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TREND: More in Store

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Once upon a time, the store brand was a fixture of American retail: Department stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bonwit Teller would slap their own tags on the latest creations by the best European designers, whose patterns they licensed season in, season out. Want to find some reasonably-priced, vintage Yves Saint Laurent on eBay? Do a search under “Neiman Marcus.” It might take a while, but you’ll score.

The emergence of the mega-brand in the early ‘80s helped to diminish the importance of the house label. They still exist – Barneys’, for example, is quite good – but the glamour has gone. Until lately, that is: The house label is coming back in a big way, courtesy of a somewhat unlikely source. Small, forward-looking boutiques such as Opening Ceremony, Kid Robot and Nom de Guerre are leading a resurgence of the store brand, with L.A.’s Scout and Brooklyn’s In God We Trust following hot on their heels with spot-on looks in luxe fabrics at surprisingly decent prices. The boutiques have a built-in advantage as they create their clothes – their salespeople are focus-grouping on the floor every day. They know what sells. These days, style is on the house.

Steffi Altered - Take 1

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Steffi altered-take 1

What a week! I’ve had so many things to do and not enough time in which to do them, I’m worn out. I did eventually get my Steffi alteration finished though. I used the muslin I made last week to mark the alterations onto the paper pattern which I then used to cut into my ‘good’ fabric. If you check out my how-to you will see the alterations I made on the paper pattern in green. The fussiest part of making this jacket was probably sewing on the facings, making sure they were lined up and trying to keep both pieces of fabric flat so as not to get any tucks in the seam. Other than that it was pretty straightforward to make, a little time consuming but worth it. I was originally going to have the sleeves short but changed my mind and made them elbow length. I like to wear some tops with sleeves and the elbow length sleeves will cover these.

I used a cotton (?) fabric that was sitting in my stash to make this jacket, I think it was bought at one of my local fabric stores from the discount table a few years ago, I seem to have the same pattern in a grey colour too. It is crisp enough to hold its shape and is light, perfect for summer time. One thing I didn’t get around to is lining the jacket. I’ve searched my stash and all my local thrift stores and came up with nothing so it seems I will have to buy some ‘new’ lining, oh the horror! At least this way I will be able to match the colour to the jacket. I will use Benedikta’s tutorial. The buttons are from my button bowl, not really what I wanted but they were the best match I could find.

Next week I’ll show you the same jacket but an entirely different alteration. I plan to shorten the jacket to a bolero. I would still like some sort of fastening across the front and will leave off the collar I think. Could I make it reversible? Or would the fabric bunch up too much when turned?

Then it’s onto Jane. I like a number of suggestions that have been made, I’m not too keen on pulling the top up, I’ve breastfed two babies this way and struggled to keep myself modest, having to use a blanket to cover up. Believe me you don’t want to be seeing my stretch mark covered tummy. I’m leaning towards adding extra breast pieces that fasten with a clip of some sort and the underneath fabric will have ‘peepholes’ for easy feeding just like a nursing bra. It’s hard to explain so here’s an

“>example.

Again, please leave your comments and suggestions below, I really appreciate them.

Pardon my French . . .

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”Tres Chic!” Haute Couture. crepe de chine. décolletage. prêt-à-porter. la Mode.

Many of the terms in the sewing and fashion world are derived from the beautiful romance language spoken by over 300 million people- French, and yet, I couldn’t construct a sentence in French if the future of the world depended on it. Okay, I’m exaggerating- perhaps I could muster enough courage to bleat a line from an Edith Piaf or Camille song. Anyway, I learned Spanish during school, and used to speak Bengali along with English at home with my family. I’m even lucky enough now to pick up some German from working around Benedikta and Nora, who shame me by being fluent in more languages than I can remember. This week, I wish I could say I learned and mastered the French language, but alas, I have not. Instead, I’ve demonstrated the French seam in this How To! Hurrah for the French seam- it may seem like a lot of work, but for sewing chiffon or other sheer, lightweight fabrics, it sure gets the job done the best! And if you take it just two steps further, you can learn to make flat-felled seams- even stronger seams, often found in jeans. Good luck with this weekends sewing!

Au Revoir!

Time to say goodbye

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Today is a sad day at BurdaStyle headquarters in downtown Brooklyn. Our talented and much loved intern Janina Lermer is spending her last day with us, before returning back home to finish her graphic design studies. Janina is responsible for the addition of uncountable stars and other design elements to blogposts, newsletters, banners, buttons and so on. Her style in design and fashion has been a great source of inspiration (she made me the coolest earrings out of guitarpics). We will miss her curiosity and openness, which brought her to us in the first place:

It was early July when Nora was biking around with friends in Williamsburg on her new royal blue bike, when she noticed a girl photographing graffiti on the street. Nora, who LOVES getting pictures taken, asked her to take one of the three friends. That quickly lead to a conversation and an invitation to our BurdaStyle office. After that everything happened pretty quickly. Once Janina saw our fun workplace and once we got to see her incredible artwork, we realized we needed to join forces, at least for a couple of month. She switched internships and spent the last seven weeks designing away.

We are so sad that she is leaving, but we wish her the best for her future and hope she will come visit soon. A little consolation is that she left behind many illustrations for future banners and ads, which we are excited to share with you over the next month…

AS YOU LIKE IT

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This is the era of interactivity

: A truism, yes, but one that is starting to seem more and more true. A shift toward the wiki-modeled, the DIY, and the adaptable, and away from the ready-made ethos of twentieth century modernity, has come to define the public mind since the turn of the new millennium. The interactive attitude was birthed on the internet, natch, and it’s still most obvious there, double-natch. But the internet’s influence is growing: The video for Bjork’s latest single off Volta, for example, was created as part of an in ingenius online contest; would-be directors were given a song clips and several component video bits and pieces to use in making clip – as well as the freedom to do with those bits and pieces whatever they pleased. Denim behemoth Diesel is bringing interactivity to fashion, meanwhile, with its “puzzle shoes.” Due out in September, the puzzle shoes can be worn three ways, depending on how you Velcro them together. For now, the shoes come in black, only, and only for men, theoretically. But these puzzle shoes could be the start of something big in sneaker freakism – the biggest customizing movement since Rev Run took the laces out of his Adidas. Imagine a world where you could buy component parts of sneakers in almost any color, almost any style, and puzzle them together a new way every day… A relative handful of components could generate a hundred different shoes, making the puzzle concept eco-friendly, as well as age of interactivity appropriate. Diesel is on to something, in other words. Here’s hoping they take the big idea just waiting in these sneakers, and run with it.

Sustainable sewing

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Although only two weeks old, I just have to interrupt my weekly “Wardrobe Remake” column and share a little bit of my Africa travels.

Besides of many close encounters with lots of animals such as giraffes grazing in our camp, monkeys waking us up in the morning fighting over whatever the heck etc., I was fascinated by all the different crafting skills that I encountered. One of our guides showed me on one of our trips through the forest of the Arusha National Park in Tanzania (with view at the Kilimanjaro), how clothes were sewn long before there was access to sewing needles and thread.

The most common tree here in the plains is a kind of acacia tree. The branches of this tree has long thorns to keep animals, like giraffes and others from eating all the leaves before the tree has a chance to grow big and strong. Those thorns, very sharp and strong, can easily be broken off the branch and were for their sharp points perfectly usable as needles. All one needed to do was create a little hole in the bigger end of the thorn just like an eye of a sewing needle.

Thread was made out of a palm leaf. The leaf, once folded in half would break in two and have leave in the center a thin string that could be gently pulled off the rest of the leaf. (kind of like the string on the edge of a string bean). That string was inserted into the acacia tree thorn and ready was the sewing tool.

I thought that that was so neat that I was more than tempted to bring home a little sewing kit. I had to realize though that those thorns work for a couple of days and then get pretty dry and easily breakable. Better that way, otherwise I would maybe have insisted on getting the next collection done by sewing with sustainable acacia tree thorns…

Steffi altered-making a muslin

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Thank you for all the lovely compliments for my green Celestina alteration. And thanks to Theoreticgal for bringing to my attention that I need to lengthen the centre front hem on future Celestina’s I make. The reason being that once my bump starts getting bigger, the hem will lift up, how could I forget such a thing?

This week I worked on sewing up a muslin of the Steffi jacket. The reason I made a muslin first is because I’ve only ever made one other jacket, and that’s still sitting unfinished in a bag somewhere in my sewing room. I wanted to be sure I was making the right alterations before cutting into some nice fabric.

To start I made the body of the jacket as the pattern asks. I then tried it on pinning it in place and drawing the alterations directly onto the muslin. I curved the front out from the bust to the bottom side hem which I then cut. I used the muslin to mark these alterations directly onto the paper pattern. My next alteration were the sleeves. I shortened the paper pattern before laying it onto the fabric and cutting out. I originally wanted cap sleeves but decided to make them slightly longer so they will cover any short sleeves I may wear underneath. My next challenge is to draw a new trimming to match the new front curves. Once I’ve done this I’ll start on my ‘real’ jacket. I’ve still not decided on a fabric to use, I have a few cottons in my stash do you think it would work with cotton or is it not stiff enough? Next week I shall have the finished garment to show you along with a how-to. Maybe I’ll even put in a lining using Benedikta’s fabulous tutorial!

I’m thinking of continuing with the Steffi jacket the following week and giving it an entirely different alteration, maybe a bolero look and longer sleeves. Then I’ll start working on Jane. I plan to alter the waistband of the shorts to accommodate my bump and for later the top to allow for breastfeeding.

Any suggestions for either my Steffi or Jane alterations are encouraged. How can I spice up my bolero Steffi? Any clue how I can change the Janetop into a breastfeeding friendly top? Answers on a postcard in the comments section please!

Not so lame- Lamè

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To add a little jazz to your latest creations, why not try lamè fabrics. Of course, this fabric comes with quite the reputation- like hot pants in silver lame (as made popular by American Apparel, unfortunately) and flashy gold “Members Only” jackets reminiscent of the Studio 54 glory days. I’m sure this conjures some frightening images in your head right now, but don’t worry. I’m not suggesting you make an entire body suit in this famously frightening fabric. I am suggesting, however, that you consider using it as a trim or combo fabric, as its lustrous qualities can easily spark up any creation! It’s been overlooked for too long! I’d also suggest some accessories in this luminous fabric, like an envelope clutch or wide headbands.

The How To everyone's been waiting for!

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The long wait for the new design has come and gone. Prior to the launch, we all waited eagerly, checking the site everyday with fingers gently and earnestly placed on the mouse- ready to click and scroll like never before. The screen shot sneak previews captured us, making us hungry for the day of the launch, and when it finally came, I think it’s safe to say we were all well-fed!

Two Patterns this Week!

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As a special treat to you, the loyal members of BurdaStyle, who have been so patient with us during our quest for a bug-free site, we offer a mid-week pattern in addition to the regular pattern posted every Monday! We saw the feedback on the Jane neglige posted earlier this week- and, well, what can we say- we love to make you happy! Since the neglige takes only a few hours to complete, we thought you all might like an additional project to try out over the weekend. We hope the Carolina Toiletry Bag will be the perfect project, since we’ve all been busy sewing dresses and tops lately. We thought an accessory would be a welcomed break!

MACK LUXE

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What is the meaning of luxury? Once upon a time, a life of luxury meant you were one of the exalted few – royalty, celebrity, titan of industry. And that which was luxurious could be defined as narrowly: Pampered service; goods precious and exceptional; everything ever more exquisitely refined. The refinements were the point. They threw a light on everyone else’s most-nice things, revealing them as vulgar. The original definition of “vulgar” was, in fact, “common,” and so for centuries luxury and vulgarity were opposed values, the elite versus the mainstream. But as it turned out, they were on a collision course: We are living in the age of mainstreamed luxury, which returns us to the original question: What is the meaning of luxury, now?

Newsweek

reporter Dana Thomas probes just that in her new book, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster. In it, she delves into the profit-motivated, branding-enabled massification of the luxury trade, visiting the labs where Birkin bags are sewn by hand, in France, the factories in China where more and more “luxury” goods are made, and the sweaty backrooms on Canal Street where knock-offs are sold. Along the way, Thomas wonders how we came to live in an era when, for a certain, large-ish group of young women, owning a pair of Louboutins or a Marc Jacobs Stam bag has gone from being a personal prerogative to a demographic imperative, and she explores the H&M and Target-driven trend of masstige, and its conflation high-design and low-price points. That’s either a win-win, if you are on the side of plebes having access to beautiful things, or a lose-lose, if you believe in the beauty of craftsmanship.

Naturally, the Gucci store is repeated in Thomas’s book – the tale of how Tom Ford reinvented a moribund manufacturer of leather stuffs for the few and, through savvy marketing and retailing, convinced the many they ought to buy into the dream. But Deluxe is precisely of-the-moment now because even Ford seems to be punching against his legacy by trying to re-brand luxury, itself. His latest launch is a men’s clothing store defined by its theatrically doting service, atmosphere of exclusivity, and emphasis on the bespoke and hand-finished. The Tom Ford store also sells an item so Playboy recherché it’s almost amusing – that ace piece of leisure-wear, the smoking jacket. At a moment when luxury has been defined down, Ford seems to be offering for sale the last priceless thing we have left: Time.

Make your own Piping!

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Benedikta’s latest adventure, a safari in Africa, is nothing compared to the adventure she’s set up for herself when she gets back to New York. While there are significantly fewer formidable creatures here to gaze upon – unless you think of sample sales as dangerous animals- what awaits her is an equally challenging but beautiful task. With her Wardrobe Remake, Benedikta is aiming to update the existing clothes in her closet in the most current styles, keeping the idea of “having nothing to wear” out of her vocabulary for the time being. This week, see her How To that shows how to make your own piping with fabric of your choice and a simple cord. This certainly can be used to spice up any old tops or dresses hiding shrewdly in what I imagine to be a jungle of a closet, and yours too!

Celestina altered-take two

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This week I made my second version of Celestina. I felt I could improve on the alterations I made last week which consisted of shortened cuffed sleeves and increasing the waistline to fit my pregnant belly. The waistline increase did not give as much extra room as I had hoped so this week I decided to omit the side panels and back waist piece of the dress altogether and widen from the armpits down to the hem. And since I was widening the dress there was no need for a zip as I could just slip it on over my head. I lengthened the ties and made them the same length (why are they different in the original pattern?) so I can wrap them around and i moved them up to just under the armpits so they would tie above my bump. I feel the fabric I used this time is more suited to this dress; I used some thrifted chiffon type fabric and it’s wonderfully floaty. Since the fabric is sheer to protect my modesty I made an under dress from some cotton eyelet fabric I had in my stash which I sewed in like a lining. This version was so easy and quick to make, it took me all of one afternoon. I think the only thing I would change is to enlarge the armholes slightly, I’d feel more comfortable. I’m happy with the sleeve length and did toy with the idea of adding elastic but I had none in my stash, so that was that!

I’m really pleased with how this version has turned out, in total it has cost me approximately $8 to make and I can see many of them being made for the summer ahead. Oh just imagine, me with my increasingly pregnant belly floating around in my summery dresses looking fabulous, in reality I’ll most probably be complaining about the heat and be incredibly tired but at least I’ll still look good while I do so.

As I said last week my next challenge is to alter the Steffi jacket, I’ve had a number of suggestions for how to do this and so far my favourites have been to crop the jacket into a bolero or cut away the front of the jacket in a curve from the neckline to the bottom side seams to allow my bump to show. Yes, I know I said I was going to make it for an unsuspecting friend but hey! You wonderful people have so many fabulous ideas that I got selfish and decided it was going to be mine after all. Not many of my clothes fit me now so I really should be making for myself…….back me up please! I’m also going to shorten the sleeves, maybe capped or to the elbow.

Let me know which suggestion you prefer or if you have another altogether. I’d also like fabric suggestions, remember, I’m going to be wearing this in the spring and summer so it needs to be something light.

Laptop Bag- Take 2!

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I’m at it again. With a model and muse like this doll of gal shown here, how could I resist making more and more bags for her to carry! And with such a wonderful goal in mind- to create a How To and bag design intended for children- this project has resulted in a bountiful collection of accessories for this doll and prototypes for the OLPC project.

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