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How Bad Do You Really Want It?


If we were able to sell good ideas, many of us would be rich. It’s getting the idea into object or working project that’s the trick. And when it comes to making a fashion business out of your unique aesthetic and clever sketches or even the one-of-a-kind dresses you sew at the kitchen table, you need more than a few tricks up your sleeve.

I just found this quote on Papierdoll Fashion Magazine in a story about Mary Gehlhar, author of the must-have book The Fashion Designer Survival Guide. Are you willing to do what it takes to take that brilliant little dress of yours through production? Are you prepared for the roadblocks you’ll face from the very vendors who are supposed to be working for you? And are you ready for the reality that less than 5-10% of your working time will be spent actually designing?

These fore warnings got me thinking back to how I started out selling clothes “professionally” when I first moved to Los
Angeles in 2002 after graduating from college(s). All I wanted to do was sew. I quickly became acquainted with downtown LA’s garment district, a special place indeed, and started the first of a series of mini-collections under the name Run R1ot.

I was eager to see what types of boutiques LA held so I went exploring. The first one I came across was Matrushka. At the time the shop was located on a small, hip stretch in Silverlake. Matrushka Construction was founded by Beth Ann Whittaker and Laura S. Howe in February 2003, two friends who shared the desire to provide inexpensive, witty and sweat-shop free items they sewed themselves in the small back room. I was in heaven. I believe the story went like this: I was wearing one of my dresses, introduced myself to the owners, and we instantly formed a friendship & I placed my first collection on consignment in their shop! Consignment is placing your goods in the hand of another, but retaining ownership until the goods are sold.

I proceeded to find many more shops who wanted to replenish their inventory without taking any risks and were happy to
place my mini-collections on consignment, a win-win situation for everyone;) I collected my checks at the end of every month and in the end I was doing quite well with 10 shops carrying my line!

Today you can start selling straight out of your living room with your own website and places like Etsy and Ebay.

I do believe that the Fashion Industry is extremely competitive, audaciously expensive and cut-throat. But if you’re a passionate seamstress who wants to share your beauty with the world, there are ways for you to do it too.

Donate a Bow Tie for the American Cancer Society.


We have set the goal of 150 Bow Ties to donate to the American Cancer Society’s Pink and Black Tie Gala. Help us reach that goal, post your comment below and pledge a bow tie or more! As the Bow Ties come in we will be adding them to our growing bow tie slide show!

Suit Variation Contest Ends Soon!


Just a few more days to submit your suit variation! We have already received some fantastic entries, can’t wait to see what comes in.

Remember you have until 11:59 (est) on January 12th to send a photo of your creation to team (at)

First Bow Ties Recieved!


Today we received such an exciting gift! Our first bow ties for the American Cancer Society’s Pink and Black Tie Gala came in! A big thank you to the Ivy Family! We are so glad that you have all taken on this challenge. Keep up the great work!

Want to contribute? Click here!

A Sewvenir from around the world


I want to send you all Happy New Year Wishes. I attach a little something that is not really related to fashion or sewing patterns, but is a greeting from around the world. It made me smile (and think) when I watched it and hope it makes you smile (or more), too…

No more words, take a trip around the world.

Changes and new opportunities


Dear members,

Our last post has created quite a stir in the community so let us explain a bit more what BurdaStyle is, what it offers, and what the changes entail:


BurdaStyle set out to be a community for people that love to sew or would like to learn.

We believe that supplying access for everyone to a platform where we all share our inspirations, creations and knowledge is the best way to improve your skills, get help when you’re stuck and earn reward and recognition for your hard work.

We want this community to be open to anyone and to continue to offer easy and cost-free access to all areas of the site that involve inspiration, recognition and especially exchange of knowledge.


We do want to apologize if you may have felt upset by our recent changes.

We at BurdaStyle have always acted with our community in mind, which was also the case while making the decision to charge for all patterns, and feel that this is the point to give you insight into the larger picture:

Clearly our reason behind charging for ALL patterns is to create revenue, in order to produce new patterns, new content and new features and to keep the current site intact. Only charging for new patterns is not able to cover the cost for maintaining the entire content on the site.
BurdaStyle would love to offer you all patterns always for free. And clearly you, our community, feels very strong about our patterns and the resource of free patterns.

So why not join forces and work together.

Our plan has been all along to find partners that are interested in working together with us on a variety of activities such as contests, how tos, features and sponsored pattern downloads at times. If a partner chooses to sponsor a pattern we would be able to cover the cost and waive the fee for a certain amount of downloads.

We are in the talk with a fair amount of companies that showed interest in working with us.

Seeing your immense response we were thinking, what about joining forces with our most important asset, our community. What about YOU helping us find partners that are interested in engaging in activities for example sponsoring free downloads for the community

Anyone successfully creating a partnership would be rewarded with the thankful response from the community and a percentage of the partnership fee.


Being floored by your talent and efforts creating patterns and creations we felt that you need to be included in our weekly project upload on the homepage.
From now on we will accept submissions of creations with instructions and/or patterns from which the best ones will be included in our editorial calendar and featured for one week on the most prominent spot of our homepage. Additionally these projects will have a mention in our newsletter.
Send submissions to with the subject line: “Featured Project”.


Starting with the new site members will be able to sell their own patterns.

We hope that you are looking forward to new challenges and opportunities with us.
We are looking forward to the year 2009 and many years to follow with our community!

Featured Member: Emrichkh


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

I live right on the foothills of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado 45 min outside of Denver and 30 min from Rocky Mountain National Park. Its a beautiful place to live.

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

My first post on BurdaStyle was first creation, a little bag for my daughter. My grandmother is a very talented seamstress and quilter but I have never tried my hand at sewing until just recently. In school I studied graphic design. I made my own portfolio book and wanted to use fabric on the cover. I then discovered Amy Butler which led to other fabric designers and I was in love! I had a feeling that I would really enjoy sewing and already knew that I thoroughly enjoyed fabric. My mom surprised me with a machine this past Mother’s Day and I’ve been sewing ever since.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Sewing is a huge creative outlet for me. It was a difficult transition from being a full-time art student, a social one at that, to being a full-time stay-at-home mom. I love being able to make beautiful, or darn cute, things and then watch them get used, worn, and loved on. I especially enjoy making things for my kids. They inspire much of my creativity.

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

My favorite part is watching a piece come together and take form, especially when it’s coming along nicely :). My least favorite part, in agreement with many others, is ripping seams. Refilling bobbins can be a nuisance as well and always seem to run out right in the middle of a project.

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

I’d like to make myself a piece of clothing eventually. I’d also like to make something nice for my husband. I haven’t gone there yet because it takes more fabric and time. I have a two-hour naptime window to work with :). My daughter is almost three and she gets so excited when I’m making her something and then lights up when she sees it finished and gets to use it, so she’s my favorite person to sew for right now.

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

Initially I was looking online for free patterns. For the record you provide the most beautiful patterns out there. I found so much more than that on this site. I love seeing everyone’s creations and ideas. I also really like being able to see the patterns constructed and worn by everyday people, it gives me a better idea of how the clothes fit and look. It’s great to see all the variations and creative license people take as well. My favorite part about BurdaStyle is giving and receiving comments. It’s fun to “meet” so many different people and everyone is so encouraging, it’s great. No complaints here :).

7. What is your motto?

I don’t really have a motto. I’d say currently mine seems to be, “Why clean house when you can sew?"

Check out Emrichkh’s Top Ten favorite creations on BurdaStyle. She also has a great blog in which she talks about her life, kids and of course creating.

Changes at BurdaStyle in 2009

Dear BurdaStylers,

Happy New Year! We hope all of you had a beautiful holiday season. We at BurdaStyle are excited for another great year and want to let you all know what we have planned for 2009.

In just a couple of weeks, BurdaStyle turns two years old! In that time, BurdaStyle has done a lot of growing: we are over 150,000 members strong, and we have over 160 open-source, copyright-free patterns in our database. Not to mention the rest of knowledge and inspiration available on BurdaStyle in the form of how tos, forums, and creations. Now, with our robust and wonderful community and a deep database in place, BurdaStyle enters a new phase, which includes becoming a self-sustainable business and launching a new and improved website.

As part of our plan to grow BurdaStyle and to better serve our members we will need to start charging for some of our patterns. BurdaStyle patterns developed from contest winners will still be free, as will some popular basics and smaller projects. Patterns uploaded by members will still be free, as will all the other areas of our website. Of course, everything will still be open-source, which means copyright-free, and therefore available for alteration and replication, and open for you to base a business on.

Currently, we are working on a major site redesign, which will launch late Spring. The new site offers much increased functionality, including a step-by-step project interface, which will allow you to see who is working on what, and what problems and hints other members have. The new site will also offer members the opportunity to sell their own patterns.

Thank you, in advance, for all of your continued support and understanding. We are committed to bringing you the best and only open-source sewing website around, and we want BurdaStyle to keep getting stronger and better. We look forward to an exciting New Year, with all it’s challenges and victories!

The BurdaStyle Team

And the bride wore black...


Well, actually, that is the title of the film I’ve rented tonight, but I’ve come to realize as of late, brides are stepping out of the conventional box and becoming more daring & open in terms of wedding attire.

My sister Megan was married in August of 2007 and she asked me to design her dress and the bridesmaid’s dresses as well (I ended up doing all of those, my mother’s and the flower girl’s) and it was quite an endeavor.

I realized that there wasn’t much out there in terms of chic, stylish or affordable “bridal party” dresses and that a gaping hole exists which is screaming to be filled! So often do I get emails from women who want something special for their wedding that at times I’ve pondered going into the bridal business (gag me with a spoon- just a little retro humor- but seriously, brides can be nightmarish) but now I see there is certainly a market for it. The dress sizes of my sister’s entourage varied from 2-14, a seemingly daunting task for the little sister seamstress I am, not to mention maid of honor, so I had to come up with something that would be flattering on all of us, and most importantly, beautiful. My head was on the chopping block yet I felt as if I had a knack for conceiving silhouettes for the proper body type so I took the challenge and ran with it.

My first inclination was to design a different dress for each girl that will make her look fabulous, guaranteed. Then I screwed my head on a bit tighter and decided to design a dress that would work on everyone. This meant first off that I would use a stretch-knit. My sister & I went to Mood and she fell in love with a celadon knit that slightly glistened in the light and was just the right color to compliment her hydrangeas and the sea of Cape Cod, where she was to be married. Once we had the fabric choice down I draped some toiles and decided to create a bandeau top dress which had boning on the side seams to keep the shape, and that clear, plastic tape along the top edge to keep from slipping. We danced all night without playing tug-of-war with our frocks! The empire waist worked well on all body types involved and each girl said she loved the dress and would wear it again.

I am not going into detail about my sister’s dress because the point I wanted to bring up is that lately I have been approached by women who have been given fabric chosen by the bride and it is up to them to create their bridesmaids dress themselves. I would never put that task into my maid’s hands, but hey, I’m a control freak, but the bridesmaids feel incredibly liberated that they wont be stuck in some ugly, puffy, frumpy ensemble.

I found the task quite fun, assisting the bridesmaid in creating something she’ll love and will be able to wear again. It works for everyone; the bride has her color-scheme and the maid has her chic new dress she designed.

If anyone is looking to tap into this realm of fashion, I say go for it, the doors are wide open! I would love to hear your stories too, have you designed any wedding attire?

Luxxe fabrics for special occasions


New Year’s Eve has come and gone, but if you’re anything like me, you had been concentrating so much on sewing Christmas gifts that New Years caught you by surprise! Good news, though, because you don’t need to have a super-complicated pattern in order to make a special occasion garment. Sometimes even the most simple pattern can result in the biggest WOW factor if you use a bit of special fabric.

I’ve showed you how to sew with silk before, but there are lots of other luxxe fabrics that could light up your New Year’s celebration, no matter what your dress code…

How about an Ute or JJ blouse in silk satin to dress up plain trousers? Or Gail with lace overlay for a very “now” Prada look? Francesa is just begging to be made in shiny taffeta to show off those curves, and Azalea in georgette or chiffon would be perfect for those in the Southern Hemisphere, or Danielle in crushed velvet for those in icy climes.

And for the guys, a David bow tie in black sequined fabric is guaranteed to get you ALL the attention at midnight!

Photos: Members gma, Polychromatin, and jd98

Featured Member: fabricaddict


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

I was born in Durban South Africa (on the coast), and still live here – South Africa is a beautiful part of the world. I spent a year in Houston TX as an exchange student after finishing high school and enjoyed experiencing the American way of life.

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

My mom sews very well – she has a magnificent Bernina sewing machine that she got for her 21st birthday! When I was younger she tried to teach me to sew but I would always get impatient and she would end up finishing the task for me. About 5 years ago I joined a sewing class and started learning to sew properly. The first thing I made was a knee length straight skirt with darts. I still go to sewing class every Wednesday with 6 other ladies, we have a brilliant sewing teacher. We often do more talking and drinking tea than sewing but everyone looks forward to our ‘girl time’ on Wednesday nights!

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

I don’t know what I would do with myself if I didn’t sew!! I am always thinking of things to make and dreaming up outfits and if a weekend goes by that I don’t get to sew it doesn’t feel like a proper weekend! I try not to buy clothes, if I see a garment I like at the shop I come home and try to make something similar. It is hard to justify paying a lot for clothes when you sew! The problem is I am running out of wardrobe space because I have way too many clothes now!! I am currently making myself some maternity clothes.

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

My very favourite thing about sewing is fabric shopping – I have an obsene amount of fabric and have run out of storage space – my husband threatens to ban me from going to any more fabric shops until I use up my stash!! I love seeing how a garment of clothing that fits perfecly is born from a roll of fabric simply lying at the store. I also really love Indian saris – my mom and I go to the fleamarket at 7am on a Sunday to find these treasures (which are always less than a dollar each!). I also love embellishing garments with sequins, lace or ribbon and adding small details to make items unique. My least favourite thing is finishing items like the hemming or the button holes…(my very worst!) although my Bernina makes nice button holes and this has lessened my phobia slightly!

Last year I started my own clothing range called Yay! clothing. I had a seamstress who helped sew but I was cutting out all the garments myself every evening and on weekends, and sewing the samples. On Saturdays I would have Open Days where people could come and buy the clothing. I really enjoyed doing this and sold over 200 garments but it got too tiring and stressful because I also have a full time 8-5 job in marketing. One day I would love to do something like this again, my dream is to open a shop that only sells beautiful dresses – to wear in the day or evening.

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

I am having a baby in April and am really looking forward to making this new little person in our lives some clothes and toys and decorating the nursery. We are finding out if it’s a girl or boy tomorrow and then I can go fabric shopping for nursery material! I can’t wait! If it’s a girl I am hoping that she will grow up to love sewing as much as I do.

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

I really really love the BurdaStyle site! The patterns are amazing and always fit so well and there are such fashionable designs. I am very inspired by all the members who sew – I love viewing other peoples’ creations, seeing their unique take on garments and I love the fact that BurdaStyle is a community of like-minded people from all over the world.

I don’t think there is much to improve at all – I love the new design of the site. I would like there to be a list of members somewhere, maybe categorized by country? I would also like to see what patterns people use if they are non Burda patterns.

7. What is your motto?

“Be compassionate and take responsibility for each other. If we only learned these lessons, the world would be so much better a place” – I’m not sure who the author of this quote is but I try to live my life like this. In SA we have many problems, but if we all helped each other out and shared more, things would be better.

fabricaddict has over 50 incredible creations that she has shared with the community, and some really cute dogs. She has inspired many people and I hope she keeps up the great work

New Year's Sewing Resolutions for 2009


After the whir of the holidays and finally getting all the presents made I have turned my eyes to the future, and by the future, I mean the New Year. It’s a great time to start a new, turn over a new leaf and stick to your resolutions, as hard as that may be.

After a year of working here at BurdaStyle, I have decided to actually make more of what I wear. Though there have been missteps (my first 100,000 member T shirt is still kicking around the office) I have learned from them, and am making the pledge to make more and buy less for 2009.

What are your sewing resolutions?

photo from springm

Dress up your New Year's!


Need to get snazzy for New Years Eve? Check out these quick and easy projects to dress up your get up:

Make a Fascinator

Fabric Origami

Bow Tie

Mock Tuxedo Bib

Ruffled Party Necklace


Osman Tie

Make Silk Flowers

Quick Party Skirt

Make Applique Flower Pillows

Draping vs Drafting


“Drape” can mean a lot of things when it comes to sewing – it can be a fancy covering for windows, or the way a fabric folds and falls, or it can describe a technique used to create new garments.

You’re probably familiar with pattern drafting, where the shapes of pattern pieces are drawn on large sheets of paper based on body measurements, but you may not be aware that there’s another approach to designing clothes called draping. I didn’t know much about draping myself until I watched a master draping demonstration at a V&A Museum event last year, and I was mesmerized. The draper started off with just a large sheet of muslin fabric and a dress form, and as he expertly folded and moved the fabric, cutting and pinning as he went along, a beautiful dress began to emerge. After the dress was perfectly pinned on the dress form the way he wanted, he then carefully took it off the form and used those muslin pieces as his pattern to recreate the design in fashion fabric.

While it would take years to learn the craft and skill demonstrated to us that evening, even beginning sewers can learn to drape a basic garment now with the tools available on the internet. Expert sewer Mimi Goodwin has posted a series of videos on Youtube showing How to Drape a Bodice that is clear enough to follow along at home.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how you create your pattern, whether it’s on paper with rulers and curves, or in muslin on a dressform, in the end you’ll still end up with a creation that’s totally yours, and then you can (of course!) upload your pattern for the rest of us to share!

Photo by tanakawho under Creative Commons

Interview with Santa: Where the Red-White Uniform Comes from


I am reporting directly from the North Pole where hundreds of elves and little helpers have just done an incredible job of finishing and delivering thousands and thousands of presents for children all around the world. Santa Claus returned from his trip a few minutes ago. I had the chance to catch him for an interview just before he goes home to have a hot bath, eat and rest a little while before celebrating Christmas with his family and his friends:

Mr Santa Claus, BurdaStyle members around the world, are curious to know where you find your inspiration year after year, after year.

Well, that is one of a question, which of course I cannot fully answer as not to jeopardize my company’s secrets. But let me tell you that, yes, I have finally discovered the internet as valuable source of inspiration.The greatest difficulty is to maintain individuality when all children around the world are just asking for standardized designer toys and clothes. I say, fashion trends are the straightjackets of free societies.

How do you create individuality?

I have one principle: do it yourself. If at all possible, I don’t fulfill dreams but give kids the tools so that they can make their own wishes come true. I wish, more parents would do that.

We at BurdaStyle are of course most interested in the story of your own dress, is it true…

… that Coca Cola has designed my dress? – HOHOHO, in their dreams!!!

I was already seen in red-and-white outfit in the 19th century as you can see on historic postcards dating from 1897 –written by a father who couldn’t come home for Christmas. You can also see Father Christmas in a red coat in the letters from Father Christmas annually written and illustrated by J.R.R. Tolkien between 1920 and 1942.

Before the media (and Coca Cola) started to standardize me as old, big-bellied man with white beard in red-and white, everyone saw me as s/he wanted to see me. Long time ago, I would come not just in red, but more often in blue, green and brown. In hot regions, like Africa, they saw me completely different since a big fur does not make sense in the blazing sun.

Well, thank you so much Santa Claus – it was delightful talking to you! We wish you a good rest and Merry Christmas!


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