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Outer Space Suits


The other week when I was looking for some information on gloves I came across a curious announcement, the 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge, to “promote the development of a highly dexterous and flexible glove for space and planetary surface excursions”. What inspires space suit designers? And is there any inspiration that we can draw from them?

With respect to the first question, the main factor behind space suit design is human survival in space. We probably all know that flying into outer space means dealing with all sort of extraterrestrial challenges but did you know the details: your clothes have to protect you from biological hazards and extreme temperatures: if you turn your back towards the sun it might heat up to about 120 degrees Centigrade; while your belly freezes at MINUS 160 degrees!; micrometeoroids could hit you; and then there is the problem of pressure: up there, pressures is so low that your space suit has to balance it to keep your bodily fluids liquid. In short, you have to carry your own little physical universe that somehow simulates earthly conditions and at the same time let’s you move around, make scientific experiments etc. What a design task!!

The outcome until recently were the chunky not particularly attractive robot type outfits that we know from newspaper or TV pictures that were influenced by diving and aircraft suits.

Today these technical features may be somehow manageable, but a supposedly emerging market for space tourism is creating an entirely new design problem, how to make those outfits comfortable and attractive for the space tourist while still maintaining their functionality. Apparently, when you are up there taking pictures of Mother Earth and you, you don’t want to look like Michelin Man! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that MIT, NASA and some space tourism companies are seriously researching into ways to make the spacesuit leaner, meaner and stylish while maintaining its functionality. (In fact, I couldn’t believe that there actually is a market for space tourism.)

Even if you are not planning to travel into space anytime soon, it is worth checking out the results from the Hyper Space Couture Design Contest that took place in 2006. Maybe you find some inspiration for your Earthly fashion designs, such as chri_stine did for her Denim Space suit.

BurdaStyle featured in Jeff Jarvis' "What Would Google Do"


We recently added number 180 to our favorites. Why? Because Jeff Jarvis, internet and media expert, mentioned BurdaStyle in his new book “What Would Google Do?” on page 180!

And this is what he writes:

…Another challenge: fashion… Just as the internet democratizes news and entertainment, it is opening up style…See also’s open-source sewing from the German publishing empire Burda, which decided to take copyrights off its dress patterns and invite the public to use them, adapt them, create their own, and share them. The site is filled with patterns, how-tos, and discussion…

If you’re interested to learn more, we highly recommend reading Jeff’s book and his blog Buzzmachine.

Featured Member: Lunatepetal


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

I am originally from Japan. I left home after graduating from high school and studied in Vancouver, Canada, for a few years. Moved down to Oregon and lived there for three years. Then, last year, I moved back to BC with my husband and a precious little life in my belly.

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

I don’t quite remember what the first thing I ever made was really. But I think it was either a dress for a doll or a little purse when I was like five.

I guess sewing was something that I started naturally. My mom wasn’t a sewer (more like a knitter), nor did I have someone to teach me how to sew. However, I remember I often hanged out in a sun room at my grandparent’s house next door, where a stunning old pedaled sewing machine was. It was such a gorgeous machine! Of course I wasn’t allowed to use it because I was too little, but I could stare at it for hours. So, I sat next to it, and started hand sewing projects. I wonder where that machine is now??

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Creative meditation (when I am not frustrated at it!)

I am in a meditative state when cutting out patterns and running a sewing machine. There is some sort of meditative, calming therapeutic quality about it for me.

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

My favorite part is when I get a lot of new ideas for designs, which overwhelmingly excites me. Least favorite part is when I can’t materialize those ideas, which makes me really upset and sad. I need to learn more skills!

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

I have become a mother to a beautiful baby girl as of a month ago. So, I would love to start making little pretty clothes for her (If I could ever find enough time with a newborn!). She will be so spoiled!

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

I am so stoked that Burdastyle offers free and inexpensive patterns every week! (Now, unfortunately the system has changed a bit that most of the cool patterns cost some money. Still affordable though!) I also love seeing other people’s creations and alternations of the Burda patterns, as many of other members have stated as well. It is very inspiring and encouraging!!

Only one thing I could think of to improve the site is some sort of alarm thing (maybe via e-mail or side-pop-up thing?) when someone writes on your wall or sends you a message, so that you will never miss it. Oh, and it also will be great somehow if we could follow up with the creations we left a comment on.

7. What is your motto?

“Be Creative”

Creativity never leaves my life. It is a part of my life, everyday, within everything I do. It is an essential component of my being. I am always up for some form of creative things – sewing, jewelry making, printmaking, or just daydreaming about things I don’t have time for. Creativity is not only about being arty and crafty, but also how you live your life. Even when you face a trouble, be creative! You will find your way through it.

Lunatepetal has some truly incredible creations. The tailoring on her coats is amazing.Take a look at her Top Ten favorite creations and be sure to check out her Etsy shop, it’s jam packed with cool jewelry, prints and clothes.

Beauty and Fashion


I am very excited this week because I have just been asked to do participate in a super cool project. For now, I must omit the specifics, but I am going to be designing a small collection inspired by a certain beauty product and the pieces will be featured in the September issue of a widely distributed magazine where I’ll style the photo-shoot! It’s almost as good as Project Runway. It is better in some senses, because I have control over what I’ll be designing and I’ll have my seamstresses & production team on hand to stitch those clean, perfect seams, as opposed to the messy, finicky stitches of the over-worked, over-due machines we used on the show. I like to tell a story. I am naturally drawn to styling the final look of my creations, I find the process as important and fulfilling as the designing itself. One month, I was asked to edit the fashion issue of JPG magazine.

JPG features pictures from people all over the world, who like to take photographs. They are the BurdaStyle of photography. I was given a bunch of fashion-related photographs and sifted through them. I began to realize I look for hopeful imagery, visions of mystery unraveling
or a hidden story.

When I lived in Florence, Italy, my roommate Elissa set up a darkroom for us in one of our bathrooms. We acquired an enlarger and began taking photographs in the fir tree lined cemeteries of Florence. This is the first photograph I developed. Our friend Celena is to the right.

Fall In Love With Sewing!


We are encouraging everyone to fall in love with sewing with three beginner Valentine’s Day inspired projects. These quick, easy and cute gifts are perfect to make for your loved ones, friends or even yourself. Check out the projects : the Pete Valentine Variation, the Valentine’s Flower Bouquet and Valentine’s Day Cards.

Post your gifts up on the site under the “Gifts” category and we will put them all in a slide show!

This month is all about Tailoring, Outerwear, and Menswear.


We will be delving deeper into the ins and out of Tailoring, Outerwear, and Menswear. This month we will revisit some of our past patterns and look at the variations you have all made of them. Along with these old patterns, we will have new patterns like new coats for men and women.

CPSIA One Year Stay


If you sell handmade goods designed for children 12 and under, you can breathe a sigh of relief – at least for the next year. The CPSC has granted a 1 year stay of testing and certification. Here’s an excerpt from their January 30, 2009 press release:

The stay of enforcement provides some temporary, limited relief to the crafters, children’s garment manufacturers and toy makers who had been subject to the testing and certification required under the CPSIA. These businesses will not need to issue certificates based on testing of their products until additional decisions are issued by the Commission. However, all businesses, including, but not limited to, handmade toy and apparel makers, crafters and home-based small businesses, must still be sure that their products conform to all safety standards and similar requirements, including the lead and phthalates provisions of the CPSIA.

Handmade garment makers are cautioned to know whether the zippers, buttons and other fasteners they are using contain lead. Likewise, handmade toy manufacturers need to know whether their products, if using plastic or soft flexible vinyl, contain phthalates.

You can read the entire statement on the CPSC website.

This, of course, does not mean that crafters are in the clear when it comes to selling their wares at shows, exhibitions and on sites such as etsy, or ebay. For more information on this upcoming law (let’s face it, it’s now a year away), check out CraftSanity has a podcast devoted to this topic and Smart Martha’s list of potential lead hazards (rhinestones, zipper stops, pearl buttons).

Aussie volunteers needed


We are still looking for volunteers to help out for a few hours each day with the BurdaStyle stand at the Stitches and Craft Shows. It would mainly be while I attend to the workshops and fashion show. In return for your help you will receive a great little goodie bag.

If you are interested in being part of the show or would like more info please email Nichola at

Show dates:

Melbourne- 11th till 15th March

Brisbane- 29th April till 3rd May

Sydney- 19th till 23rd August

Kent State Design Challenge


This weekend twenty-six fashion design students at <a href";&gt;Kent State University will be competing in a “Project Runway”-type design challenge. They will have only two days to complete a garment and have it ready to be judged in a fashion show.

There are some awesome prizes being awarded to the winners, one lucky contestant will have their design turned into a pattern for BurdaStyle and one will even win a scholarship from Coats & Clark! Keep your eyes peeled, we will be putting up a slide show of the winning designs.

The Hand-shoe


Looking at the muff of this month, I had to think of mittens and got curious about their past. From mittens it is just a small step to gloves (or “handshoe” as they are called in German) and here I got stuck, fascinated about the glove’s history. The earliest document of the use of gloves is this ancient Greek fresco of two boxing youths. In medieval times metal gloves were part of armory. At the same time, gloves were a symbol for power and law and only aristocrats or the clergy were allowed to wear them. It was also in the middle-ages that gloves, made from leather or “needle-binding” turned into fashion accessories for fine ladies. But it was Queen Elizabeth I. who started wearing the most elaborate gloves embroidered and adorned with jewelry. The first specialized glove makers appeared in France in the 12th century. Probably to cover the smell of the leather, they perfumed their gloves with scented oils. Knitting gloves from silk or wool was a craft on its own, that supposedly required five years of training, if you still made mistakes your work would be confiscated and burnt!

Long lady’s gloves reaching up to the upper arm became an important, in fact obligatory item of the ball robe in the early 19th century when short sleeved robes became fashionable. Interestingly, men traditionally wore gloves at balls to avoid damaging the fine silk dresses of their dancing partners with their sweaty hands. Today gloves are worn mainly to protect our hands against all sorts of things or by fashion eccentrics like Karl Lagerfeld.

Most fascinating, just as gestures with our hands express sentiments towards people, gestures with gloves can be quite expressive as well: in the 18th century slapping someone with a glove in the face meant to challenge him to a duel. And in German you “handle somebody with kid gloves” when you treat him very diplomatically.

And to give you a bit of a literary treat, check out the English translation of The Glove, a poem by Friedrich Schiller (1759 – 1805) who besides Wolfgang Goethe was and still is one of the most important German poets.

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


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