sure to check out her top ten favorite creations in her very own slideshow Keep up the great work!

It ain't easy...


In the fashion world February yields many things: things to be feared, celebrated, anticipated, unanticipated. It marks the unveiling of designer’s Autumn/Winter 09-10 collections and also is the delivery month for the Spring/Summer 09 collections. Everything always seems to happen at once.

What I am focusing on now is getting my orders out. Back in September, buyers placed their wholesale orders for Spring/Summer 09, and these pieces begin to infiltrate the shops as soon as late February. I was very pleased to have gotten an order from a great shop in SoHo called Plum. To have my pieces next to Maison Martin Margeila is a thrill in itself. I have been a follower of the Maison Margeila since I was 19 studying in Florence, which had a few boutiques carrying his clothing, I would go in and ogle them, fantasizing about one day being a designer like him. Margeila is a Belgian fashion designer. He studied at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts along with the legendary avantgarde fashion collective the Antwerp Six (well worth looking into).

Anyway, back when the orders were placed I tallied up what would need to be cut and sewn, checked the availability of my fabrics (I often use Preview, Mood fabric’s wholesale silks line) and began to plot a way to handle production, purchase all of the fabric & notions and ship the collection by February.

In this world, the designer doesn’t see a penny until well after the shops have unpacked and set out your items. Sometimes it can take months to get paid. There is virtually no protection of the designer either. Stores like Barneys will require the designer to abide by contract that the pieces be pressed exactly this way and hung just so in a giant hanging box, with hang-tags attached facing all the same direction, and if they are not, we will charge you. We will also make you buy the clothing back if it does not sell accordingly. Net-90 begins to sound kind.

So most importantly, the designer needs to have some capital to be able to produce their much loved creations. I make most of mine from my website sales and taking on freelance projects. I have certainly accepted private loans in the past yet no matter how much you ask for it never seems to be enough.

What do you like about the Paola Wrap Dress?


We were so happy that you all loved last week’s Paola pattern! We would love to hear your input on this pattern, can you put your finger on what you liked about this dress? Let us know and we will try and keep it in mind for future patterns!

Sew Everything Workshop


One of my ‘sewing resolutions’ this year is to utilize my books that crowd my bookshelf. While going through some of the titles, I stumbled across one of my favorites – Sew Everything Workshop. One of the best things about this book is that it’s ‘all inclusive’ – tips, patterns, instructions all in one place.

Even though this book is designed for beginners, I’ll admit, I read it cover to cover (alright, I did skip the section on selecting a sewing machine…. it’s too late for that!). Not only does Diana Rupp write in such a fun and friendly manner, but she provides interesting sidebars (like movies that revolve around sewing), great tips, and ‘small’ projects not included in the table of contents (who wouldn’t want a WWMD? (What Would Martha Do?) inspiration banner hanging in their sewing room?).

The beginner guide is very well written and covers all the basics. The book is broken down into several sections, “Gearing Up” (setting up your space, selecting a machine), “Ready, Set, Sew” (basically, getting to know your machine and it’s stitches as well as how to practice sewing), “Material Matters” (a good, quick section on types of fabrics and their uses, drape, and coordinating colors), “Layout and Cutting” (everything you need to know before cutting into that fabric, from measuring yourself to learning how to read the back of the envelope), “The Sewing Playbook” (how and why to press, making beautiful seams, shaping, interfacing, zippers, buttonholes). The final section of the book “Hand-Sewing 101” discusses how to thread and knot the needle, basic stitches,how to sew a button, and mending by hand.

The fun part of the book, of course, is putting all that knowledge into good use by making one the 25 projects included in the book. Some of my favorites include the Cuddle Up Cardigan, Tender is the Nightie, the Flouncy Tank Tip, as well as a few bag patterns. I’m still attempting to narrow down what I’m going to try first – anyone interested in a sew along?

The Needle in the Haystack, Searching for the Inventor of the Sewing Machine.


In the beginning was the needle, or better, the patent for a needle designed to be used by a machine; since the patent didn’t describe the machine, the needle was of no great use either. That was 1755. The next 75 years should see at least six new patents for all sorts of different attempts to develop sewing machines, none of them successful and all them soon to be forgotten.

Finally in 1830, a French tailor, Barthelemy Thimonnier, cracked the nut and designed the first functional sewing machine that used one thread and a hooked needle, but rather than fame and money, the machine almost cost him his life, as a mob of enraged French tailors burnt down his garment factory, fearing the new invention would threaten their jobs.

Maybe this was the reason why Walter Hunt who built the first somewhat successful sewing machine just a few years later had no interest in patenting it. The next in line, Elias Howe, in contrast fought vehemently against competitors to get his machine with lockstitch mechanism patented. His most dangerous rival was Isaac Singer, with whom Howe entered into a tedious patent battle (by the way Singer was not just an inventor but also an actor!). Having won the battle, and therefore rights to a share in the profits of Singer’s commercially successful invention, Howe earned close to 2 million dollars from his earlier invention.

How did these first sewing machines look like: in principle just like today’s sewing machines with the main difference that they were powered manually via a big wheel on the back of the machine. That may not sound hugely comfortable or time efficient compared to what we know today, but in comparison to sewing by hand these machines were definitely much faster. The “lock stitch” mechanism invented by E. Howe, which uses two threads, one passing through the needle and one being fed from a bobbin, is still today the basic stitch performed by any sewing machine.

Image © Smithsonian

Featured Member: Alekat


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

Parramatta in Sydney, Australia

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

My mother would so clothes for herself or for us kids, so I would use the scraps to make clothes for my Barbies which I’d sew by hand. We also used to make quilted pillows and stuff like that in Brownie Guides, so it’s been instilled into me since childhood.

I started sewing again out of frustration for a lack of clothes that fit and because I can never find the styles I want in the shops.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

It always serves as a talking point when people ask where I bought something that I’ve made. They’re always so amazed that home sewing still exists! It’s surprising that there are so many people out there who couldn’t even sew a patch on! I also like to think I have a one up on the whole recession thing. Who wouldn’t want to only be able to pay $4 for a blouse?

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

Picking out buttons!!! I have a massive button collection from my Mother and Grandmother that I love to dig through. I also like it when you’re just happily going along following the instructions and then you pick up your work and realise that it’s slowly coming together. You can see the sleeve taking shape or the pleats staying in nicely. On the other hand really don’t like button holes and zippers. I just can’t sew them neatly. The zipper base always pops out.

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

My Mother probably, In return for all the crazy tracksuits and dresses she used to make for me. I’d probably make her a really nice coat or dress for her to go out in.

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

Lots more patterns! I just hope that this stays around for years and years.

As for the site i’m not sure what could be improved. I know the new site is coming soon so that may fulfil anything that suddenly annoys me.

7. What is your motto?

“Thus the task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen, but to think differently about that which everybody sees.” -Arthur Schopenhauer

Alekat has such cute and great creations. Check out her favorite creations in our Featured Member Slide Show.

Icons and Idols


This week’s featured dress, Paola, reminds me of a very important women, one of my idols, Diane Von Furstenberg. She is best known for introducing the knitted jersey “”http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/amsp/ho_1997.487.htm">wrap dress" in 1973, an example of which, due to its important influence on women’s fashion, is in the collection of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1976, Newsweek coined her the most “marketable fashion designer since Coco Chanel”.

To my excitement, DVF released her memoirs in 1998, “Diane: A Signature Life” , a good read if you’d like to garner up some inspiration. One important fact about DVF is that she has had career changes, ups and downs, divorces, children, successes and failures, and yet she has maintained her charisma, balance and talent in a beautiful, relentless fashion.

DVF appeared as a guest judge on last season’s Project Runway (I was so sad to have missed her) and was named president of the CFDA in 2006. She is an incredible icon for liberated women, and a woman who has done more in her life thus far than many of us do in our entire lives.

Thinking of DVF’s achievements has gotten my gears churning and I am feeling quite inspired. Dahl & Dane are featured in this February’s issue of SELF magazine and the orders are rolling in! We popped into a magazine shop the other day and blazed through the issue, missing our feature entirely & thinking they’d bumped us out (that happens all the time)! The editor called me today and said to find us on page 28:) Our cut-off date for the “I (heart)” series falls on February 14th and we’re excited to begin our next project: a line of girls & boys separates with prints we’ve designed ourselves. Next we’ll start shopping around for cottons and materials to use in our new line and make some samples of our prints.

In the meantime, we plan to make some 1-off t-shirts to sell in some local stores to generate more interest in our next collaborative series.

Image from Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

We Want Your Input on the Forums


Now is the time to speak up! We have been collecting your suggestions from the forums on how they should function. We are in the midst of planning the forum on the new site and we would love your input. Please leave comments below on what you like, how to improve what you don’t like, and what functions you would like to see.

Featured Creations Slide Show!


Check out the new Best Of slide show for the week of Jan 11-17

The Design and Sew a Suit Variation Contest is.....


Congratulations to Prudencerabbit on winning the Design and Sew a Suit Variation contest! She did such a great job transforming the Eva and the Sidonie patterns into this creation. We had 2,500 votes and Prudencerabbit’s variation received a whopping 44% of them! Chipdale7 and Bola’s variations came in second and third respectively.

Prudencerabbit will have her suit photographed in our photo shoot, receive a look book, get cards of the suit and receive all the high res pictures from the shoot. Congrats again Prudencerabbit!

BurdaStyle goes Downunder!


BurdaStyle is heading Downunder to Australia to attend the Stitches & Craft Shows. I will be representing BurdaStyle at all three shows, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.

If you’d like to be involved by helping me out on the stand or taking part in the fashion show with your BurdaStyle creation(s) please email me at nikkishell@burdastyle.com.

You can find out more about the shows at the Stitches & Craft Show website

CPSIA Legislature Update


In early December I talked a little bit about how the CPSIA legislature will effect the handmade industry. Last week the Consumer Product Safety Commission gave preliminary approval on changes in the law that will take effect in February 10, 2009. Currently they include exempting Items with lead parts that a child cannot access, clothing, toys and other goods made of natural materials such as cotton and wood, and electronics that are impossible to make without lead. You can read more about the changes and upcoming law here.

From rectangles to body shape the history of sewing patterns


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

Holiday Giveaway Singer Sewing Machine Winner


Hi everyone!

I hope January is treating you well. Just wanted to announce to you with winner of the Singer Sewing Machine. Congratulations to Pleocatra! She is our lucky winner! Check out her blog to find out more.

CRAFT Magazine presents: 'The Sewing With Nature Contest'!


Dear BurdaStylers,

Our friends at CRAFT Magazine have teamed up with SINGER to put together ‘The Sewing With Nature Contest’! As we all look forward to spring, they are inviting creative and crafty sewers to create a project inspired by nature. They ask that photos of your finished item be posted to ‘The Sewing With Nature Contest’ Flickr group for review.

The Grand Prize winner will receive a brand new SINGER sewing machine, a set of SINGER sewing books, and have their project featured in a SINGER ad in the spring issue of CRAFT. The three runners-up will receive a SINGER dress form and a 1-year subscription to CRAFT Magazine.

The contest is running now through Wednesday, February 4th, so check out the Official Contest Description and Rules here!

Good luck!


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