I’ve been sewing for over 40 years and dressmaking using paper patterns for over 35 but in all that time I have always avoided Burda trace-off patterns. Why, you may ask? Basically because what you’re confronted with are large printed sheets which have multiple patterns in multiple sizes all printed on both sides of one sheet, albeit in a few different colours! Oh, and they don’t include the seam allowances either! The magazine is a very reasonable £4.99 which is great value for the number of patterns it contains, it’s just that you have to do most of the work.
So if that isn’t enough to put you off read on…
This is what the sheets look like when you open them up so you’ll need a few bits of kit to turn them into useable pattern pieces. Ideally you’ll need some large sheets of paper (I use spot and cross pattern paper which is easily available on the internet) brown paper will do the job, newspaper (might be harder to see your lines because of the print though) or tissue paper-I always save it from anything wrapped. You may need to stick several pieces together too. I have carbon paper and a tracing wheel but the book suggests you could use a blunt knitting needle to transfer the lines although this will take longer than with a tracing wheel. You’ll need weights too to hold things in place-I’ve found tins of pineapple rings do the job but you could use anything heavy from your store cupboard! A ruler and a nice sharp pencil and you’re good to go.
Decide which garment you’re going to make and find the appropriate instructions in the centre of the magazine. I should add that the magazine features fashion photos of all the garments made up in various fabrics and versions so you’ll have an excellent idea of what it looks like ‘in use’ as opposed to the photo on the outside of a pattern envelope which isn’t always much help.
Before you do anything at all start by measuring yourself accurately so that you know which European size to use, DON’T just assume that you’re the same size as you buy in the shops-rooky error and almost always a BIG disappointment! (there speaks the voice of experience) When you know which size you’re cutting you’ll know which line to follow and which sheet you’ll find it on-in this case it’s sheet A and the lines were black. Patterns are rated for their level of difficulty-that’s the dots you can see in the photo which indicates that my top was pretty easy. The line drawing gives you a very clear version of features which you can’t always see in photos. There’s a list of the numbered pattern pieces to trace as well as other bits like the hem band and cuffs with measurements that you draw for yourself. Finally there is the fabric requirements, in my experience Burda are much LESS generous than other brands with fabric quantities so don’t be tempted to reduce the amount you buy unless you’ve used the pattern before and you know whether you can save fabric.
Unfold the sheet you need (A in this case) and locate the numbered pieces, these are printed around the outside edges of the sheet. I laid the spot and cross on the bottom with the carbon in between ( you’ll need to move this around as the carbon sheets aren’t that big) Place the pattern sheet on the top, making sure you’ve got it on the correct grain line, and weight it down. Now begins the process of tracing through the appropriate lines to transfer them to the paper underneath. I’m not going to lie, this will take you quite a while so don’t attempt it if you’re in a hurry or if there’s other things you should be doing (like getting the tea ready!) because you’ll need to concentrate-it’s quite easy to lose your place. Also, don’t do it on your antique dining table unless you want an outline permanently marked on it-make sure you’ve got something protecting surfaces.
Once you’ve traced off all your pieces straighten up any wonky lines and make sure any important markings like notches (balance marks) grain line, pleats, dots or tailor tack marks etc are all transferred too. Now cut it out and it’s a good idea to check that seams which go together e.g. side seams or shoulders, are the same length and not wildly out. If there’s a shortage then just stick a bit of spare paper in the offending place, make the adjustment and recut. I always make sure I’ve labelled every piece so that I know what it is, what size, fabric required etc for future use. If there are other items like cuffs etc which don’t have traceable pieces draw them out on paper too according to the written dimensions and cut out.
From then on you’ll make up the garment in the same way you would any other. The instructions include the order of making.
For my top I used a piece of printed Scuba I had and I hadn’t realised it had a different fabric on the back until I looked at the sketch, so I used a piece of satin-backed crepe which was just big enough.
The top is a very easy sweatshirt-shape and it’s super-comfy to wear. It made up very quickly and I like the details like the wide cuff and the pleats at the hem band.
I have to say I’m glad I spent the time making this top and there are one or two other things in the magazine which I’m keen to have a go at. In truth, I may not bother with the more complex styles because tracing off loads of pattern pieces may become too much of a chore but it’s nice having such a selection of styles all in one place, and being able to see them in different variations, at such a reasonable price-you just have a be patient and work at it!
Let me know if you’ve ever tried any of these patterns in the past, or if you’re tempted to try one now.
http://www.burdastyle.co.uk this link features regular paper patterns as well as the magazine, including back issues.