My first real Burda

I feel like I’ve crossed some kind of invisible sewing line at last: I have finally made up a Burda magazine pattern. Spurred on by the curious kiwi and modern vintage cupcake‘s Burda mag sewalong, I took the plunge into making something from my first (and only) magazine. I traced it out and added seam allowances and everything! And, wouldn’t you know, it wasn’t nearly the ordeal I thought it would be.

Huge credit for that goes to Ms. McCall of Brown Paper Patterns, for her awesome tracing advice. She even gave me two sheets of the magic carbon tracing paper she uses when we met up in LA! Basically, her method involves putting your blank pattern paper on the bottom (I used brown painter’s paper, which I got in an 18 inch by bajillion foot roll at the hardware store for like 5 bucks), then the carbon paper (colored side down) on top of it, and the Burda pattern mess sheet on top, then tracing the pattern lines with a tracing wheel. She uses a fancy double tracing wheel to add the seam allowances as you trace, which is brilliant, but of course that’s not the type of thing they sell at Jo Ann… so I improvised. I bought two cheapo tracing wheels and taped them together. Hey, it works! I measured the distance between the wheels and that’s my seam allowance (it turned out to be about 3/8, which is fine). It’s a cool setup, and I’m so glad it allows me to trace with the pattern sheet fully visible on top, rather than trying to pick out the right lines through a layer of tracing paper. And frankly, I think the whole tracing operation is still somehow less annoying than printing out 50 pages of a pdf pattern and taping them together, cutting out the pattern, and then still having to add seam allowances! I might be a physical Burda mag convert.

burda tracing tools

As for the pattern itself – it’s number 107 from the March issue (which I bought in LA from a real newsstand!), the gathered front cardigan that was pretty much the reason I bought the issue. I knew the front bands would be fiddly, but I liked the design so much I was willing to deal with the hassle. And I was totally correct – the bands were fiddly, but not impossible. I ran into some trouble at the bottom where the hem encounters the bands, but it worked out okay. Honestly, I have no idea if what I did at the hem was what was instructed or not, since I find Burda instructions so impenetrable that I confess I didn’t even read them. All-text (and translated text at that) instructions just make my eyes cross, and I didn’t want to put in the effort when I understand already basically how to construct a cardigan. I made the bands first, sewing the outer (interfaced) and inner bands together, sewing just the outer band to the body, then topstitching the band to secure the inner band and sandwich the seam allowances into the band. At the bottom I sewed across the bottom of the band right sides facing then turned them out, inserted the edge of the hemmed body into the band, and topstitched in place. It wasn’t the neatest thing ever with this thin knit, but it worked okay.

Burda 107-03-2013

The fabric I chose is yet another yellow striped knit from Girl Charlee that’s too thin to make into a dress (I went through a crazed striped-fabric-ordering phase last year and about half of them turned out to be more lightweight than I anticipated). I like really thin cardigans for our cool summer evenings, and I thought the gathers would be fun with the stripes. And while both of those things are true, I think this cardigan would’ve worked a bit better in a heavier knit. I prefer open cardigans, but this one is really designed to be closed, I think. I haven’t put buttons on this, but I probably should. It would make the shaped neckline make a lot more sense! There’s also a lot of fit-and-flare through the waist and hip, which works for a cardigan that you wear like a shirt but not so much for an open cardigan – there’s like little flaps below my waist on the sides. I will also agree with most reviewers that this pattern runs small; or, rather, it’s designed small. I prefer a cardigan I can wear, you know, over clothes, but this is drafted to be a tight shirt on its own. To be fair, that’s what it looks like in the magazine, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. If I make another one of these, I’d probably size it up a bit, straighten out the side seams a little, and make it in a slighter heavier knit so it wouldn’t be so fiddly to put together. I still like the shape and the idea, and, well, I went to all the trouble of tracing it so I feel kind of obligated to make it again…

At any rate, I’m glad I got over my fear of Burda magazines. Thanks to the Wellington Sewing Bloggers for hosting the sewalong and getting me to actually crack open that crazy pattern sheet! I don’t think I’ll be subscribing to Burda anytime soon, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled for pattern magazines, and hopefully eventually make something else from this issue. Of course, the keyword here is eventually.

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18 comments
  1. Sandra said:

    This looks great. I love the shape. Well done on conquering the burda tracing.

  2. lisa g said:

    i loved that pattern when i saw it on burda but had already forgotten about it! it’s super cute with the striped fabric. i’m always looking for a cardigan to throw on in the evenings when it’s cool. and thanks for the info on sizing!

  3. Wow, I really love this! That fabric is adorable. I’ve never found a local place that even sells Burda magazines but I’ve thought about buying a few of the individual patterns online. They really have great style (mostly).

  4. Karen said:

    Congrats on your first Burda and such lovely fabric! I’ve heard other people talk about that shop, I always get nervous ordering things online that cant be returned.

    • aleah said:

      Yeah, it’s a crapshoot. I think online ordering is okay as long as you don’t get your heart set on using it for a particular project, in case it winds up being the wrong weight… but if you like the design you’ll use it for something!

  5. sue said:

    The cardigan turned out great! It looks like it would be hard to do but you nailed it. I live the stripes and the color. Well done!

  6. It looks great and I love the yellow stripes on you. I considered that pattern too, it’s the current magazine in the book shop but I ended up choosing a different cardi. My pattern ended up running large, haha, the trials of Burda. My knit was tricky to work with and I fudged my hem too, Burda do weird things sometimes. I’ll get it sorted eventually.

  7. jenny said:

    Congrats on your first burda! Looks great! And thanks fir the tracing advice.

  8. I love it! It looks like a great match of fabric and pattern. And someday, I will also cross the line and use a Burda pattern. Someday!

    • aleah said:

      Honestly, probably the hardest part about Burda is finding the magazine!

  9. Your cardigan turned out great. I have a collection of Burdas that I haven’t used yet. You and a Burda sew-along I happened onto have motivated me.

  10. Love this cardigan, the colour and fabric work perfectly. It looks like it was super tricky to make so well done!

  11. Whooo hooo! Love the cardigan, it’s so bright and happy. Now I actually have a burda subscription, I’ll have to follow my own advice and get tracing.

  12. sheryl said:

    Your sweater fits you well! I like how the stripes are running diagonally across. For your tracing wheel, maybe you can add folded paper or cardboard in between the two wheels for the extra 2/8.

  13. Kristin said:

    Your cardigan is awesome, but I’m wondering if you made your cute dress underneath, or did you buy it? It is really cute!

    • Kristin said:

      nevermind, because I found it! (should have kept reading blog first….lol) 😀 great job on the knit dress too! love it

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