Monthly Archives: June 2013

Tracing patterns – a piece of cake!

A few days ago, Peter over at MPB asked a question that hugely exercised me: Did we use only individual envelope patterns or did we brave the tracing and cutting conundrum of sewing magazines?

I came down firmly on the side of sewing magazines – well, to be honest I have only ever used Burda Magazine, so I can’t say much about other magazines. One of the main criticisms about sewing pattern magazines is that it’s confusing, boring, difficult and generally unbearable to trace the patterns. Now, I would not for one moment suggest that tracing a pattern is something I LIKE doing I still would like to try and convince you that is something that is perfectly possible and does not take forever. Just a little disclaimer: This is neither a tutorial nor a How-to (my sewing skills are such that I use tutorials don’t make them…), just my version of how I complete this task.

So here is my little slide show of How I Trace A Pattern:

IMG_3683This is where I start tracing skirt #126 out of Burda 9/2007, a back issue that I have wanted for ages and now finally managed to buy off a fellow member of the German Burdastyle website. I use Burda tracing paper – I am not too sure what makes it different form the paper you use to wrap your glasses in when moving house… I use a normal pen to trace the lines.

IMG_3684To prove that tracing does not have to take ages I am showing the times here (yes, I should have changed the orientation of the pictures before I uploaded them – lesson learned for next time.)

Anyway: I started at 10:12.

IMG_3685Find the right pattern sheet – sheet A. This is one of the older Burda magazines where the pattern sheet isn’t quite as full of lines as it is today.

IMG_3688Tracing paper does on top and you can already see the first lines that I have traced. I don’t have a magic method of following the lines. Normally I don’t highlight the lines on the pattern sheet as I find that I can see them quite well. I only have trouble if the lines are red, I find them really hard to follow, no matter how much I squint and bunch up my eyes.

IMG_368910:23: The first pattern piece is traced and cut.

IMG_3690I am being really organised about this: I circled all the numbers I need for this skirt and once they are traced they get ticked off. I don’t do this normally, but I am trying to do my efficient German impression for you here 😉

IMG_369110:32: All pieces are cut. So this has taken 20 minutes from start to finish – I don’t think that is too bad for a skirt with 6 pattern pieces. Of course I still need to cut out the pieces, but that has to be done with an envelope pattern as well, doesn’t it.


10:38: 26 minutes in: All pieces are now ready for use.

IMG_3693So while we are at it I thought I show you how I tackle the problem of seam allowances – or rather lack thereof on Burda patterns. I pin the pattern piece to the fabric.

IMG_3694Then without adding any lines or anything I add around 1/2 inch of seam allowance by using the ruler as a guide for straight lines.

IMG_3695For curves I just eyeball the seam allowance. Sometimes I use more than 1/2 in, especially on side seams  when I am not sure if I might need a little extra for comfort.

IMG_3696Then I transfer the stitching lines onto the left side of the fabric using the Burda copying paper. When sewing I will match the resulting yellow lines on both my skirt front and back piece. Because I match the sewing lines and not the edges of the seam allowances, it does not actually matter how wide the seam allowances are or whether they are the same on both pieces.

IMG_3697This is the reverse side of the same piece with the yellow lines. I think they are practically invisible on the photo – can you see anything at the tip of my scissors? There truly are yellow lines there, which are clearly visible in real life.

So that’s it, that’s how I deal with the mystery that is Burda sewing magazine. Tracing patterns isn’t all that bad, don’t you think?

If you are a Burda user, is that how you do it as well? And if you have never dared to use pattern magazines, has this post encouraged you to try?


Why do the laundry, if you can sew?!!

… were the words of wisdom from my husband when I came to show him the second top I made in a row today with two more already cut and in the queue.

Might I be exaggerating in my stash-busting fervour? Might four waterfall tops in a row be too much? Should I slow down and think if I really need those tops? But then: one in cream, one in purple, one in navy, one in blue and one even has sleeves while the others are sleeveless – I am sure you sewists all will agree that this is absolutely necessary 😉 .

And yes, I still DO the laundry and I even wear stuff twice…

Burda 5/2012 #107: Wonky Dress

IMG_3555Well now, what’s happened here, I seem to ask.

Well now, a really wonky dress:

IMG_3550It’s wonky even if I stand straight – like here doing my best Guards of Buckingham Palace impression. The pattern is #107 from last years May Burda:

107-052012-M I made up the dress version but left off the pockets. No real reason for this other than I was lazy and felt like a quick project without fiddling. Lazy, ey??

Somehow on these pictures the dress actually looks a lot more A-line than on the technical drawing. I am not quite sure what I did, because I simple followed the pattern without any changes, but having looked at the pictures I think I am going to make it a little more fitted because I like the shape on the technical drawing better.



I think the wonkiness of the pattern is a bit strange – I would have preferred the turquoise inset to be the symmetrical on both sides. But on the other hand it is fun and I like the colour combination, so I still like the dress.

Burda 11/2012 #107: More Trousers and Even More Trousers

After a few frustrating tries in trouser sewing and some years’ break I have only recently returned to making trousers. Turns out I did not get on too badly and I got some really nice comments from you guys about my first attempt (thank you 🙂 ), so I thought I’d best continue on a high.

I I took the same pattern, Burda 11/2012 #107 and made these



The khaki coloured trousers have contrast turnups, so I can wear them ankle length when I am feeling serious and shorter when I am feeling summery. Two for the price of one, what more can a girl want, ey?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe pattern came together really easily and I didn’t make any fit changes apart from a higher waistband (but because the waistband of the pattern is only a rectangular piece of fabric with interfacing I did not need any special pattern-changing-powers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese ones are just a little bit of fun! The fabric is from IKEA and it is one of the heavy weight cottons they do which lends itself to furnishing projects better than to dress making. Nevertheless, I felt I had to atone for my recent fabric shopping sprees by doing some stash busting, so this fabric had to go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere the unavoidable “Does my bum look big in this”-shot 😉 . I don’t think it looks any bigger than usual, but definitely a little strange with the flower-with-cauliflower pattern on it. Plus you can see how high the waistband is. It makes the trousers come up much higher than any of the RTW ones I have, and it felt funny at first, but I actually like not having to hoik them up because they grip above my waist anyway.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I doubt these trousers will stay in my wardrobe for much longer than this season – but at least I have done my fashion-victim thing with the current trend for large patterns in trousers. Who knows – I just might get around to making a peplum top everybody has been wearing before the trend disappears?

How about you: How you ever sewed something that you knew would not last just for the fun of it? Or do you only spend the time and effort if it is something you will wear for a long time?

Burda 5/2013 #126: Dress with Pleated Waist

I have been in a summery mood recently and one of the results is this dress:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s my version of Burda 5/2013 #126:

126-052013-M As you can see from the technical drawing it has pleats both in the front and back. I sewed the dress as per the instructions without any changes other than lengthening it by about 7cms. However, I left off the lace belt. The instructions have you sew the belt onto the dress, but I thought that might cause all sorts of problems with laundering and what have you. So I thought I would add a separate lace belt to aim for the same look as the original but be more practical. Well – that was not exactly a case of “said and done” – so far I have not even managed to find the right lace for a belt. I am thinking turquoise crochet style lace, which of course probably exists nowhere but in my head, so I might just have to crochet it myself.

However, I am not sure this is ever going to happen, because I am not really sure about the dress. I loved the pleats on the model, but on me don’t you think they look a bit strange?


Especially the ones in the back they create a weird kind of puffiness, don’ t they?


I do wonder whether to change at least the bodice back and convert the pleats to darts? However, that’s not such a simple job (not simple enough for my level of sewing knowledge at least…), because the pleats are quite wide and just sewing them closed looks quite strange.

I like the boat neck style of the bodice otherwise. Here is me being photobombed by a rather overenthusiastic Child 3.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So at the moment I am a little stuck with the dress and don’t know what to do with it. Do I leave it like that and wear is as “something a little different”? Or should I try and change it so a more conventional and actually more flattering shape? What do you think?

In the absence of any bright ideas from my side I have tried to do some jumping: That at least works ;-)!


Burda 7/2013 #105: “Quick, quick, it’s summer”- shorts

I really got my skates on this time: the July edition of Burdastyle was in my letterbox on Tuesday, I had already decided from the online preview that I wanted to make shorts # 105 from some light red denim in my now well equipped stash – and away I went.

Summer has been long and recalcitrant in arriving this year, but the weather forecast predicted good weather from today until the weekend. I knew I could not risk missing the German version of summer 2013, so I knuckled down and knocked out the shorts and could wear them for the first time today.


There is nothing really special about them, they are just a pair of little shorts, but I really like them. I like the rather wide cut – for a long time I did not like to wear short shorts because I did not think they were very flattering. These ones, because they don’t cut into the thigh, are much better I think (at least I hope so…)

IMG_3559I have worn these all day, so they are a bit crumpled, but I regard this is my boho slash vintage slash outdoor look.


Here is me trying to hold in my stomach 😉

IMG_3562And a lot more creases… One day I will get the hang of this ironing-before-taking-pictures thing, I promise.

All in all, although there is nothing unusual or particularly exciting about these shorts (in fact, DD put on some almost identical RTW shorts this morning), I am sure I will make these again. They are an easy make and just so practical for a relaxed summer day when I can’t spend all day lazing around in a pretty dress.

How about you – has summer arrived where you are? Or are you just in the midth of winter, glaring furiously at summer clothing?

My Journey in Quilts: Part 5

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Having made a quilt for all my children of course I wanted to make one for my husband too. For this I used Suzuko Koseki’s technique of piecing and quilting in one go. Basically, you cut block size squares of batting and sandwich it between the back layer, which remains invisible after completion. Then you attach each strip and quilt it as you go. For a quilting-nervous quilter like me (if that makes any sense at all 😉 ) this is a brilliant technique as none of my usual problems (shifty back fabrics, creases, huge amounts of material to manipulate etc) arise.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For this quilt I used only material from my stash, quite a lot of the fabrics have a story attached to them that DH is blissfully unaware, so maybe the quilt has a bigger significance for me than it has for him. There is the fabric of the blinds in our first house… The one I also used for my first son’s baby blanket… Some old bedlinen… A bit from the curtains we took ages to find… The one from the Ikea visit where our daughter was sick…


After finishing all the blocks, the edges are straightened and then assembled pretty much as you would a traditional quilt. Then I added the backing fabric – this is then not quilted at all but only attached via the binding.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo now I am the only one in my family not to have her own quilt. Isn’t that just typical 😉 !

How about you, do you quilt for others only or are you looking out for yourself as well?

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