Show Us Your Burda Collection

Burda Sew Along

Hello May!

Hello Burda Sew Along! It’s not too late to join us!

To kick off the start of May’s Burda Sew Along I am inviting you to share your Burda collection with us.

Perhaps you just purchased your very first issue especially for this challenge or you have been collecting for a while. Did you inherit your Nana’s collection? Do you own a really really old Burda? Show me that retro goodness!

Do you have a favourite issue that has waaay too many post it notes sticking out of it? I know I’ve got a couple of those! Haha 🙂

How did you first find Burda magazine? How many Burda Projects have you made or is this going to be your very first?


Me? Well my Burda relationship has had its ups and downs.

BurdaStyle May 2013

I sort of think of my sewing in two separate stages – my first “sewing life” includes my very first sewing attempts under Mum’s instruction as a very small child right up until University. I think my friend H introduced me to Burda during our second year studying together, she had one out from the local library and I was amazed!

A fashion style magazine where I can make all the items and it was free to borrow? Give me some of that!

So I started to get one magazine out each week painfully tracing my most favourite styles in my size. I. Was. Hooked! I still have a few of those original tracings although fashion, and my fashion taste, has moved on significantly since 2001/2002, it’s still fun to look at what patterns I chose way back then.

After University sewing and I took a break when Boyfriend-yet-to-become-NH and I moved from Wellington, New Zealand to Perth, Western Australia each with just a suitcase full of clothing. It wasn’t until my Mum came over to visit 4 years later, bringing with her the trusty Elna 2130 of Indestruction, in her suitcase, all the way across the Tasman and the rest of Australia, that I was reunited with sewing. So my second and current “sewing-life” began and continues today.

The first thing I did was find a local library that stocked Burda (there was only one) and get an issue out each week until I’d seen the libraries entire collection. Then I set up a rolling reserve so that I could get my hands on the newest copy (usually 3 months behind) each month. I still thought it was AMAZING. My “tracing” got a little bit quicker and a little bit more high-tech with access to a large format copier, although it only did black and white which was a challenge solved by highlighters!

After about a year of doing that I found issues in a local newsagent and began to buy the copies that I liked. Then I found out how to subscribe, it was exciting, my first regular magazine subscription, I was like a grown up! I even got each month on time for a change, no 3 month delay for this little kiwi.

I continued to re-subscribe each year until one day I noticed that I was flicking through each new issue without seeing a single item I liked. I was even starting to see repeats and I’d only been subscribing for 2 years! By now I had also discovered Manequim and Patrones and I loved their fashion forward approach, they made the Burda content look dated and boring. So I pulled out all my Burdas that didn’t inspire me and I realised that Burda was falling into a slump. I put my “boring” Burda issues on eBay and sold them off for fabric money. Then, coincidentally, my re-subscription reminder letter arrived and I put it in the bin. My Burda joy was over…

Then one day Burda hauled themselves out of the slump and I began to get interested in what I was seeing on other blogs. I was back living in NZ and found individual issues at Whitcoulls and other news agents for only NZD$13.00 – now I keep a list of issues I like the look of and buy them when they finally arrive. So I am back to my 3 month delay but I don’t care. The most recent issue I purchased is December 2012, I only own 3 issues from that year.

So here is my current collection as it stands today, oldest to newest:

28 issues spanning from November 2008 to December 2012 with several missing in between

The instructions for my “traced” copies used to live in a clunky binder until I got my hands on a binding machine, now they are nerdily kept like so:

Mock away, but I like this kind of organisation!

It’s not very obvious in the first picture but there are many, many, many post-it notes sticking out of each magazine, marking some of my most favourite patterns, 99% of which have never been made.

I haven’t even gotten around to post-it-noting my 3 newest issues yet either!

This then is my not-so-short list and I will choose from these for this challenge. I’ll share those with you soon as well as some Burda “instructions” demystification and a semi-tutorial post about tracing. Next post I’ll introduce you to my I’ve-made-more-than-thought Burda items.

Happy pattern choosing!

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33 thoughts on “Show Us Your Burda Collection

  1. Hi, I was just wondering if you knew which libraries in Perth loaned Burda copies. I’m learning sewing and wanted to try out some of their patterns especially the special easy edition ones which they dont seem to sell on their site 😦 and I cant seem to find where to buy back copies here. Thanks

  2. I will definitely be sewing from Burda this month! And thanks so much for this sew along :o) I learned about Burda magazine in about 2009, but could not afford a subscription. Luckily my local library carries it. Since becoming obsessed with Burda I have managed to talk the library out of there back issues from 2010-2011. I also had a subscription from May 2012-april 2013. So including two issues from 2009 I have 38 issues!
    I love Burda! I do understand why some people badmouth there sack dresses or repeat patterns, but overall I think there are some really great patterns in every issue. Also, I found the tracing tricky at first but now it is no trouble. I spend quite a lot of time just looking through them, and it is surprising that I often discover something that interests me that I did not notice in a previous look through.
    I do occasionally have trouble with seem allowances on the pieces that a pattern piece is not given for. For instance sometimes Burda just gives measurements for a waistband, or welt pocket piece etc. and it will say “incl. allowance”. I never am sure if that means include allowance, or including allowance? That is about the only major problem I run into.
    Looking forward to seeing everyone’s Burda creations this month! :o)

    • Go you getting the old Burdas from your library! Smart thinking 🙂 Our library sells off older issues for about 20c but as far as I know they do not advertise the sales so it’s a bit pot luck.

      I also agree that sometimes Burda gets it horribly wrong. I hate the formless pieces, not my style at all and often look unflattering even on the models! Some of their styling gives me a good laugh but like you I look back through old issues and see new things I missed before 🙂

      In terms of S/A I always add it on even if I’m not sure, when it comes time to sew that piece on if it is too big I can always chop it off again.

  3. I was dressed in Burda clothes by my mother all through my childhood as she subscribed from the 60’s. I even have two wonderful issues from that era. I have bought them since leaving home but purged most of the 80’s issues as fashion styles changed. A few years ago I was gifted the entire collection of Burda from 2001 to 2010. I have many double ups which I intend to get rid of at some time.

    Also in the collection are Burda Easy Sew which used to illustrate each model with step by step photos, Burda Trousers, skirts and blouses specials and of course Burda Plus. I used to regularily make lots from these magazines but have not done so for a few years now. This sewalong is a great opportunity to get back to sewing Burda.

    I love the idea of printing the sheets off as some of my pattern sheets have got so many pinholes that they are starting to come apart. I usually lay the sheets down ontop of newsprint paper off a roll and prick around the pattern. I have also tried using clear plastic from the garden centres, this works well but is hard to store – I only do this with models that I might use again and again. I store these on pegged coathangers in the wardrobe. We have just got a Warehouse Stationery in Matamata which can colour copy these big sheets easily.

    • How cute that you grew up in Burda clothes and now you sew from them too 🙂 And you are super lucky to get given so many issues as well, jealous! Please put up some pics of those 60s issues, I’d love to see them!

  4. I would have loved to join the action, but my sewing machine is not available to me this month.
    I like Burda up to about early 00’s. That’s when they changed format. Before there is a wealth of patterns, afterwards just a handful of patterns with variations. And the same shapes keep coming up in intervals.

    That said, I am still buying Burda, because it *is* a great fashion magazine, very inspiring.
    My biggest pet peeve though – and I understand this is a European custom and hard to change – seam allowances are not marked.

    When I cut the pattern out, my seam allowances become wobbly and in turn, so does my fit. How do you guys handle this? Do you add seam allowance when tracing the pattern? Do you eyeball it on the fabric? Or is there a method to get exact seam allowance width when cutting? Please share, I’d be thrilled to know!

    • I cut the patterns out without the seam allowance so I can make a start on fitting at the tissue stage. I have a pencil eraser that measures 1 cm, and I use that to mark the seam allowance on the fabric before cutting out – I prefer 1 cm to the common 15mm. Having my cutting line marked on the fabric is a real help with fabrics that tend to slip or stretch.

    • It is a great “fashion” magazine, I agree! 🙂

      I kind of prefer to not have seam allowances included in my patterns, because when I am making alterations it means I am looking a the actual stitching line and not having to factor in any seam allowances. And like Every Stitch said, you can add your own seam allowance any width you like.

      I pin my pattern piece to my fabric and then add my seam allowance on using two pencils taped together or chalk. I think it just takes a little bit of practise but Kat will be doing a post soon on how she adds her seam allowances and testing out one of those scissor S/A magnets. Hopefully that will help your future projects.

      I hope you get you machine back soon xx

      • Thank you, I never thought of two pens taped together. I am looking forward to that post, too.

        My machine and me will be reunited in June – too late for this, but there is always next time!

    • Seam allowances on the paper patters is the best way to go and then you can keep them all consistent. Remember that the width of a tape measure is 1.5cm so it is a quick easy way of adding 1.5cm s/a without having to measure. (very time consuming)

  5. I have about 12-15 Burda magazines. I first found them in the ’90s when there was a local bookstore that carried them, and I loved it. So I have a few issues from the ’90s. Then I couldn’t find them for a long time, but recently I have to travel to New York City for work regularly, so I obsess about making it to a newsagent there each trip to buy the latest Burda! Then I read it while riding the train homeward. In spite of all the pieces that inspire me, I have made very few. I really have to get more productive! But I really enjoy looking at the magazine when I get it.

  6. I colour code post-it in my sewing magazines, as well. And, you know what? Yesterday, I purchased my FIRST BurdaStyle magazine, issue 5/2013. So delightful, I kept on hearing and reading about people and their addiction to their Burda magazines. I can’t believe how many free patterns there are! And, what an acid trip it is to look at the pattern pages :). There are 3 dresses and 2 tops I’m interested in making. Can’t wait to see which patterns you are going to select to show us.

    • Oh yes, not sure if I posted about it but I stopped my subscription about 2 months ago, it has lost it’s charm…I will spend the money I save on fabric and Burda magazines 😉

  7. I absolutely love Burda Magazines and have subscribing to it for many years. I always blog about it and my ” projects” list, and always await in expectation for the next issue! I love the mostly simple patterns and think the clothes are very classic , and think it so interesting that many bloggers usually trash the magazine. I would really like to understand why…
    As for old magazines and collections, I have really nice old magazines
    I found in booksores and newstands that carry vintage magazines and books. I have several carina magazines – does anyone remember/ know these?- as well as Miss B ones -ditto- few Bonnie ones and quite a few Burda International ones, which are my favourites! The oldest one is from 1985, and it is beautiful! There are some patterns in this magazine that I really want to make.
    I also think that the patterns always work out, very unlike the Brazilian Manequim ones, that is interestingly enough a huge favorite among sewers…go figure!

    • I agree, I find Burda has the best and most consistent fit of any pattern I have tried and are well drafted and tested. The older magazines are so fun to look at too. I think sometimes people don’t give something a chance, it’s a shame they put others off. I am planning a tracing post to hopefully change some peoples minds. My Burda love comes and goes but if I could only ever have Burda magazines to sew from I would still end up with a fabulous wardrobe!

      Manequim and Patrones can sometimes be hit and miss but I think I have them worked out now, but I am always nervous trying a new pattern from them.

  8. I have been collecting Burda magazines for a few years now.. but have never made one. This will be my first. I have decided to make a cape from issue 8/2012 #132, seeing we are coming up to Winter here. I am about to purchase some material from USA as material is crap here in Sydney.

    Back to the mags. I have them in order in my cupboard and love to pour over them as they are lovely mags just to look at. I am on the Burda Style website all the time for inspiration and love to see what others have made.

    I just wish that they would make their “normal” patterns in slightly bigger sizes say up to 46.. I don’t really class myself as a plus size (typical pear shape) and not really having the skills re getting things to fit me properly, I do get turned off by this.

    Can’t wait for this and see what others are doing…


    • I love looking through my magazines too, as if they are a fashion magazine, it inspires my sewing in general, even if it isn’t a Burda pattern I am making 😉 The online community is great too, when I got back into sewing the second time that was definitely a great support for me before I made some local sewing friends.

      Looking forward to seeing your fabulous cape! 🙂

  9. I would love to take part but I’m going on vacation in a couple of weeks so I’m not sure I will get to it. Great sewalong though. Perhaps another in the fall? Good luck.

    • Enjoy your holiday 🙂 This seems to be really popular (which is great, I love the enthusiasm) so it wouldn’t surprise me if we do another one. It is Winter for us right now so I think a Summer revisit would be great since where ever you are you can sew for your climate.

  10. I only have 3 Burda magazines in my possession now, I purged about 10 years worth from the late 80’s to mid 90’s a few years ago. I do still have a box full of traced out patterns from the things I made, but I was never as organised as you, I wrote the pattern details on the pieces and just added them to my box. I probably should purge them one of these days as I am unlikely to remake anything but simple trousers without instructions!

  11. Ah, Burda love. I discovered Burda through the blogging of the Selfish Seamstress. I had found, but I had no idea that there was a magazine attached because the English website wasn’t very useful for introducing their pattern brand, unless you want to get a download. After I started reading sewing blogs and realizing it was a magazine, I found one at a Border’s bookstore, which went bankrupt and closed about 3 days later. I hadn’t been able to find a copy of the magazine in a bookstore since. Instead I started buying them from Fashionista Fabrics online (which has also now closed as a business) until October 2011, when I was enamored enough with the early preview to get a subscription. I have been subscribed ever since. And then I started looking for older magazines on Ebay. So though I have really only been following Burda for about 2 years, I have assorted issues from 2002-2005, all of 2006-2007, and more various issues from 2008-2011. All of 2012-2013 so far because of my subscription. Oh, and I have a lot of issues from 1996 because of a mislabeled listing on Ebay when I was looking for the 2006 issues. In case you couldn’t guess, my favorite issues fall between 2005-2008, though I have really been liking many of the patterns from 10/2011, 12/2011, and 12/2012. I have a TON of patterns I want to make, but not as many that I have actually made. But I have been quite happy with the results of the patterns I have used so far. I agree that Patrones is more fashion forward, but Burda is easier to come by, so I seem to have focused on collecting those so far.

    I don’t know if I will have time to be part of the sew-along this month, but I do look forward to seeing what everyone else makes!

    • I’m glad you will be following along in spirit, hopefully we can inspire your sewing 🙂 I agree that the relationship with the website is a bit strange, they used to be completely separate but it’s great you found away to subscribe and hopefully you can eventually make up all your favourites 🙂

  12. I’ve traced sooooo many patterns from Burda that I don’t even think about it now. The current format are much easier than the format they used until the early ninties. I remember thinking that the tracing process was tricky then.
    I’ve chosen an older pattern to sew this month, and even the older format wasn’t really a major. I traced it off before work this morning!
    I think it’s a real shame that people are put off the patterns by the tracing process.

    • I totally agree, it’s not that bad at all! How else do they expect them to turn out a magazine and ALL those patterns for the price-point? Atleast they give you 4 colours ot help. I’ve been doing it for ages too and you get used to it, I think I’ve got a “Burda-eye” now, I can almost make the other line on the sheet fade out! Haha. Sometimes you just have to give something a go and make up your own mind. Don’t worry, I have a post coming up to hopefully turn that silly myth on it’s head! 😀

  13. I have a burda magazine somewhere from the 70s which includes a lovely full page ad fro something with a topless model sitting in the sea!! Your collection is awesome. I have one which I really want to use but it’s all that tracing that does my head in. I’m interested about the large format photocopier…. Would love more details on where to find and what kind of cost?

    • Wow, a topless model?! Ahh Burda, you little devil you! 😀

      Alas the photocopier was at my last job so it is no longer available to me either! I am sure any printing/reprographics place would have a large format copier too. I just used to work out how many pattern pieces overlapped so I knew how many copies I needed. To reduce the cost/number of copies you can choose to only copy the larger pieces and trace any squarish pieces like facings and plackets, or small pieces like collars and pockets.

      • I think I have a Carina (another burda mag) from the 80s with a topless model too. I have been sewing from burda magazines since the 80s and the patterns were certainly harder to trace off then.

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