Well, if you want to sing out, sing out

and if you want to be free be free

‘cause there’s a million things to be

you know that there are, you know that there are

These lyrics from a Cat Stevens song have been singing through my mind today as I faced a challenging situation that I am trying not to dwell upon and move on from. My Dahl & Dane tote bags were featured on the Today Show via Lucky magazine’s holiday gift guide, and to my disbelief they got the pricing wrong (UGH)! It was stated that the totes retail for $15 but in actuality they retail for $34 ($10 for each additional). Needless to say, we had a few emails from prospective customers who required an explanation and were a bit miffed. It’s sort of a blow. We were counting on heaps of orders.

Being a pleaser, I kindly wrote everyone back stating that Lucky magazine had our information wrong and to forgive their error and not misjudge our moral, as we only want to spread happiness.

You can do what you want

the opportunity’s on

And if you find a new way

you can do it today

you can make it all true…

Moving on, these lyrics got me thinking about forging your own path and
the importance of letting yourself go, be daring, be excited, be free. I thought
about my second year of college which was spent in Florence, Italy at a small
school called Lorenzo de’Medici. I was a Fashion Design major there and studied
intensively many hours a week. I found this school on my own. I wasn’t interested
in the least to have an American college experience, I craved something completely
foreign and was shocked to discover how inexpensive the tuition was in comparison
to American colleges. I found that while living in unique places like Florence I met
many other people like myself, who craved travel, new situations & adventure. A
network of creativity at my fingertips! I lived with a photographer (who is now quite
a successful stylist for Ford) and we would go to the old cemeteries lined with fir trees
and I’d model my clothes along with a friend who was a ballerina (who now lives in
Denmark with her love and make dolls). Then we’d go home and develop our pictures
in one of the bathrooms which we converted into a darkroom…it was paradisaical.
These memories are still very alive, tapping away at my heart, reminding me that
life is what we make of it. Even if we can’t move off to a romantic city far away, we
can create magic in our lives at home, and through communities like BurdaStyle,
we can share them with an endless network of international creative minds. How’s
that for inspiration?

Sewing with Sweater Knits


We’ve had some really great warm winter pattern recently, like the Amy sweatshirt for girls, the Amin sweatshirt for guys, and most recently our newest cardigan pattern, but if you’re tired of sewing with fleece and sweat shirting, you might want to consider sewing with sweater knit instead. Sweater knit is made on large knitting machines so it comes in large pieces like other types of fabric, but as it’s knitted together instead of woven, it has a tendency to stretch and unravel as you sew it. The great thing about sweater knits is that you can make a lovely warm sweater in a fraction of the time that it takes to knit one by hand!

You’ve already learned how to sew with heavy rib knits from this How To, but here are some other tips I learned when I was sewing my first sweater recently (seen in the image above!).

  • Use a narrow zigzag stitch for all seams (or a wide 4 thread overlocking stitch if you’ve got a serger)
  • Bind seam allowances (hong kong finish) to avoid fraying and unravelling if you’ve not got a serger
  • Cut pattern pieces with larger seam allowances than usual if your sweater knit is prone to unraveling (test for this by stretching and abusing a scrap first!)
  • Loosen the presser foot tension (usually on the top left of your machine) to avoid stretching the seams as you sew
  • Use a walking foot if you’ve got one to avoid slipping layers
  • Be aware that lots of sweater knits love to shed fluff so have a vacuum and lint brush at the ready and clean your machine frequently to avoid thread snarls!
  • When choosing a pattern for your sweater knit, try to stick to simple styles – lots of pleating and gathering gets very buiky very quickly
  • reinforce shoulder seams with twill tape to avoid stretched out, baggy shoulders

  • And as with all fabrics, be sure to prewash sweater knits before cutting so you don’t end up with a shrunken croptop after your first wash!

Holiday Giveaway Calendar: Win a $100 Mood Fabrics Gift Certificate!


Today’s Gift on the Holiday Give Away Calendar was generously supplied by our friends at Mood Fabrics. Just by leaving your comment below (by midnight EST) you are entered to win this $100 gift certificate. Check back everyday for a new gift! Good luck and happy commenting!

And a congratulations to WenStuPen for winning the Lynn shawl!

Holiday Giveaway Calendar: Win the Lynn Shawl!


It’s that time again! The year is winding down and now is the time for gifts. In the spirit of the Holidays and gift giving in general, everyday until the 24th we will be giving away great gifts; all you have to do is comment on the daily blog post by midnight (EST) the day the gift is posted. One winner will be chosen randomly from all the comments written that day. If you aren’t picked today, don’t fret; you still have 23 more chances to comment and win!

Today’s gift: we are giving away our very own wonderful Lynn shawl. So just write any comment below and you might just win!




Merryk: “Apologies this is more of a note, than a blog but this site is in a state of ‘creative construction’.”

BurdaStyle Member: “What can we expect from that? – Bigger, better, faster sewing?”

Merryk: “ No, probably not! But hopefully even more inspired sewing!!”

BurdaStyle Member: “How”

Merryk: “Well, first I want to make this blog more interactive, not just ticking off subject after subject but devoting a bit more time and space to a single theme”.

BurdaStyle Member: “but where is the interactive?”

Merryk: “Wait – It’s right there! Because part of all this is to have space to responding to all those intelligent and interesting comments you give me….”

BurdaStyle Member: “Ahh… – actually, why don’t we start the interaction right now?”

Merryk: “How?”

BurdaStyle Member: “ Well, why don’t you ask all of us witty members if there are any specific topics or themes we would like to read and chat about”

Merryk: “That is an excellent idea – BurdaStyle Members you are all welcome to post ideas and suggestions on everything you always wanted to know about the Global History of Fashion.”

This mysterious picture is © anturi. Check out equally beautiful pictures on his flickr site.

Featured Member: Bola


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

I live in a town called Thornhill which is south of Leeds in West Yorkshire UK, although I was born in south east London and moved up to Yorkshire a year ago.

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

I think the first thing I made was a scarf. A family friend came to stay for a while when I was young (about 7 years old) and while she was with us she taught me how to knit. I think this is when I started to make things with textiles, before I would just make crafty paper objects and toys. Before I had a sewing machine I would sew cushion covers by hand but they looked awful! I never really thought I would be able to make actual clothing but then my mum (after much pleading) bought me a sewing machine in my mid teens and I started buying simple patterns and trying them out. The first good things I made were a couple of skirts. I got the fabric for the brown skirt from a market stall in Lewisham and for the grey skirt – I found the fabric on the floor after the market had packed away! -although cheap, I still wear these skirts today!! (see homepage pics)

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Quite a big role! I have always thought of my sewing as just a hobby, however since discovering BurdaStyle and all the great creations on the site and on members blogs I would really like to take it further and combine it with my graphic design work. Before I got back into sewing I would only knit things every now and again but now i’m sewing everyday and trying things I really thought I would never be able to make, like jackets and trousers.

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

My favourite thing would be the sewing up of the garment. I just love how the pieces suddenly transform into something that can be worn. And also altering patterns to see what interesting shapes and details you can come up with . My least favourite would be unpicking seams, it just feels like your not making any progress.

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

I would like to make some dungarees for my husband. He has wanted them for a while but I can’t find a pattern anywhere for him, so if anyone knows please let me know! I would like to try menswear a bit more but at the moment there’s lots for me to learn about womenswear first.

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

I, like some other members was looking for free patterns to use, but I not only found that, but also a wealth of great creations made by people of different backgrounds and abilities – this is what I love! the fact that there are so many inspiring creations and you can easily have your own page to show your creations to others and get feedback, even from those who are thousands of miles away!. Every member has different influences which surround them in their community and country but with the BurdaStyle site even if you’re not in the same country you can still link up and be influenced by them and their creations.

7. What is your motto?

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”
William Morris

I would always seek to try and make beautifully useful things!

Bola only joined a short while ago, but has quickly become one of our most prolific members. Her great eye for design is evident in all of her creations. Visit her at RedBubble to purchase some of her graphic designs.

You Reap What You Sew


In the past few years, young fashion designers have come into view as promising & inspired visionaries. The study of Fashion Design has never been more popular
and the current infatuation with celebrity designers and the “face behind the name” has taken fashion to an exciting level.

I must admit, when I see celebrities coming out with fashion lines I get a bit sick to my stomach (most have had absolutely no training nor have ever sewn a stitch) but on the flip side, the current excitement surrounding fashion has led to the creation of numerous organizations and fashion design competitions giving young designers the chance to showcase their collections, many of which award winners with cash prizes.

One prominent New York based organization I applaud is GenArt. GenArt hosts various fashion design competitions each year and accept applications from all over the world. Anyone can apply (for a nominal fee of $25, as they are a non-profit organization) to a variety of categories, such as womens/mens ready-to-wear, avant-garde & accessory design. I was nominated last spring for a collection I designed from the word “Radiance”.

There is also the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation. Each year, seven designers win an extraordinary opportunity to showcase their collection during New York’s fall fashion week. The EDFF award comes with a generous grant of $25,000 to help produce an unforgettable fashion show. The award categories for the 2008 – 2009 season include four womenswear awards, a menswear award, an accessories award, and a new sustainable design award. ITS#FASHION DESIGN COMPETITION is an Italian based organization sponsored by Diesel. ITS is a contest for young fashion designers and recent graduates from fashion schools worldwide providing winners with a Diesel grant and internship plus various other cash prizes.

I hope some of you may be interested in applying for one of these grants, I’d love to see a BurdaStyle member win! Feel free to post any grants or competitions you know of in your respective countries.

"Poster Boy" Jeffrey Spreads Sewing in the Men's World


Our very own Jeffrey is in this issue of MixTape Zine. He talks about the importance of men sewing and the shift of classic “women’s work” to a more gender-neutral status. It is a great read, and this combined with the other fabulous articles make MixTape the wonderful zine that it is. Check it out and get your own copy

$5 Off Venus Zine Subscription for BurdaStylers!


So Venus Zine has made an awesome, exclusive offer for BurdaStyle members, $5 off 1-year Venus Zine subscription! Go to venuszine.com/subscribe and enter “Burda08” as promo code at check out. Offer valid until December 30, 2008.

Reusable gift wrapping


Since all the gifts we plan to give at Christmas time are handmade (they’re handmade right? Right!), it seems a pity to wrap them in commercially made wrapping paper. Think of the impact on the earth that stuff has, it’s torn into and stuffed into the already overflowing rubbish bins the day after Christmas. You know where it goes right? Yup, straight into a hole in the ground. And how many trees are used to produce it? A ridiculous amount that’s right! So maybe you’d like to try alternative ways of wrapping your gifts this year. One option is to reuse packaging, i keep paper from gifts given to my family, i just flatten it out (sometimes i iron it) and reuse it. Another option is to make reusable bags. These can be made in any size and are really easy to make, I have made up a simple how-to which you can see here. All you need is a rectangle of fabric and some ribbon for the drawstring. Once Christmas is over the recipient of your beautiful handmade gift can reuse their drawstring bag for something else or pass on the handmade love by using it for another gift.

Sewing on the Bias


I’ve been sewing for quite a few years, but even now, I still sometimes have problems when I sew clothes on the bias. I’m in the middle of sewing a silk cocktail dress right now and I changed the layout of the pattern pieces, which ended up putting the bottom of the dress panels on the bias instead of on the straight grain as the pattern indicated. The result was that the seams where the bias-cut fabric meets the straight grain fabric are oddly puckered and require a few days of hanging free in order to “grow”.

Fabrics cut on the bias can behave in unexpected ways when you start to sew them and when they interact with other pieces of fabric – the same properties that made them so valued in beautiful 1930s hip-hugging evening gowns, also means that they tend to stretch for a while even after you’ve cut them. So if you’re sewing with bias-cut fabric, you need to let it hang for a few days before you attach it to the rest of your garment. This was the crucial step I forgot in my impatience! Luckily I can just rip out the problem stitches and let my cocktail dress rest for a few days (and think about what she’s done, I reckon!), but if you’re making a dress like Shari that has a bias cut skirt, you might want to read up on some tips on sewing with bias fabrics (or vintage tips here) first to avoid using the seam ripper!

Sewing on the bias isn’t anything to be scared of, though – you don’t have to be Charles Kleibacker to make a beautiful and flattering bias-cut dress!

(The gorgeous gown in the photo is elneenya’s Swirling Seams Gown)

Reading between Patterns


Having written about clothes as language in a previous blog, I cannot but have to tell you about the “language” of African textiles, probably most of you my dear readers visualize something brightly colored when thinking of African clothes, and probably the least of you (just like me) would expect that many of the intricate patterns that adorn African textiles actually carry a meaning.

Let’s stop in Ghana first, a little cocoa producing country on the West coast of Africa, famous for its fearless Asante warriors and the bright stripes of kente fabrics. The geometric patterns and colors of their ceremonial dresses made up of hand-woven cloth have a variety of different meanings: they can symbolize democracy, wealth, family bonds, ingenuity, Ö

Let’s travel on to Mali, a landlocked country a little North of Ghana, one of whose mysterious sounding town, Timbuktu – was the intellectual and spiritual centre for the distribution of Islam in Africa in the 15th and 16th century. Here we find women crafting Bogolanfini (“Bo-ho-lahn-FEE-nee”), which translates as “Mud Cloth” hand woven cotton textiles that are dyed in a laborious process of applying various plant juices / teas and mud. The symbols, colors and patterns of the cloths reveal not just a person’s social status, but also character and even secrets. They can signify a proverb or even tell a story: a rusty color is said to represent strong and supernatural powers, zig-zag patterns are the “Iguana’s Elbow” and represent good fortune, something that looks like the clubs in a card game represents the Calabash Flower and symbolizes prosperity. Check out the site of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to find out more about the process of Mudcloth making, and even make your own virtual mud cloth. You can learn more about weaving and African patterns here and if you have a little time to spare check out the rest of the beautiful pages on Africa history at African Voices.

And then, why don’t you experiment making your own meaningful pattern using the Shibori Techniques.

Pictures © africa.com

Featured Member: Annika


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

I grew up in a small town called Sundsvall in Sweden. Nowadays I live in Umeå, an equally small town further north.

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

The first thing I made was a midnight blue, asymmetrical absolutely smashing evening gown for my Barbie. In my teens I sewed a little for myself, and I took it up again a couple of years ago, all thanks to BurdaStyle. My grandmother was a source of inspiration. She sewed clothing for me when I was a kid.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

I have a busy professional life, and sewing helps me relax and distracts my mind. And it is very nice to create something with your hands. For many years I tried different crafts, like embroidery, crocheting, but it was all too monotonous for me. Another aspect is the question of consumption. I try to sew more and buy less. I think of sewing my own clothing as ”slow consumption”, (you know, like slow food, only clothing). First there is the shopping of fabrics – fun! Then there´s the entertainment of sewing – more fun! And then wearing your own unique clothing – even more fun!

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

My favourite things is collecting fabric and planning projects in my head. And sewing them of course. And putting the scissors in a fresh new fabric. My least favourite thing is transferring the pattern to the fabric. I do it on the floor, because I don’t have a big enough table, and it makes my back hurt.

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

A collection of stylish and personal office clothing in eco-friendly materials, for myself. Or something for my husband, a button down shirt maybe. Or for my little brother, who is a very picky customer. That would be a challenge.

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

I come to BurdaStyle for patterns, inspiration from all the member’s creations. I’ve recently started to read more and more ”how to’s”. I also read the blog and the forum. Basically everything on BurdaStyle is of interest. The forum is a bit difficult to navigate. I suspect that some interesting threads are buried. Maybe change the forum so you more easily find recently written replies?

7. What is your motto?

When it comes to sewing, my motto is: ”When in doubt, baste!”. I’m a painfully slow and cautious sewer, and I almost always make a test piece in some old fabric, before starting with the real fabric. I wish I could be more daring, and just whip something up.

Annika’s great creations combine the perfect amount of color and style to create a balanced stylish look. Great Job!

Designer's Block


…We all experience it. Sometimes, when I’m sewing, it seems as if somethings just out to get me…I’ve stitched the wrong sides together or can’t figure out the best way to line the dresses I am to send out in 1 week (ahhh), or I just can’t get into the groove. When this happens, the world is not over as it seems. You just need to escape for a bit. Take a field trip, either mental or an actual journey, for 15 minutes, and all will seem better… Inspiration for me comes in all shapes in forms, including an awakening conversation, or the way the street lights shine and glow on the street at night after its been soaked with rain, books (I was given Taschen’s Fashion History, which covers18th century to contemporary fashion and always excites my imagination)…and walking. I love to walk out my front door into the streets of New York and just drift.

Many times, when I have slipped into an unconscious stroll, answers will strike me “Aha! That’s how I’ll line that dress, it’s not as complicated as I thought…” and so forth. I love to go to vintage clothing shops, like Malin’s on North 6th & Bedford avenue in my neighborhood, there’s always something there to spark my interest. The owner, perpetually silhouetted in 1980’s flare, is so kind and always fun to chat with. The dog park always makes me smile, then sad, because I really want a Shiba Inu (but I’ll get one if I keep working hard). And films, I love films, last night I watched “The Red Shoes” (1948) by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger- stunning. I have been asked by a well known American magazine to design a t-shirt for a giveaway…my head has been swimming with ideas and now it’s time to go to the drawing board.

What do you do to let out some steam or become inspired?

image courtesy of flickr

New BurdaStyle Member Pattern


As you all know, we asked you to nominate other member’s creations to be turned into BurdaStyle patterns. You spoke we listened, after so many great entries, MadisonAF23’s Kangaroo Pocket Dress was the favorite and it will be turned into a BurdaStyle pattern. Thank you for all who submitted, your choices were fantastic. Congratulations to MadisonAF23!


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