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What do you like about the Paola Wrap Dress?

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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

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

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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'!

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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!

Featured Member: Nelliethemermaid

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

I was born in England but my parents emigrated to New Zealand when I was a baby, so that makes me a kiwi through and through. My family home is in Stratford, a small town with a beautiful mountain but now I live in the city of Hamilton with my husband and Oscar the dog.

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

My mom sews, so when I was younger I learnt (basically) how to use a sewing machine by being her assistant in sewing curtains, costumes and my prom dress. The first wearable item I assembled, all by myself, start to finish, were the Jane pajamas about 8 months ago.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

I really enjoy practical, creative things so sewing fits that perfectly. My husband is usually occupied outside in the vegetable garden on the weekend so that leaves me time to have a good sewing session. In the evenings he comes inside and cooks me dinner so I don’t have to stop sewing! I’m sure our friends think we are old before our time.

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

My favourite thing is reading instructions! I love instructions!! Haha. Just by following steps (even if you’re not quite sure what you are doing) you can take a flat piece of material and turn it into a piece of clothing! My least favourite thing is actually fabric shopping! Hard to believe? I love the idea of shopping but once I get to the fabric store I feel a bit overwhelmed and under experienced. I start second guessing my choice of fabric and end up just staring blankly at the bolts.

I do look forward to having the experience to step away from the step by step pattern and be able to make my own adjustments or to adapt and recycle clothing like some of the other members have.

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

Hmmm, something special for my brand new niece (born 7.1.09) as she is just about all that is occupying my thoughts at the moment.

(Also, maybe a pair of tight, leather trousers for Rob Thomas because then perhaps I’d be lucky enough to do an in-person fitting?)

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

I think that if I hadn’t come across Burdastyle then I would not have been so quickly hooked on sewing. It is great to have easy access to patterns and all the helpful tips. Without these, as a beginner, I would have just given up I think.

When trying to decide on a pattern to sew I find it really helpful to browse through all the other members creations of the same pattern, to get a really good idea on what the end article looks like. Much better than the envelope patterns that you buy at a store where there might only be a single illustration.
I love seeing other members’ creations and also find it interesting to read their blogs etc.
Sorry, I really can’t think of anything that can be improved!

7. What is your motto?

To be true to yourself, always follow your own heart, mind and soul.

Nelliethemermaid has some absolutely beautiful creations, my personal favorite is her JJ variation. To see Nelliethemermaid’s top ten favorite creations and inspiration, check out her silde show!

Vote for your Favorite Suit Variation!

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The Design and Sew a Suit Variation Contest has come to an end. Check out all the amazing entries in our slide show, once you have made up your mind vote for your favorite! Voting closes 11:59pm this Sunday the 18th!

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