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.
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.
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.