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The Golden Ratio


The great plus size patterns that BurdaStyle has been adding to its collection made me curious to find out what lies behind our ideas of shape and proportions and whether these are different around the world. I started my investigation and was transported into the world of geometry where I found the “golden ratio”. This ratio equals 1.618Ö (plus an infinite number of decimals), carries the mysterious name “phi” and is so attractive to the human mind that it has been seeking (and finding!) it throughout the universe: in the spirals of galaxies, the curves of Nautilus seashells, and in the wings of moths. And it has spurred human imagination: artists and architects around the world have been employing this ratio to create what we know as classic masterpieces: the pyramids of Egypt, Greek sculptures, paintings of da Vinci and Dali, the music of Mozart and Beethoven.

So, what is this “golden ratio” or phi? Simply speaking it defines the perfect proportion between two parts. Take for example the shape of Mona Lisa: when you draw a rectangle around her head, dividing the larger side by the smaller side of the rectangle will give you the approximate number of 1.618 = phi. Or take da Vinci’s famous Vitruvian Man and divide the length from his feet to his navel by the length from his navel to his head, again you will arrive at the approximate number 1.618Ö

We can find this ratio not just in idealized human body shapes but in real ones too: curiously in the most obscure places such as the relation between the front and its neighbour tooth.

And of course we can apply this golden ratio rule to fashion as well, for example to find the right proportions for a dress, or to combine a skirt with a jacket, as Gabrielle Loodts shows. The key here is to find the right proportion between the covered and uncovered parts of your body to create a perfect visual relation between the two (note that it is completely unimportant what size you are as long as you get the proportions of your clothes right!) There is no need to repeat what Gabrielle describes with lots of visual examples, check it out!!!

How-to transform a coffee filter into a dreamy neck piece...


Non-textile projects can be a fun beginner’s project or satisfy one’s desire to make an inexpensive, fun accessory. This week we are offering a how-to which anyone could make. Our very own magnificent intern David, who goes by a curious alias in his new online magazine Open Lab, was kind enough to share with us his “Make A Victorian Ruffle” how-to this week. This isn’t your ordinary neck piece either, this coffee filter bunch of joy is a lovely and thrifty project.

Check out the How-to here!

If you’re inspired by David’s project, you should check out these links for some other beautiful projects:

Creature Comforts D.I.Y. Coffee Filter Garlands

A “design for all creatures great and small” blog which features many lovely projects and inspiring tidbits, this blog shows another creative way to assimilate paper creatively into your world (and has amazing fashion finds)!

Got Coffee Filters?

“Got Art?” features used coffee filters transformed into flowers, the petals look like dried hydrangeas, absolutely gorgeous. The artist also uses watercolors on the filters to make a colorful array of paper flowers, she even made a skirt for her doll. (scroll all the way to the bottom)

Coffee-Filter Fairy Godmother No-Sew Halloween Costume

Even Martha Stewart’s team has taken to the coffee filter. Here is a quick and easy no-sewing involved project.

Open Call: Do you have a great how-to that you have not yet posted to Burdastyle that you would like us to feature? Contact us!

Button It Up!


Do you have a pile of buttons? I know that I have a jar of beautiful vintage buttons just sitting there to be admired. Unfortunately they have been in the jar for the past 3 decades and I just can’t find uses for all of them. Fortunately, Susan Beal’s new book, Button It Up is out, with over 80 projects for all of us button lovers.

Featured Member: Lizzie225


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

I’m from Germany. I come from Halle/Saale and now study in Flensburg.

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

I didn’t really start with sewing, i started stitching. There were tons of boring jeans or shirts that i would stitch stars on, or pictures of ‘Emily Strange’ because i didn’t have the money to buy the clothes (later I used fabric colours). Then i moved on to making easy things like skirts of old dresses/shirts and tote bags and those felt puppets that are on here too.

My mum and her sisters have always made their clothes by themselves. And I am glad I grew up in a family where handcrafts were still something normal. Otherwise I would have never started sewing. Plus we have all the stuff you need for sewing, I never needed to buy zippers or buttons or anything like that. My mum knows a lot about sewing and can help me with everything.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

I haven’t been sewing that much before. Only a few pieces a year. And then I’ve spent a year abroad where I didn’t have time for sewing nor did I have my beautiful sewing machine with me. But now I finally rediscovered sewing as a passion of mine. I dared to use patterns too – I’ve always been afraid because they look so confusing. And now that I have holidays I started making one piece after another and am really surprised and proud of what they came out to be. I’ve never thought I could sew a vest! My next aim will be making pants!

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

What I love about sewing is creating something unique and let your fantasy play. You can imagine your perfect prom dress and try sewing it. And although it might not be perfectly made, it will still be the best dress ever because you put so much effort and love in it. And it means a lot more than any bought dress.
Or that old shirt of your mum that has a history of itself and that she didn’t throw away yet. You wouldn’t even think of wearing it because it shows the belly or whatever. But since the fabric is so nice you can make a top or skirt of it and continue the history of that piece.

What I don’t like about sewing is first of all that fabrics are way too expensive. Nowadays clothes are so very cheap. So why spend lots of money on fabric to create something? For me – as an admitted shopaholic :D – it takes some motivation to get away from buying clothes and rather create unique pieces myself.
And then most creations take tiiiime. I always get so excited and want to see the result as soon as possible (I think that’s also why my creations are always so ugly inside haha). For me it’s hard to stop before the piece isn’t finished, so sometimes there are working nights involved. Because if I’d stop it is most unlikely that I continue the next day.

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

Currently im really into the series ‘Gossip Girl’. It’s a great series and with lots of stylish clothes that inspire me. If I could sew something for anyone, I would like to make a dress for one of the characters – my favorite one is Jenny Humphrey, she creates clothes too :] – and she would wear it in the series.

My own self made wedding dress will definitely be on the list too.. when the time comes.

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

I really love this site. You get to know other sewing addicts all around the world, can find patterns and share them, the how to’s are very cool too, you can post your creations and see what others think of it and you get a lot of inspirations by the creations of others!

But I think patterns on here should be for free. I heard that they used to be.. And having to scale each picture to 400×555 pixels it really annoying too.

7. What is your motto?

Don’t throw away clothes. Fabric is so expensive that you should think twice before throwing something away. There is always something smaller that you can make out of it!

Lizzie225’s incredible creations have been catching our eye every time she uploads a new one. Check out her top ten! .

You Decided, New Plus Size Sewing Pattern: Paola


We asked you which you preferred and the answer was pretty clear: Paola! We are working on drafting up a pattern and addressing the bust fit concerns. Thanks for all your feedback, you can look for this in the Fall/Winter 09 collection!

Many Rivers to Cross...


I am so thrilled to have screen-printed our last Dahl & Dane True Love Always t-shirt last night! Dahl & Dane was conceived as a fun side-project last September between my boyfriend & myself. Launched with a Daily Candy write-up (thank you Jeralyn Gerba) last September, our customized “I (heart)” organic cotton t-shirts & tote bags took off like dynamite. We’ve been up to our necks in hearts and we were so busy that I didn’t even design an Autumn/Winter collection, sigh, which under normal circumstances would have caused a deep depression in me, but thankfully, making so many t-shirts has opened my eyes to a new market and we’re excited to start our next project of boys & girls separates & accessories adorned with our own prints.

In the meantime, I am partnering with Caress and Cosmopolitan magazine to design 3 looks for an ad campaign and sweepstakes inspired by Caress body washes. The next 2 weeks will be dedicated to sketching out my design concepts which will be followed by a photo shoot of the 3 looks for which I’ll be the stylist. I am inspired by this project because I will be designing outside of my usual “box”, for the idea calls for something slightly outrageous. I found a website called “The Business of Fashion” where this article offers a cohesive explanation of partnerships and their advantages. I highly recommend finding a lawyer to aid young designers in these endeavors, as two large corporations vs. a small design house can spell trouble. But if you can come to agree upon the terms than it can be a great step forward.

Fabricate: 17 Innovative Sewing Projects That Make Fabric The Star


There have been many times that I’ve looked for ‘the right fabric’, only to come up empty handed. Aside from designing my own fabric at websites such as Spoonflower or silkscreening my own design, I often am left to find something else that ‘will do’. However, I recently read Fabricate and was definitely inspired. If the cover alone doesn’t grab your attention the information inside certainly will. Fabricate: 17 Innovative Sewing Projects that Make Fabric the Star shows you a variety of techniques that teach you how to create how to create one-of a kind, custom fabrics plus the projects that will show them off!

I’ve been reading this book for over a week now and have enjoyed learning some new techniques – some of my favorites? Stitchless Embroidery – I love how the author made simple bits of fabric and string look so elegant on a shirt…. plus it’s easy to boot! Puffed Tufts – I’ve seen this technique on bridal\evening gowns and have always wondered how this look was achieved (now I can give it a try for myself). Fused Plastic – because I love the idea of recycling all those bags I get from the store. Applied Felt – The “Dots Bag” included in the book was one of my favorite designs… I’m just looking for the perfect excuse to try it out!

Overall, I liked Fabricate. Although I won’t try everything in the book, I definitely thought it was inspiring and it gave me lots of ideas for embellishing a few of my upcoming projects.

Celebrate Spring: Get the Winning Pattern Combo


You voted and we listened. Combination 2 was the clear winner, despite a last minute push for Combination 1. Until March 23rd 2009, you can download the Ute Blouse free from BurdaStyle and order Skirt 2656 from Simplicity at a great spring discount of $5 (with no additional shipping fees within the continental United States)! To get your skirt from the Simplicity website, at this amazing spring discount, follow these easy steps:

  1. Follow this link, and click “Proceed to Checkout”

  2. Click the tab that reads “Promotion Codes” in the Shopping Cart.

  3. Click “Add Promotion Code” button.

  4. Type in the code CELEBRATE – please note the code is case-sensitive.

  5. Click “Apply”

  6. Click the tab that reads “Items” to get back to the Shopping Cart; you will see the new price applied in the total.

We had so much fun with this event, and we hope you did too. Both the BurdaStyle and Simplicity teams are very excited to see your creations. Happy sewing!

Bow Ties Coming In!


Hi Everyone,

Today we received another bow tie! It is so beautiful, it even has a little anchor embroidered on to it. Thank you scgeraci for a great bow tie, also check out her site. We can’t wait to see the rest of the bow ties that you have all pledged!

Learn about our pledge of 150 bow ties to the American Cancer Society and send your own in your own by May 4th!

Get everything you need for a bow tie right here!

Free like a bird with feather adornment


The other night, I dreamt, as so many times before, I could fly. The dream to fly has been and is being dreamt all around the world. For the pre-hispanic Aztecs flying was something incomprehensibly fantastic and mysterious. The eagle gliding high above through the air, seeing and hearing everything that happened on Earth, had to be carried by unknown powers that were thought to reside in the feathers of its wings.

The Aztecs and many other pre-hispanic people across Latin America valued brightly coloured feathers, for their mysterious powers. Warriors, kings and priests adorned themselves with them to show their rank and status within the elaborated hierarchical structures of the ancient societies. In the Amazon, the rank of men and women was symbolized by wearing feathers from birds living in the different levels or canopies of the rainforest. Hunters were associated with birds from the middle and upper canopies (macaws, egrets and toucans), while women who are responsible for gardening and gathering were associated with the birds of the lower levels. Of course the most valuable feathers are those of the eagle that lives on top of the rain forest canopy.

When Hernan CortÈs arrived in the great Tenochtitlan (today’s Mexico City), he was awestruck by the wealth, the beauty and the hustle and bustle of the city, built in the middle of a lake. He was no less fascinated by the dresses of the inhabitants, colorfully adorned with feathers of exotic birds such as those of the Quetzal.

CortÈs shared his fascination, sending gifts to King Charles I. of Spain, among which two shields made from bright bird feathers captured the attention of the people. And curiously, bird feathers started to become somehow fashionable with the royalty and the religious magnates of 16th century Europe. It is said that on his wedding celebrations in 1582, Ferdinand II of Tyrol and his horse were adorned with Quetzal feathers imported from Mexico.

From various readings it seems that there were different techniques to incorporate these feathers, some were woven into the cloth, others sewn or pasted on with special glue, check out the intricacy and diversity of motives and applications in the pictures from an exhibition of the Metropolitan Museum – my definite favorites are the Ear Ornaments and the Four Cornered Hat.

Photo Copyright © 2000ñ2009 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved

Our Patterns into Top Trends


Spring is an incredibly beautiful and inspiring time here in New York city and what makes it even better? A new wardrobe!

This week I’ve taken some of my favorite current trends and poured through the Burdastyle archives to find patterns which can easily be utilized to recreate these looks. To make these silhouettes modern and fresh, wouldn’t it be great to use bright prints or bold graphics, perhaps add droopy pockets to the mushroom dress or make the Charlie bag in an ethnic upholstery print?

Here are the links to the patterns pictured above:

1. Anda

The Anda Dress is a quick and easy project, and is great for beginners.

2. Andrea

Andrea is a simple blouse with lovely seam lines that can easily be altered and adjusted.

3. Charlie Bag

It’s easy to make, and even easier to tote with you, since it folds into its own pouch!

4. Sibylle

Whatever event it may be that you are trying to find the perfect dress for, this one will do!

5. Bow by Jane

You just really cant say no to this piece of lovely.

6. JJ

The simple ruffles and delicate puffed sleeves make the top perfect for date night, but the fit and collar make it also perfect to wear to work!

7. Mushroom Dress

The mushroom dress is a simple, versatile design perfect for patterned chiffon or silk-type fabrics to allow slouching and gathering.

8. Kasia Skirt

Great for Springtime, this skirt features gathering of the pocket backing and bold bib-front buttons.

March is Mending Month at Craft:


Every day this month Craft: is showing you ways to mend, fix, repair, everything from wastebaskets to blankets to clothes. We are very excited that Craft: is showing us how to stretch our dollar and keep the things we already have, longer. Check back everyday for a new tip! All the past (and future) tips can be found here

Featured Member: Dpiddy


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

Comstock Park, Michigan, USA. Been here all 22 years of my life

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

hmm well I think the first thing that i ever made was at school… I think I was ten? we had to make a quilt square that described us….. mine said I love gum. Haha kinda funny now because I hate gum, Oh and I think I sewed it to my pants when I was working on it. Other then that the first “garment” that I made was my blue cardigan thats on the site.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Sewing for me is something fun and creative to do. If i’m honest the real reason I started sewing clothes was because paying for school was suckin up all my money soooo my wardrobe was starting to suffer haha… and it doesn’t help that i’m drawn to pricey things. Im going for fashion design so its applicable anyway

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

I love thinking up a sweet Idea for something… 90% of the time its a cardigan…but i love that and then I love putting the finished piece on…My least favorite part… haha this is funny, I really hate the whole in between part. You know when your not done and your just sewing… any project that takes a lot of work ahead of time… I get sick of …. pants ugh! I really wanna make em… but pockets and stuff…. lotta work

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

oh now this is hard!…. maybe Lady Gaga? (she’s a singer, she fabulous google her)
but she has really sweet stuff anyway so i’m not sure if I could compare….. Nope never mind mark ronson for sure (also sweet, google him) we kinda have the same style… totally make him a cardigan

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

I look for encouragement haha and feedback always great to hear from people… also inspiration… I could look through the creations page for days… and change something… please BurdaStyle’s perfect

7. What is your motto?

The poorer I am the more I sew

oh and …peace love and “________” *insert applicable word

Dpiddy came on the BurdaStyle scene recently, but has taken it by storm! His cardigans are fabulous and it’s so great to see how he challenges himself by using new techniques and styles. Keep up the great work! Check out his top ten slideshow!

Shotgun Wedding Gown


I had a meeting the other day with my friends Katie & Fio who are getting married in Texas this June. Katie asked if I would be interested in designing her dress and I was quite touched and eager to help her create something she’ll love. After designing my sister’s wedding dress in ’07 we realized there is a gaping hole in the fashion-forward wedding dress market and many brides-to-be are at a loss.

Then they dropped the bomb.

Katie is pregnant. And currently starring in the moving Sam Shepard play, Fool for Love. That’s why they wanted Dane to come with me to the consultation! That’s why they didn’t just buy the absurdly marked-down YSL dress (which was nearly see-through and body clinging). By June 13th Katie shall be 6 months along, and I believe, as they say, she will have “popped” by then. We talked about fabrics, seam lines and climate. It will be nearly 95 degrees under the Texan sun in June. Katie showed me some images of designs she likes, especially the Yves Saint Laurent dress pictured above. Last year Fio, a Brooklyn-based “farm to table” caterer, surprised Katie with a custom dress he asked me to design for her birthday. At the center front of the bust was an opening, with a silk ribbon on each side to tie the front closed. Katie loved the idea of it’s adjustability and we’re toying with some unique closure ideas for the front & back. It is decided that the gown will be in an ivory or eggshell white, perhaps with light rose accents. We decided on an empire waist with gathering at the seam as to allow room for her belly. We are going to combine 2 fabrics, a silk and a linen as Katie requested.

When I take on a custom project like this one I always follow the same process. I meet with my client (sometimes this is done over the phone or email if we cannot speak in person), talk about their needs & desires, details of design etc., then I come back with sketches. We proceed through a process of elimination and ultimately decide on the right design, fabric choices and price.

Anda from Etsy had our very own Burdastyle team member Benedikta assist her in creating a maternity gown for her own wedding as well:

It was a totally harrowing and last-minute experience and I actually used a stapler to hem it and hand-sewed the snaps in our hotel room the morning before the ceremony, but it cost me $80 and I still sort of resembled the ballerina princess fairy I knew I was inside.

Gone are the days of intricate beading, corsets, boning and torture and here are the days of natural, beautiful goddess dresses. I may not be ready to marry yet, but as a designer, I do know how I want to look.

You Decide: Which Should We Turn Into a Plus Pattern?


We know that everyone isn’t between sizes 34 and 42! For the next collection, we want to let you, our members, vote on turning one of our patterns into a Plus pattern. Choose between two awesome styles: the Paola dress and the JJ blouse. When we posted the Paola in January, so many of you begged us to extend the size run! And the JJ blouse is such a fun perennial favorite…

You decide: vote here, in our slideshow, for which should we turn into a Plus pattern? You have until Wednesday the 18th of March to let us know!


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