African Halloween

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Halloween, night of disguise – Thanks to the latest Batman film, the Dark Knight is definitely going to be among the favorite costumes and given the current election fever according to surveys half a million people plan to dress as political figure. Total Halloween spending for 2008 is estimated to reach $5.77 billion in the US!

But why do we disguise ourselves? More specifically, apart from all those little princesses, cowboys and French maids that you are likely to encounter, why do we enjoy dressing up as scary monsters and ugly ghosts? – There are definitely a countless number of reasons for changing ones ordinary clothes and adopting a whole new personality through an outrageous outfit for an evening, some rooted in traditions, some in simply having fun to be someone or something else for a change.

Interestingly, many events with historic origins such as Halloween, carnival and even African rituals for which people dress up have or had some sort of relation with ghosts and spirits. The ancient Gaels (even if they may not have dressed up then) believed that on the day today celebrated as Halloween the boundary between life and death dissolved. Supposedly, they wore costumes and masks to mimic and pacify these evil spirits; although, some argue that people only started to wear Halloween costumes in the early 1900s.

African masks were, and sometimes still are, part and parcel of various ceremonies in which they represent the spirits of the ancestors and are used to control good and evil forces. Some masks combine human and animal features to express man’s intricate bond with nature. Their abstract design influenced various European artists such as Pablo Picasso and could very well inspire you for a new Halloween disguise. For some hints on how to create your own African mask check out this step by step guide.

Featured Member: Ms. Cleaver

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

I grew up in Napa, California; spent a few years in Salem, Oregon and Chicago, Illinois; and currently reside in Portland, Maine, where it is the peak of autumn right now and absolutely gorgeous.

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

My mother is an excellent sewer, as is my fraternal grandmother, so I’ve always been around it – I used to to tape together their fabric scraps into outfits for my stuffed animals and dolls. I didn’t really start sewing myself until later. I was fortunate to have a home economics course in 7th grade, so my first official sewing project was a nine-patch pillow cover for class – I got an A. I took up sewing again in high school, took a break for several years, and started going full-bore at it again about a year and a half ago, when I bought my own machine, and I don’t look to be stopping again any time soon!

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

It keeps me lookin’ sharp, often, though not always, for less moolah.

It’s also creative outlet – both in making items and in blogging about them. I keep a blog called Ms. Cleaver Chronicles and I love that blogging about my domestic endeavors, including sewing, knitting, baking and cooking, have helped me to not only connect better with family and friends, but has allowed me entrance into the wonderful world of craft bloggers. It keeps me feeling connected.

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

My favorite things about sewing are having control of my wardrobe – when I make it myself and I do it well, everything fits right and the shape, style, and fabrics are all exactly what I want. I also love vintage clothes, particularly from the 50s and early 60s, but it’s often difficult to find them in my size, so I love that being able to sew gives me the opportunity to fake it. I’d love it if I could get to where my wardrobe is entirely handmade or vintage.

My least favorite thing is cutting out fabric. I don’t have access to a table large enough, so I usually have to cut out my patterns on the floor, which can get mighty uncomfortable. I also dislike seam-ripping, but it’s a necessary evil.

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

Right now I’m a pretty selfish seamstress, but I would love to reach the skill level where I could design and sell my own clothes or patterns for the everyday Jills and Janes out there. I’d probably start out with some Dior New-Look inspired frock, with a big circle skirt and a scalloped neckline. Though I’m also loving all of pleating and texture in fashion right now, so maybe I’d do something in that vein instead.

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

I really like that all the projects are linked to the patterns – I find it enjoyable and helpful to see what other people have done before I jump into a project myself. I also enjoy the sew-a-longs and mini-challenges, because they push me to do things I might not otherwise have considered. And it’s wonderful having quality free patterns.

I think that the comments section could be improved so it’s easier to find suggestions pertaining to making the garments/pattern review – ie separate, the “you’ll probably need to add darts” from the “can’t wait to make this!” Both are important feedback, but serve different purposes, I think. I’d also love it if non-Burda patterns could be listed or linked in the project pages – sometimes I see a project I love, but it’s non-Burda and I’d like to be able to know if it’s self-designed or a commercially available pattern.

7. What is your motto?

“To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything.” -Anatole France

I found this quote on a ring I bought myself as a graduation present. I was about three weeks away from finishing college and had no idea what was going to happen next in my life. it felt very fitting, and it’s still appropriate three years later.

Keep up with Ms. Cleaver on her blog, Ms. Cleaver Chronicles. She doesn’t only sew you know, she also knits very well. Her projects and designs can be found on Ravelry as well.

Upcycle that Old Tee Into a Tote - Featured at CRAFT:

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In this month’s issue of CRAFT: magazine BurdaStyle’s T-Shirt Tote bag is featured! We say thank you to our great intern Katie Leaver, who produced this. She is at Parsons in Paris at the moment. Salut! If you want to check out our How To and recycle your T-Shirts, click here.

Watch the Video of Our 100,000 Member Open Studio Party

A few weeks ago we celebrated our 100,000th member party here in our Brooklyn studio. Members, friends, and partners all came and celebrated till late! See what went on, check out our cake and listen to what people say about us!

Video editing by Gabriella Kessler
Music by Les Gadjos

Vote for your Favorite in the Recycled Mini Challenge

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Vote for your favorite recycled creations in the Recycle Mini Challenge! You have until 11:59 pm on the 4th of November, that’s only one week! You can browse through all the entries by going to the Creations section and clicking the “Mini Challenge” category, the pictures are also displayed when you cast your vote!

The Metal Shop

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Today my rep asked me if I would like to participate in a pop-up store called THE METAL SHOP curated by an arts organization called Performa. Performa is the first non-profit visual and performance art organization in NYC with board members including RoseLee Goldberg, Yoko Ono, Cindy Sherman and many world-renowned artists. This year, along with the Bauhaus inspired Metal Ball, they are launching a pop-up store which will take place at the Issey Miyake Tribeca Flagship store, where there are a lot of metal architectural designs and fixtures…In the shop they have asked various artists & designers to provide them with metallic pieces of art, clothing or accessories. Today is October 27th…can I have something ready by November 6th?!

They have asked me to show some of my jewelry. The pieces will be on sale in the pop-up shop on consignment. I provide a wholesale price & they add on a small percentage, thus if the piece sells, they will donate their small percentage to their foundation and the designers take their share. As well as a good amount of press. A win-win situation for all. It seems to be getting a lot of attention & I am anxious to have some of my work in the shop- and in Issey Miyake‘s flagship store? It’s amazing! He is one of the most innovative artists designing clothing…I have this book called Radical Fashion, the pages full of my most favorite designers, and he has a spread of an amazing installation he did with gigantic rolls of knitwear he designed- look it up! I believe the accompanying installations are at the V&A Museum in London at the moment. Oh, the Chanel Pod has arrived in Central Park, has anyone been? I am trying to find the time to check it out myself.

Vintage sewing videos

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Does anyone else absolutely love vintage sewing information? I’ve got a small collection of vintage patterns and sewing books of my own, but I just love seeing how our mothers and grandmothers sewed in their time with the fashions of the day. I’m proud to carry on this tradition in my family, but I was never lucky enough to be gifted with much more than a pattern or two…

But vintage fashion isn’t just restricted to printed materials – thanks to the internet, we can now watch some great vintage sewing videos, too! Archive.org have a lot of pre-1975 fashion videos (including this home sewing gem from 1948!), and over on my side of the Atlantic,

the BBC have a “What We Wore” archive collection (UK viewers only, I’m afraid!) including a series of “Clothes That Count” shows from the late sixties that demonstrate how to sew your own shirt waister, suits, and coats using only “paper patterns”!

If you’re still wanting more, have a look at these vintage sewing ads on YouTube. I’ll have to start thinking of BurdaStyle as “our own private club” now, like the Sewing Center shown in the ad!

LAST DAY!!!!

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Don’t forget that today is the last day to submit your creation for the recycle mini challenge. Have it uploaded by midnight tonight to be in the running for some fabulous prizes! See more details here.


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Details about how to vote will come soon.

Threadbanger Halloween Party: Win a Sewing Machine Costume Contest

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Our friends from Threadbanger are throwing a very promising DIY Halloween party. They promise a Zombie transformation booth, a DJ, The Delyle Sisters, Live band Midnight Fistfight, organic catering, goody bags, plus a costume contest where you can win a sewing machine!

If you’re in New York next Thursday October, 30th pass by the Mercury Lounge in New York City at 8 PM.

Featured Member: Lalunanueva

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

I was born in Belgrade, Serbia, which is where I live now. I spent a couple of years in NYC and I go there as often as I can.

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

I am not sure what was the first thing I made by myself, as I started sewing when I was very young, helping my mum and aunt. I devoted more time to sewing by myself only a few years ago, when I found the perfect piece of fabric. Its funny, but my sewing machine was broken at the time, so I made a T-shirt by hand.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Sewing is one of the few things in life that I can dedicate myself to completely, and that I enjoy in whole

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

I dislike the beginning of the process. I don’t like doing the patterns… but, when it comes down to buying the fabrics and finishing of the piece I simply adore it and am capable of working for hours without taking a break until its finished.

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

Nothing special, but I like designing clothes for my friends. It makes them very happy to own something I designed especially for them. At the same time they are one of a kind and unique presents.

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

Thank you, thank you, thank you… I remember the period when I discovered your website, and since then I keep being inspired by all the artistic people on your website.

7. What is your motto?

Reuse, recycle, reduce. At least a third of the things I own (furniture, clothes…) I found at flea markets or found them on the street left all alone in the pouring rain… I love re-designing my mum’s and grandmum’s old clothes, for them to have a more modern look.

Lalunanueva‘s awesome creations are fun and lively, take a look at this pete shirt she created! She has recently made a women’s version of the pete which totally rocks

Quality Thread

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If you’re like me, when I start a sewing project, I put very little thought into the type of thread I might use. However, quality thread, along with proper needle size will make a world of difference in your finished garment. This article, written by YLI, discuses how thread is made, it’s types, sizes and weight, and needle sizes. All the information (and more) that you need to arm yourself for your next project.

Deciding on Details and Hypothetical Gowns

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Gosh I have had a terrible cold all weekend & am looking very much forward to a healthy, fruitful week. I was at Metro Textiles (on 38th & 8th in Manhattan’s garment district) last Friday & I ran into a lovely BurdaStyle member and it struck me that there are so many others out there in the world, like you & me, who love to create…and how special it is to be able to connect with these like-minds.

I stopped by my “factory”, which sounds worse than it is, it’s really a workshop where I bring my patterns to be fine tuned, graded, marked & have my pieces cut & sewn from, as I am preparing a special order for Thistle & Clover, a very cute shop that has just popped up in Fort Green, Brooklyn. Once you begin a wholesale line there are many headaches, hangups & after thoughts. It can be frustrating (and incredibly expensive) when really, you just want some dresses sewn, but since you’re making them in sizes 2,4,6,8,& 10, your pattern must be graded to each size, marked, cut & sewn. Pricey but completely necessary- so if you want to branch out into wholesale, you CAN do this one at a time and build up to a complete collection.

The fun parts come in when you get to decide how you’re going to hem the dress, (rolled) or what the seams will look like (french in this case)…and choosing label types & designing your hang-tags and order forms…it can be so exciting.

I was also asked to design a hypothetical inaugural gown for the hypothetical first lady (let us pray her surname is Obama) for a magazine feature, using one or all of the following: a potato sack (good lord), Laura Bush’s glitzy-glam silver sparking gown she wore for her hubby’s inauguration, and the American flag. Ideas? I need to turn it in by the end of the day!

Ciao for now!

Spot Trends and Follow Fashion

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Little Sweethearts is great fashion resource for everything from food to trends to craft. The author, our very own Karencilla was featured here back in may. Follow her styles and take her advice, she has a very keen eye.

Pimp Your Sewing Machine and Win $100!

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BurdaStyle Presents:
Pimp Your Sewing Machine Contest!
-Vamp, hack, and b’dazzle

What if your sewing machine flew like a spaceship, played music while you were sewing, or took part in the steampunk movement?

BurdaStyle would love to see your dream sewing machine!

Join us in the Pimp Your Sewing Machine Contest and win $100!

Send in drawings, video or photos of your pimped out machine to team(at)burdastyle.com.

The prize for a great pimped out sewing machine drawing will be $50. However, if you send in photos or video of your pimped out machine you could win $100!

Send in as many entries as you would like. Just get them to us by 11:59 pm, November 30th 2008

Once all of these are collected, you will get a chance to vote for your favorite!

Pattern Drafting

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Are you curious about how sewing patterns are made? Or how some people can just look at something in a shop and then recreate it exactly at home? Pattern drafting is a fine art in itself, but if you want to start drafting on your own without expensive courses or textbooks, then you might want to try one of the projects from the fabulous Weekend Designer blog.

Just measure yourself accurately (but you’ve already done that, right?), get out a calculator, ruler, and some big sheets of paper and follow the directions. Who knows, this might be just the inspiration you need to start drafting your own patterns and sharing them on BurdaStyle!

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