It doesn’t matter how small they are, they still count as POCKETS!

Hey look I finished my Burda Sew Along project, Skirt 111 from Burda 07/2009! 🙂

(Sorry these photos are so dark, it feels like night time all the time now but the shortest day is coming up so yay for more daylight soon!)

For such a simple skirt is took me a really long time to finish it but I’m sure you’ll agree that this month I spent more time writing tutorials than actually sewing!

But that’s all good because I LOVE writing tutorials and you guys seemed to appreciate them so, win-win 😀

I kept this make simple, mostly following the instructions (or not), and it is 100% from the stash. The Ikea (Sthlm Blad in Black) printed canvas-cotton has been maturing nicely since July 2010 and the buttons are from my very first Fabric-a-brac trip in 2011, awesome!

You’re going to ask about the cardi now aren’t you? Hmm, well…that’s hanging up for a bit, we need some time apart.

The fabric was a bit ehh to work with and the pattern is ok but I cut it two sizes too big (I cut my usual 42 but this pattern was designed to sit more loose that I prefer) so while I’ve managed to take in the sides and sleeves now I need to fix the shoulders and sleeve head which are massive.

Aaaaand it’ll look a whole lot better with a good press.

It can be saved, it’s cute, it deserves it, probably in less than an hour but…not today, not this week. I need to make something exciting now or I’ll slouch into that mojo sucking place and you know what? IT’S OK TO STEP AWAY FROM A PROJECT FOR A WHILE.

This is not a UFO, it’s just on hold and I am ok with that 🙂

I did some emergency non-garment sewing on the weekend too but I’ll share that with you tomorrow.

Thanks everyone who stitched along with us this last month, it was super awesome to discover so many new bloggers, so much talent, you guys made my May, honestly!

So, are you in for Indie Pattern Month? Go on… 😉

Indie Pattern Month

Burda Sew Along Round Up

Burda Sew AlongIt is super exciting how many of you have signed up and been sewing with us this month for our Burda Sew Along. We’re just a couple of girls down in the bottom corner of the globe making friends all over the world via sewing, I mean just look at this participant list, look at it!


BurdaStyle Sew Along May 2013 PARTICIPANTS:

Thank you to everyone who’s been following along in spirit too and to those of you that might still give Burda a go on your own. Thank you also for all the great comments on my tracing and instructions posts. It’s great to hear that we’ve helped some of you to feel more confident and tackle a Burda pattern in the near future, if not already.

Go you! You are all so AWESOME!

Right! So let’s take a look at what you’ve all been up to and then I guess I better show you what I’ve been doing too 😉

Let’s start with Kat’s ‘Anne’ blouse, her first ever Burda magazine pattern (high five!), #122 from October 2012. It has a really neat yoke detail and I think Kat’s fabric choice along with the shorter sleeves gives this blouse a really different look from the magazines version.

Demented Kiwi Diaries is next with her waterfall coat #128 from January 2013 in an amazing wool lace knit. It looks so lush and flattering, Jacqui comments on the excellent draft of this pattern in her post.

Sewist Stitch has been really busy and her daughters are super lucky to have such a talented Mum. A pretty lace dress (with plenty of requested style changes) from September 2012 and then she did it all again, changing the same pattern for a lace & peter pan collared blouse. Sandra’s finishing is amazing and I can hardly believe these are from the same pattern!

Some muslins are next: Thanks! I Made This Myself is working through a dress from March 2010 and Sewing For Me is moving onto her fashion fabric for Jacket 115 from November 2011. I am looking forward to seeing their final items, they both have some gorgeous fabric lined up.

Calico Stretch is working through changes to Leggings 116 from October 2012 in…wait for it…Stretch Calico! Oh yes, this stuff actually exists!

Bobbin Cat has finished her amazing cape, #112 from August 2011 and is asking for help to decide on the front closure, jump over to her blog and help her decide so she can wrap up super warm in this fabulousness. Winter has just arrived hard and fast here in New Zealand!

Mercury Handmade Fashion used her tried-and-true Blouse 107 pattern from January 2011 in a really pretty printed linen, check out all the detail photos on her blog, it has some great design elements, I love the large-scale print and colours of the fabric she chose.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Every Stitch I Make’s jacket from February 2013 finished, I LOOOOVE her fabric choice. If you think sewing a jacket is hard then check out her other posts, lots of great progress photos and I absolutely agree with her that jackets are really just heavy blouses. If you’ve been holding off we say give it a go! You might surprise yourself 🙂

Speaking of blouses, or shirts, Hetronormative Lovefest made an amazing blue shirt #113 from March 2012 inspired by an Anthropologie piece. It looks great worn open but she also did a FBA to achieve a fantastic fit when closed and now she has a great base pattern to make lots more.

You guys have been busy, we’re not done yet…Sewing Sveta is next is her lime green top from February 2013, love the colour, she has an excellent review on her blog if you are thinking about trying this pattern too.

Petal & Ginger made another version of Tunic #118 from August 2008 but added extra length to make it into a comfy looking dress…and now I want one too plus some hot pink tights, winter does not have to be gloomy fashion!

Grt*escp has two new creations in her wardrobe, a beautiful turquoise wool sweater #118 from October 2012, the solid colour really shows off the gathered side detail. Her second make is top #119 from the same issue. I think her fabric choices are so pretty.

Piccolo Presents is looking fabulous in her wrap top, from January 2013, but even more fabulous is her FBA, click through for a photo of her pattern alterations, it fits like a dream!

Kbenco is no stranger to Burda patterns but she’s really stepped up her game especially for May! Click each image to read her posts.

Velvet Ribbon has made an incredible colour blocked shift dress from the BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern book, check out her first sketch, she got a perfect fit by making a muslin first and I think she chose a great fabric combo for the final dress.

The Hobby Harbour also made an item from the BurdaStyle book, her blouse has a beautiful lace bib detail and I love the buttons, they echo the flowers in the lace. She has entered it into the Accessory Wardrobe Contest, click through to her blog for details.

Last two! Lelieswereld finally finished her BurdaStyle Danielle dress (it’s a free pattern, GO GET IT!), I love the colour and back details she added. Previously this dress sat unfinished for 2 years and I am glad we were partly responsible for her finishing it off 😉

Aaaand the last item is from our Pinterest Board, I don’t think Heather has a blog (correct me if I am wrong) but that hasn’t stopped her from sharing her sew along creation with us – a pencil skirt from February 2011, love the kick pleat and how badly do I want that fabric? Really badly!

Phew! Please take the time to click on the images for the link back to the participants original blog post and perhaps throw a bit of comment love their way.

Sorry if I missed any of your projects, leave me a link in the comments section so I can check them out 🙂 and if you missed it, Kat’s previous round up is here.

Only a few days left to go so, as a co-host what have I been doing? My skirt, #111 from July 2009, is just 8 buttons and button holes away from being complete and I have cut and sewn the shoulders for my cardigan #117 from April 2010, with plenty of help from Harri.

I walked into my sewing room the other evening and there she was up on the super high cutting table. I was thinking how the heck did she get up there?! So I picked her up and put her on the floor and watched what she did. My sewing chair was pulled out so she started by jumping up on to that then scaled the high back and leapt to the ironing board and on to the high table. I was impressed but then my eyes took in all the loose pins and other sharp items! So a quick tidy up happened next and now I am careful to always put the lid back on my pin pot, I don’t want Harri to end up like Fiss, take note fellow Sewing-with-Cats enthusiasts, it’s a good warning story.

Excuse the night-time photos and the fact that these two items aren’t made to go together as one outfit 😉

I can’t wait to see what you guys complete in the last few days of May and thanks again for sewing along with us!


Tracing Burda patterns is like eating peas…

Burda Sew Along I don’t like to eat peas.

Apparently I used to although I was too young to remember the day I decided to stop.

Of course my Mum remembers.

One day my Uncle R visited from Australia and when Mum was dishing up dinner for everyone he asked to not have any peas. I guess I realised at that point that eating some foods must be voluntarily and I asked for no peas too and decided that I didn’t like them from then on and never ate them again. Well, that’s not entirely true, I am sure there is more to the story, probably an argument with a stubborn child who believed they had some new and fantastic knowledge about food choice and was keen to exercise it.

I have occasionally eaten peas since “growing-up”. NH eats them and sometimes I cook them for him so I eat them too. I don’t really dislike them but they are a take-it-or-leave-it vegetable option for me. I think it’s the chasing them around the plate bit that I don’t like more than the taste. If they are mixed into a meal (Chicken Fried Rice for example) or if I am given them as a guest at someone’s house I will eat them and not say anything but if I can fill my own plate I am more than likely to leave them behind.

I guess that story is a long way of illustrating my point that in life I think we often make a snap decision about something based on the opinion of others. These decisions mean we might not give something a try or when we do, we do so with the expectation of failure and a closed mind. Sometimes we just need to give something a go and make up our own mind.

Perhaps that’s a bit deep.

What I am trying to poke my unpicker at is that many people give Burda a lot of cr*p for their pattern sheets. I think the lack of love they receive online puts a lot of would-be Burda converts off.

A whole fashion magazine of sewing patterns? There must be a catch, oh yeah, you have to trace from this crazy looking sheet.

But how else do you expect them to produce a full magazine of patterns each month for just NZD$13.00?

Sorry if you think tracing is hard work, I don’t agree, and Burda isn’t really that bad.

As a member of Team Trace All My Patterns, I’ve been tracing from them for years. Obviously, even if you are on Team Cut The Patterns, you cannot, since they overlap lots of other pattern pieces.

And yes, I completely agree when they have halved the number of sheets recently to cram more patterns on each one it did make it a little bit more difficult but still, you get an edge index, 4 colours and different line types to follow. It’s not that hard once you get the hang of it. There is a method to the madness, a way to find your pattern piece within the scribbley mess of lines and after a while your eyes start following the right line and you sort of blur out the rest of the pattern sheet. I call this phenomenon “Burda Vision”, it’s magic!

Argh! Where is that sleeve piece?!

Ah ha! Same sheet, but through the eyes of a practised Burda Tracer – believe it or not you too can acquire the magic Burda Vision with patience and practise.

I’ve even got black and white large format copies of Burda pattern sheets and I still manage to trace from them.

Ok, I’m a visual person, I admit it is possible that I might find it easier than others but, before you judge, take a patience pill and give it a go with an open mind.

There are lots of tutorials out there on “How to trace Burda” or any pattern really, I’m not reinventing anything here, we all know how to trace. I just thought I’d show you how I deal with Burda in particular, the following works for me, it’s efficient, take from this what you need and jump right in.

First thing you need to do is grab some supplies:

  • My tracing medium of choice is “butter paper”, A1 sheets specifically – It’s a designer thing so don’t stress if you have no idea what that is. You can buy anything that is slightly see-through, a large stationary shop should sell rolls or large sheets of tracing paper, velum, film, they may even have butter paper too. I used to trace on cheap cooking paper from the $2 shop.
  • A pencil and a couple of pens – I like to trace the outlines in pencil and mark on darts and other pattern information with pen
  • Rulers for the straight lines, circle template and curves if you can be bothered
  • Some scrap paper for notes
  • Pattern weights (optional) can come in handy for keeping things still. Bluetack or masking tape work great too. Kittens are not recommended.
  • Scissors and sticky tape, sometimes you need to stick tracing sheets together for larger pattern pieces

I’m guessing you’ve already worked out your Burda size and if not go do that now:

Taking Measurements & Burda Size Charts

“Tall” Size Chart

First we need to work out what sheet our pattern is on and which pieces we need to trace. Remember this example from my earlier post?

Burda Instructions 01a

It was my intention to make just one item this month, the dress version of this skirt above, but I changed my mind, because I can 😉

Cardigan 117, Burda 04/2010

Then I was going to trace this cardigan but I realised it is one of the “extra” patterns that is shaded in red, not the best for this example, but good for you all to know that in each issue there is an “extra” pattern that is all shaded red with no overlaps so if you want you can cut it out or better yet, photocopy it , then cut it out to preserve the other patterns it overlaps.

“Extra” patterns are coloured in red and do not overlap each other – they are often spread across several sheets

I am going to make this cardigan (in this cute knit) but for this example I’ll trace another pattern that I’ll also try and make instead.

Skirt 111, Burda 07/2009

My pattern is on Sheet H and I am following the red lines for size 42. I usually trace a size 40 or 42 and take in the waist as needed. I need to trace pieces 1 through 4 and piece number 8.

On my scrap paper I write all this down for quick reference and checking off. I don’t generally trace in numerical order plus and as you can see, you don’t always get a simple list of pieces numbered 1 through 8, sometimes the pattern calls for pieces 22-26 & 32. It could get confusing so I cross them off as I go.

Now that I have my pattern pieces listed and the right pattern sheet in front of me the only thing left to do is actually find each piece to trace within the mess of lines. Burda has a system, basically you find your coloured pattern pieces number along what I call the “edge index” then trace a line perpendicular across and you will hit that piece.

I might run my finger around the shape to familiarise myself with it and then I lay my butter paper over and get tracing. I refer to the mini pattern pieces in the description as I go so that I pick up all the markings and grain lines.

Don’t forget to write on those little numbers (circled in purple above) when you are disoriented by the bewildering labyrinth of Burda “instructions” they will be your map for seam construction: 1 joins to 1, 2 joins to 2 and so on…

That’s it!

Now we start tracing.

Bonus Curious Kiwi Tip: I always trace the largest and most complicated piece first then work backwards towards the more simple and smaller pieces, that way it gets easier and faster as you go.

You’re welcome 😉

To prove that it isn’t as hard as you think I am going to show you in real-time me tracing this Burda pattern, but in fast forward, otherwise that would be super boring, and fast forward is much more entertaining.

I was going to try to make this more LOL funny but really once I got started I just kind of got on with the tracing 😉 Also I don’t do any talking so I tried to add some great Kiwi tunes instead but YouTube doesn’t like that *sad face! Anyway, I managed to add some random instrumental track from AudioSwap (which should actually be called AudioLame)…enjoy:

12 minutes, 26 seconds

…aaaand we’re done. Now I am ready to cut it out and start sewing…finally 😉

Sewing helper update: Harry is officially Harriet, or Harri for short and my little “runt” is now 10 weeks old and weighs 900 grams. She’s put on over 300 grams in 3 weeks since leaving her litter mates who were hogging all the food!

If you are wondering where my little furry helper was during all of the above, well I was hoping to get her into the video but Friday was a big day for her. Most of Saturday was spent underneath my cutting table snuggling in my scrap box.

More kitten pictures I hear you cry? Why I thought you’d never ask!

“Ohh wool remnants, my favourite!”

“No more tracing Mummy, attentions please!”

Sick of kitten pictures? Sorry, not sorry 😉 Now go eat some peas trace your Burda patterns.


Unravelling the hilariousness that Burda calls “Instructions”

Burda Sew Along

Burda instructions have a reputation for being hilariously bad – and they deserve it!

If you are used to sewing envelope patterns from the Big 4 or beautifully illustrated independent patterns then you are probably going to be left scratching your head a few times.

I can’t help much with a crazy instructions but please don’t be discouraged. I’m not trying to scare you off, just giving fair warning.

What I am going to do is help you pull apart the main gist of the instructions and tell you how I get around crazy confusing sentences that seem to have been made up by an ad-lib translation program!

(click on any of the images below to view full size and to read the text clearly)

First of all you should be familiar with this first page, it is in every issue and outlines some basic sewing symbols and some tracing help. We’ll get to the tracing in my next post.

I’ll be honest, I actually only read this in full the other day myself, before I have just glanced at it – I actually learnt a couple of new things, like a dotted outline in the cutting layout means that pattern piece is placed upside down on the fabric, I must have been pretty lucky so far!

Burda Instructions Page

The difficulty ratings are also important to know. Basically the more dots, the more difficult and involved so choose pattern that suits your experience but also don’t be afraid of a challenge, you might surprise yourself!

Difficulty rating

Ok, now let’s get right into it with a real example, this is Skirt 121 from February 2012


I have broken the entire instructions up into sections to explain some important points.

First up, the basics: sizing, pattern pieces and where to find your pattern for tracing.

Burda Instructions 01 copy

Now let’s look at the fabric recommendations:  Burda Instructions 02 copy

Here is a more complicated example of fabric allowances. The first thing that confuses a lot of new Burda sewists straight up is how Burda list the sizes and fabric allowances. The secret is in the note at the top of each page, you might have missed it or not really understood what it referred to,

“Different figures for the different sizes of a pattern are given in the instructions, one after the other, separated by dashes. If only one figure is given, it applies to all sizes.”

Uhh wot? Yeah I know! But here is a colour-coded version of how I analyse it:

Burda Instructions 03 copy

The seam allowance recommendations and cutting layouts are next followed by the construction “instructions”.

Burda Instructions 04 copy

Here is where things can get tricky. I’ve been sewing for a while so I know the general construction order of most garments. I usually skim through the whole thing to get an idea of that particular garments construction order and to see if I spot anything weird or out of the ordinary.

Next I read through each bullet point with my pattern pieces ready to go and start sewing.

I sew through each point until I get stuck. It’s a good idea to take note of what each pattern piece is called in the Cutting Out section. Sometimes reading ahead helps you understand what is going on, or it might confuse you even more.

When I get to a confusing part I read it through a couple of times, pinning pieces together to help me visualise what is happening. If I am really not sure but need to move on to the next step I baste the pieces together. Sometimes after the next step or two it becomes more clear what is happening.

The key is visualisation. Don’t panic as you read through, instead pick up your fabric pieces and try it out.

Use the mini-numbers I pointed out in the first instruction image (purple dots) they will help guide your construction order and which piece joins to which.

Using instructions from other basic envelope patterns in your stash can also help.

If that all sounds like waaay too much don’t fear! Each month Burda illustrates one pattern in their “Sewing Course” section, and sometimes it’s a really good pattern, like this dress 117, also from February 2012.

Burda Instructions 05

Ok, that’s about all I have for you right now, it’s not a lot I know but I hope it’s helped you through the  mass of text that makes up the middle of a Burda magazine.

One more thing, Burda also include instructions for lengthening and shortening patterns as well as how to grade a pattern up or down (I have personally used this method with great success!) I’ve scanned these in for future reference, you can find them here, just scroll down to the very bottom.

It’s awesome to read all your posts outlining your Burda collections and chosen items. Some of you have already made 2 or 3 things! Thank you also to everyone pinning to the Pinterest board, let me know if you’d like to pin too and I’ll invite you!

I’ll reveal my chosen Burda pattern and show you how I trace it next post. It’s nothing special, just more of me trying to encourage you and reverse a few Burda myths (spoiler alert: it’s not that hard!) 😉

Happy instructioning!

footer_kiwi walking love copy