Archive for the ‘Books/Magazines’ Category

BurdaStyle USA: Meh

November 29th, 2013 8 comments

Fifty percent more expensive($15!); 200% less interesting, and page after page of seriously lackluster  content. I was so thrilled to see this in a USA bookstore, and so utterly disappointed when I went through it.  Costly AND boring; it’s a lousy combination.


With only a couple of exceptions, the patterns are baggy, boxy and uninteresting — not to mention that most, if not all, appear to have been recycled from previous European editions of BurdaStyle — and not the better examples, at that. PS:  I already have those patterns, which happened to have come with BurdaStyle issues full of other, better, patterns, too.

Just to reduce the value further, there’s no “All Styles at a Glance”, so figuring out exactly what’s in the issue isn’t quick or easy, and, worst of all, half the patterns are *downloads*.  If your dream is to spend hours on your knees taping paper together and you don’t care if your patterns are still accessible in the future, then this edition is for you.  None of this describes my preferences, though.

There’s more editorial in the USA magazine, but I don’t even like the editorial in the European versions; it’s even worse in this North American iteration.  I buy BurdaStyle, Europe, for the patterns and the alternate sensibility the European styles offer.  I don’t even care what language they’re in; I buy them because they’re interesting.  This magazine isn’t.  I sure hope I can still buy European issues when I’m in New York; this “targeted” version costs too much and offers too little for me to give it another glance.

I’m really baffled: why would those of us who still buy the traditional BurdaStyle want this more expensive, watered-down version that doesn’t even include the patterns featured? And why would people who don’t already like the Burda magazine model care about this dull offering?

A month ago, I bought my copy when out of town; my local bookstore got stacks of them in weeks ago, and not a one seems to have sold.  A few years ago, the same store used to stock the English version of European BurdaStyle, but just three copies at a time.  In spite of the fact that they sold out, the store stopped stocking them.  It’s hard to believe that “BurdaStyle USA” will be able fill the empty niche.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m pre-disposed to liking Burda, and this approach seems really off. Without some major changes, I’m guessing that “BurdaStyle USA” isn’t long for this world. Time will tell, I guess.

Can’t we just get better distribution of European BurdaStyle in North America?  It’s a better magazine, a better value in terms of content (visually, in the magazine, and in terms of actual patterns provided), and offered at a better price.

Categories: Books/Magazines Tags:

Threads Wardrobe Storyboard

June 14th, 2011 4 comments

Chez Noile is still in chaos, so I needed some quickie sewing projects that would chew up stash and require minimal space in the sewing room.  Also, I need summer clothes, since I’ve done little about acquiring any for years.  The Christine Jonson summer wardrobe from Threads (Issue 155 June/July 2011) became my springboard:

I made up a storyboard to keep my goal firmly in mind, and I even made the Princess Dress, although I’m not much of a dress-wearer.

Not only is the storyboard a great help in keeping me on track, but it’s a marvelous tool for checking and gathering notions.  I used line drawings from Christine’s site (altering at least one neckline according to my whim), and mocked it up on my computer, leaving room (more or less) for swatches.

The next step was to print it it on cardstock and glue my fabric swatches on.  Then I cut a transparent quilting template to fit over the whole thing, which protects it when attached to a clipboard.  With clipboard in hand, heading to the fabric store to pick up whatever thread or notions I need is fast and easy.  Matching colors is a cinch using the storyboard; it’s much easier than managing a slew of loose swatches.

Inevitably, I’ve made a few changes.  I’ve decided not to make the sleeveless vest, since I can’t actually see myself wearing it.  In summer, if I need a wrap, I need it over my arms, to compensate for air-conditioning.  And I’m not sure what I’m going to do about the jacket.  Do I make it reversible?  In a print?  And I’m not sure I’ll make the sleeved top from the Princess dress pattern, since I now suspect that, for this particular design, my bust is better balanced with a skirt.

But changes and refinement as I go along are all part of the program.  I’m really enjoying making up a planned wardrobe; I think this is a first for me, and I’m counting on making this my “go-to-it’s-brainless” summer travel wardrobe.

So far, I’ve completed five of the garments, and will be knocking off a few more as I wait on the tradesman’s fancy and the moment I can put the house back together.  Finished are the dress, a reversible top, one skirt, and two pair of leggings.  Reviews to come, and more on the way as I knock off the rest.

Christine Jonson quotes a budget of “just under $400” for nine to twelve garments that yield over twenty outfits.  My costs will run under $70 for all pieces, but I’m not using the premium cotton/lycra fabrics Jonson features.  (I can say “for all pieces” now, because I’m working with a finite number of fabrics, even though I haven’t finished the project.)


Christine Jonson Skirt 1219

Making a Reversible Tank

Threads Wardrobe Storyboard

Christine Jonson Princess Dress 1117

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Top 622

Christine Jonson Skirt 1219

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Leggings 622

Tunic/Tank Dress from BaseWear One Pattern 622

Wardrobe Wrap-Up

Project Records For My Serger

December 10th, 2010 1 comment

I vowed that I’d really get to know my  new serger this go-round, and have been devouring various resources.  Much to my surprise, my low-bump Baby Lock Lauren serger came with an excellent DVD, which I’ve watched, and found very helpful.  But the best resource has been Nancy Zieman‘s Serge with Confidence which has languished, unread, in my library for several years.

In Serge, Zieman suggests using “Serger Reference Cards” to track projects.  She shows commercial cards in the book, but I can’t find them on her site, and have never seen them in a store.  I thought these were a good idea, though, so I whipped up my own, tailored to my specific preferences:  That’s my card in the photo above, hot off the printer.

My word processor  has a template for index cards, three to a standard (US) 8.5 by 11 inch page, so that’s what I used, filling in the fields as I liked, and leaving a space at the bottom for samples of the work in question.  Once they were printed, I cut them with a guillotine-style paper cutter; scissors would have worked, too.

My template wastes paper, but did allow me to avoid creating my own index-card-table-template, which would have been a pain, especially in my somewhat kludgey software.  I might do that later on — in the meantime, let’s just say that I’m not going to be running out of bookmarks in the near future.

I use a Linux computer, which isn’t particularly user-friendly for these kinds of features (but wonderful for the important stuff!).  If you use a more common OS, you might have a more sensible index card layout in your word processor software.  Or not  .  .  . but it might be worth checking to see.

Just for fun, I used font colors corresponding to the colors on the tension dials for the needles and the loopers on my serger in the place on the cards where I’ll record the tension settings.

I printed the cards on cardstock (a heavier weight paper with a very slightly slick surface on one side).  Cardstock is available at any office supply store and makes for a heavier, more durable “index” card.  That might matter if you’re attaching samples to the cards.

To finish them off, I used a “decorative corner punch” to round the corners.  That’s a “fun” thing, too, but also sensible, as squared-off corners are likely to fray and get sloppy over time.  Eliminating them means that I’ll be able to handle these cards without making a mess of them.  I’ve left enough room at the bottom for stitching/fabric samples.  Here’s the first one I used, with sample attached:

Many people find sergers to be overwhelmingly frustrating, and having this kind of tool to refer to is just the ticket to reduce some of that frustration.  I’ve never found my serger to be particularly frustrating, but I have found it a pain to have to re-invent settings for new projects when I can’t remember settings that were second nature say, last year.  Now I’ll have documentation:  Perfect!

If you’re eager to develop the best possible relationship with your own serger, I highly recommend Serge with Confidence.  The projects might not send you — they’re not particularly to my taste — but you’ll be amazed at what you can do with a serger, and Zieman will walk you through every thing you could conceivably need to know about using one.   If you’re thinking about buying a higher-bump serger than I did, you  might want to take a look at  Serge before you shop; it would be a great tool for evaluating your needs and desires before you and your wallet step out.

Categories: Books/Magazines, Machines, Tips, Tools Tags:

Burda in Budapest

October 26th, 2010 No comments

After discovering that it’s possible to buy the current issue of Burda’s pattern magazine virtually anywhere in Budapest, Hungary (gas stations! magazine kiosks! hole-in-the-wall newsstands!), I took special notice of an ad in the back of one of the Burdas I’d gotten.  I can’t read Hungarian, but it was really obvious that this ad was for back issues

.  .  .  and it included two addresses for Burda stores in Budapest.  Budapest, my new favorite city, is very easy to navigate.  I knew I could find at least one of these stores, and so I did.  Here’s the store in Budapest IX (that’s the district) at Vámház krt. 13 (that’s the street name and number):

Inside was Burda-back-issue-heaven.  The Burda I wanted most wasn’t out on the rack, but the proprietor was kind enough to search through a huge stack behind the register, and turned this up:

It’s the 04/2008 issue I’ve been desperate to find — the one with Cidell’s trench jacket!  I bought it immediately, and also a slew more, some of which are below:

The price?  About $2.50 USD for each.  I was practically hyperventilating from delight!

However, I didn’t come home with a truckload.  I had a list of issues I wanted, some of which went back to 2000 or so, but I soon learned that I couldn’t get those issues here; the Hungarian version of Burda has only existed since October, 2005.   Not to mention one other detail:  I’m not nuts about Burda’s summer issues, and the end-of-year holiday issues don’t do much for me either.

Still, this was quite a coup, and I loved the store, which is, by the way, also sells yarn, along with yardage.  All communication, except smiling and nodding, was conducted by writing dates down (in Hungarian format, of course), but that was no problem at all.

Later I went back and asked about a double tracing wheel, suspecting that I could find one more easily in Budapest than at JoAnn’s.  This Burda store didn’t have it, but the proprietor made a call to their store on József krt., wrote down which streetcar to take, and I went over there and picked up my new dual wheel.  So much fun, and I got to see a whole different part of Budapest into the bargain.

Why is is so easy to find old issues of Burda?  Well, it’s probably partly because Hungary may still be a nation of sewers.  But it’s also at least partly because Hungary, or at least, specifically, Budapest, is still a nation of readers.  There are lavishly stocked magazine stands all over the place, and people are still reading like crazy on public transit, with only a few electronic devices (cell-phones; MP3 players; hand-helds) turning up, and those rarely.

Economically, Budapest seems to be still suffering from the “long sleep” that was communism/dictatorship; having a world full of text on every corner is one symptom.  It made me realize how much we’ve lost, at least in the reading arena.  Once electronic devices are in the hands of every Hungarian, most of those books and virtually all of the magazines are doomed, along with the tempting kiosks.  And easy access to Burda.  It’s a trade-off, but is it good?

Categories: Adventure/Travel, Books/Magazines Tags:

Burda Score – Times Two

September 28th, 2010 6 comments

I’m in Hungary right now — yeah, I’m surprised, too — and guess what I found at a gas station on the day I arrived:

Yes, at a GAS STATION!  I can hardly find Burda Style in the United States, but they’re sitting around at gas stations in Budapest.

And the price?  Less than $4.50 USD apiece.  Eat your hearts out, poor deprived North Americans.  (Don’t worry, I’ll be crying next  month.)

That was Sunday  night.  Today (it’s Tuesday here), I found the October issue at a news stand near the gas station:

Of course, the instructions are all in Hungarian, but given the quality of Burda’s directions, I don’t count that as any kind of disadvantage.  I’m tap dancing here, people!  Budapest is wonderful, and this was frosting on the cake.  Or, rather, frosting on the torte.

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We Wear Clothes Oneself: Japanese Pattern Book

May 5th, 2010 No comments

I fell in love with this book at Kinokuniya in New York last summer:

Google translates the title as “we wear clothes oneself“, with the subtitle “when you change from a three dimensional plane“.  (No wonder I loved it!)  To be accurate, what I fell in love with was the skirt on the cover, which has functional cut-outs on the hem that allow it to be worn a multitude of ways:  With the cut-outs in front; to the sides; buttoned together to form pant legs; buttoned to form pleats at the hem.  Whoo, baby, this is my kind of fun!  Which is not to say that there isn’t a lot of other interesting stuff in the book.  There is!

Here’s the list of garments from Amazon Japan (as translated by Google):

a – scarf two yen (I think this name must refer to the shape of a yen coin: it’s a clever scarf made of two circles sewn together to form an “s”shape)
b – to be worn with a light bolero top and bottom of the cloth accents (a light bolero jacket that can be worn two ways, making two different necklines)
c – semi + c flared dirndl (a faux wrap skirt made in two different fabrics)
d – ribashiburuberuto  with pocket (a cute, decorative hip band with a hidden pocket)
e – double skirt (a tube skirt that can be pulled inside out to make several different looks)
f –  best open-back + stall (a scarf that can also be worn as a vest-like topper)
g -furenchisuribuburausu pleated shoulder (simple blouse with a fluttery, pleated sleeve and two neckline variations)
h –  bolero towel (a short bolero-style jacket – maybe possibly made from a Japanese towel?)
i – skirt + pants (my favorite, and the one on the cover)
j – best long scarf (a scarf with two armholes, and a pleat formed by a snap in back)
k – 1 of the marks sheet wrap skirt (a nicely-shaped wrapped skirt with mitered corners on the hem)
l – cloth accents – spiral corsage (OK, this is the only thing I ‘m not impressed with – it looks like a spiral of cloth with ragged edges stuck onto a blouse.  I can’t find the directions for it, either, but I’m thinking that’s no loss)

There’s also an item b1, which is a choker with a fabric “medallion”; the instructions are hidden on page 57 in the back.  And speaking of hidden, if you remove the beautiful dust jacket, there’s another  nice garment shot underneath.

This is one of those Japanese sewing books that have no English instructions.  All the patterns are included on paper sheets in the back of the book.  You fold out the sheets, find the garment you intend to make and trace the pattern pieces.  The saving grace for those of us who don’t read Japanese is that the instructions are beautifully illustrated.  This isn’t a book for a novice sewist, but assembling the garments here should be no problem at all for someone with a bit of experience — or a ton of patience!

We Wear Clothes Oneself was written by Natsuno Hiraiwa (that’s the Japanese form of the name; the surname is Natsuno); the ISBN is  978-4-579-11236-4.  You can order it using the ISBN through Kinokuniya in the USA, or see it on, where it can also be ordered.  These books are exceptionally beautiful.  The photos are printed on heavy, glossy paper, and they are a pleasure both to see and to handle.  Not to mention that the aesthetic is deliciously different, even if you never sew a thing and only feast your eyes!

Categories: Books/Magazines, Skirts Tags: