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Alison Kelly: Introduction


I decided I wanted to become a fashion designer by default; having always a strong interest in art, my mother being an extraordinary painter (who also taught me to sew), my father, an English major with an obscure sense of humor in language as well as in illustration, I graduated high school planning to become a sculptor, painter, or jeweler. I moved to San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato, Mexico, to study fine arts at an international institution and became entranced by silver-smithing. A year went by and I realized that body adornment was extremely important to me, having always worn clothes that had been altered to my liking, or as a teenager, made by myself, I decided I was keen to study fashion design. True to my wandering nature, I enrolled myself in another international program which landed me in the morosely beautiful city of Florence, Italy. Our design rooms were perched upon a striking yellow ocher building which nested at the base of Ponte Vecchio on the river Arno. Learning to drape changed my perspective on fashion design completely. With a few props & tools there are endless patterns and forms to create, it’s incredibly addictive.

To bring my message to you in less than 1000 words, I will sum up the meaning of this explanation by saying that sewing & design changed my life. And created what is meaningful in my life now. To be able to create a unique piece of clothing is invaluable, and being able to wear this creation and interact with the world while in it is incredibly fulfilling, a unique experience unto itself. I have had my own line since the day I graduated from college. I moved to Los Angeles upon getting my BFA and set up shop in a tiny little closet above the stairs in my apartment. I would scour the garment district for old bolts of washed silk and jersey to make limited edition, 1-off collections and bring them around to stores where many buyers placed the limited collections on consignment. I also did many "punk-rock flea markets, and other more upscale flea markets where I’d sell t-shirts and dresses to boys & girls for $20 each.

The popularity of these mini-collections became an issue at a certain point; the buyers always wanted more, yet I had used up the entire roll of a vintage washed silk print and it was gone. Forever. As much as I loved the exclusivity of 1-offs, I decided it was time to transform the line into a wholesale collection. I moved to New York City in the winter of 2006 and while searching for an apartment, I auditioned, much against my own will at first, for Project Runway, the hit fashion design competition series. I found out I had been cast as a contestant in May. Everything changed.

Venus Zine's 4th Annual Craft-Off


Want to win a Singer Sewing Machine? Well here is you chance! Venus Zine has partnered with Singer to bring you the 4th Annual Craft-Off. To enter you need to have a great DIY gift idea which costs less than $40 to produce. The best ideas will be pulled from the submissions and their creators will be featured in the winter issue of Venus Zine. Submission’s are due by the 18th of September, so get crackin!

Problems Purchasing Patterns


We have noticed a slight problem with the “submit order” button while purchasing patterns. Our programmers are working hard to fix this but for the time being we ask you not to purchase any patterns until further notice. The free patterns are still available for download. Thanks for your patience!

Melbourne Spring Fashion Week


I know that many of you live in my neck of the woods so I wanted to let you know about Melbourne Fashion Week. It runs from the 1st to the 7th of September and has over 100 free and ticketed events showcasing the latest and hottest Spring-Summer fashion and a few events on the program have caught my eye. The Gorman Organic Ship Shop is made from a 20ft used shipping container, constructed from recycled ply and other sustainable materials and it moves!! There are no plastic bags and no cash register. You try on then buy online at the ship shop and have your purchase sent to you. All of Gorman’s clothing is organic. The Ship Shop will be docking in the City Square all week long. I’ll be taking a trip into the city to check it out.

The other event that I’m interested in attending is the RAW Sustainable Fashion Parade. The parade will promote sustainability in fashion with the use of organic, vintage and recycled fabrics. Australian designers will demonstrate that fashion can be stylish and sustainable. It will be held at FIX Docklands on Friday the 5th of September from 9 till 11pm and costs $15. Of course I’ll have to come up with a fabulous refashioned outfit by next Friday, I have a few ideas and will show you what I come up with. Would anyone care to meet up with me there? I’d love to get together with some of you so email or message me if you are interested.

I’m still working on the Jorinde jacket for the sewalong. My second muslin is almost done then I can get started on my final piece. I’m taking it slow and making sure I (hopefully) do a good job but more on that next time. I also have a new mini challenge planned for the very near future so keep you eyes peeled for that.

Ready for a Hong Kong Finish


Here at BurdaStyle, we love learning new sewing tricks to help us execute our projects as well as beautifully as possible. Sometimes, of course, the fancy techniques can be a bit much, but it’s nice to have the confidence and knowledge to make a really high-end garment once in a while.

Uni- or Unique-forms, Dress Codes From Around the World


Uni- or Unique-form

It’s “back to school” and millions of students are pulling out their school uniforms. And curiously, no matter what continent or country, no matter the diversity of styles and clothes around the world, school uniforms are uni-form: in the choice of darkish colors and a somewhat European designs.

How can that be, you ask, that school uniforms in Africa, look the same as in Asia, as they do in Latin America, Europe and elsewhere in the world? The answer is simple: thanks to a certain colonial influence, many school systems around the world were modeled after the European school system not just with respect to their curricula but also their fashion.

Take the “traditional” Japanese school uniform: the boy’s secondary school outfit, the gakuran, which sports a dark jacket with stand-up collar and buttons down the front, is modeled after the Prussian army uniform worn in the 1870s when Japan was looking to Europe for ideas to build its education system. Today, school uniforms have become a Japanese fashion item inspiring fashion parades to show off latest designs. Especially the sailor fuku, the naval uniform worn by girls is well known thanks to its appearance in Japanese cartoons known as mangas. Nevertheless, the super-short skirts that you may have seen be worn by Sailor Moon, the High School Girls or in Gonz·lez IÒ·rrituís Film Babel are likely to be fiction rather than reality: there is a minimum length for skirts in schools and teachers do enforce them; although, I wouldn’t vouch for what happens outside school.

In the US school uniforms, especially in public schools, have not just a shorter but a less inspiring history. Uniforms or strict dress codes started to b introduced in the 1980s to “prevent kids from shooting each other over designer sneakers”. Whether it helps is difficult to say but, it has sparked some strong reactions not just in children but also in parents who feel their freedom of expression to be violated. But do dress codes and uniforms really have to infringe on rights? Maybe a uniform design contest could turn a nerds uni-form into a unique-form and a fashion statement · la Japan.

And in case you are looking for a new supplier, you can have your new batch of school uniforms hand tailored by HandCrafting Justice and give mothers in Mexico and Laos the opportunity to send their children to school, too.

Donate your unwanted fabric!


Despite our best intentions, sometimes we end up with fabric in our stash that just screams “what was I thinking?”. Rather than let it take up space (either in our homes or gasp a landfill), why not clear some space and donate it to a good cause at the same time?

Reading through the Dutch site Naaipatronen, I’ve just learned about Stichting Toekomst Rwanda (Future Foundation Rwanda), a charity set up by a Rwandan refugee in The Netherlands to help underage mothers and children still vulnerable in Rwanda. They’re taught skills and given homes, and just because they’re on the other side of the world doesn’t mean they’re very different from us BurdaStyle sewers – when asked, they said they wanted to set up a sewing studio! So in October the charity is taking several sewing machines and a seamstress to train the girls but they’re now in need of fabric and haberdashery donations to take along to them!

So have a look through your stash and if there’s anything you can spare, send it to Stichting Toekomst Rwanda, Weipoortseweg 89, 2381 NJ Zoeterwoude, The Netherlands or get in touch through

And with all that new-found space in your sewing room, you may just have to go fabric shopping!

Featured Member: Polychromatin


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

I originally come from a small town in Germany, called Eisleben, but since I started studying I live in Halle, which is only 30 km away from my hometown.

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

I think the really first thing I made was some patchwork pillow case, I must’ve been 13 years old. Then a long pause followed until 6 month ago I decided to start sewing again, because I wanted garments that actually suit and appeal me! I searched the internet and found BurdaStyle, and the story began ;)

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Ask my boyfriend, actually half of the time I search the internet for fabrics and/or patterns, the other half I sew ;D No, that is not exactly the case, but I’m a little bit of a fabric-addict and sewing became my hobby number one. I don’t have my own sewing machine and only have the possibility to sew, when I visit my parents on weekends or during semester break. I actually could buy my own sewing machine, but I think that would change my priorities to the disadvantage of my study …

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

I absolutely love to start a new project, to transfer the pattern, to cut the fabric and the first steps of sewing, because mostly they’re the easiest and fastest ;) To finish a project completely is also very satisfying! Not so enjoyable is a project that just doesn’t come to an end, because the fabric is difficult to handle and I have to rip seams and redo a lot of steps or I have to alter a lot until the fit is how I imagined it (which could take long, because I’m a little perfectionist).

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

I never thought about this opportunity, but I guess it would be really cool to make a dress for an actress for her Oscar night or something, but I think I have to practice a little bit until I get there ;)

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

Of course I love the patterns, the How-To-section and the other member creations! It is a great inspiration and very interesting to see what other people are doing! And the forum is a great platform when you have questions!

BurdaStyle is a really great site, but as I am from the design field I think you should check on the usability! Especially the forum and the profile site are a little bit confusing.

7. What is your motto?

I don’t have a real motto, but in the past “Wait and see” turned out to be a good advice ;)

I cannot believe that Polychromatin only started to sew 6 months ago. Her creations are fun and daring. From the patterns she chooses, it is obvious that she is not afraid of a challenge. We look forward to seeing her grow and develop around the site. Best of luck at school!

The Quilt Scandal


Hey everyone,
We have noticed that there has been quite a hubbub about the new quilt pattern. The reactions have been both positive and negative, either way very passionate. We at BurdaStyle are always trying to think outside the box and use new and innovative techniques. We like to invent and create new things at the risk that some are a success and some might still need some tweaking. We are glad to see that some saw it as an inspiration, using the technique to make something for their own, for the others we hope that the next pattern will be more satisfying. Thank you for all the comments both positive and negative.

Pattern Free Headband for Back to School


What is the perfect accessory to accompany your new back to school clothing? Why, a headband of your own design! How many scraps do we acquire as seamsters & seamstresses that end up in the garbage? More than we care to recognize. And while we can collect scraps to make lovely quilts, as featured this week on BurdaStyle, it’s always fun to learn a quick & simple way of making something new & fashionable…it less than an hour! So how do we start?

4 free issues of MixTape!


BurdaStyle Is giving away 4 copies of our very own Nikkishell’s MixTape Zine. This is a great zine full of interesting articles (as you can see from above.) The first 4 people to comment on this blog post will receive their very own copy of MixTape issue 5. Enjoy!

Back to school with BurdaStyle patterns!


It still causes me to flinch when I hear it but, yes, it is time to think about back to school. Some of our interns have already left us, people are packing up for college, making sure they have the right pencils and note books, and that means that summer is winding down. Last week we announced our Messenger bag, which is an awesome way to make sure everything stays with you through the school day. There is also a great two part How To by milliesewly which shows another great bag for books. Fall fashions abound on BurdaStyle (the Thai pants are perfect for lounging around.) Get sewing and enjoy the fall!

Deciding which alterations to make on the Jorinde jacket


I am so glad I am making a muslin for the Jorinde jacket. It seems the pattern needs to be changed in many places for it to fit me properly. I’m pretty short (5’2”) and have found that the jacket doesn’t fit quite so well in length especially between the armhole and the neck, the armhole is a little too big which feels uncomfortable when I lift my arm. To remedy this I will shorten the front and back pattern pieces between the top and bottom of the armhole and also at the corresponding location on the sleeve cap. Doing this will also raise the hemline but I may raise it a little more to sit just on or below the hips.

A few other alterations I’ve decided I will make will be to shorten the sleeves; they’re about oh 6 inches too long! I’ll also change the shape of the collar; I’m not quite fond of the shape it is in the pattern. I’ll sketch out a few ideas before deciding. The back of the jacket is also a little ‘poofy’ so I need to come up with an alteration to fix that and I’m undecided about whether to keep the pockets as they are, change them or not have them at all. Suggestions please!

I’ll be making a second muslin this week to test out these alterations before starting on my final jacket. I’m using the book Fast Fit to help me with my alterations, it’s a great resource for easy pattern alterations for all figures. I’m also going to be researching interfacing and lining a jacket.

There’s still time to take part in the sewalong!

How to Find a Local Sewing Group


How to Find a Local Sewing Group

“How can I find other sewers near me?” It’s a common request on the forums here and one I used to ask myself when I was learning to sew. As helpful as visual how tos and online sewalongs are, sometimes you just need someone to physically show you what to do to get that “Eureka!” moment in your head.

I found a great sewing and costuming group here in London on, and there are a lot of other sewing, craft, quilting, and stitch & bitch groups all over the world listed here, too. Our particular group gets together once a month or so for a chat and coffee, and we all bring what we’ve been working on for help and advice (or just a bit of “ooh that’s nice!”) and discuss local stores and suppliers. There’s a great mix of ages and abilities, from retired, expert Saville Row tailors to absolute beginners, but everyone there has a shared passion for sewing. If you’re in the US, it’s also worth finding out if there’s an American Sewing Guild (ASG) chapter near you. Who knows, you might discover that one of your neighbors also has a secret passion for fabric and patterns!

New Blogger for Sewing Universe News Feed


Hi Everyone!
I just wanted to take a moment and introduce you to the last of the newest members of out blogging team. Our new contributor to the Sewing Universe News Feed is someone you are all very familiar with. She is all around the site posting great creations and fielding all kinds of questions. May I present to you Melissa Fehr otherwise known as squirrellypoo! We are so excited to have her blogging for us from the other side of the puddle!


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