Choosing good fabrics


I recently made a knit dress that I loved – the style was perfectly “me”, it fit great and I felt great wearing it. So great, in fact, that I’ve worn it 3 or 4 times in the past month, including yesterday to the office. But to my horror, I noticed the back and right side were pilling already, and those little balls were just from everyday wear, as I hadn’t even washed it yet! The worst part was, the fabric I used was one that I’d seen lots of sewers rave over so I thought I’d be okay!

If you spend all that time getting the fit perfect and creating the garment of your dreams, then your time deserves a fabric that will stand up to the test of time. So how do you know if your fabric will be worthy of your masterpiece?

Look at fiber content – I’ve learned from experience that natural fabrics like cotton, wool, linen, silk, and bamboo feel so much nicer to me than synthetics like polyester and lycra. The latter definitely have a place in sportswear, but natural fibers tend to hold up better to everyday wear in my experience. If you’re not sure what your fabric is made of, a quick burn test can usually narrow it down.

Look at weight – some online fabric stores list the weight of the fabric in gsm, but other times you just need to infer to from hand and drape whether it’s suitable for your project. I once tried to use babywale corduroy to make trousers even though it was far too lightweight and was intended for shirts. The end result was that the corduroy rubbed away in the thighs in a matter of months! So a lightweight fabric might be great for a drapey blouse, but not so great for a jacket or coat!

Cheap fabrics are great for muslins – if you’ve already got some “what was I thinking?” fabrics in your stash, don’t throw them away! They’ve still got great uses for practice garments since they don’t have to stand up to repeated wearings or even leave the house!

There’s always a chance you’ll be caught out like I was with my knit, but if you follow this advice, you’ll hopefully be well on your way to fabric harmony!

Photo: onebyjude under Creative Commons

Recycle Mini Challenge!


The BurdaStyle Mini challenge is back but with a twist! Starting today Sunday the 12th of October you have 2 weeks to make and upload your creation to the site for a chance to win some special secret sewing treats and BurdaStyle goodies! And the twist? Your creation MUST be recycled. You may use any patterns, how-to’s or techniques featured on the BurdaStyle site.


• You need to be a registered member to take part.

• Your creation MUST be recycled.

• You must upload your creation into the ‘Mini Challenge’ category by Sunday the 26th of October.

• Put the word “recycle” into the name/title of your creation so we can tell it’s for this MiniChallenge

• When you upload your creation you must give a detailed description of how you made your creation, the patterns, how-to’s or techniques you used, materials you used and how it was recycled etc.

• Show us your ‘before’ materials in a photograph.

The mini challenge will be judged by you the members. Voting will start on Tuesday the 28th of October, more details about how to vote will be given at a later date. When voting you should take the following into consideration:

• Creativity.

• Wearability.

• Skills and techniques used.

• Best use of recycled materials.

• And of course your favourite!

• You can vote once only.

This is going to be fun!!! Are you up for the challenge?

Feel free to ask any questions.

EDIT TO ADD: Anyone can take part, no matter which country you live in. Upload your creation in the ‘creation’ section of this site and add it to the ‘mini challenge’category. Make sure you put RECYCLED in your title.

Quick Easy Holiday Cards from Ruby Lime Designs


This week’s member blog showcases Ruby Lime Designs from BurdaStyle member, RubyLime. Her cool and interesting ways of using fabric can certainly give many people inspiration. My favorite are her card something I am certainly going to remember as we enter the holiday season.

BurdaStyle is Going to Maker Faire Austin Oct 18-19


BurdaStyle is going to Maker Faire Austin! We are so incredibly excited! There are going to be tons of our friends from the sewing and crafting world (Average Jane Crafter, all our friends from Craftzine, Singer sewing machines and over 50 other crafters) as well as all the absolute awesomeness that is Maker Faire!

There is going to be a giant swap-o-rama where you bring old clothes and refashion them (with the help of local designers), tons of demonstrations, a Refashioned Fashion Show and so much more. Plus I just found out that not only is there a life size Mouse Trap game, the great band Mucca Pazza (who I first saw at Renegade San Fran) is going to be performing on Sunday. I am really excited to be going down south to represent the BurdaStyle team.

We are going to be located in the Show Barn giving out freebies and raffling off 10 Charlie Bags filled with goodies. I hope you all come say hi check this out, it is going to be awesome!

October 18-19th

Travis County Expo Center

Maker Faire Austin

BurdaStyle will be in the Show Barn

Are You Ready for Men in Skirts?


I didn’t imagine what a burning question this is when starting to browse the web for some material for this blog: I have come across skirt wearing men’s forums and discussion groups; exhibitions in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and New York’s Metropolitan Museum that have explored this topic; and a variety of designers who have dedicated themselves to design men skirts and similar attire. Yet, apparently to little avail. Regression in male’s freedom to dress came with the early Victorian period. Bright colours and luxurious fabrics were replaced by sober dark coloured suits and plain shirts, which dominate most male wardrobes ever since. It seems, much to the anger and frustration of many men who would like to enjoy the same comfort, versatility and variety as their female counterparts others like to redefine established gender roles or simply end what they call “trouser tyranny.”

The answer of Star Trek Next Generation Designers was the “Skant” a short sleeved top with attached skirt which establishes “the total equality of the sexes presumed to exist in the 24th century.” Mind you, in many parts of the world outside the west, it is common to see men in skirt or dress like clothes such as caftans, djellabahs, or sarongs; most famous in Europe, are kilt-wearing Scots. Yet, efforts by various fashion designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, John Galliano, Kenzo, Rei Kawakubo, and Yohji Yamamoto, in the 20th and 21st century to make the men’s skirt street fashion seem not to have made an impact neither has it become more fashionable, nor have we become more tolerant: Male skirts reappearing on New York’s cat walks this July and photos posted by the Sartorialist (excellent fashion blog) received comments such as "it’s just not right…unless, of course, it’s a kilt….. " or “we can’t get past the fact that they’re men wearing skirts, and something about that trend just doesn’t look or feel right.” Yet, some “absolutely love men in skirts.”

BurdaStyle members whether caftans, sarongs, your own skirts or the Start Trek skant serve as inspiration I challenge you to brighten up and diversify the wardrobes of your male partners and friends! You could start off by sewing a modern kilt using instead of the traditional Scottish Tartan patterns, other materials such as leather, or denim.

Featured Member: Serendipity


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

I’m from Germany and live in Bavaria.

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

Like every child I sewed some easy things at primary school, for example cushions. But I only started sewing clothes one year ago at a sewing class where I made a skirt and a coat. But the sewing process took so long so I got sick of them and haven’t finished them yet.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

It plays a very big part in my life as I always seem to be thinking about how to sew something or what to do next. I sometimes even cannnot fall asleep at night when I’m in the middle of a project and it won’t get off my mind.

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

My favorite thing is to find new projects and the right fabric for them and also to alter patterns. The thing I dislike the most is when the whole process of sewing just doesn’t seem to come to an end and all this little details have to be done to get a good result.

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

I’ve sewn some pajama pants for my sisters. But at the moment I wouldn’t dare to make anything else for another person. I don’t have enough practice for that.

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

Every week I look forward to the newest pattern and I really appreciate all the how tos from which you can learn a lot of new techniques. It would be good if the posting dates were shown for every creations.

7. What is your motto?

Am I bovvered?

Serendipity has some wonderful creations! Her creations come from Burda World of Fashion, BurdaStyle and various How Tos.

Silk Screening Madness


As I mentioned last week my boyfriend & I have recently launched our first collaborative effort together: Dahl & Dane. For the last week we have been burning silk-screens & screen-printing organic t-shirts in our loft at home.
Screen-printing first appeared in a recognizable form in China during the Song Dynasty (960–1279 CE)! A screen is made of a piece of porous, finely
woven fabric called mesh stretched over a frame of aluminum or wood. Originally human hair then silk was woven into screen mesh, currently most mesh is made of man made materials such as steel, nylon, and polyester. Areas of the screen are blocked off with a non-permeable material to form a stencil, which is a negative of the image to be printed; that is, the open spaces are where the ink will appear. Does anyone out there want to learn how to screen print? Here is a great YouTube tutorial on how to burn a screen. Here is another d.i.y. website with goodsteps to follow.

There are several ways to create a stencil for screen-printing. An early method was to create it by hand in the desired shape, either by cutting the design from a non-porous material and attaching it to the bottom of the screen aka sticker or contact paper), or by painting a negative image directly on the screen with a filler material which became impermeable when it dried.

We use the photo emulsion technique:

1. The original image is created on a transparent overlay such as acetate or tracing paper. The image may be drawn or painted directly on the overlay, photocopied, or printed with a laser printer, as long as the areas to be inked are opaque. A black-and-white negative may also be used (projected on to the screen).

2. The overlay is placed over the emulsion-coated screen, and then exposed with an ultraviolet light source in the 350-420 Nanometer spectrum (we use 150 watt bulbs for 30 minutes, works great!). The UV light passes through the clear areas and create a polymerization (hardening) of the emulsion.

3. The screen is washed off thoroughly. The areas of emulsion that were not exposed to light dissolve and wash away, leaving a negative stencil of the image on the mesh.

We are really excited about what else we can do with screen-printing. I want to make some printed fabric out of drawings…I can’t wait until we have some free time:)

A Malissa Variation Getting it's Chance to Shine


Today we are featuring an entry in the Malissa cocktail dress variation contest. We are featuring this one because it never got its chance to shine in the voting. MJB14’s creation got lost in the internet void and she deserves a chance to show off. Her great creation can be seen above and if you would like more detail please check out her sewing creations. Thanks for submitting MJB14!

Halloween Costume Ideas 2008, Static Cling versus Black Widow


For those of us in a pinch only hours or even minutes before heading out to our costume required big Halloween bash, here at Burda Style we came up with one super fast and easy last minute Halloween costume,
Static Cling.

At first we thought this was some great and totally original, hilarious idea, but after only a few minutes of searching the net, we came to realize, hey! This is actually a fairly common idea that we apparently share with many. Who would have ever thought? So, although overall the idea is pretty ridiculous, check out these wacky “Static Cling” Halloween costumes and our very own variation as well.

Check out our BLACK WIDOW SPIDER COSTUME and its HOW TO as well as the STATIC CLING COSTUME and itsHOW TO !

Kasia skirt


A few of you gave me a much deserved kick up the ‘you know where’ but alas it wasn’t enough for me get anything worth showing done on my jacket. I did do a little work on it but not enough to babble on about here. Sigh. Next week? Should I promise?

I did manage to finish my Kasia skirt and I LOVE it! The waistband was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, so many pieces and easy for them to get mixed up. I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out which piece was which after they’d been mixed up. It was quick to sew up otherwise, or it would have been if I hadn’t had trouble with the zipper. I decided to use an invisible zipper but once it was sewn in I couldn’t open it past a particular point. It turns out that one of the teeth was damaged so I had to unpick the whole thing and use a regular zipper. Ugh, I was not happy oh but I am now that it’s all finished. I think this could be one of my favourite patterns at the moment, it fits in all the right places, feels snug enough around my hips and bottom and the high waistband holds in my leftover mummy tummy. I made no alterations to the pattern, there was no need. What more could I ask for? Perfect!

What makes it even better is it cost me nothing but my time to make. The denim was given to me (I have denim coming out mf my ears), the zip was from my stash and the buttons are vintage glass buttons I had found at the thrift store sometime earlier this year. A stash busting garment always makes me smile :) I’d like to say I’m going to make more from this pattern but who knows when I’ll get around to that. If you haven’t already made this skirt then you absolutely must, when you’re done reading here head on over to this page, print out the pattern and get to work.

I have decided to shame myself into getting some of my projects finished. I have started a thread over in the forum where I have listed unfinished and yet to be started sewing projects which I will (hopefully) cross off as i finish them. I will also add projects as they come up. Anyone care to join me? I have this funny idea that it will make me more productive and stop procrastinating although it could all go horribly wrong.

Also, don’t forget about the sewalong for the Laura dress.

Future Hippie: Vintage Clothes


The Future Hippie store is a great spot to nab vintage finds. The store is for men and women and features clothes from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. There are choice pieces for any style. Check it and add a little flavor to your fall wardrobe.

Baby Lock Halloween Costume Contest



Malissa Variation Winner Is...


Congratulations to Gertie!

She received the most votes in the Malissa Cocktail Dress Variation Contest! Not bad for a first time upload! Her red silk jersey variation received 304 votes, in second place Mirela‘s great variation (bottom right) with 253 votes and with third place Prudencerabbit’s great green dress (bottom left) with 114 votes. Thank you to everyone who voted and submitted their work, this has been our most successful contest yet!

Gertie will have her dress photographed in our photoshoot, receive a look book, get cards or the dress and receive all the high res pictures from the shoot.
Congrats again Gertie!

Sewing Silk Pajamas for Christmas


Over the past few years, my friends and family have wised up to the fact that if they want a handmade gift from me at Christmas, they’d better get your orders in a few months early! Right now I’m in the midst of planning a pair of silk pajamas for my good friend Pip, and I thought these might be a good idea for others, too.

Loads of you have already made the lovely ladies’ Jane pajamas but you could also easily adapt Andre as silk boxers for the men in your life, too. Add a Marcel sleepmask or Alice slippers and you’ve got a great gift worth staying under the covers for!

If you’ve never sewn with silk before, it’s not nearly as difficult as it would seem. Silk charmeuse (sometimes called “silk ”">satin") feels ultra luxurious next to the skin and is what a lot of super expensive lingerie manufacturers use. Since it’s a natural fiber, it lets your skin breathe and feels cool in the summer and warm in the winter, too.

You’ll need to use a small microtex sharp needle in your machine to avoid pulled threads, and cutting out slippery fabric can be made easier with some cleverly-placed paper. Once I made the mistake of sewing regular seams on a silk blouse, only to have it fray and unravel everywhere! Eventually I was forced to bias-bind all the seam allowances by hand to save it, but I definitely learned my lesson. Don’t make my mistake – it only takes a few minutes more to sew french seams in silk garments and you’ll end up saving yourself time later!

Does anyone else have any Christmas presents on the go yet?

Suiting females?


Ladies, have you ever considered how lucky we are that compared to guys we can wear whatever pleases us, we could take the male jacket pattern of our BurdaStyle website and sew a fantastic jacket for us. In contrast, a guy running around in skirts and dresses is likely to be frowned upon, although some of them really do look fantastic (like my ex- ex- boyfriend who picked me up from high-school one day dressed in a long skirt that a friend of his had designed).

One thing that feminism really has achieved is not only paving the way for women wearing trousers but ridding them from the most uncomfortable clothing etiquette. Until the end of the 19th century, it was next to impossible for women to wear trousers, unless you called yourself George Sands, and were a French aristocrat whose real name was Amandine-Aurore-Lucille Dupin, who attracted much attention wearing male suits and hats and smoking cigars in public. Mind you, the situation was quite different in theaters, where women playing male characters were an erotic attraction for wearing trousers revealing the shapes of their legs. But outside the theater you would have been dressed in rigid corsets, skirts and dresses with undergarments weighing up to 14 pounds! No wonder that the first argument for female trousers, promoted by an American feminist called Amelia Bloomer , was based on concerns of comfort. Alas, her alternative design, ankle-length baggy trousers worn under a knee-long skirt or overcoat, called “bloomers”, were rather unsuccessful, ridiculed in the press and failed to be commonly accepted.

Then came the bike, and with the bike a technical justification to wear trousers, since skirts on bikes caused quite a few accidents (many people would have preferred if women stopped cycling rather than change clothes). In company of a bike, a woman could wear her cycling trousers, but cycling trousers without a bike, forget it!

Etiquette was so stubborn that neither Parisian fashion designers who designed an Arabian style combination of dress and trousers in 1911, nor two World Wars which necessitated women to put on men’s working clothes to replace them in factories, could create the legitimacy for women to wear trousers in public. In fact, it was considered inappropriate for women to wear trousers until the 1960s! Today, women have a choice between trousers and skirts, while men are mostly confined to their trousers, but that is an issue I will write about in a future blog.


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