Make your point!

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For those of you who participating in the Sew Along with NikkiShell, especially the first one for the Susan Blouse, you might find this How To a bit too late. But after a special request from a member, I decided now is as good a time as any to share the trick for sewing sharp corners and angles.

LONDON: WRITTEN ON THE BODY

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LONDON: WRITTEN ON THE BODY

Granted, the preferable thing is to be a big fish in a big pond. London Fashion Week, however, is making an ever-stronger argument for the next-best option. Emerging, independent designers are getting ever-shorter shrift in New York, never less so than this season, which saw a week of shows at once so rushed and so over-scheduled that even Marc Jacobs was threatening to decamp for Blighty. The small pond atmosphere in London, in contrast, helped to shine a spotlight on the several big fish swimming these formerly inhospitable waters.

Enough of a bad metaphor; on to fashion. The point is, London has plenty of it right now. New York had many good ideas; maybe too many. The refreshing thing about London was that numerous designers all seemed to coalesce around one big idea – the body, miraculous and dynamic – but each found an idiosyncratic way of developing the theme. Gone, for the most part, the retro sexyback styles – Leger banding, Versace vamp – that have characterized recent collections by the London stars. In those references’ place, a new idiom has emerged, an intellectual and architectural take on body-conscious dressing, expressed most poetically by Marios Schwab.

Schwab literalized an obsession with the body he’s played out over several seasons, which saw him working out a patternmaking debt to Alaia in the neutral palette of Armani. This season, he stepped away from curve-hugging seams in favor of a looser silhouette, and did a complete 180 when it came to color and print. The first dress down the runway featured a bright digital image of body heat so photorealistic that it seemed to adapt itself in time with the model’s catwalk sashay, and its long sleeves were made in a swirling pastel print you’d never guess was inspired by the mysterious layers of tissue inside us. The best exits in Schwab’s collection paired that print with black roping and corsets redolent of viscera and bone. You didn’t need to get the reference to take the subliminal charge. Truly, the collection was a breakthrough. The Jonathan Saunders, Sinha-Stanic and Richard Nicoll shows packed almost as much of a wallop, working the body theme in their own distinctive ways, and meanwhile this season, the buzzed-about Christopher Kane and Henry Holland lit out for new and interesting territory of dress, Erdem sent out an intelligently commercial collection that could give Philip Lim a run for his money, and newcomers Louise Goldin and Clare Tough emerged on the scene with a bang. Maybe London isn’t such a small pond, after all.

Back to Basics

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Hurrah! The basic long-sleeved t-shirt pattern finally arrived, just in time for the fall. Just clicking through pictures of the creation on the site gets my head swarming with ideas for layering and adding warmth, dressing the paper doll image of myself I keep in my head when shopping and sewing. The layering is what really gets me going! I dream of fall evenings, walking across the Williamsburg bridge with my chai tea in one hand and darling boyfriend in the other.

NYC FASHION WEEK: MASH UP

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There were a few notable ghosts hanging around New York Fashion Week this season. The Spring/ Summer 2008 shows – roundly summarized as a bit comme ci, comme ca, all things considered – could pretty much be divided up into a few category moods: The Balenciaga mood, the Olivier Theyskens mood and the Bianca Jagger mood. Then there was Marc, and then were the minimalists; more on that in a minute.

The Jaggerophiles picked up where the trend for high-waist, wide-legged denim leaves off, summoning a post-hippie, Studio 54 vibe in long, billowing dresses, shiny jumpsuits and summery blouses paired with (yup) high-waist, wide-legged jeans. Michael Kors went bananas on this theme for Spring, doing an almost camp reinterpetation of a ‘70s key party in the Palm Beach colors John Galliano made kosher again at his Dior Haute Couture show this summer; it’s nice to see Kors showing some nerve. Among independent designers, Sue Stemp gave this look its most coherent interpretation: Whereas lots of designers reference the dress of rock stars, Stemp, decadent and a little nuts, is firmly in the camp of the rock stars’ wives. Nothing too original here, but Charlotte Ronson’s savvy sportswear show likewise offered proof that this look has legs for another season, on the street at least.

Theyskens’ influence was more diffuse, showing up in a whole host of romantic clothes for Spring. Watery pastels and a loose silhouette made a lot of appearances; so did soft ombre treatments to fabrics and tie-dye effects. Thakoon – very much a romantic himself – had one of the nicest takes on the Theyskens vibe in a one-shouldered draped dress in a seemingly tie-dyed silver. (Metallics came back big this season, as an aside.) He also offered a really distinctive reinterpretation of the romantic mood in a floral print best described as daytime gothic. (Watch for florals, as well.)

Interestingly, however, much of Thakoon’s show also showed a debt to last season’s laurelled Balenciaga collection, with its tribal prints, crested blazers, jodhpurs and robot shoes. Like a lot of designers, among them Philip Lim, Proenza Schouler and new kids Ohne Titel, Thakoon was playing with a lot of tribal notes for Spring, but joined them – Balenciaga-style – to a host of dissonant influences. Lim showed tribal necklaces with preppy gear; Proenza mixed a martial smartness with coolly African colors and textures, for a safari feel, and Ohne Titel gave bold, schematic prints a Stephen Sprouse paint job. (Neo-rave lives on, for now.)

The influence of Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquiere is more in the mixing than in the specifics of what’s mixed; it was the synthesis of so many heretofore unrelated ideas that made his Fall show feel so modern. But Ghesquiere is a great designer – fearless, observant and intuitive – and in lesser hands, his hunt and peck strategy comes off clunky and cluttered, in outfits with ADHD. Seeing so many all-over-the-place references – bowler hats! floral prints! oversize jackets! neon! gingham! – takes a toll after a while, and made more subdued, focused shows a welcome change of pace. Among young designers, Mary Ping and Jeremy Laing really do make the case for a downtown take on minimalism with unashamedly sexy dresses pared to their architectural essential. Even the usually ethereal-minded Erin Fetherston came down to earth this season, restraining the cutesy flimflammery of previous outings; it was a pleasure to see so much of just one color – gray – on one runway. Ahhh…

But just when you think that these stripped-down clothes augur an early ‘90s Armani moment of urbane neutrals, along comes Marc Jacobs with a pointedly maximal collection that gets your head spinning. A few key trends at Marc emerged in other shows, as well – a focus on boudoir dressing, for one, sheer fabrics, and the florals, neons and brights that were almost everywhere, (especially yellows both vicious and sunny, and a coral-tipped red that felt especially fresh.) But otherwise, Marc’s show was sui generis. No one seems to have any particular idea what he was up to, aside from an obvious debt to Commes des Garcons and a truly out-of-the-box take on sex. Small bags sewn on top of large bags. A tee-shirt dress inspired by a football jersey. “Too-small” shoes. Too-big shoes. Bra straps. Trompe l’oeil undies. A show that ran backwards. Marc Jacobs for Spring 2008 seemed like nothing so much as an inversion of his super put-together collection last season, an ode to deshabille. In a way, it was the perfect summing up of a season (in New York at least) with too many ideas and no all-encompassing guidance about what to wear. Shifting himself into the mindset of a woman staring wide-eyed at her overstuffed closet of shoes that don’t quite fit, prints that don’t quite match, bags and more bags, and dress-up clothes with nowhere to go, Marc sent out a season of looks fully appreciative that some days, the question “what to wear?” is more compelling than any answer.

BurdaStyle at Chicago Renegade Craft Fair

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We just returned from our first field day – the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago!

Thank you Chicago for making our visit so pleasant (everyone is so friendly there!) and thank you Renegade, for the great organization!

Besides talking to people about our site and giving away our new little pins, measurement- and postcards we used our time to see what’s the DIY fashion up to – you can see that in Benedikta’s Renegade collage above!

We also met Erin McKean from A Dress A Day, our beloved vintage blog. And we can let you in on a secret: Erin will start in October to write a column on BurdaStyle about trends and elements of vintage clothing in the 20th century! As a lexicographer, she also has got some exciting ideas for our Sewpedia, so stay tuned! You see her in the picture with a grey cardigan and a self made dress amidst our team.

We made friends with sublime stitching and checked out the booth of Venus who put up a contest where you can win sewing machines!

Benedikta bought a wonderful bag from our sweet neighbor Hoibo (see her and Todd’s picture above), I got crazy over letter press stationary, found some beautiful cards from the golden hen press and fell in love with a the post card machine, a girl that sat in a tent talking through a microphone pulling in money and giving out self made post cards.

And for all of you that couldn’t join us and got some goodies – here is a little contest: The first ten who guess what Nayantara is wearing (which BurdaStyle dress and which BurdaStyle top?) will get a package with BurdaStyle give aways: The ultimate BurdaStyle personal measurement card, postcards and lots of (pin) buttons with fun sewing motives!

A hiding place for your hands. . .

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As promised, I’ve added a much desired and very useful how to to the BurdaStyle How To database! With style and functionality continuing to merge together as they have in the past few years, pockets have prevailed! Following the instructions found in this How To, you will know how to sew inseam pockets- my personal favorite of all the pocket varieties available. And if you’ve made your own pocket pattern, with the help of this how to, from scratch, or by rubbing it off an existing garment, you are set! This pattern can be used over and over again with as many creations as you’d like! So don’t sit there with your hands in your pockets—- start sewing!. . . and then put your hands in your pockets!

We're Featured in Etsy's new DIY venture 'The Storque'

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Check out Etsy’s fantastic new online magazine The Storque! A wonderful mixture of news, reviews, videos, event infos and how tos! Check out the BurdaStyle contribution here.

Congrats, Etsy, for this great new DIY platform!

The Storque

Jane Altered to Fit Pregnancy!

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This week’s challenge of altering the Jane pattern was relatively easy except for the fact that I have serious baby brain at the moment! I lowered the waistband on the front of the shorts so they would fit nicely under my bump. This worked well except I think my butt is growing along with my bump, argh! Next time I’ll need to make a few sizes bigger for room for growth I think. The top was easy to make, I split the front piece in two under the bust where the elastic should go and added an inch to each piece for folding. I folded each piece under and stitched then once the top was sewn together with the pieces overlapping I added poppers to fasten. Unfortunately I forgot to add extra fabric around the front for my expanding bump, I knew before cutting I needed to do this but my baby brain took over for a little while. I also overlapped the front pieces the wrong way so I ended up with the bottom overlapping the top. Other than these baby brain moments I’m really happy with how these pajamas turned out, I know exactly what to do and what not to next time and there WILL be a next time. These pajamas are going to be perfect for the hot Melbourne summer so I plan on making at least a few more and I’ll look fabulous on the maternity ward too! I need a dressing gown and slippers to match and of course Carolina for my toiletries and maybe I should trim a towel too. I used some fabric I found in the thrift store last week to make this pair which drapes nicely, but I’m considering using a lightweight cotton for future Jane pajamas.

Now it’s onto Idit. Hopefully my regular brain will take over this week and I won’t forget anything. Like I said last week I plan to alter it by adding extra fabric to the front making it longer and wider to accommodate my bump. I’ll also have the front wrap over more maybe by adding more fabric and having it meet at the bust. I’m also considering adding a hood. Do you have any ideas for how to make these alterations?

After Idit I’m going to try a few alterations of Linda. I think this skirt has a lot of potential as a maternity skirt and could be altered in a number of ways such as a stretchy knit waistband or an under the bump waistband. Do you have any other ideas? It will look cute in summery fabrics and will keep me cool but covered from the sun. I have a couple of cute vintage tablecloths that would look great used with this pattern.

The Susan sew along finishes today so if you’re taking part make sure you upload a picture of your finished garment. I, of course, am totally behind and have not yet finished my version. I’ll be uploading it in the next day or so. We’re also taking suggestions for the next sew along which I will be announcing tomorrow so if you would like to take part get yourself over there now and let me know what you would like to make, I’ll choose the most popular.

Make Shoulder Pads

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I know you’re all expecting a How To on sewing in-seam pockets this week, but I’ll have to ask you to please take a rain check until the following week. Instead, I thought I would share a simple and quick project for those of you making jackets and blouses for the fall. Sure, shoulder pads evoke images of female power brokers and yuppies, or Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation album ( I don’t care much for the former, but Janet Jackson is a different story. I spent a lot of my adolescence mimicking her moves and style). Well, “Go Big or Go Home” isn’t the rule here. So try making your own, smaller, shaped shoulder pads by following the simple instructions found in this How To.

Featured Member: Myk

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

I’m from the Philippines. I live in Manila but I come from a small city called Baguio – the only area in our tropical country that reaches around 8˚C.

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

My mother got tired of me pestering her while she was sewing, tinkering with her stuff, asking her the where, what and why of all parts in the machine – that as soon as my legs were able to reach the pedal on our old singer machine I was taught how to sew. I started out with doll clothes and simple stuff for my “play” kitchen like place mats and small curtains. The first thing I made for myself was a tote bag for school. I advanced to alterations of hand-me-down clothes. I stopped sewing since I’ve been busy with work, but after a decade of office tasks, I got tired and decided to take a break. A month ago, I started a basic certification course in pattern and dressmaking.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Right now, it’s what’s keeping me busy. I’m an insomniac and this is what I do to make me sleep :) . It’s turning into an obsession! I plan to take up fashion design. It’s nerve wrecking to think that at this point in my life, I’m switching careers…but what the heck – 30 is the new 20 :) .

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

I don’t like ripping/decontructing seams. This is the one thing I hate but can’t do away with. I wish there’s a way I could just zap the stitches off. I also don’t like layouting the patterns on cloth because I get bored with endless pinning especially with very soft fabrics.

I love making, altering and merging patterns…and shopping for fabrics – I spend hours and hours mesmerized in rolls and rolls of textiles!!! I really don’t like to iron clothes but right now, it’s becoming a habit.

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

I would really want to make the perfect denims for me and people like me who have irregular waist to hips ratio (small waist big hips!) :) .

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

BurdaStyle is my caffeine website! It has been a part of my daily routine. Thank you editor for coming up with this baby!! I look forward to the following week when the new patterns are uploaded. I hope we could search for creations via category – like all dresses, tops, etc. Also if we could search for people within our area so we could get acquainted and meet :) .

If you want to find out more about Myk, check out her member profile. See shares her skills in a How To where you learn how to merge the Tara top with the dolman pattern. Check this out here.

Steffi Altered - Take 2

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I had it easy this week. I made another alteration of the Steffi jacket. I used the same muslin I made for my first alteration and drew onto the muslin with a pencil, I cropped it into a bolero between the bust and waist and left off the collar. I then cut the alterations and marked them onto the paper pattern, you will see them in my how-to marked in orange. This was so easy to make, I used some recycled denim fabric for the outside and some new apple fabric for the lining that I just couldn’t resist buying last week (slap on the wrist for me!).

I basically made the jacket as I did with my first version but without the collar and facings, I then made the lining in the same way except i rounded off the sleeves at the top and gathered them rather than adding the pleats. I then put the two jackets together right sides facing and sewed around the edge leaving a gap at the back hem. I turned it right sides out, pressed the seams and topstitched. I then stitched the sleeves, which I made shorter this time, and folded them to add a cuff which shows off the apple fabric nicely. I added a cute vintage red button from my stash to the front for closure and that’s it, so simple but a great result.

Next up is Jane. I was thinking of altering the top so it was like a nursing bra with the flip down bust that clips onto the strap but Westupen suggested that I split the front under the bust and add poppers to fasten in place. This seems like a much simpler alteration so this is what I’ll be doing along with the alteration to the front of the shorts.

My next challenge is to make Idit and alter it to accommodate my bump by making it longer and wider if need be. I’ll also have the front wrap over more maybe by adding more fabric and having it meet at the bust. I’d also like to add a hood as is suggested in the comments on the creation page.

Any suggestions or thoughts? Please leave a comment below.

Sewpedia: In Stitches!

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This week, spend some time trying out all the different built-in stitches available on your sewing machine. There’s a lot more than just zig-zag and straight stitch. Play around with the stitch length and width while sewing with some of the more intricate stitches for some really unique details.

In-Seam/In-Style

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Inseam pockets are all the rage lately. Well, pockets in general have made quite the come back. Many designers have added them to their collections, in places both expected and unexpected! In elegant dresses and puffy, bubble skirts. On classic high-waisted pants. Even in between pleats! And who can blame them! They are barely visible and super handy. And they are so easy to add to existing patterns. Follow the instructions in this How To, and learn how to make a pattern for a pocket. Then check out my column next week for instructions on how to sew it in.

BurdaStyle on CraftyPod!

Check out our latest interview by Sister Diane on the excellent CraftyPod!

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.

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