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?


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