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Send us Your Measurements and We Will Make You a Handmade Suit

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If we visit the bespoke tailors in London’s Savil Row we cannot but have to pass by the bespoke tailors in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Their skills are world famous and not only Asians with heavy wallets but tourists and prominence from around the world take a trip to get a bespoke suit made in China. In the internet you find endless discussions on how to find the best quality tailors in between the scams and what to look out for when having a suit tailor-made. Obviously the experience is so exhilarating that Philiph Shenon (head of the Bangkok bureau of the Times, at least in 1995) dedicated a whole article to his first bespoke suit made in Hong Kong. Even my parents couldn’t resist the temptation when they visited China to pass by one of the tailors to have a coat made for my Dad. What fascination!

As fascinating is the history behind it, as told by Tailor Dave: imagine Shanghai at the turn of the 19th century: China had lost the two Opium Wars, with the result that it had to open its doors to trade with Britain. Foreigners flock into Shanghai, make their fortunes some more, some less and bring with them their taste for all things Western, including Western suits. Savile Row is far, but luckily a number of tailors from Bombay (now Mumbai) and Baghdad have made their way to Shanghai quickly filling the void of Western suits and their nimble fingers match the quality of any Savile Row suit.

Then enter the Communists and their preference for uniform labor suits and other ideologies obviously drives out demand for Western suits. The tailors move and take refuge in Hong Kong where they restore their trade. One of them is <href=“http://www.samstailor.biz/&#8221;&gt;Sam, or better Manu Melwani, Hon Phd., F. Inst. D., FRSA, Medal of Honour and recipient of Belgium’s Golden Plams of the Order of the Crown whose list of clients include Coldplay, Rod Steward, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and any junior guy that may walk into his shop because “one day he’ll be a senior guy.”

Armani and Versace may be the kings on Western catwalks but behind the scenes Chan, Ah Man and Sam supply the rank and file.

Photo © 2004 ¡ngel Riesgo MartÌnez

Your Ultimate Make-it-Yourself, DIY, Sewing Summer Guide!

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Summer is absolutely upon us. We have decided to give you the ultimate backyard fun and beach guide. Sew and craft up all of these projects to create your perfect summer!

Spotlight On: IVANAhelsinki

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IVANAhelsinki is currently the single brand which speaks to my own roots fully. Behind the brand is a sweet faced Scandinavian girl with a sneaky dark side, I’m in love. IVANAhelsinki is an exclusive art fashion brand which delicately brings together Slavic rough melancholy and pure Scandinavian moods.

Behind the brand is the artist Paola Ivana Suhonen who pulls from her dark naive mind-landscapes, northern legends and western romantics, doing prints, graphics, short movies and well, everything that is involved with the visuals. Paola runs the family-owned company with older sister Pirjo. Paola has created an exclusive collection for Topshop and has gone so far as to curate Dress-go-Around where 10 girls are given IVANAhelsinki dresses, are documented in them, then the dresses are passed on to loved ones.

Here’s a special slide show of her gorgeous designs as well.

Paola was kind enough to answer some of my questions below. I hope you enjoy this feature as much as I do:

What is your earliest memory?

We were playing lions in the cage of one Finnish film directors backyard- he actually had had there some wild animals, back in the 20´s.

What is your most treasured possession?

My rescued dog “affe” and my belief in eternal love

What would your super power be?


To sense the ghosts- actually I already have it:)


What is a secret treat that you love?


Old whiskey


What single thing would improve the quality of your life?


A good-mad man


Who in your life has inspired your sense of style the most?


My mom in her 60´s bold dresses and silk scarves and huge sunglasses being a young psychoalalytic-chick (sic) She rocks


What is the worst job you’ve done?


Selling matches from door to door—and wc paper—oh, that was a bit too much!


Who would play you in the film of your life?



Maja Ivarsson


What is your favorite smell?


Lily-of-the -valley


What keeps you awake at night?


My endless projects which I just can´t get enough of..


Describe IVANAhelsinki in three words.


“dresses for beautiful girls”


Tell us a joke.


I hate jokes. I´m a serious girl:)

Thank you Paola.

Photos courtesy of IVANAhelsinki. Artwork by alison dahl.

Featured Member: Scrumptiousdelight

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

I was born and grew up in Bournemouth on the south coast of England but since I’ve moved about a lot. I spent 3 yrs in Portugal and Spain and 8 yrs in France and now here I am in Vancouver, BC. We’ve been here for just a year and love it!

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

The very first things I remember sewing were little felt mice and bears. My brother and I spent lots of time with our grandparents and they were both pretty good at various crafts and happy recipients of anything hand made by us. My grandmother used to knit all the time so I guess it was natural that I had to sit there creating too.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

My sewing passion really took off when my son was a baby and I found myself a little isolated and in need something to help fill my days, I got a sewing machine and started to make clothes but soon went back to my first interest of making toys. Sewing is something that I do for me. Its all to easy to lose track of yourself in all the day to day sewing and creating helps me to express myself as an individual.

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

My favourite thing about sewing is that moment when it all starts to come together, when what was once a piece of flat fabric takes on a whole new life. My least favourite thing is cutting out, with toys its very often fiddley and time consuming.

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

I would love to make some kind of outrageous toy for Jean-Paul Gaultier…I admire him so much! He was once stood behind me looking in a shop window in Paris and I was too star-struck and shy to speak to him…what a missed opportunity!!

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

I look for inspiration and great clothing patterns on BurdaStyle site. I think the How to section could be a little easier to navigate but it really is a wonderful site a mne of information and the patterns are really up to date.

7. What is your motto?

My motto as far as sewing is concerned is measure twice cut once..or is that woodwork?

Scrumptiousdelight’s creations are awesome, just plain old awesome. Check out her top ten favorite creations. You can find photos of her creations at her Etsy shop or at Flickr. You can also see them in person at the London Miles Gallery in London. Also at Stitch Wars in Florida and Mortal Plush

Style for a Cause

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Growing up in Trinidad meant that I spent my entire childhood and adolescence in a school uniform. They were strict about everything- if I wore socks that didn’t match, we had to change them or go without, and if our skirts were too short or our blouses were too tight, we’d have to go to the supply closet to wear a new one!

Sheena Matheiken grew up in India, where it was mandatory for her as well to wear a school uniform. Recently, she decided to embark on a activity inspired by her experience called the Uniform Project. Part exercise in sustainability, part fund raising venture, Sheena’s decided to wear the same dress a day for an entire year. Boring? No! Each day, Sheena comes up with an outfit that’s quirky and inventive, making use of layers, accessories (most of which are donated), thrift store finds, and crafty alterations. The dress itself is pretty innovative- designed by her friend Eliza Starbuck, it can be worn both ways (front-to-back, back-to front) and as a blouse or jacket. The best part about the project is that it raises money for the Akanksha Foundation in India. Pioneered by college students in India, this foundation provides children from the slums with all the supplies (and uniforms!) that they need for school, and also runs summer camps, drama, computer, and dance classes to equip kids with the skills they need to succeed. Every day Sheena donates a dollar to the organization, and also accepts donations of money for the organization and accessories to keep reinventing her outfits.

Check out Sheena’s site, as well as the site for the Akanksha foundation. Get involved by donating to the Uniform Project, or even by signing up to volunteer to assist the kids with the foundation in India. Well worth a trip, don’t you think?

-Amanda
BurdaStyle Team

Stylist for a Day

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Recently I joined forces with my stylist friend and visionaire Elissa Raymond to assist her in a Manhattan based photo-shoot for Kohls, an American department store similar to Target who carries licensed lines like Simply Vera & ELLE.

Has anyone ever worked as a stylist? I’ve styled my own shoots and have done some editorial but I had never worked on such a large scale production. Our base was an enormous RV parked outside of Pastis, an incredibly beautiful & infamous restaurant in the meatpacking district of Manhattan. Elissa has the back of the RV; there were racks to hang the looks we’d be shooting and couches and tables for shoes & accessories. Elissa had heaps of accessories; gold, silver, brass chains, sunglasses, clear glasses, bracelets, stockings, shoes, boots, hats, scarves galore. Now wouldn’t it be fun to scour the Earth for those things on someone else’s budget?!

Every stylist has a “book”, and when I arrived (ahem, at 4:30 a.m.) to meet everyone, Elissa had me take a look. Inside are spec sheets and snaps of the approved looks to be shot with editor’s notes. The marketing team at Kohls adds notes in the margins like “make sure to show lapels and cuff details” and “no leggings with this” or “show the pant’s cuffs” and it’s Elissa’s job to follow suit. Sometimes she does and sometimes the notes sound as if they are coming from a man in a suit in an office in Milwaukee- not a style guru.

The actual shoot consists of a dance between photographer, model, stylist, guy with fan, and hair & make-up. Around her waist, or in our case, my hands, as Elissa thinks the belt ruins her look, a stylist has clips, pins, double-stick tape, snips. A few snaps then “stylist in!” a tug here, flatten a wrinkle there, pin that collar down, clip the back, make it more snug, while hair is acting against nature; trying to tame stray hairs with spray and gloss. The photographer is lucky if she gets 5 shots in before these adjustments need to be made.

All in all I enjoyed the day. The locality made it simple, most of the time they are in a studio in Milwaukee which to me sounds a bit tough. A stylist needs to be in pretty good shape and be on her feet all day. Elissa miraculously can wear her cute, pointy Italian leather lace-up boots without complaint. And she will never be caught dead wearing knee pads.

Patterns and Tutorial for Convertible Tops and Dress

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Looking for a dress that gives you more bang for your buck? Try sewing yourself up a convertible dress! Not only is this style all the rage in Hollywood at the moment, but it also allows the wearer to change the look of their outfit just by altering the ties. There are several tutorials for making this frock including Rostitichery’s Infinity Dress and BurdaStyle’s own scriptandserif. Dresses not your style? Try the convertible dresses’ sister tute, the convertible shirt!

We'll Miss You, Michael!

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Yesterday, the whole BurdaStyle office was in shock. It seemed so strange that the King of Pop would be gone so soon. Though his life was plagued with controversy, Michael Jackson has had an undeniable influence on culture, music, and style. Michael Jackson singlehandedly popularized aviator glasses, leather jackets, gloves, and his signature white socks. He resisted fads, sticking to his own edgy and unique take on fashion. Most of us in the office grew up listening to and watching Michael Jackson, and like the rest of the world, we’re still in shock. Rest in peace Michael! We’ll miss you.

BurdaStyle Team

All pictures are from www.gallery.steady-laughing.com.

BurdaStyle Sewing Club Update: The Milwaukee Sewing Club!

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The BurdaStylers of Milwaukee were armed with their sewing gear and ready to mingle at this Tuesday’s very first Sewing Club! This event was packed with a super-fun show-and-tell and conversations on what the next meeting would bring.

This club mixes sewing veterans with beginners, and aims to have fantastic sewing fun for both! Tentative plans for what they may do in the future include sewing quilts for an international adoption agency and baby kimonos for local hospitals. How cute!

At the next meeting, though, the first order of business is to work on the pleated clutch pictured above. Their next meeting will be held July 21st at 7 p.m. If you are in the Milwaukee area and would like to join, please contact Club Leader Tekstile.

For more information on BSC Milwaukee, visit their blog at MilwaukeeSewingClub.wordpress.com.

Keep up the great work guys!

-David
BSC Coordinator

Join one in your neighborhood!

Winner of the Sew News Subscription is....

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Congratulations to Easbrooke! The handy dandy Random number generator helped pick us our winner. Thank you all for entering!

Antique Sewing Machine Collector

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Here is a really cool interview with an antique sewing machine collector over at Collectors Weekly. It’s a really interesting article, with great pictures, I recommend it!

Cut it Out!

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Are you following the Cut-Out trend? A bit ‘80s with a dash of young Lolita’s sex appeal, garments with shoulders cut-out and backs exposed were all over the A/W runways this past winter. Do you dig this look? I designed a few open-back pieces for my S/S 09 collection (pictured far right) and have always been a fan of showing a little unexpected skin, as long as it doesn’t cross the line from intriguing to explicit. How far do you go with cut-outs?

Who is cutting it out best? Decolette, Balenciaga, and Sophomore.

The Traditional Sewing Teqniques of Savile Row

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Today we find ourselves in Savile Row, located in the heart of London, the “golden mile of tailoring”. We enter a little shop through a glass door, a bell rings and Mr S. turns his head to greet us “Good afternoon, Miss. How can I help?”

We are not here to get a suit we are here to learn all about bespoke tailoring and the great tradition of Savile Row. Mr S. is far too passionate about his trade to be disappointed that we want to talk rather than to buy. "…. well, my love, to understand the history of Savile Row and our trade, let me first clarify once and for all, the meaning of bespoke.

Bespoke tailoring is the equivalent to the ladies’ haute couture. We do not use standardized patterns. Oh no, that would be made-to-measure tailoring- we take the individual measures of each and every customer and fit our handmade suits to their very own shape."

“And the word bespoke?

“Jolly good question, my dear. The word bespoke comes from bespeak, which in turn means “to speak for something”; and that means nothing else than “to give order for something to be made”. So, the word although a bit old-fashioned is still spot-on: we tailor what our customers ask for."

“But is this type of tailoring industry not in danger with all the cheap mass production”

“Oh my dear, yes, indeed times have changed and for the bespoke trade it is definitely not getting easier. Our little Savile Row is like a haven of craftsmanship in this fast-paced city where everything that is produced lasts just for a fleeting moment. Our skills may be considered archaic by some, but there are still enough men who appreciate a perfectly fitted suit: the royal family, statesmen, business leaders, actors and singers…. Of course I cannot give you any names to respect the privacy of my customers.

You should note, it is not the suit alone, it is also the quality of our services we offer that makes us unique: we provide expert cloth consultants; offer a choice of at least 2,000 fabrics; keep a customer’s details on record and provide after-care for the suits customers buy. And all that we attempt to protect through the Savile Row Bespoke Association that we founded in 2004."

And while I’m off to chat with the guys from the Savile Row Bespoke Association I recommend you to check out all the great men’s patterns on BurdaStyle, my favorites are Ehren and the Stinchcomb although you might want to try something lighter for the hot summer months.

photo © Kempt

Win a One Year Subscription to Sew News Magazine

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We are giving away a one year subscription to Sew News magazine. All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post by June 25th 2009 11:59pm est to be entered to win. One lucky winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries. Best of luck and happy commenting.

Featured Member: Nimblefingers

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

Originally from the deep south, outside of Savannah, Georgia, I moved to NYC eight years ago. After living in Manhattan for a few years, I made the move to Brooklyn where the living is easy. That’s where I currently live and love all of the extra space for my fabric and yarn

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

I started sewing at an age when it was probably unsafe for my little fingers to be near a sewing machine. However, I had a baby doll with no sleeping arrangements and that sleeping bag wasn’t going to make itself. So, my mom taught me how to turn on the sewing machine and stitch two straight lines and away I went. Suddenly a little square of my granddad’s old golf pants was transformed into the cutest little plaid doll sleeping bag, and I was hooked.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

I grew up mainly making things from scratch from patterns, heavily relying on the precision of the instructions. However, more recently I’ve begun experimenting with my own patterns and also reconstructing existing garments into something new or different. This has opened up a whole new world of possibilities, and now shopping is a new experience for me entirely. A piece of clothing that isn’t the right size, doesn’t fit right, or would look better with a different cut can be easily resized, tailored, or transformed entirely into something new. One of my favorite things to do is wander around thrift shops looking for something that catches my eye, whether it be a striking print or just a silly design, taking it home and transforming into something unique and fun.

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

My favorite thing about sewing is the excitement and anticipation at the very start of a project (you know, before the actual work begins). And of course, the actual wearing of the garment and receiving a compliment to which I can reply, I made this!

I’d have to say that my least favorite thing is finishing seams. I have big problems with completing projects in their entirety (I’ll be 90% done and suddenly another project looks oh-so-enticing), and finishing seams is a major source of that problem. I’ll stitch my garment together, and it looks wearable and good from the outside, but I’ll growl knowing I’ve still got work to do. Sometimes, I’ll just wear it anyway and skip the seams. (I hope my mom isn’t reading this.)

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

Britney Spears a pair of pants. With underwear.

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

I love seeing what other fun things people are up to and getting inspired by their work. Sometimes on burdastyle, I’ll see someone put together an everyday creation in a unique way that makes me think of things in a whole new way. For instance, I’m a pretty avid sewer and knitter, but until I saw Ms. CarotteSauvage’s sailor style coat/cardigan I’d never even thought of combining these two skills. She expertly paired a sewn coat with handknit ribbing for the cuffs and waistband. Genius!

As far as improvements go, I’m a very organized person who is always searching for ways to catalog my ideas, tuck little pieces of knowledge away for future use, and creatively match up materials that I have with projects that I have in mind. I would love if burdastyle had a tagging system to match up creations that I like, to be paired with my own materials & fabrics, all housed in my own personal little online notebook.

7. What is your motto?

Nobody puts baby in a corner.

Nimblefingers has incredible creations. Between her knitting and her sewing, you can tell that she has talent and a keen aesthetic. Check out her fabulous blog and her top ten favorite creations

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