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Category Archives: Burda Patterns

Tracing Magazine Patterns

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While thinking thoughts on a pattern for a wide rounded back

I was reading a post on Threads Magazine dot com by Kenneth King today. It’s a good one about how to correct the armscye for a very wide and high rounded back, a body shape similar to the figure style for which the Burda Faux Peplum jacket would be perfect.

It’s good to know why some things are done in pattern making. I’m not satisfied with, “Oh they drafted that pattern wrong!”, which was my conclusion yesterday. There’s too many shapes under the sun to call my body shape the one all “correct” patterns must fit. Anyway, as I mused I ran into new thoughts.

How to trace magazine patterns without a light box

I realized that I had done something new-to-me when I made my paper pattern for that jacket shown yesterday. You will probably find ways to improve this technique to fit your preferences.

I used to use translucent paper to trace off the patterns, back when I had The Stitchery in its own house and had a glass table. I’d put a light bulb under the table and turn it into a huge light box. Those days are gone, and so is the table.

Now I have to trace on a wooden table with a cutting mat on top. These days many things just “happen” and I can’t say exactly why or where the ideas come from.

I used to use carbon paper under the magazine pattern but keeping everything straight and on grain seemed too difficult this time. So here’s what happened:

I use the front side pattern piece for this example
Front Side

I like to find the approximate placement of the grain line so it’s easier to line up everything with the straight edge of the cutting mat and measure to make sure the fabric is equidistant and therefore on grain. I try to fold back the pattern sheet to get the grain lined up with the numbers on my tracing paper. This is NOT a necessary step, we’ll prick it in anyway.
Finding Approx Grainline

Using what I call a Pin Prick tracing wheel (Claire Shaeffer calls it a stiletto wheel, others call it a “needle point” and “spur” wheel) I mark the pattern lines onto the drafting paper underneath
Tracing onto Drafting Paper

No need for carbon paper.
Pin Pricks

Then retrace, adding cutting lines. My double wheel requires quite a bit of uneven pressure on it to get a good second line sometimes
Adding Cutting Lines

The dashed lines are the cutting lines
Dashed Line is Cutting Line bit

I use a ruler to draw in the grain line, marked by an arrow. And a magic marker to highlight the seam and cutting lines and pattern markings.


Burda Magazine 2006/08 #128 Faux Peplum Jacket

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The jacket is finished and the pants are in-process.


I am trying to decide how much more energy I really want to put into this fabric. It is a stretch wool, plain weave, slightly brushed on the side I put to the public, but lacking the weight and body of a true gabardine. Below you’ll see lots of different colors but it’s actually gray with a slight greenish caste to it. I do need a better camera, don’t you think?

Here’s the jacket last night after a fresh pressing and before topstitching: Right Sleeve

Freshly Pressed side

Here’s the same sleeve today after wearing for an hour:

Right Sleeve

And here’s the Left sleeve, freshly pressed:

Freshly Pressed Left Sleeve

and after an hour’s wearing:

Left Sleeve (sigh)


Closeup Front

This pattern is a plus-sized pattern. I cut to fit my bust waist and hip measurements. I did not suspect the extreme width of the shoulders and didn’t even try to measure myself through the back and shoulders. I should have!

And I could have, had I brought this little gem into The Stitchery! Check this out: here in US is marketing the Hurth Measuring Tool designed by Ursula Hurth, owner of Home Atelier in Germany. In early February Mz Hurth’s website also listed the Tool on her “Zubehör” page but I don’t see it there now. Perhaps my European readers might contact the Home Atelier to see if she intends to offer it again. There’s a handy dandy PDF at Cochenille that shows how it is used here: RulerHowTo

The pattern instructs that the peplum is lined in self fabric with no call for interfacing or lining. I didn’t follow the pattern instructions since they really didn’t apply to the garment I was building.

I lined the whole body with fleece-backed satin for warmth and a pleat for wearability mid back and the sleeves are lined with bemburg.

Fleece Backed Lining

The sleeves were 17″ wide at the underarm and the back and shoulders so extremely broad that I decided to try to correct the armscye and sleeves after the bodice had been constructed. That’s new territory for me. I thought that making 2 piece sleeves out of the 1 piece pattern would also help the fit.

I dove into these murky waters with the Threads Magazine vol. 38, article Drafting a Two-piece Jacket Sleeve From a One-piece Pattern, by Margaret Komives, published in the Dec 1991-Jan 1992 issue on page 38. Many bloggers over the past decade have recreated her instructions on their blogs and you can find them by using a search engine so I’ll not recreate it here. (I think only one blogger actually credited Mz Komives with the technique.)

After carefully following the instructions I created a muslin for the sleeve out of a polyester knit pin stripe fabric from a Michael’s Fabrics bundle (the stripes are handy for checking the grain lines) and inserted the basted muslin it into the armscye. It seemed to fit just fine but the whole unit was still too large and the under arm was cut too deeply. I found myself forced to take in the back at the side seams on the jacket shell and lining, which created even more extra ease in the sleeve pattern.

I reshaped the bodice armscye to reflect my more narrow shoulders and back which resulted in removing up to an inch of bodice armscye as I cut away the upper front and back. And now I found that I could insert the sleeve, just barely. I further deepened the curvature of the front sleeve but then was at a loss as to how to proceed with narrowing the back of the sleeve.

I see on my pattern pieces that I toyed with the idea of removing more sleeve width through the upper and under sleeves pieces but then changed my mind, fearful that I would be unable to raise my arms after all this cutting and snipping. I didn’t want to chop-chop myself into a worse situation than I already faced!

So I inserted the sleeve using a loosely woven wool bias strip to gather the sleeve cap. I inserted a sleeve head. the whole sleeve itself was already interlined with Pro-Weft Supreme so I didn’t add another piece of interfacing. Perhaps I should have? Anyway, shoulder pads inserted, I machine bagged the sleeve lining into the lining bodice, leaving open 10″ on the front sleeve lining of each sleeve so I could turn the garment enough to machine stitch. Topstitched, pressed, sewed button and wore.

Collar Back

Do you see how the collar stands away from the neck? There should have been a better result since I had cut the under collar a full 1/8″ smaller on all outside edges and used armo to create the collar stand inside this one piece collar. It rolled nicely before insertion into the neckline.

Or perhaps my neck is somehow not thick enough? Hardly!!!

I do think this pattern was drafted for a much larger person and poorly graded down to size 48 in Burda sizing. I can think of no other explanation for the oddness of the upper body drafting. I didn’t alter the waist and hips at all, just the shoulders and armscye.

Ah well, much as I would have preferred a more fine piece of tailoring, I like this jacket. I love the look of the collar turned up with a scarf wrapped around like in the second picture above. It’s a warm and utilitarian jacket and I’m really really glad it is finally finished!

Burda Faux Peplum Jacket – Construction Notes – Magazine 2006/08/128

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I am making up a tailored jacket from the August 2006 Burda Magazine. I found the Russian site has the archives for 8/2006 here I am making pattern number 128

This is the jacket:


I flat-pattern measured and cut a generous size 48 in this Plus Sized pattern. I’ve sewn up the shell and on me it looks exactly like how it looks on the model, with fullness above the waist and the hip skimming flat peplum.

It’s a boxy jacket with one button closing at the waist and rather broad, padded shoulders. Burda calls it a “Faux” peplum, maybe because the peplum does not have much ease. My body shape from the back side does not want or need much of a peplum so this jacket style is attractive to me.

Burda 2006/08 #128 Line Drawing

The Burda pattern has no interfacing nor lining instructions or pieces so I zipped along on my prior experience and research in jacket making, fusing in my favorite weft interfacing (Pro-Weft Supreme Medium Weight) on all pieces and adding Fashion Sewing Supply’s old fusible tailors canvas on top of that in the peplum, fronts, across the back shoulders, lapels and collar stand. I look forward to trying out the new 68″ wide version that is pre-steamed

Yes, the owner is a dear friend but I am endorsing her products because they are the best I’ve ever used. And, no, she is not paying me to say sing these high praises 🙂

I am also taping the edges and roll line with straight fusible tape but haven’t finished that part as of this writing (you’ll see why if you read all the way down this post).

Back Shoulder Stay and Tape

Armscye canvas applied

Armscyle canvas

I sewed up the under collar dart in the front facing. In my classic sample the dart is on the front, not in the front facing, like it is in the Burda pattern:

Dart sewn in under collar
Classically Stitched Dart

Should that have been my first clue? Maybe! But I skimmed along, hoping that one day I would be through with all the fusing, my least favorite part of jacket making.

Dart Sewn

I took apart and used the hand stitched sample jacket I made in 2009 when attending Claire Shaeffer’s Couture Tailoring workshop as a reminder of how things should be done.

Hand Stitched front interior
Hand Stitched Front

Hand padded lapel
Hand Stitched Lapel

Roll line is drawn up one half inch for my DD sized front. This stay is also called a “Bridle”

Roll Line Drawn up Half inch

I moved most of the fullness of the roll line to the bust area of the front facing and the fusing went well. Yes, all that fullness eased in just beautifully!

Roll Line

and put in a perfect roll for the lapel!

Wrong Way Roll!

What? Wait!!! It’s rolling the Wrong Way! So I have to soften the fusing and roll it the other way. Eeesch. Fortunately I am using a premium product and rectification is possible so I steamed and pressed over my store bought roll. I still can’t find my ham. Moving from an 1100 square foot house into a room that’s 10 x12 foot is really tricky! Anyway here’s the two front facings meeting their rectification:


and This is the collar detail:


Do you see that there is no “Gorge Line?” The gorge line is where the collar and lapel meet and are sewn into one unit.

42 (Enlarged)_e

But this detail is missing: the collar is not sewn to the lapel but lies separately. Do you see it???

Yup. That’s a detail I really liked for my plain woven stretch wool fabric and late last night I finally turned to the Burda instructions and found that that collar is sewn into the dart.

Ah ha! Ok, back to the seam ripper. I hope I’ll have a completed jacket to show you in the near future, the good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.

Trip to Canada

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I’m back home after a 1550 mile trip to Toronto to meet Els, her dear husband, and Lorna and her charming young daughter.  Photos of us may come later when I get permission to post them but in the mean time I can show you me in shorts I made and a store bought top.  The shorts were cut from Burda Plus Fall/Winter 2008,  a pattern that fit me 2 years ago so there were no surprises except that I was losing weight.  After wine every evening with Els, however, that trend chugged to a stop!

The Thimble, Symbol of Toronto's Fashion District

Two things are unusual about this photo:  I am standing still. I am standing alone.

The ONLY serious complaint I have about Toronto is that the streets are not easy to walk.  They are dangerously uneven.  I’m used to uneven surfaces in country fields but in the city there is so much to watch out for that all the bad paving is difficult.  Especially if you walk miles and miles 🙂

Els and I met up on Wednesday evening at the Isabella Hotel where we all stayed and had non-stop fun until we went our separate ways on Sunday.  We have been writing each other since 2004, and collaborating on The Sewing Divas since 2006.  It was high time we met!

On Friday evening we gathered for dinner with two wonderful ladies I met in Palm Springs at the January 2009 Claire Shaeffer’s Couture Jacket Tailoring workshop, Sharron and Katherine. Can the Canadians be the most witty and charming people on earth?  Just maybe so.

And on Friday night, but too late to join our dinner, into Toronto flew Lorna and her daughter!  We spent Saturday negotiating the public transit system and touring the Fashion District, visiting fabric stores that Els and I had missed on Thursday.  Lorna’s daughter, it turns out, has a great eye for quality fabrics.  No question how that happened!

We topped off the day with a lovely visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario.  Oh my gosh, I enjoyed the gallery so much that I finally “got” the Abstract Expressionist New York movement, (AKA AbEx), something I’ve been reaching for since I was first aware of this intellectual movement born in NYC in the 40’s and 50’s.

So that’s really something.

But the AbEx was just the tip of the iceberg.  The range of paintings and sculpture is astounding and a thorough viewing could take more than 6 hours.  Also showing that day were:  Inuit Modern, Art in the 20th CenturyWhere I was born…” : A Photograph, a Clue, and the Discovery of Abel Boulineau; and The Thomson Collection: which “comprises Canadian paintings, First Nations objects, European works of art – primarily northern European sculpture and decorative arts dating from the early Middle Ages to the mid 19th century – plus ship models from the Napoleonic era to the 20th century. ” And then there’s the building itself which entertained Lorna’s daughter outside for the hours that Els and I gaped at the treasures inside.   Visit this Gallery if you ever get to Toronto.  It’s truly worth the visit.

Oh, there’s more:  we found the Mokuba store in Toronto, a bit smaller than the NYC store shown by the link, but astounding just the same!  We found The Wool House (of course we did, I’ve been obsessed with their fabrics since they first came to a US sewing expo in 2003).  The Wool House has a Facebook page, by the way. We found the biggest, cheapest commercial kitchen store in China Town and the best Vietnamese restaurant in Toronto.  We found a new-to-Els Williams-Sonoma store, avoided the Chanel and other high end retailers, and dropped into Divine Decadence only to be transported to the era when dressmakers would recreate the latest gowns for their wealthy clients.

Seriously, have you ever met long time pen pals and felt that the family has finally been united?  I couldn’t have asked for a better dream come true!  And I must tahnk Els’ husband for putting up with us women.  He is a brave and fascinating man.

A big shout out to Els, Sharron and Katherine, and Lorna.  You are all just simply wonderful and will be in my heart forever!


Burda + #404 Again and Again and Again

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Burda Plus Fall/Winter 2008, #404, to properly cite the pattern’s source.

I like perfecting a pattern so I can use it over and over without having to reinvent the wheel. I want faster results, maybe because I make all my clothes. I mean, I love finding clothes ready made that fit and delight but I prefer to create them myself, as taxing as that can be at times, I still find it much more satisfying in the long run and I’ve already paid for the cloth, right? But I have to be rested and feel up to production to get into high gear every day. Know what I mean?

You’ve seen this pattern before if you’ve been reading along. Prior version posts: Brown wool with lycra, glen plaid woolen (non-stretch).

And here’s the last post about this pattern 3 pair bundled for quick production 100_0580

I have been dragging my feet on finishing my bundled versions. Doing these 3 pants has taken about 7 hours of sewing time. But OCD has set in on this last pair. For instance: this slight blip in the center back seam. I need to redo that.

This kind of thing has been going on for the past 3 days. I decided to just get the photo shoot over with and do this post. I may be revising these pin striped pants forever.


I planned for these pants to have the ankle length cuffed version of the glen plaid pants but now I don’t like it in this fabric. I quickly pressed up the hemming tests and yes, I need to redo that.

Hem Obsession

I think the fabric says “Keep me uncluttered and let me shine!” don’t you?

I’m sorry I’m not showing you a beautifully modeled and finished pant but heck, that might be weeks away at my “redo” rate….

I don’t like the look of the close taper down the side seam in this fabric either. I want the pinstripes to gently merge going on the sides. Next time I do pants in pin stripes I’ll use a wider leg and more of a trouser fit like the HP Razor Sharp Pant shape.

(I am sure that’s the OCD talking….) I need to let go of this project and move on!

I finished up the wool tweed version first since we had major cold weather hit and this tweed is nice, thick and comfy with it’s lycra stretch. I’ve worn them 3 days already


These tencel twills are much more close fitted without the lycra and will be saved for the 70 degree (Fahrenheit) weather coming in a few days. The contrast of the photo has been reduced or they’d look like a big blob of black on the screen:

Dark Green Twill

See the vest I’ve thrown back? That’s the “hunting tartan” for the Roberson clan. I bought the fabric in Scotland 27 years ago. It is called an ancient tartan because the colors are those that would have made by natural dye materials like berries and roots.

My Mom made the vest. I didn’t have a sewing machine at the time so it only took a few years of prodding for her to get it done 🙂 She was busy doing stained glass at that period of time. The buttonhole stitching, done on her own mother’s Singer Featherweight with the buttonhole attachment, needs to be restitched today but that is all the repairs necessary. Mom and I had worn out her own Featherweight, years before. We used to spend evenings cutting and stitching, sharing the machine and watching TV.

Lucile Hardy Dearborn, my Mom and original sewing mentor.

Mom was a fabulous “dressmaker”, as she called herself. She had earned her degree in fashion design from Traphagen School in New York City (now closed) in 1935 or 1936. I don’t remember seeing her certificate of graduation in her records so I’m guessing. She and two other girlfriends shared an apartment and opened a dress shop in the garment district where they made garments for clients. I don’t know what the name of their shop, it was only open for a few years before the team split up to marry boys and move on with their lives. The most I know about this school I had to find out online.

I read here that this was the first school of design in NYC.

And the following is a blurb from the Ohio State University’s The Historic Costume & Textiles Collection website
Traphagen Collection

In 1995, the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection purchased five 19th century garments from the estate of Ethel Traphagen, and received 69 others as a donation from her heirs. Ethel Traphagen, a fashion designer who is credited with introducing shorts and slacks into American women’s fashion, founded the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York City in the 1920s. The school was known for its technical orientation of fashion design, with courses in pattern making and draping. The school closed its doors in the early 1990s. (The only records from the school that remain are held by the New York State Department of Education. These are the academic records (transcripts) of the students who attended Traphagen. If students need that information they would need to write directly to the NY State Department of Education providing the pertinent details including the years that they attended Traphagen.)

Some of the better known names in the fashion industry attended the Traphagen School of Fashion. Alumni members include: Geoffrey Beene, James Galanos, Mary McFadden, John Kloss, Christos Yiannakou, and African-American designer Franklin Rowe.

The Traphagen collection at the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection consists of 74 garments and 33 assorted hats. The costumes range in date from the 1830s to the 1910s, with particular strength in the 1890s. The hats date from the 1820s up to the early 1950s. The Traphagen collection includes garments exemplifying the silhouettes of the 19th century, others are remarkable for their fabrics and opulence, and a few have French labels.

Upon inspecting the interior of Mom’s last project, a jacket and pants, white polyester with edges bound in gold trim (see the gold trim at the faux wrap front here?


That’s from her sewing basket) I found perfection in every stitch and seam. She must have been over 75 when she made it. She was so pleased to hear me say, “You do such a fabulous job!” as I flipped over the jump line of her jacket hem. She just sparkled and demurely said,

“Thank you.”

Gee, no,

“Thank you, Mom”

Glen Plaid Pants

Burda Plus Fall/Winter 2008 #404, to go with Burda World Of Fashion Vest Jan 2009 #124

I finished the second version of the slim pants that were first shown here. If you want to see a larger pix of any of these photos click on the little enlargement icon in the lower right hand corner of the photo and Flikr will take you to a story page.


in the glen plaid woolen yardage from Fashionista Fabrics I love working with wool!!!

This is the same wool used to make up the Burda Vest earlier this month


Photo Plans Thwarted

I had planned to make multiple shots of different shirts, scarfs, shoes, etc with which the pants and vest may be combined but today it is raining off and on so my photo opportunities are limited and I can’t model all the possibilities! Oh darned (not)…so here’s some ideas I thought nice.


And of course there’s always the ubiquitous white shirt…

Here’s what I did get – our early spring buttercups have been blooming for the last two weeks. It’s going to snow tonight. These little flower friends have already survived a snow earlier this week. Spring/Winter/Spring/Winter. Confusing.


I cut these pants with a 3/4″ seam allowance on each leg but used the .5″ seam allowance on the body curve used in the brown stretch pair. Upon basting them together the legs were too wide so I ended up taking a 5/8″ seam depth , essentially adding only 1″ to each leg width.


I think for a really punked out look the legs should be pegged more but I hesitate to make them too skinny in this non-stretch fabric. In keeping with the punked out look I shortened the hemline by 1.5″. Adding a newsboy cap would have just created a “costume”. I’m not in favor of costumes for everyday wear.


The pants are interlined in both the front and the back with Hang Loose to lessen the static that silk and wool, rubbing together, can engender. To interline you cut the lining fabric the same size as the fashion fabric and sew them together as one piece of fabric, easy and absolutely necessary to keep this soft woolen from being “sat out” or ending up with baggy knees. I serged the two raw edges of the wool and Hang Loose together and used a thinner wool herringbone blend for the fly facing, the inner waistbands, the pockets and the pocket bags. I could rant on about the drying up of true tailoring fabrics and tools in the home sewing market but I won’t bore you. It only applies if you like to produce traditionally tailored garments and not too many people are doing that right now. I even called Vogue Fabrics Designer department and was told they used to carry pocketing but now they use Kona Cotton. Sigh….

I also cut the pocket bags deeper like a men’s tailored pocket than the pattern called for. I love a deeper pocket. It just feels better to me and in case you put something in the pockets it’s more likely the object will stay with you than if you use the more shallow pockets of most women’s patterns. I do favor menswear styles – wearing them makes me feel “spiffy”, like I’m dressed properly. I have no idea why I like it so much.

The fly and waist band instructions are easy to follow. The waistband sections are sewn together at the sides, applied to the fronts and backs and the last seam to be stitched is the back crotch seam so adjustments for a narrow back waist are easy to make. It is an application method that also makes it easy to alter for (ahem) weight loss.


This is a good pattern, the instructions I understood (hardly ever the case for me), and once tweaked, it sews up quickly, suitable for both stretch fabrics and woven when there’s a tad more width allowed in the seams. I think it’s a TNT for me. I may do it again with the more narrow legs just to see if I can.

But I have no idea what I’ll be sewing next. It’s Winter/Spring/Winter/Spring….

Oh, and Gaely GoLightly took me shopping

for a new door mat


What can I say? We’re a pair….


Burda Plus Fall/Winter 2008 #404 Slim Pant

Greatly enhanced photos of a dark brown slim pant.

I left the straight of grain basting in to make sure that I didn’t twist a leg in the makeup. I have not been pleased with the pants where I’ve, through sloppy cutting or neglect, have let the leg twist. These came out nice and straight this time. I recommend this treatment if you like a pressed leg.

The fabric is very stretchy (2 ways) wool/lycra blend that would be considered a tropical or all seasons weight.

I wish I had a photographer to correct all my modeling mistakes!!! I’m slightly bent over in the front view, sorry!

Front BP Fall 08 #404\

Back BP Fall 08 #404

The pattern is very easy to make up. The fabric I used this time is almost too lightweight for pants. This pattern, as neat and well drafted as it is, needs a challenge and I will next do it in the grey glenplaid you saw in the last post’s vest. It’s a non-stretch to so I’ll cut with wider seam allowances and try out the cuffed version. We”ll see…