TREND: Fair Trade


As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And nowhere does that cliché ring truer than at a swap party: For every item someone throws in the kitty, he or she gets to rescue another find from the pile. The pair of jeans a size too big. The pair of shoes that would not stretch. The gift-with-purchase lipstick, the sweater your ex left that you won’t back and need never see again, the worn-once cocktail dress not to be seen in twice. You name it, you can swap it. Preferably over drinks.

Swap-shopping is nothing new, of course, but last month the practice got a vote of support from an unlikely source: Visa, a/k/a, the company that wants you to spend money you don’t necessarily have. In collaboration with TRAID, a U.K. charity committed to protecting the environment and reducing world poverty by recycling clothes and shoes, the credit card company sponsored the three-weekend Visa Swap in London. People who donated goods earned points on a special Visa Swap card, to be used at one of the stylist-assisted swap meets; anyone who found (him or) herself overextending her Swap points could then supply added purchasing power by whipping out her (yes) Visa. Savvy marketing? Sure. Praise-worthy anyway? You bet.

Visa Europe, the arm of the conglomerate that co-sponsored the Swap, plans to launch more barter boutiques in the future, though no word yet on when the initiative will reach America’s shores. In the meantime, extras from the Visa Swap in June have been donated to TRAID, and that’s how you can get your hands on some of the leftovers…sort of. Among its numerous admirable activities, TRAID operates TRAIDremade, a fashion line of one-off pieces made from bits and bobs of donated clothes. The looks are surprisingly fresh, giving a trendy new lease on life to stuff that might otherwise be rightly consigned to the landfill. A trip to London to visit one of the TRAID shops? Cool thousand, give or take. A few TRAIDremade originals? Theoretically hundreds of bucks, what with the low dollar. Getting inspired to makeover your closet without hitting the mall? Alas, the Mastercard ad puts it bet: Priceless.

Featured Member: MarmotaB


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

I’m from the Czech Republic, which is a very nice small country in the Central Europe and has almost everything, with some little exceptions like sea, big mountains or deserts. :-) I live in Cesky Brod, a small town near Prague.

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

That’s something I know very well, because it became part of our family folklore. We used to have a big doll. One day (I could have been 3, 4 years old) I took a piece of fabric, made a thick burl of stitches in the middle of it, that made it shrunk a bit; surprisingly it stayed on the doll’s chest when I placed it there, so I claimed it to be a top.
I guess the next things I made were, not very surprisingly, clothes for our fashion dolls. I also experimented with some plushies, though the first ones really weren’t that nice… The very first thing I’ve sewn on sewing machine, of course with big help from my mom, was the medieval dress I posted on this site.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Being sort of an intellectual person, sewing is a great way to relax and do something manual for me. I also love seeing how a piece of fabric – especially when it’s something recycled – turns into something nice and wearable or into something I can give to someone, like a plushie. And, of course, it’s also a way to turn my everlasting dreams into reality – at least part of them.
I’m still a novice at machine sewing and I prefer sewing by hand, when it’s not a big thing, because when I sew by hand, at least I always really know what I’m doing. And it’s something I can do every now and then and stop and start when I need, unlike sewing on machine. Actually, I’m sewing a headband right now, in breaks during typing this…

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

Will you be surprised if I tell you I really like ripping off the seams? I like re-using things and this part of the process is what gives me nice, re-usable pieces of fabric. Of course, it’s worse when I have to rip off because I did something wrong, but still it’s not my least favourite thing to do.
However, my real favourite thing to do is finding matching pattern and fabric, finding a pattern that suits my idea and fabric that works well with it; or finding a pattern for one fabric from those piles of fabrics we have at home. And then the sewing itself, of course.
My least favourite thing about sewing are those moments when the sewing machine refuses to work as I expect it to work, and I have to stop sewing and find out what’s the matter. Sometimes I get mad about the machine and finish it by hand…

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

Right now it’s more of what I already promised to make and haven’t made yet… but, well, if I ever find time and material for it, I would love to weave ponchos for some nice people from Sergio Leone Web Board, where I’m also a member.

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

I’m lookig here for inspiration, on the first place. Inspiration and tips. So this already works really well here. I like the <a href+";&gt;How Tos and Sewpedia, and love the idea of Open Source patterns, though I haven’t used any of them yet. I guess I’ll have a bit of problems with the seam allowances when I finally try your patterns – I’m used to the European style when one has to add them and can add them as wide as needed. I miss the possibility to see what pattern was used for what creation and to get notification about responses to my posts – but if I get it right, it’s coming in July, so it seems it will be perfect for me.

If you want to find out more about MarmotaB, check out her member profile!

And: We want to make our blog entries the most relevant to you. Please tell us in the forum what questions you would pose! What are you interested to know from other users?

Armhole AND Neckline AND Shoulder Seams, Oh My!


Ever get super-excited about a making a dress which looks easy but ends up posing a lot more problems than you could have imagined? Well, this dress was probably sleeveless. . . am I right? And of course, you want to put a facing in it, because you want to be sure this dress looks as perfect as it does in your imagination. So you start. You sew the darts. You sew the side seams.

TREND: Flash In Hand


Android chic is so last season, but bots and bytes continue to worm themselves into the lives of the stylish. Dior Homme’s departing Hedi Slimane long since took the lead in creating tech accessories designed with the fabulously modern in mind, topping himself for Fall with a sleek leather laptop case that doubles as a fold-out, portable workstation. (If that’s too pricey, you can settle for a Dior Homme mousepad. Seriously.)

Where Hedi goes, others follow, and designers of all stripes now churn out everything from iPod cases to jackets outfitted with solar-powered cellphone chargers. But nowhere is the new – and undoubtedly lasting – trend of haute high-tech more obvious than in the case of the humble flash drive. These thumb drives plug into the USB port on your computer, and store and transport data from home to work and back again, and though you can get a workaday flash drive for practically nothing at Staples, why would you when companies such as Mimobot are turning out flash drive buddies made to look like cute little monsters or Star Wars characters. White Stripes fans, meanwhile, can buy a Jack & Meg drive set for $99, upload new album Icky Thump from either one and use the leftover space to port drafts of love letters to the duo. And last week, Paris’s uber-boutique, Colette, unveiled a new line of flash accessories: The USB drive’s by Philips, the bling by Swarovski. Expect more such partnerships to come, and soon. Futuristic android chic may be over, but then again, who needs it? The future is now.

Featured Member: Nicole


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

I have lived in a small Maryland town my entire life.

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

I started sewing when I was around six and my grandmother bought me a Barbie sewing machine which, of course, broke after a week or so. Through the years I took up cross-stitch and knitting and eventually lost interest in them both before to long. I guess my real interest in sewing began when I was in the fourth grade and began to draw clothing. This is a habit I’ve kept up and now I have two binders full of designs. I never really sewed anything until I took a clothing class in my high school last year. In there I learned to sew and made my first thing, a pillow with the picture of my cat that recently died which I gave to my mom.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Before taking my clothing class sewing did not play a real pivotal role in my life, however, since I took that class I’ve bought my own sewing machine and begun sewing for fun at home. I’ve also found it interesting that once you know how to sew you develop understanding of what goes into making the clothing that’s sold in retail stores.

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

My least favorite thing? That’s easy; I have no patience at all for pinning, measuring, or cutting. When I get a new project I like to jump in and I always want to start sewing and putting it together immediately so having to pin and cut and all that is just annoying. I would have to say my favorite thing is putting the fabric together, especially if I’m not using a pattern, and having to think in 3D terms to figure out how the pieces need to be sewed together.

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

If I could make something for anyone I think I would have to say that I would make a quilt for my great-grandmother who is the reason why both my grandmother and mother began to sew.

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

I found this site when looking for some free patterns and what you offer here surpassed my expectation. The patterns are both modern and wearable and the other features of this site are wonderful resources and inspirations for projects. My only suggestion for improving the site would be to expand the forum into more specified areas.

If you want to find out more about Nicole, check out her member profile

Thrift Store Adventures


In the column before last I asked you to choose a pattern from the new range for me to make. It seemed that patterns three and six were the most popular, both of which are dresses, but number six came out on top.

Last week I booked my kids free time in with my husband, left them with him and wrapped up warmly to fend off the cold. I went off on a fabric hunt to a new-to-me thrift store. In fact, the thrift store was in an area of Melbourne I’d never been to before, it was like an adventure. I’d heard of this store, Savers, but had yet to visit any of their locations and was I in for a treat, this place was HUGE and two floors high, heaven! I was looking for fabrics to make the dress, three different fabrics, one for the underskirt, one for the overskirt and another for the yoke and belt. I headed straight for the bedding/fabric section to check out their selection of sheets, fabric pieces, tablecloths and curtains and I was not disappointed. I found a few tablecloths that I could use for the underskirt. I then checked the net curtains for something suitable for the overskirt and spent a while holding them up to the tablecloths I had chosen. I decided to go with the cream net, I wanted a plain background so I could add something unusual to decorate it. In the fabric section I came across a piece of gold coloured silk for the yoke and belt. Now all I needed was something to make the dress stand out and that’s when I noticed the crocheted doilies! They were fabulous, so much work had gone into making these and for the price of a dollar each I just had to add them to my dress. I then wandered around the rest of the store picking up some clothes for myself, all-in-one pj’s for my little one and some cool Japanese mugs. In total I spent less than AUS$38 and what I had told my husband was going to be a two hours turned into something closer to four.

Once home the fabrics were washed, dried and pressed ready for cutting. I’m glad I picked up two tablecloths and that the net curtain was huge because I learned this week that it’s not such a good idea to start cutting and sewing your fabric when you are feeling overworked and stressed. I managed to cut the wrong pattern pieces from the wrong fabric and didn’t realize until I started sewing the yoke onto the dress, ARGGHH! Some shouting and swearing happened and I put the dress down and went to find something else to do for a while. The next day, with fresh eyes I got to work, cutting the pattern pieces from the correct fabric whilst listening to my audio book, what a multi-tasker I am!

Other than my mishap cutting the wrong fabric this dress was really easy to make, evenly spacing the gathers of the overskirt being the part that took the most time. So now after an evening and an afternoon of stress free sewing I now have a very different but beautiful dress. It’s just a pity it’s so cold here and I can’t wear it out, I was freeeezing when I took the photos outside. I think my next project needs to be something that covers more flesh and keeps me warm, maybe a jacket or trousers? Brrrrrrrrrrr.

You can see more details of how i recycled Azalea in this How To.

Former columns of NikkiShell:Old Men’s Shirts to New Emily Blouse!,Don’t Find Wanted Fabrics, But Still Sew!.

How To: NOT Tie-Dye!


I spent a lot of my childhood doing the following crafts: Sand Art (remember!?!- colorful layers of sand in bottles of Bear-shaped honey), making “scrunchie” hair ties, and tie-dyeing. Tie-Dyeing was of course, the most fun, but also required the most prep and patience (I always complained about the tie-DRYING part). However, I was never really a big fan of the way tie dye looked. I thought about dyeing a lot of things, but never wanted a solid color, I wanted texture! Texture, that beautiful word that implies depth, varying intensity, shades, hues, feel, rough, smooth, bumpy. . . !

Featured Member: Mal


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

I’m from Massachusetts and live in Worcester which is a city located about 40 miles from Boston.

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

I’m pretty sure the first thing I made was a mess…which seems to be my signature creation! Then in 7th grade Home Ec. class I managed to clumsily hand-sew a pillow. Since then I’ve picked up other crafts like crocheting, knitting and cross-stitch but just recently learned how to use a sewing machine about 6 months ago. The first thing I made using a sewing machine was a graphic black and white A-line skirt which is posted under my creations.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Sewing is becoming one of my most favorite things to do. I’ve always considered myself to be a creative person and wish I had started sewing earlier. Now I have a full-time job in marketing and design websites and other marketing pieces in my spare time. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for sewing…I may be doomed to be a novice forever!!

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

I think my favorite thing about sewing has to be…well, sewing! It’s a great feeling to have everything situated – all of the cutting done, pressed, pinned and ready to go. When I can finally sit down in front of my machine and press that foot pedal is when I’m at my happiest.

It may be obvious what my least favorite part about sewing is. That’s right…all of the prep work. Being pretty new to sewing I’m always nervous when cutting out a pattern for fear of making a huge, irreversible mistake to some beautiful fabric that I probably DIDN’T get on sale. And all of those pins…Ouch! I’m surprised I have any feeling left in my fingertips!

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

I would love to make an apron for my best friend, Brenda. A really unique and sort of sarcastic apron to match her personality. She’s become quite the domestic diva but not your typical one…she has an edge to her and she’s hilarious. I think one of those super flirty 1950’s patterns made with some really funky fabric would be perfect for her. Maybe the fabric could have skulls on it or some appliques that look like tattoos. I’ll be sure to post it if I ever get to it.

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

It would be great if there was a list that lets you see all of the member profiles. Not only am I curious to see how many members there are but it would be cool to see where everyone is from. It could be a great way for members to meet up if they live in the same area.

I actually found in Bust Magazine and as soon I read what it was all about I knew I would be hooked. I love all of the inspiration, the How Tos and especially the user comments under my posted creations. It’s a nice way of knowing that although I’m new at this, people other than me (and my mom) like my stuff. It’s encouraging and motivates me to want to create more!

If you want to find out more about Mal, check out her member profile and her website See Spot Design.

Win a Sewing Machine in the Etsy Contest


Our friends from Etsy partnered with Instructables to “celebrate their communities” and launched Sew Useful: “Entrants will bring their skills to practical projects that make life easier, then share the how-tos.” Prizes are 3 Singer QUANTUM 9940 computerized sewing machines, 3 Leatherman knives, and, 3 Etsy gift boxes.

What we really like is that Etsy will support the one laptop per child initiative. They “will donate all fees from participating listings to ”;&gt;OLPC as well as $1 per entry”.

Deadline is 16 July 2007 and you find more info here.

And, remember, the BurdaStyle Design and Pattern Competition deadline is 15 July 2007! Prizes for the winners are 300 and 500 USD.

NOTE: The cute illustration you see is created by our dear member Anda.

TREND: Hi, Society


Socialite Rank exposed! Paris Hilton in prison! Tinsley vs. Olivia: Does Anyone Care?!

If the news is to be believed, the mini-moment of the socialite is over. Or “ov-ah,” as it should be pronounced in one’s best New Canaan accent. But the resort runways say different: Indeed, John Galliano’s show for Dior made the opposite point, and in spectacular fashion. His Lilly Pulitzer palette, boxy Jackie O. tops and scarf-wrapped hats were tailor-made – literally – for the ladies-who-lunch, and who summer in Capri, and who yearn for glamour and decorum in equal measure when they swathe themselves in lime chiffon for the latest mus-do function. In other words, the old school socialite is back.

There seems to be a multi-media longing for such throwback gals, the Nan Kempner and Pat Buckley types who kept couture in business, sat on charity boards and kept up appearances at the club. Susanna Salk’s new book, A Privileged Life: Celebrating WASP Style, got a great big launch at arriviste prepster shop J. Crew; meanwhile, the incomparable doyenne Iris Apfel snagged a feature and fashion spread in ACNE paper, the twice-yearly magazine published by Swedish style avatars ACNE. Does this mean everyone will be in shantung and Pepto-pink by winter? Hardly. But there is a trend afoot, one that aims to reassert the line between downtown and uptown, the difference between chic and cheap, or stuffy and subversive, if you prefer. Either way, class is in session.

Etsy's 2 Year Anniversary and Renegade Craft Fair


This was a busy weekend for the BurdaStyle team. We attended the 2 year anniversary party for Etsy, which was conveniently held the night before the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, so craftsters from all over had an even better excuse to head to the big city! The party started at 7 pm, though guests started trickling in as early as noon! As more and more people got here, you could hear giggling and screaming all over the place- we realized that a lot of these Etsy sellers knew each other from the Forums and were just meeting face to face for the first time! It was so exciting, we got a little jealous and can’t wait to meet the BurdaStyle members sometime too! Regardless, Happy Birthday, Etsy! And congratulations on an awesome party: this party was also unlike any party we’ve been to lately. Of course there was pizza, a bar, and a dance floor, but when was the last time you’ve been to a party with a piñata and a paper hat-making station! They even broadcasted the entire party over a web-cam in a chat room so friends of Etsy who couldn’t make it could still be a part of the fun!

Then came the Renegade Craft Fair! It was held in McCarren Park Pool in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on both Saturday and Sunday! There were over 150 sellers, with everything from prints, stuffed animals, accessories, clothing, soaps, and stationary. We met lots of people who make things, write about making things, buy things that other people make, and want to start making things. It’s so encouraging to see so many people who are not only interested in making, but have making as an intrinsic part of their lives! We spread the word about BurdaStyle, since everything we do is also about making, and hope to have some new members after this fun-filled weekend!

Old men's shirts to new Emily blouse


Browsing the web i came across a post on

“>CRAFT showing people at the ”

“>Maker Faire re-making their shirts during the ” ">Swap-o-rama-rama. They cut up their shirts, added extra pieces to them, patched them or changed them into something entirely different such as a sarong skirt. This got me thinking, it’s not often i use items of clothing to make something new, instead i tend use lengths of fabric found at the thrift store or given to me by other sewers clearing out their stash. So i decided that my project for this week should be Swap-O-Rama-Rama style and made with recycled clothing. Rummaging around in my donated boxes of goodness i came across a bunch of men’s shirts that had their collars removed and some of the sleeves, perfect for making Emily! So they were washed, dried and ironed then i cut across the shoulders to lay them out flat. It took a bit of time to fit my pattern pieces to the shirt fabric and decide on the colour combination. Luckily they fit without me having to piece fabrics together although i think this could look cool and may try it next time. I did cheat a little, my Emily blouse is not entirely recycled, yes i know i’m a bad refashioner.I wanted to use a pretty fabric for the collar and cuffs so used a scrap piece from my stash, no money spent, honestly! I think it worked out well.

Is there anything i’d change? maybe the length but other than that no. This is a great pattern, i’m really pleased with how the blouse turned out considering this is only the second time i’ve actually made a blouse with a collar. My first attempt was made when i was first learning to sew, i think i made the collar without interfacing and messed up the top stitching, i was still proud of it though and did wear it. I know i’ll be making more from this pattern now that my sewing skills have improved since then!

You can see more details of how i recycled Emily in this How To.

Now onto my next project, after counting your votes it seems dress number 6 is the favourite so check out my next column for details of my adventures finding fabrics and how i make my version of the dress.

Former columns of NikkiShell:Don’t Find Wanted Fabric – But Still Sew!,Finding Recycled Fabrics and Franzi Vest Made from Thrift Store Skirts.

Embroidery- Gone Wild!


Want to get wild and crazy with your sewing machine tonight!? Ever wonder what your machine would make if you weren’t controlling it? Push the feed dog down and let the machine do the thinking. Try free-form embroidery. This is one of my favorite projects to do, especially after sewing and pattern making for a long time, because it requires hardly any technical expertise and looks pretty awesome! It’s also incredibly easy and relaxing. Here is a detail of a rose motif I attached to a tote bag. All you need is some water soluble backing and whatever scraps, trims, yarns, and ribbons you can garner, and you are all set. (Well, you also need a sewing machine. . . ). You can check out my how to, which also shows how to use this technique to make your own fabric!

Trend: SUN OUT


True story: When I was in junior high, I washed my hair with Woolite.

Not all the time, but every once in a while, when “things,” as I called my hair back then, got a little “extreme” (my mom’s word.) We’d been in Florida about a year when the Woolite tip came, from a Supercuts stylist with a mass of thick curls just like mine. Things had gotten a little extreme: Humidity, daily sunshine, swim team chlorine, saltwater at the beach, the overabundance of product I put in my hair every day to try to deal with the bleached, frizzy, freaked-out mess on top of my head. This is what happens to hair when your life is endless summer.

I don’t recommend Woolite. I cite my Woolite experience as a cautionary tale about summer hair, only. We all love those insouciant sunny highlights and a few straight-from-the-beach tousles, but take heed: I watched the pilot episode of “John from Cincinatti” the other day, glimpsing endless summer hair again on the heads of surfers, and really, it is only a look that pulls off with a wetsuit and a thousand-yard stare out of bloodshot eyes. Protect thyself. Frederic Fekkai has made it easy, launching three elegant, easy-to-use, effective new products for summer, my favorite of which is Wash & Wear, spray-on shampoo that lifts the oil, toxins, dirt and product out of your hair without exposing it to the strip-search of water. Spray, re-style, and head out into the blazing sunshine safe in that Wash & Wear, like all Fekkai’s Summer Hair products, is charged with the brand’s proprietary suncreen technology, Solarshield, I don’t recommend not showering not showering all summer. That would be a little extreme.

Winner of the Fabric Contest: LindaL


We are so proud to announce our winner for the Fabric Contest. Her name is Linda and in her blog she writes how she felt: “I hardly ever win anything, so to respond to a pattern/fabric contest and to be told you won, well I am just truly tickled pink.”

Linda was so kind to tell us a little bit about herself and how she started sewing:

I am a native of a small city in Virginia called Danville. I have a degree in Social Work and have been a CEO or senior level staff person working with two non-profit, charitable organizations that serve adults and/or children with disabilities or disadvantaging conditions.

I started sewing when I was around five years old using a Singer sewing machine that you turned the crank to sew. (I still have this machine.) I made a small quilt with the help of my grandmother who was a great seamstress/sewist. I inherited the “sewing gene” from her. She later bought me a Singer sewing machine that was rather old and only had a straight stitch. My husband and I were both going to college at the time and to have clothes I sewed them myself.

My career took me to various locations throughout the United States (Texas, California, Florida, Pennsylvania and back to Virginia). I continued to sew my clothes even though my salary improved with each move and I could easily buy what I wanted (within reason). However I have always enjoyed making my own clothes as I know I will not see someone wearing the same suit, dress, or skirt. Plus it is specifically sewn to fit my measurements.

While living in Florida I made wearable art jackets as well as purses and sold them in a small consignment store just for one of a kind item. As a result of this, I had two ladies commission me to make them wearable art jackets for St. Patrick’s Day. I enjoyed doing this and was pleased that they thought enough of my work to have me make them special jackets. However, I truly like the pleasure and leisure of sewing for myself and family members so did not pursue making garments for sale.

I love to sew and when possible I take online classes or read about new sewing techniques to continue to hone and improve my sewing skills. I love reading other sewing blogs and started one of my own over a 18 months ago. Blogs are a great source for sharing and learning.

Please also check out Linda’s blog that she started 18 months ago, and of course her member profile!


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