Not Dressed Up and Somewhere To Go?!


Has this ever happened to you? You’re invited to a party at the last minute. Of course, the inviter intended to call you ahead of time, but they simply forgot. Or perhaps you entirely forgot about the party- you’re a very busy person. . .

Featured Member: Elainemay


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

I’m originally from New York, but have moved around quite a bit and currently live in Aachen, Germany. I can walk to Belgium and the Netherlands in half an hour from my apartment!

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

I started sewing dresses for my Licca doll at the age of about 6
(sound familiar?). My mother dressed me in the ugly hand-me-downs of a very frumpy family friend and the other kids made fun of my clothes :) I lived vicariously through my dolls by constantly making ball gowns for them. Since then I’ve mostly sewn craft projects and occasionally clothing that almost always looked homemade and didn’t fit well because I’m so short and skinny. I only started sewing clothing “for real” a few months ago, when I met my friend Johanna who makes beautiful, stylish clothing for herself. She showed me her clothes and introduced me to Burda Modemagazin (aka. Burda WoF), and I decided it was time to learn to sew using proper techniques and methods.

What role does sewing play in your life?

To be perfectly honest, in addition to being a fun and addictive
hobby, sewing pads my ego and my vanity. Regardless of whether I’m sewing for myself or others, when something turns out well, it makes me feel like I am AWESOME (I hope everyone feels that way when they make something nice.) And it allows me to treat myself to luxurious, well-fitting clothing while feeling productive rather than guilty- you don’t get that from shopping for velvet coats at the mall :)

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

I like most aspects of sewing, but I especially appreciate the stage in sewing a garment when it starts to bear a real resemblance to the thing I designed in my imagination. That first glimpse of the object I’d previously seen only in my head is very satisfying. My least favorite thing is laying out the pattern pieces and cutting the fabric. I don’t know why it annoys me so much. Maybe I’d like it better if I had a rotary cutter. Or someone to do the cutting for me :)

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

I love seeing my family and friends wearing things that I’ve made for them, but if we’re talking about fantasy, I’d want to make ornate tutus for the New York City Ballet in the luxurious and uncompromising style of the legendary costume designer Karinska.

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

I troll the creations for inspiration – I get so many ideas for things I want to make by seeing the fantastical designs from ParaNoire, the elegant, wearable pieces from Jj and Lilo, the playful and trendy designs from Myk, and so many other talented and creative hobbyists. I always see a detail or a line or a color in people’s creations that I want to steal to use in my own sewing, and that I would never have thought of myself. I know you can’t judge people by the way they dress, but I also feel like I get to know and appreciate the other community members in a way by seeing the products of their imagination and what they have to say about them, so that is a nice unexpected bonus. And although I have not yet had the chance to make a BurdaStyle pattern, I also love the philosophy of BurdaStyle; what a resource to have such stylish and wearable patterns available to anyone- I download all the instruction PDFs and imagine how I’d make them if only I had more time! What should be improved? I don’t know… you could all drop by my profile page and post a hello—I think I’d like that :)

What is your motto?

My sewing philosophy is that if I’m going to expend the time, effort and resources to make something, it should either be something spectacular and uncompromising, or a huge blazing failure (preferably the former, as the latter is expensive and wasteful). I know I should make practical, pretty things, but I never have an urge to sew a cute cotton tank top as a quick afternoon project even though I’m sure I’d use it a lot!

If you want to learn more about Elainemay, check out her beautiful member profile



So much news from Paris! Looks from the City of Light will keep us busy unto eternity, or at the very least well until November. For the moment, though, let us now train our eyes on the single most galvanizing collection by any designer, anywhere, at any time in the recent past: Balenciaga.

Several key seasonal trends were distilled in designer Nicolas Ghesquiere’s Spring/Summer show for the label, notably vivid prints, the nipped waist and sculptured shoulders and hips. But what was remarkable about Balenciaga was the way Ghesquiere’s synthesis of those trends came off looking less like a dispatch from the near advance (next season) than a dispatch from the distant future.

Exit after exit saw models swathed in hoary floral prints, many of them taken from the Balenciaga archives, some blown out into a lushness almost blinding. Everything was short, extremely so, concentrating the prints’ power and highlighting Ghesquiere’s masterful use of couture techniques of tailoring and construction. Color and pattern were classicist, yet silhouettes were space-age; indeed, the collection had a whiff of sci-fi costume design about it, with its emphasis on uniform dressing. More contrast derived from the toughness of the shapes on which those unabashedly pretty-pretty prints were blazed, a toughness underscored by Ghesquiere’s dominatrix-worthy gladiator boots. The smallish collection played so many notes at once, in each of its looks, that it effectively negated the usual terms of critique; trying to make out whether the collection was “elegant,” or “sexy,” or “young,” for example, was as much a dead-end as it must have been for critics raised on Beethoven trying to make sense of the first twelve-tone symphony.

Likewise, for Balenciaga a new language must be invented. The collection won’t nullify the styled, mix and match ethos of fashion as its been, but it argues in favor of a totally new idea of dress – one, it must be noted, that hearkens back to very old ideas of dress, ones that stretch back as far as Marie Antoinette and that are epitomized in the “total look” of ‘50s couture. In light of Spring/Summer ‘08, Balenciaga’s Fall/Winter ’07 show, so hyper-styled, so eccentrically-mixed and matched, seems ever more like a comment on fashion now, Ghesquiere taking a snapshot of a fashion moment he was about to render obsolete.

Recharged and ready to go!


Well hello there! It has been while since I last posted here on Burdastyle, I needed to take an unexpected break to recharge my batteries. You wouldn’t think I was last pregnant only 2 years ago, I seemed to forget how tiring pregnancy can be but I think that’s the idea, you forget so you’ll do it all again! Anyway, I have been keeping watch here on the site even though I haven’t posted.

The Janina Sew-Along is going well although we seem to have a technical difficulty with the third page of the thread, so I ask that those of you taking part please take the time to post in the new thread. Let us know how you went making these pants, were they easy/difficult? Did you make any alterations? What fabric did you use? If you were to make them again, would you make any changes? Also, please upload photos of your finished Janina pants either in the thread (check the how-to if you have trouble) or in the creations section of the site by this weekend. Next week I will post an update and announce the next project, which you can help decide by leaving a comment in the forum.

Personally I’ve not done any garment sewing this past month, visiting family, sickness and a very untidy sewing room contributed to this. I will have help with my sewing from now on, Betty came to stay with me a few weeks back and am looking forward to working with her. Unfortunately Betty’s waistline doesn’t expand as much as I need it to so before I start on any garment sewing I’m going to make a bump for her. A fellow blogger Rowena has made one of these and has given me a few tips on how to make my own. I’m considering filling it with rocks and making my husband wear it for a day so he can find out what it’s really like to be pregnant! It will have a slit in the back so that I can stuff it as needed.

I’m starting afresh with a new project, I will be sewing the new Shari pattern. I will spend the next three or four weeks working on this pattern, making alterations and giving you weekly updates of my progress. I love this pattern as it is so shouldn’t need to make many alterations but the obvious change I will make is an allowance for my bump. I’ll be digging out my sketchbook and pencils to jot down some possible changes and if you promise to not laugh at my terrible drawing I shall show you next week along with a few fabric choices and you can help me make a decision.

Pleats, Please. . .


This week, there are two, that’s right, TWO “two”-torials! I just couldn’t resist when I realized how handy pleats can be. I’ve been noticing so many pin-tucked yokes and insets and even sleeves in the latest runway shows,



“Are people really wearing that?” is one of the most common questions when it comes to the ‘Dirndl’ and the ‘Lederhosn’, traditional costumes in Bavaria that are still worn by all generations on festive occasions. “Yes we are!” And ‘we’ includes Bavarians (Benedikta) as well as ‘Zugezogene’ (people who moved to Bavaria, like me). And the best time to prove this is the ‘fifth season’ of the year: The Oktoberfest.

And although most dresses and pants look the same, the expert’s eye will quickly detect the authenticity and quality of dress and pants. The latter ones are most respected if made out of real deer leather – and best-case scenario, inherited from the great grandfather. New ones can cost up to several thousand Euros. No wonder that the cheaper goat or cow version is happily bought for a few hundred or second hand.

The Dirndl is an even more difficult subject matter, and opinions about what’s authentic and what modern elements go beyond the scope are crucial to some, and practically invisible to others. Some believe short Dirndls are sacrilegious and that black ones can only be worn by elderlies or in mourning. Another issue of dispute: The corset. To tie or not to tie is the question here, and zippers are often frowned upon.

We went last week to the Wiesn (how Oktoberfest is called by the locals) and took some pictures for you, so you can study what Dirndl you like yourself!

And of course there are also some BurdaStyle members who just make their traditional clothes themselves! Check out the beautiful Dirndl of Kihli.



We interrupt our coverage of the Spring/Summer ‘08 fashion weeks for cultural news of infinitely greater consequence. (At least according to this correspondent.) PJ Harvey’s new album, “White Chalk,” comes out next week, and good god, if you’re not on the Peej’s bandwagon by now, you’d better get on it ASAP. The woman has literally never released an album that wasn’t surprising, scary and scarily beautiful. “White Chalk” sees PJ trading in her usually guitar-based sound for piano-drenched balladry, muted in volume but not in spirit. She is a genius; all hail the amazing Polly Jean.

Returning to fashion: Let’s talk about Miuccia Prada, likewise a talent who chooses to dare herself in new directions. She’s followed last season’s weirdly apocalyptic collection (astro-turf hats! rubberized leather!) with one even more evocatively strange. Basically, she showed pajamas. This was very much in keeping with Spring/Summer’s emerging lingerie theme, but still. To Miuccia’s credit, the oddball show managed to induce plenty of mouthwatering; there was something ultimately winning about her Poiret-meets-Aladdin aesthetic. But Ms. Prada is nothing if not an intellectual, and I was forced to wonder if this collection signaled some conceptual resignation on her part. Fall’s controversial Prada show was nothing if not fiercely engaged, seemingly taking on issues such as global warming and unimpeded biotech. This season, well, apparently Miuccia wants to take a nap. Either that, or she’s decided that everyone watching is half-asleep anyway.

As for the rest of Milan: Meh. Raf Simons show for Jil Sander was typically cool, and offered a more youthful vision for Sander. The puffball dresses were a little loopy, if brilliantly constructed, and good luck to anyone but the anorexiest models who wish to pull off the rest of the show’s severely skinny silhouette. Karl Lagerfeld was feeling Op-Art for Fendi; individually, the long, featherweight dresses were hypnotic; taken together, the show was migraine food. Gucci: Boring but wearable in the yellow/black, ‘80s-influenced section, to-die-for accessories, please no more bubblegum pink or rockabilly skirts. Frida, methinks, has been watching Grease. Dolce and Gabbana: Boudoir Versailles, and consequently nuts. Versace: Donatella doesn’t think women should look like sluts, after all. I think that about covers it. Think prints.

In other news, Radiohead’s new album is out on the 10th, and only available online.

Make your point!


For those of you who participating in the Sew Along with NikkiShell, especially the first one for the Susan Blouse, you might find this How To a bit too late. But after a special request from a member, I decided now is as good a time as any to share the trick for sewing sharp corners and angles.




Granted, the preferable thing is to be a big fish in a big pond. London Fashion Week, however, is making an ever-stronger argument for the next-best option. Emerging, independent designers are getting ever-shorter shrift in New York, never less so than this season, which saw a week of shows at once so rushed and so over-scheduled that even Marc Jacobs was threatening to decamp for Blighty. The small pond atmosphere in London, in contrast, helped to shine a spotlight on the several big fish swimming these formerly inhospitable waters.

Enough of a bad metaphor; on to fashion. The point is, London has plenty of it right now. New York had many good ideas; maybe too many. The refreshing thing about London was that numerous designers all seemed to coalesce around one big idea – the body, miraculous and dynamic – but each found an idiosyncratic way of developing the theme. Gone, for the most part, the retro sexyback styles – Leger banding, Versace vamp – that have characterized recent collections by the London stars. In those references’ place, a new idiom has emerged, an intellectual and architectural take on body-conscious dressing, expressed most poetically by Marios Schwab.

Schwab literalized an obsession with the body he’s played out over several seasons, which saw him working out a patternmaking debt to Alaia in the neutral palette of Armani. This season, he stepped away from curve-hugging seams in favor of a looser silhouette, and did a complete 180 when it came to color and print. The first dress down the runway featured a bright digital image of body heat so photorealistic that it seemed to adapt itself in time with the model’s catwalk sashay, and its long sleeves were made in a swirling pastel print you’d never guess was inspired by the mysterious layers of tissue inside us. The best exits in Schwab’s collection paired that print with black roping and corsets redolent of viscera and bone. You didn’t need to get the reference to take the subliminal charge. Truly, the collection was a breakthrough. The Jonathan Saunders, Sinha-Stanic and Richard Nicoll shows packed almost as much of a wallop, working the body theme in their own distinctive ways, and meanwhile this season, the buzzed-about Christopher Kane and Henry Holland lit out for new and interesting territory of dress, Erdem sent out an intelligently commercial collection that could give Philip Lim a run for his money, and newcomers Louise Goldin and Clare Tough emerged on the scene with a bang. Maybe London isn’t such a small pond, after all.

Back to Basics


Hurrah! The basic long-sleeved t-shirt pattern finally arrived, just in time for the fall. Just clicking through pictures of the creation on the site gets my head swarming with ideas for layering and adding warmth, dressing the paper doll image of myself I keep in my head when shopping and sewing. The layering is what really gets me going! I dream of fall evenings, walking across the Williamsburg bridge with my chai tea in one hand and darling boyfriend in the other.



There were a few notable ghosts hanging around New York Fashion Week this season. The Spring/ Summer 2008 shows – roundly summarized as a bit comme ci, comme ca, all things considered – could pretty much be divided up into a few category moods: The Balenciaga mood, the Olivier Theyskens mood and the Bianca Jagger mood. Then there was Marc, and then were the minimalists; more on that in a minute.

The Jaggerophiles picked up where the trend for high-waist, wide-legged denim leaves off, summoning a post-hippie, Studio 54 vibe in long, billowing dresses, shiny jumpsuits and summery blouses paired with (yup) high-waist, wide-legged jeans. Michael Kors went bananas on this theme for Spring, doing an almost camp reinterpetation of a ‘70s key party in the Palm Beach colors John Galliano made kosher again at his Dior Haute Couture show this summer; it’s nice to see Kors showing some nerve. Among independent designers, Sue Stemp gave this look its most coherent interpretation: Whereas lots of designers reference the dress of rock stars, Stemp, decadent and a little nuts, is firmly in the camp of the rock stars’ wives. Nothing too original here, but Charlotte Ronson’s savvy sportswear show likewise offered proof that this look has legs for another season, on the street at least.

Theyskens’ influence was more diffuse, showing up in a whole host of romantic clothes for Spring. Watery pastels and a loose silhouette made a lot of appearances; so did soft ombre treatments to fabrics and tie-dye effects. Thakoon – very much a romantic himself – had one of the nicest takes on the Theyskens vibe in a one-shouldered draped dress in a seemingly tie-dyed silver. (Metallics came back big this season, as an aside.) He also offered a really distinctive reinterpretation of the romantic mood in a floral print best described as daytime gothic. (Watch for florals, as well.)

Interestingly, however, much of Thakoon’s show also showed a debt to last season’s laurelled Balenciaga collection, with its tribal prints, crested blazers, jodhpurs and robot shoes. Like a lot of designers, among them Philip Lim, Proenza Schouler and new kids Ohne Titel, Thakoon was playing with a lot of tribal notes for Spring, but joined them – Balenciaga-style – to a host of dissonant influences. Lim showed tribal necklaces with preppy gear; Proenza mixed a martial smartness with coolly African colors and textures, for a safari feel, and Ohne Titel gave bold, schematic prints a Stephen Sprouse paint job. (Neo-rave lives on, for now.)

The influence of Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquiere is more in the mixing than in the specifics of what’s mixed; it was the synthesis of so many heretofore unrelated ideas that made his Fall show feel so modern. But Ghesquiere is a great designer – fearless, observant and intuitive – and in lesser hands, his hunt and peck strategy comes off clunky and cluttered, in outfits with ADHD. Seeing so many all-over-the-place references – bowler hats! floral prints! oversize jackets! neon! gingham! – takes a toll after a while, and made more subdued, focused shows a welcome change of pace. Among young designers, Mary Ping and Jeremy Laing really do make the case for a downtown take on minimalism with unashamedly sexy dresses pared to their architectural essential. Even the usually ethereal-minded Erin Fetherston came down to earth this season, restraining the cutesy flimflammery of previous outings; it was a pleasure to see so much of just one color – gray – on one runway. Ahhh…

But just when you think that these stripped-down clothes augur an early ‘90s Armani moment of urbane neutrals, along comes Marc Jacobs with a pointedly maximal collection that gets your head spinning. A few key trends at Marc emerged in other shows, as well – a focus on boudoir dressing, for one, sheer fabrics, and the florals, neons and brights that were almost everywhere, (especially yellows both vicious and sunny, and a coral-tipped red that felt especially fresh.) But otherwise, Marc’s show was sui generis. No one seems to have any particular idea what he was up to, aside from an obvious debt to Commes des Garcons and a truly out-of-the-box take on sex. Small bags sewn on top of large bags. A tee-shirt dress inspired by a football jersey. “Too-small” shoes. Too-big shoes. Bra straps. Trompe l’oeil undies. A show that ran backwards. Marc Jacobs for Spring 2008 seemed like nothing so much as an inversion of his super put-together collection last season, an ode to deshabille. In a way, it was the perfect summing up of a season (in New York at least) with too many ideas and no all-encompassing guidance about what to wear. Shifting himself into the mindset of a woman staring wide-eyed at her overstuffed closet of shoes that don’t quite fit, prints that don’t quite match, bags and more bags, and dress-up clothes with nowhere to go, Marc sent out a season of looks fully appreciative that some days, the question “what to wear?” is more compelling than any answer.

BurdaStyle at Chicago Renegade Craft Fair


We just returned from our first field day – the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago!

Thank you Chicago for making our visit so pleasant (everyone is so friendly there!) and thank you Renegade, for the great organization!

Besides talking to people about our site and giving away our new little pins, measurement- and postcards we used our time to see what’s the DIY fashion up to – you can see that in Benedikta’s Renegade collage above!

We also met Erin McKean from A Dress A Day, our beloved vintage blog. And we can let you in on a secret: Erin will start in October to write a column on BurdaStyle about trends and elements of vintage clothing in the 20th century! As a lexicographer, she also has got some exciting ideas for our Sewpedia, so stay tuned! You see her in the picture with a grey cardigan and a self made dress amidst our team.

We made friends with sublime stitching and checked out the booth of Venus who put up a contest where you can win sewing machines!

Benedikta bought a wonderful bag from our sweet neighbor Hoibo (see her and Todd’s picture above), I got crazy over letter press stationary, found some beautiful cards from the golden hen press and fell in love with a the post card machine, a girl that sat in a tent talking through a microphone pulling in money and giving out self made post cards.

And for all of you that couldn’t join us and got some goodies – here is a little contest: The first ten who guess what Nayantara is wearing (which BurdaStyle dress and which BurdaStyle top?) will get a package with BurdaStyle give aways: The ultimate BurdaStyle personal measurement card, postcards and lots of (pin) buttons with fun sewing motives!

A hiding place for your hands. . .


As promised, I’ve added a much desired and very useful how to to the BurdaStyle How To database! With style and functionality continuing to merge together as they have in the past few years, pockets have prevailed! Following the instructions found in this How To, you will know how to sew inseam pockets- my personal favorite of all the pocket varieties available. And if you’ve made your own pocket pattern, with the help of this how to, from scratch, or by rubbing it off an existing garment, you are set! This pattern can be used over and over again with as many creations as you’d like! So don’t sit there with your hands in your pockets—- start sewing!. . . and then put your hands in your pockets!

We're Featured in Etsy's new DIY venture 'The Storque'


Check out Etsy’s fantastic new online magazine The Storque! A wonderful mixture of news, reviews, videos, event infos and how tos! Check out the BurdaStyle contribution here.

Congrats, Etsy, for this great new DIY platform!

The Storque

Jane Altered to Fit Pregnancy!


This week’s challenge of altering the Jane pattern was relatively easy except for the fact that I have serious baby brain at the moment! I lowered the waistband on the front of the shorts so they would fit nicely under my bump. This worked well except I think my butt is growing along with my bump, argh! Next time I’ll need to make a few sizes bigger for room for growth I think. The top was easy to make, I split the front piece in two under the bust where the elastic should go and added an inch to each piece for folding. I folded each piece under and stitched then once the top was sewn together with the pieces overlapping I added poppers to fasten. Unfortunately I forgot to add extra fabric around the front for my expanding bump, I knew before cutting I needed to do this but my baby brain took over for a little while. I also overlapped the front pieces the wrong way so I ended up with the bottom overlapping the top. Other than these baby brain moments I’m really happy with how these pajamas turned out, I know exactly what to do and what not to next time and there WILL be a next time. These pajamas are going to be perfect for the hot Melbourne summer so I plan on making at least a few more and I’ll look fabulous on the maternity ward too! I need a dressing gown and slippers to match and of course Carolina for my toiletries and maybe I should trim a towel too. I used some fabric I found in the thrift store last week to make this pair which drapes nicely, but I’m considering using a lightweight cotton for future Jane pajamas.

Now it’s onto Idit. Hopefully my regular brain will take over this week and I won’t forget anything. Like I said last week I plan to alter it by adding extra fabric to the front making it longer and wider to accommodate my bump. I’ll also have the front wrap over more maybe by adding more fabric and having it meet at the bust. I’m also considering adding a hood. Do you have any ideas for how to make these alterations?

After Idit I’m going to try a few alterations of Linda. I think this skirt has a lot of potential as a maternity skirt and could be altered in a number of ways such as a stretchy knit waistband or an under the bump waistband. Do you have any other ideas? It will look cute in summery fabrics and will keep me cool but covered from the sun. I have a couple of cute vintage tablecloths that would look great used with this pattern.

The Susan sew along finishes today so if you’re taking part make sure you upload a picture of your finished garment. I, of course, am totally behind and have not yet finished my version. I’ll be uploading it in the next day or so. We’re also taking suggestions for the next sew along which I will be announcing tomorrow so if you would like to take part get yourself over there now and let me know what you would like to make, I’ll choose the most popular.


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