Monday, March 7, 2011

Adventures in Tracing Patterns

One of my Christmas gifts was a subscription to Burdastyle magazine.  I've made Burda patterns before, downloaded and printed from the website, but never actually traced one from the magazine.  Holy cow.  If you haven't seen one of the pattern pages, be prepared for something like the above photo.  The effect is dizzying. 

I waited with baited breath and received the first issue in February.  I flipped through it totally psyched about all the magnificent things I was going to make.  After checking out the pattern pages, I decided my first go around should be something simple and easy.   I decided to make the long sleeve tee, number 106 B, after seeing the stripey version in the magazine.  The instructions pointed me to blue pattern line, sheet D,  pattern pieces 21 to 23.   I went to pattern sheet D and saw loads of blue lines and no number 21, 22 or 23.   Hmmmm.  I found a blue line and decided to trace it.  I mean, they wouldn't make two patterns in a blue line on the same page, would they?

Well, yes they would.  They most definitely do make more than one pattern in the same color line on the same page.  I figured out halfway through the first pattern piece that I was actually tracing a dress.  I never did find the right numbers, but I somehow discerned the proper pieces in all the jumble and made up this pink and orange top.  I used Swedish tracing paper and a bright orange colored pencil.  I started with a pen but it got caught up in the fuzzy tracing paper and a marker would have gone through on to the pattern sheet.  I'm not sure I like the Swedish tracing paper I used because all the little dots made it even harder to see the line I was tracing.   No complaints once I had the pattern traced.  I sewed it all together in about an hour.  I lengthened it about three inches at the waist and made the sleeves elbow length.   I'm happy with the finished result.  But this leads me to a question for you,  my fellow sewists:
How do you trace Burda magazine patterns?  
What sorts of materials do you use?  How do you find the right pieces?  Will tracing Burda patterns make me permanently cross-eyed?  And where in the world are the pattern piece numbers?

Matching neon pink and orange stripes will cause temporary blindness.

This was my MMM day two outfit. I've already made another knit top from the same pattern but didn't pay attention to the direction of the stretch. I'll wear it, too, though it's quite a bit tighter. I've read about 2 way or 4 way stretch before but have never paid much notice when sewing knits. I've learned my lesson.
Day three: I wore my pintuck tunic tucked in (say that three times fast!)

Day four: spotty vest 

Day five: Dinner with friends in my Tencel shirt dress

Day six: Built by Wendy striped knit top
Day seven: Pink and orange Burda top again

I know. Again already. But, I have an excuse.  I work at a different school on Mondays, so if I can repeat clothes any day, this is the day to do it.  I woke up totally uninspired today, hence all the black.  I'm glad, though, because I ended up with dried crusty Elmer's glue all on one side of my sweater and blue paint on my bottom (I sat in it).  At least it wasn't on any of my me-made things.


  1. i'm too scared to trace patterns like that! but you're doing well so far. I like the vest and shirt dress the best. keep it up!

  2. Cute top!!!

    I hear that Burda didn't used to be quite as bad (I only got one issue once, and I'm not sure if it's from before or after the change...) but recently reduced the number of pattern sheets... Glad you got it figured out!

    Also VERY glad you didn't get paint on your me-mades! Yikes!

  3. Your MMM is going well. The pink knit looks lovely. One of my aims for this year is to venture into the land of knits...but only after I master a well-fitted dress, which is not very far away at all!

    I think repeats are fine!

  4. They print the pattern numbers all around the margins of the pages, it's still kindof hard to find because that only tells you half the location but it helps when pattern pieces look really similar. Great job on the knit top, I love that pattern

  5. Tracing burda patterns is a knack, like anything. Not my favorite thing to do, I make sure I REALLY like the pattern first. Suuper cute shirt.

  6. Burda is one of those things I buy every month but rarely have the energy to trace. Some one once suggested to me to make a kind of make do light box from a glass table and a lamp underneath. Obviously you have to have said glass table which I do not. But uplighting it really does help!
    They are a pain whatever you do with them but the patterns can be lovely. x

  7. For Burda magazine patterns, the number appears in the margin and again on the pattern piece. You first find the number on the margin then look in that line across the sheet for the same number on the pattern piece.

    You have to refer to the pattern instructions to know what sort of dotted line corresponds to each size.

    Each pattern piece will probably have a couple of smaller numbers printed on it. The small numbers on the pattern piece are the order in which you sew the seams. eg you find a small 1 on 2 different pieces and join those seams together. Then you find the small 2 etc.

    I normally use tracing paper or tissue wrapping paper, but I don't sew Burda pattern a lot. I recently bought a Burda tracing set which includes several sheets of thin, clear plastic to trace onto. I haven't tested it yet.

    Your tee looks great! Here's to many exciting projects from your subscription!

  8. Katherine H said all I was going to say...

    Burdastyle feels ok to me because I have learned sewing with them, and a few months later, I have discovered the envelope patterns.

    To trace the patterns, I use a pencil or a pen. I usually works well. ALso, to have a global look at a pattern piece, I mark its corners with a marker or something. That way, I never lose sight of it...

  9. Ok, this is all great advice-- thanks everyone! I did see the numbers in the margins but couldn't then find them on the actual pattern pieces. Now I know to follow the line out and look for it.

    Laurwyn, I especially like the idea to mark the corners of the pattern piece to not lose it.

    Stevie, we do actually have a glass table we use as a light table. I'll have to try it out next time I trace.

  10. Melissa at Fehr Trade has a good and quick method here:
    If you google "tracing BWOF" or something similar you will come across a few different methods people out there use. Some add the seam allowance during the tracing, and some don't add it until cutting the fabric.

  11. I always lust after Burda magazine when going to newsagents but I'm always put off exactly because of the multitude lines on the patterns. I do trace probably 95% of my patterns but I keep thinking that would just give me a headache. I might have a go at it one day :)

  12. I love your knit top! I have that pattern traced out to make...its the second Burda pattern i have used from the magazine, they both took me ages to do and i did say i would never do another after the first, but there are lots of things i want to make from Feb's issue. Love your mmm outfits too!

  13. I trace all my patterns (not just Burda) and I use medical examination room paper which is dirt cheap ($5 to $7) for a roll that is 50m or 100m long so it lasts quite a while. The other thing I sometimes do is to tape the Burda sheet to a large window (using low tack/painter's tape)and tape the paper on top of the exam paper. The sunlight acts as a "lightbox" and I use a pencil to trace and it works fine.

  14. Yikes, all those lines make me dizzy! I've never made anything from the magazine directly, just downloaded the burda magazine pattern from the website. Hopefully the instructions are better in the magazine; the directions from the download were terrible!

    Love your new shirt!

  15. I've done some tracing on Burda and on some vintage magazines (which are even worse than the new ones) - I always use clear plastic as in the tracing set (here in Germany you can get clear plastic for covering the furniture when painting the walls - many seamstresses here use the thick, durable version of this, because it's cheaper). I like working with plastic - especially since it makes it easier when working with striped fabric or plaid, you can see the fabric while cutting.
    Sometimes, when it gets really bad, I mark the pattern with a feltpen or a biro on the patternpage beforehand, this makes it easier but also means more work. As someone above said, marking crucial parts like the corners helps a lot. Good luck, you'll get used to it!

  16. Pattern Review has an 11-page thread on tips for working with Burda:

    I love the precision of the Burda draft but it's true the pattern sheets are a bit...special, LOL!

  17. I have a question. What is swedish tracing paper? I live in sweden, but I don't know what it is. Hehe.. That pink and orange t-shirt is really cute!

  18. Lisa, in Sweden it would just be called tracing paper! Hehe. I'm not sure why it's called Swedish- I got it at a chain fabric store. It kind of feels like interfacing but it has little dots all over to help with measurement, I believe.

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  20. I think the tracing paper you guys mentioned is what we in Denmark call "mønsterpapir". It's see-thru, thin and comes in 2 different widths. I've used it for 10 years (tracing my Burda patterns);-) Check out my blog tomorrow or tuesday. I'll be posting a picture of a section from a vintage BS-magazine from 1973. (Making shorts and more)

  21. Lol. I am going to brave one soon. Apparently along the edge in the same colour is the pattern mumber which is parellel to the actual pattern you need to trace, a quick way of finding it. I have just been on Pattern Review reading all the tips on Burda tracing, and have decided to use carbon paper sandwiched between the pattern and white paper, then use one of those tracing wheels that add the seam allowance as you trace. No way am going to do my usual tracing method which is just tracing through Burda tissue, too many lines, I would go cross eyed. I may highlight or outline first, before the actual tracing through carbon paper, so I know my journey. Looks like some convoluted international road map. Am scared but am going to do it.