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Burdastyle + 3rd Ward: Our Interview w/ Editor Jamie Lau

Our favorite fashion patterns are from BurdaStyle. If you're not hip to this awesome website, it's definitely worth perusing their Pattern Store, which allows you to purchase and download PDF files of anything from jackets and shirts to lingerie and swimwear! Whoa.

One of BurdaStyle's editors, Jamie Lau, will be teaching a Peplum Top Sewing Class @ 3rd Ward, starting Monday, October 8th, from 7-10 pm. Jamie's a talented designer in her own right, and we love the peplum top trend that reminds us of the 1940s, 1980s, and if every 40 years is the "pattern" for a fashion comeback, it's right on schedule. For some Peplum Top inspiration, check out this roundup by our friends at Refinery29.

This is Jamie Lau.

I had a chance to catch up with Jamie before her class starts, and now I'm more excited than ever for her class!

TNI: Tell us a little bit about when you started sewing? What did you make?

JL: I sewed my first stitch in August 2007, but didn’t become a regular until I received a sewing machine for my birthday in 2008. I had just moved from New York to San Francisco in 2007 for a new job and had just this much more free time on my hands. I discovered a DIY sewing school near work called Stitch Lounge and signed up for their basic sewing class making handbags. Once I got through the trauma of threading my new machine and winding a bobbin on my own sans teacher, I kept making reversible tote bags and fabric covered notebooks for friends over and over again to practice stitching in a straight line.

TNI: BurdaStyle is a vibrant online community of sewing lovers. How'd you get involved?

JL: Before becoming the site’s Editorial and E-commerce Manager, I first learned of BurdaStyle through a friend I bumped into while vending at Renegade Craft Fair the summer of 2010. I complimented her outfit and asked where she got it. Excitedly, she did a twirl modeling her contour bust dress and told me that she made it herself from a free online BurdaStyle pattern. I was instantly impressed and checked out the site.

For a while, I was debating a career change from my legal job to do something more creative in fashion. I had a Masters degree from Columbia where I studied public policy and social work and was working for the court system at the time. I was good at my job and had quite a successful career, but all I could think of during the day was going home after work to sew a new dress, drafting a new pattern at the library during lunch, or going to the fabric store for my next project inspiration.

Fast forward to a few months later, I made the decision to leave my day job and moved back to New York to start interning for BurdaStyle doing creative and editorial work. Eventually, a position opened up to spearhead an exciting new project: the company’s second fashion sewing book! I was hired and became the Co-Author, Lead Designer, Art Director, and Project Manager of the forthcoming book BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern: Mastering Iconic Looks From the 1920s to 1980s, which comes out this December, and the rest is history.

TNI: That's an awesome story. I definitely identify with giving up an unfulfilling day job with one that matches what actually makes me feel creative. What creation of yours are you the most proud of?

JL: Creating BurdaSyle Sewing Vintage Modern is definitely one of my biggest accomplishments to date. Regarding specific sewing and design projects, it’s so hard to choose one! My favorite project of all time is probably a striped wool pinafore dress I made two years ago.  

photo by Victor Castro

JL: It was my first time sewing a collar and quite a challenge to match up all the stripes, which made it even more rewarding when the dress turned out near perfect - lining, pockets, and all.

I also recently got married and in addition to designing my own wedding dress, I also sewed my bridesmaid dresses and made both my rehearsal dinner dress and bachelorette party dress. (In case you didn’t catch on yet, I really love sewing dresses!)

Jamie in her rehearsal dinner dress

TNI: Who are your top 5 designers?

JL: I design with four simple tenets - clean, simple, and functional with quality craftsmanship, so I tend to gravitate in that direction for favorite designers. In no (real) particular order:

1 - I love Miuccia Prada. She just symbolizes smart dressing and “structured” femininity for me.
2 - I also love Rachel Comey for her amazing prints and shoes (I wear her clogs and boots all the time).
3 - I really dig the colors and prints by Cacharel. There’s always something very crisp and youthful about each collection. Must be that effortless Parisian chic.
4 - Courrèges has always been a true inspiration for me. I love the Sixties and I most certainly love shift dresses and the geometry of design.
5 - Tied for #5 are A.P.C. and Steven Alan, my wardrobe staples aside from what I sew. In sum, I love garments that do not bear any time stamp that can be worn over and over again.

TNI: You'll be teaching the Peplum Top sewing class at 3rd Ward. What can folks expect to get out of the class?

JL: This pattern is so popular on our site right now and totally on trend. I can’t help but notice all the peplums I see everyday while riding the subway. In addition to learning how to make a really cool top, students will also walk away with fundamental sewing skills that are essential to future sewing projects - how to sew an invisible zipper, how to sew darts, how to work with facings, etc. But most of all, students should definitely have fun while reinforcing their knowledge of sewing basics – from cutting on grain to pressing as you go.

TNI: Oh yea, Jamie can you also make me a dress for my birthday? ;-)

Now, for all the rest of you's-- SIGN UP FOR JAMIE'S CLASS >>>

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