Featured Member: ParaNoire

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

I’m from Germany. I live in a small village near Erfurt (in the middle of Germany).

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

I’ve always been very creative, I started drawing and painting as soon as I was able to grab a pencil:) Although I soon started making ‘dresses’ for my dolls from handkerchiefs, paper and wire, it took me quite long to get into the ‘real thing’, because the time between 10 and 16 I was very obsessed with drawing. The first thing that I can remember having sewn is a corset. This was only 2 or 3 years ago, when i was 17. Um, yes. I always tend to start with the most difficult things, I like to challenge myself. But then it takes me AGES to ever sew anything basic. I finished my first pants (after a few cut-but-not-sewn experiences) a week ago, and I’m still scared of making t-shirts and tops from knit fabrics:P

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Making clothes became a very important part of my life over the past years. I also thought about studying Fashion Design but I concluded that keeping it as a hobby for the time being will be better for me and keep me creative, since there’s no pressure to succeed.

Right now I’m trying to sell some of my stuff via my Dawanda shop to finance my studies.

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

What I don’t like is gathering ruffles, sewing flimsy/stretchy fabrics, setting in sleeves. And when my sewing machine doesn’t do what i want her to.

I LOVE pattern making and altering (so burdastyle.com brought sunshine to my life:D) (Editor’s note: THANK YOU!) and LOVE top stitching. Really. Stitching parallel lines is so relaxing. Serging. Ironing. Cutting. Having finished everything and taking pictures afterwards is also great ;)

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

I’d really like to have the opportunity to make an elaborate costume for somebody (like Cosplay, Reenactment or a movie/play). I love being challenged!

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

I really like that there IS such a site like BurdaStyle! I’m looking forward to new patterns and the new site version!
It would be cool if I was notified via eMail if somebody leaves a comment on my creations or if i was sent a message here ;) (Editor’s note: On the new site, you will! Via Email or RSS, you can choose!)

If you want to find out more about ParaNoire, check out her member profile, she blogs here and sells her items here.

How To: Make Now More Like Then

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I spent some time at home with my parents this weekend- eating, going for drives, talking until late in the night, then eating some more. . . You know, the usual. Every time I go home I tend to mosey around each room to see what is different, what new purchases my parents have made (in the kitchen I found two-tiered toaster oven!), what furniture has moved around…

First BurdaStyle Wardrobe Remake Session!

Get insight into our first Wardrobe Remake Session! See how Saskia starts her shorts, Michelle her dress, Alexis her curtains and Anda……her WEDDING DRESS! Stay tuned, we’ll give every week insight into the progress of everyone. Alison, the two Erins, Sarah, and Andrea will show their challenge next time!

If you live in New York and are interested to join, write to answers@burdastyle.com!

First Berlin Fashion week EVER!!

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The style spotlight shines on Berlin this weekend, where fashion industry powerhouse IMG is launching the first-ever Berlin Fashion Week, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz. The event only confirms what locals, expats living in the city and its jetset fans have known for a while: That Berlin is abuzz. Drawn by cheap rents and a bustling café culture, artistic types have come to Berlin from all over the world, putting down roots in ex-East districts such as Mitte. Over the past year, the city’s energy has reached critical mass, crossing the threshold from something underground, gritty and street, to a scene with enough above-board and international appeal to draw IMG and its stable of corporate sponsors.

The four Berlin-based labels competing for the Karstadt New Generation Award – Lala Berlin, Macqua, Kaviar Gauche and Talkingmeanstrouble – certainly deserve wider attention. To judge by these lines alone, the fashions coming out of Berlin cover a broad spectrum, from Lala’s flirty dresses with their punkish wink, to Kaviar Gauche’s slyly feminine space-age sensibility, to the Talkingmeanstrouble sister’s serene, fastidiously patterned and tailored clothes, to Macqua’s draped jersey elegance. More young designers are moving to the city every day, and/or graduating from Berlin’s design school, Esmod, Berlin, style capital, will be with us for a while.

Spicing Up Recycled Fabric: Skirt Marie 9177

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Sometimes recycled fabrics can be pretty plain and sometimes quite boring. Take for example the fabric I used to make the skirt ‘Marie 9177’ this week, a basic blue coloured thick cord fabric which was kindly sent to me by Philippa over at

http://www.supernaturale.com/glitter/">Glitter after she had a clearout. The fabric was nice enough on it’s own but I thought it needed a little something extra, it needed spicing up!

I love ribbons, lace, buttons and all other kinds of notions and trims and I particularly like them to be vintage. I scour every thrift store I go into in the hope of finding a pretty old doily, some cool bakelite buttons or a length of pretty ribbon or lace trim. So, I dug out my stash, spread them out on the table and spent an hour or so matching and narrowing down my choice. In the end I decided to go with some beautiful yellow buttons, lace trim, tiny seed beads and brown and yellow ribbons.

Once the skirt was made up I sewed on the ribbons and lace using my sewing machine then spent the evening watching a movie with my Hubby whilst sewing on the buttons and beads. I find hand sewing very relaxing and have been doing more of this over the winter months (it’s winter at the moment here in Australia) snuggled in front of the fire.

As you can see that extra work has really made a difference to the look of the skirt, what would otherwise be ‘Just another skirt’ is now something pretty special. So, next time you decide to sew something new why not try that piece of boring fabric you have sitting on your shelf which you over look every time and spice it up with some decoration? But you don’t have to stop there; you could spice up some of those clothes lurking in your wardrobe just by adding a little something. Maybe those jeans with the back pocket hanging off would look great with a new fabric pocket or a cute cardigan could be revamped just by replacing the ugly old buttons for some funky vintage buttons. Something you had thought was no longer wearable could become your new favourite item of clothing!

Next time you’re visiting the thrift store, check out their craft section, most have one where they have sewing and knitting patterns, yarn, zips and all of the goodness I have mentioned above, you will find some wonderful bargains. Other places you may find such items are market stalls and specialist vintage stores but you may pay more at these kinds of places. I sometimes visit a stall inside a bazaar the stall is tiny but chock full of vintage trims, the woman that owns it can be a little scary but if you arrive knowing what you’re looking for there are some bargains to be had.

Check out NikkiShell’s How To here.

Featured Member: Katrena

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

I was born and raised in Oakland, CA. I currently live in Richmond, CA with my grandmother, daughter and 2 female Yorkies.

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

I am not sure but I think it was a pair of YELLOW PANTS (hated them) that did not turn out so well when I was about 15 yrs old. My mother suggested that I sew so I could get more money for shoes for school.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

It plays a valuable role for me because it relaxes me, allows me to be creative, people admire what I sew, and I make money at it. I can make gifts for people that no one else will have. I like being original. Also, it allows for me and my 16 yrs old daughter some bonding time.

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

My favorite thing I like about sewing is FABRIC. There are endless textures, colors, and prints. Also, I rather sew than do my homework (I am currently a Grad student at University of Phoenix). I like making clothes before I go to church or work (when I have a job). I like knowing if I need something to wear I can make it in a matter of hours.

My least favorite things about sewing are needles breaking during a project, using the seam ripper when I did something backwards, my machine does not have a sound for when the bobbin is empty, cutting out patterns, and finding that the garment does not fit on my Duct Tape Dress Form (I really need assistance with making one that is correct. My daughter and I have done it twice).

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

I would make God a pillow to rest His head on. Because He has blessed me and countless others with the talent of sewing that allows us to be creative.

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

When I come to burdastyle I am looking for patterns, ideas, and what is new. I think you should improve the emails that go to our personal address. I received an email from Burda that was in another language. I could not read the email. Editor’s note: Oh no! We always send out mails in English – Please tell us if this happens write to answers@burdastyle.com

I really like that you offer Free Patterns and optional patterns to buy. Also, I like that Burda exist.

If you want to find out more about Katrena, check out her member profile!

And: We want to make our blog entries the most relevant to you. Please tell us in the forum what questions you would pose! What are you interested to know from other users?

Expand your Sewing Vocabulary by Expanding Your Sleeves

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This week, we introduce a new column: The Sewpedia Sewing Term of the Week. Make sure to browse through this vast database, and use your expertise to correct, update, and add new entries. As you plan your sewing for this week, browse through the sleeve possibilities defined in Sewpedia. Big sleeves are big these days. Try making some cool tops with bell sleeves, bishop sleeves, or a personal favorite, the dolman sleeve.

How To: Sew Buttonholes

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I’m a bit ashamed and embarrassed to admit this, but the easiest sewing task I have ever done, I hadn’t done until earlier this week. I have somehow managed to not sew buttonholes in any of my creations for as long as I can remember. At some point, when I was in high school, I remember doing it. But I must have had a bad experience, because I have subconsciously omitted “buttonholes” from my sewing vernacular since then. Anything that required buttonholes was taken to my life-saver, Ines, at a popular buttonhole and embroidery shop in Manhattan’s garment district. However, I got to thinking. I spend so much time demonstrating how easy so many sewing projects actually are. I’m sure I could teach myself a lesson too. . . and this is why you will probably notice buttonholes on every creation of mine from now on. I have (just now) discovered the joys of the automatic buttonhole setting on my machine. I even enjoy the manual buttonhole features. Now, I understand I might be the ONLY person who has not done this before, but I’m sure somewhere, there is someone, who, like me, confused, looked at the automatic buttonhole presser foot, looked at the machine, looked back at the automatic buttonhole presser foot, and decided to stash it away before anyone saw. . . This How To is for you.

TREND: Fair Trade

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As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And nowhere does that cliché ring truer than at a swap party: For every item someone throws in the kitty, he or she gets to rescue another find from the pile. The pair of jeans a size too big. The pair of shoes that would not stretch. The gift-with-purchase lipstick, the sweater your ex left that you won’t back and need never see again, the worn-once cocktail dress not to be seen in twice. You name it, you can swap it. Preferably over drinks.

Swap-shopping is nothing new, of course, but last month the practice got a vote of support from an unlikely source: Visa, a/k/a, the company that wants you to spend money you don’t necessarily have. In collaboration with TRAID, a U.K. charity committed to protecting the environment and reducing world poverty by recycling clothes and shoes, the credit card company sponsored the three-weekend Visa Swap in London. People who donated goods earned points on a special Visa Swap card, to be used at one of the stylist-assisted swap meets; anyone who found (him or) herself overextending her Swap points could then supply added purchasing power by whipping out her (yes) Visa. Savvy marketing? Sure. Praise-worthy anyway? You bet.

Visa Europe, the arm of the conglomerate that co-sponsored the Swap, plans to launch more barter boutiques in the future, though no word yet on when the initiative will reach America’s shores. In the meantime, extras from the Visa Swap in June have been donated to TRAID, and that’s how you can get your hands on some of the leftovers…sort of. Among its numerous admirable activities, TRAID operates TRAIDremade, a fashion line of one-off pieces made from bits and bobs of donated clothes. The looks are surprisingly fresh, giving a trendy new lease on life to stuff that might otherwise be rightly consigned to the landfill. A trip to London to visit one of the TRAID shops? Cool thousand, give or take. A few TRAIDremade originals? Theoretically hundreds of bucks, what with the low dollar. Getting inspired to makeover your closet without hitting the mall? Alas, the Mastercard ad puts it bet: Priceless.

Featured Member: MarmotaB

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

I’m from the Czech Republic, which is a very nice small country in the Central Europe and has almost everything, with some little exceptions like sea, big mountains or deserts. :-) I live in Cesky Brod, a small town near Prague.

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

That’s something I know very well, because it became part of our family folklore. We used to have a big doll. One day (I could have been 3, 4 years old) I took a piece of fabric, made a thick burl of stitches in the middle of it, that made it shrunk a bit; surprisingly it stayed on the doll’s chest when I placed it there, so I claimed it to be a top.
I guess the next things I made were, not very surprisingly, clothes for our fashion dolls. I also experimented with some plushies, though the first ones really weren’t that nice… The very first thing I’ve sewn on sewing machine, of course with big help from my mom, was the medieval dress I posted on this site.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Being sort of an intellectual person, sewing is a great way to relax and do something manual for me. I also love seeing how a piece of fabric – especially when it’s something recycled – turns into something nice and wearable or into something I can give to someone, like a plushie. And, of course, it’s also a way to turn my everlasting dreams into reality – at least part of them.
I’m still a novice at machine sewing and I prefer sewing by hand, when it’s not a big thing, because when I sew by hand, at least I always really know what I’m doing. And it’s something I can do every now and then and stop and start when I need, unlike sewing on machine. Actually, I’m sewing a headband right now, in breaks during typing this…

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

Will you be surprised if I tell you I really like ripping off the seams? I like re-using things and this part of the process is what gives me nice, re-usable pieces of fabric. Of course, it’s worse when I have to rip off because I did something wrong, but still it’s not my least favourite thing to do.
However, my real favourite thing to do is finding matching pattern and fabric, finding a pattern that suits my idea and fabric that works well with it; or finding a pattern for one fabric from those piles of fabrics we have at home. And then the sewing itself, of course.
My least favourite thing about sewing are those moments when the sewing machine refuses to work as I expect it to work, and I have to stop sewing and find out what’s the matter. Sometimes I get mad about the machine and finish it by hand…

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

Right now it’s more of what I already promised to make and haven’t made yet… but, well, if I ever find time and material for it, I would love to weave ponchos for some nice people from Sergio Leone Web Board, where I’m also a member.

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

I’m lookig here for inspiration, on the first place. Inspiration and tips. So this already works really well here. I like the <a href+"http://www.burdastyle.com/howto/search_by_category&quot;&gt;How Tos and Sewpedia, and love the idea of Open Source patterns, though I haven’t used any of them yet. I guess I’ll have a bit of problems with the seam allowances when I finally try your patterns – I’m used to the European style when one has to add them and can add them as wide as needed. I miss the possibility to see what pattern was used for what creation and to get notification about responses to my posts – but if I get it right, it’s coming in July, so it seems it will be perfect for me.

If you want to find out more about MarmotaB, check out her member profile!

And: We want to make our blog entries the most relevant to you. Please tell us in the forum what questions you would pose! What are you interested to know from other users?

Armhole AND Neckline AND Shoulder Seams, Oh My!

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Ever get super-excited about a making a dress which looks easy but ends up posing a lot more problems than you could have imagined? Well, this dress was probably sleeveless. . . am I right? And of course, you want to put a facing in it, because you want to be sure this dress looks as perfect as it does in your imagination. So you start. You sew the darts. You sew the side seams.

TREND: Flash In Hand

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Android chic is so last season, but bots and bytes continue to worm themselves into the lives of the stylish. Dior Homme’s departing Hedi Slimane long since took the lead in creating tech accessories designed with the fabulously modern in mind, topping himself for Fall with a sleek leather laptop case that doubles as a fold-out, portable workstation. (If that’s too pricey, you can settle for a Dior Homme mousepad. Seriously.)

Where Hedi goes, others follow, and designers of all stripes now churn out everything from iPod cases to jackets outfitted with solar-powered cellphone chargers. But nowhere is the new – and undoubtedly lasting – trend of haute high-tech more obvious than in the case of the humble flash drive. These thumb drives plug into the USB port on your computer, and store and transport data from home to work and back again, and though you can get a workaday flash drive for practically nothing at Staples, why would you when companies such as Mimobot are turning out flash drive buddies made to look like cute little monsters or Star Wars characters. White Stripes fans, meanwhile, can buy a Jack & Meg drive set for $99, upload new album Icky Thump from either one and use the leftover space to port drafts of love letters to the duo. And last week, Paris’s uber-boutique, Colette, unveiled a new line of flash accessories: The USB drive’s by Philips, the bling by Swarovski. Expect more such partnerships to come, and soon. Futuristic android chic may be over, but then again, who needs it? The future is now.

Featured Member: Nicole

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

I have lived in a small Maryland town my entire life.

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

I started sewing when I was around six and my grandmother bought me a Barbie sewing machine which, of course, broke after a week or so. Through the years I took up cross-stitch and knitting and eventually lost interest in them both before to long. I guess my real interest in sewing began when I was in the fourth grade and began to draw clothing. This is a habit I’ve kept up and now I have two binders full of designs. I never really sewed anything until I took a clothing class in my high school last year. In there I learned to sew and made my first thing, a pillow with the picture of my cat that recently died which I gave to my mom.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Before taking my clothing class sewing did not play a real pivotal role in my life, however, since I took that class I’ve bought my own sewing machine and begun sewing for fun at home. I’ve also found it interesting that once you know how to sew you develop understanding of what goes into making the clothing that’s sold in retail stores.

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

My least favorite thing? That’s easy; I have no patience at all for pinning, measuring, or cutting. When I get a new project I like to jump in and I always want to start sewing and putting it together immediately so having to pin and cut and all that is just annoying. I would have to say my favorite thing is putting the fabric together, especially if I’m not using a pattern, and having to think in 3D terms to figure out how the pieces need to be sewed together.

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

If I could make something for anyone I think I would have to say that I would make a quilt for my great-grandmother who is the reason why both my grandmother and mother began to sew.

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

I found this site when looking for some free patterns and what you offer here surpassed my expectation. The patterns are both modern and wearable and the other features of this site are wonderful resources and inspirations for projects. My only suggestion for improving the site would be to expand the forum into more specified areas.

If you want to find out more about Nicole, check out her member profile

Thrift Store Adventures

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In the column before last I asked you to choose a pattern from the new range for me to make. It seemed that patterns three and six were the most popular, both of which are dresses, but number six came out on top.

Last week I booked my kids free time in with my husband, left them with him and wrapped up warmly to fend off the cold. I went off on a fabric hunt to a new-to-me thrift store. In fact, the thrift store was in an area of Melbourne I’d never been to before, it was like an adventure. I’d heard of this store, Savers, but had yet to visit any of their locations and was I in for a treat, this place was HUGE and two floors high, heaven! I was looking for fabrics to make the dress, three different fabrics, one for the underskirt, one for the overskirt and another for the yoke and belt. I headed straight for the bedding/fabric section to check out their selection of sheets, fabric pieces, tablecloths and curtains and I was not disappointed. I found a few tablecloths that I could use for the underskirt. I then checked the net curtains for something suitable for the overskirt and spent a while holding them up to the tablecloths I had chosen. I decided to go with the cream net, I wanted a plain background so I could add something unusual to decorate it. In the fabric section I came across a piece of gold coloured silk for the yoke and belt. Now all I needed was something to make the dress stand out and that’s when I noticed the crocheted doilies! They were fabulous, so much work had gone into making these and for the price of a dollar each I just had to add them to my dress. I then wandered around the rest of the store picking up some clothes for myself, all-in-one pj’s for my little one and some cool Japanese mugs. In total I spent less than AUS$38 and what I had told my husband was going to be a two hours turned into something closer to four.

Once home the fabrics were washed, dried and pressed ready for cutting. I’m glad I picked up two tablecloths and that the net curtain was huge because I learned this week that it’s not such a good idea to start cutting and sewing your fabric when you are feeling overworked and stressed. I managed to cut the wrong pattern pieces from the wrong fabric and didn’t realize until I started sewing the yoke onto the dress, ARGGHH! Some shouting and swearing happened and I put the dress down and went to find something else to do for a while. The next day, with fresh eyes I got to work, cutting the pattern pieces from the correct fabric whilst listening to my audio book, what a multi-tasker I am!

Other than my mishap cutting the wrong fabric this dress was really easy to make, evenly spacing the gathers of the overskirt being the part that took the most time. So now after an evening and an afternoon of stress free sewing I now have a very different but beautiful dress. It’s just a pity it’s so cold here and I can’t wear it out, I was freeeezing when I took the photos outside. I think my next project needs to be something that covers more flesh and keeps me warm, maybe a jacket or trousers? Brrrrrrrrrrr.

You can see more details of how i recycled Azalea in this How To.

Former columns of NikkiShell:Old Men’s Shirts to New Emily Blouse!,Don’t Find Wanted Fabrics, But Still Sew!.

How To: NOT Tie-Dye!

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I spent a lot of my childhood doing the following crafts: Sand Art (remember!?!- colorful layers of sand in bottles of Bear-shaped honey), making “scrunchie” hair ties, and tie-dyeing. Tie-Dyeing was of course, the most fun, but also required the most prep and patience (I always complained about the tie-DRYING part). However, I was never really a big fan of the way tie dye looked. I thought about dyeing a lot of things, but never wanted a solid color, I wanted texture! Texture, that beautiful word that implies depth, varying intensity, shades, hues, feel, rough, smooth, bumpy. . . !

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