In my earlier sewing survey, I’ve had several readers ask me about Burda Patterns and particularly about tracing Burda patterns from the magazine and still staying sane. If you are British or European you will probably be very familiar with the Burda Style monthly sewing patterns magazine and the maze of patterns all printed on top of each other in all of the different sizes. There are other magazines and some pattern books that do exactly the same.
Or perhaps you have a vintage pattern that you don’t want to cut, or one you might want to make in several different sizes.
So how do you best trace out your own pattern from the many on the same page, and still keep the page intact for future use?
I’ve tried many different ways, including some which have been unsuccessful – especially my Bad Karma dress, where I cut the two shoulder pieces far too small and didn’t have enough fabric left over to correct it. Burda makes it even more complicated by including no seam allowances so you have to add your own at the time of tracing too.
Here is my tips for making your own pattern from the maze and adding your seam allowances at the same time. All while keeping the original intact and unharmed.
Massage Table Paper (sometimes called Medical Paper)
Large flat firm surface – large table or smooth hard floor.
Tracing Burda Patterns the Easy Way
1 – First carefully undo the staples in the center of the magazine and remove the pattern sheets. Identify which sheets you need from the pattern instructions, and which piece numbers, and in which color.
2 – Use the sizing tables to identify your pattern size. (Burda Style Size Chart) Note – your pattern size will usually NOT correspond to your usual dress or clothing size. Measure yourself carefully, note the measurements and compare to the sizing chart. Most sewists report that Burda patterns make up much larger than the sizing chart suggests as they include quite a lot of additional ease for alteration and fitting while you sew.
You can measure the pattern pieces at strategic points such as bust, waist and hips now to confirm your best fitting size. We will double check this later on.
3 – Check the pattern sheets for the pattern pieces for the design you will be making. Do spend some time to correctly identify all of the pieces. You may find it useful at this stage to use a highlighter pen to run along the lines of the pattern pieces so you don’t lose sight of them again later in the maze! Double check and highlight carefully to make sure you are selecting the correct lines for your size.
4 – Prepare your tracing paper. The Saral Transfer or Tracing Paper comes in a handy roll which is 12 inches wide by 12 feet long. However you might find the pieces you want to trace are wider than 12 inches, especially for a full skirt, so let’s unroll the paper, find the middle and cut it into two lengths. Place these side by side with a small overlap, with the transfer side DOWN and then tape them together on the back side. If you tape on the transfer side, then it won’t transfer! Now you have a big sheet about 23 inches wide by 6ft. You can roll it back up again afterwards – this stuff will last you for years!
I use the Red Transfer Paper for tracing patterns to the white paper, and I love the White Transfer Paper for tracing directly onto dark fabrics or for transferring pattern markings or stitching lines onto fabrics. If you have a light fabric you can use the red paper to mark – both will wash out – but if in doubt or you have an expensive fabric, please test them on a scrap first.
5 – Find yourself a large flat and hard surface like the dining table or a hardwood floor. Now we need to make a sandwich. On the bottom goes your white paper from the roll – I like this Massage/Medical Table Paper that I got from Amazon. It’s not expensive, you get a lot on the roll and it’s strong enough to make a decent pattern that you can use to check fit (see later).
6 – Now on top of the white paper place the transfer paper with the transfer side down, and on top of that line up your pattern sheet face up.
7 – Set your Clover Double Tracing Wheel. A standard seam allowance is 5/8th of an inch, but if you have a preference you can set the width differently. If you are working in a knit you might only want a narrow seam, for a hemline you might want to leave a larger seam allowance. The Clover Wheel has adjustable widths from 3/16th to 1 and 1/8th inches. I’m setting mine to a narrow seam for this knit pattern.
8 – OK we are ready to trace. Just double check that all of your sandwich is lining up so that the pattern will fit on your medical paper. Then use the tracing wheel to mark along the pattern lines. One wheel will exactly follow the line of the pattern and the other will run along the outside of the pattern to create your chosen seam allowance. Both lines will transfer to the white paper underneath so you get the full size and the stitching line on your new pattern piece.
Remember NOT to add a seam allowance to lines that are cut on the fold!
9 – Also use the tracing wheel on the single setting to mark any pattern markings such as darts or notches. You can use the end of a knitting needle or something similar if there are other markings such as circles.
10 – Open up your sandwich and admire your new sewing pattern complete with automatically added seam allowance and pattern markings.
11 – Adjust your sandwich and trace the rest of the pattern pieces. It’s pretty quick once you get going. Write the pattern number/issue number/front/back etc on the new pattern pieces to help you identify them.
12 – Now we want to quickly test that we have the correct size before cutting out your fabric, and with this medical paper which is much stronger than the usual pattern tissue paper, you can ’tissue fit’ the pattern to your body to see approximately how it might look/fit.
You can either use the pattern pieces as they are and make up half the garment, or make copies of the pieces you need two of, and make up a complete mock up – its up to you. Pin along the stitching lines, pin any darts or pleats and try it on. Match up center front to your belly button, center back to your spine. If its not a bad fit then you have the correct size traced out. If its massive or too small then you know that you need to trace out a different size pattern or grade from one size to another.
This will also allow you to test waistline placement, dart placement, neckline placement, approximate skirt length etc. All before cutting into any fabric, finding it’s terrible and having to start all over again.
This paper is strong enough that you can even sew together along the stitching lines you traced with a long basting stitch to test the fit, and then unpick it again afterwards to use as the flat pattern on your fabric!
My pattern is a t-shirt made in a knit fabric so it is supposed to be fitted, but I think its a little too snug around the bust, and I’m also going to lengthen the arms a little, lower the neckline and probably take some off the length.
I hope you found this useful and will be digging out all your old Burda magazines with some new enthusiasm ready to make up your patterns and get to work on some styles you really couldn’t be bothered with before.
I’d also love to learn if you have any other tips or techniques that you use tracing Burda patterns or for duplicating patterns – do share in the comments below.
Authored by: Deby at So Sew Easy