Open source. . .sewing?

The more art/craft shows I go to, the more I realize there is a trend wheel turning here. We’ve raised up among us a Wal-Mart nation, for better or worse. Buying decisions are often made on price alone. Innovation and creativity takes a back seat to cheap, which is not only in the front seat, its in the driver’s seat.

Along comes a company that takes an old-fashioned idea–sewing your own clothes–and  brings it into the 21st century. Burda Moden is a pattern company well known in Europe, especially in areas where trendy clothes aren’t carried in every store. In Cold-War Europe, East German women had a chance to dress in style with these patterns.burda mode pattern

Now Burda Moden has evolved into BurdaStyle, a website that has done away with copyright, encourages clients to download patterns, print them on recycled paper, change them, post the results and any tips for inventive sewers. BurdaStyle is in New York, and run by two German women.

“My generation’s problem is not a lack fashionable clothing, but the excess of mass consumption products,” said Nora Abousteit, the hobby sewer of the two women. “We aim for conscious consumers who want to make their own unique clothing items.”

“Instead of opposing the removal of copyright,” Burda “drew a parallel between sewing patterns and the music industry,” she said. “He said we should not make the same mistakes as record companies did with copy restrictions.”

New ideas. New trends. Ideas that no one ever thought could happen. And it started in the hobby/craft area.

–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach. She first saw this story in the International Herald Tribune.  Her own work is at

3 thoughts on “Open source. . .sewing?

  1. You could argue that it started in software decades ago at MIT. Researchers in computer science were trying to print something, but the printer wouldn’t work because of a software problem. They knew they could fix it, but weren’t allowed to — because they weren’t allowed to see how it worked — because the programming code for the printer was copyrighted. Direct result: GNU/Linux, the open-source movements, and so on. Also the company that owned that copyright is, I think, long bankrupt. There’s nothing smaller than the mind of a businessman.

    Here’s an interesting dilemma: everything written since the 1920s is off-limits because it’s copyrighted. Let’s say you’re a publisher, and you find a wonderful work from 1935 that people today would love. It’s probably impossible to reprint because (1) you have to find the author (2) you have to find the author’s family, and (3) you have to find the original publisher, which is almost certainly lost in mazes of acquisitions, divestitures, bankruptcies, legalities, and so on. With very few exceptions, corporations are very ephemeral things. So practically speaking, somewhere around 99% of everything written in the last 75 years is lost to history. There’s nothing more nearsighted than the eyes of a businessman.

  2. I have heard a lot about Burda these past few days. I hope their innovative ideas and attitudes take them far. Quite a change of heart and excellent news for sewists everywhere.

  3. Wow, that is excellent – thanks so much for posting that information, I probably wouldn’t have found it for ages otherwise. I’ve sewn Burda patterns in the past, they are really lovely. I can see I’ll need to get my sewing machine out again soon!

    Really refreshing to hear about a company with such a generous, creative and forward-thinking attitude too.

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