Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Tracing a Burda Pattern

Since today is the first of May and therefore the first day of the Burda Sew-a-long, I thought I'd document how I trace off a Burda Pattern. It's not necessarily the best way, and definitely not the only way, but it's the method I've been using for years.


First, a word about the resources that I use:
Tissue paper - I use the stuff that they sell for gift wrapping. At a couple of dollars a packet it has the advantage of being cheap and very readily available. The down side of tissue paper is that it is very fragile and comes in a standard size - meaning that pieces have to be stuck together.
Paper Glue - I NEVER use sellotape to stick together pieces. The easiest type of glue to use is the stuff that comes in a tube.
Iron - yes, I'm going to iron tissue paper. Make sure that the iron is set to dry and that there is no water in it. If you try ironing tissue paper it disintegrates before your eyes. Also, when you start ironing your tissue paper you will see why I never use sellotape!
A soft pencil.
A felt tip pen - (in these photos I’m using blue, but that’s not a colour I recommend – it’s rather to close to the colour that the sheets are printed in.
Paper Scissors – I keep a pair especially for paper so I am not ever tempted to cut paper with my fabric scissors
Ruler (and possibly a French curve)
My Burda magazine with the pattern sheets carefully removed.
Find your pattern pieces
At the beginning of the instructions there will be pictures of the pieces that you need, and it will tell you which pattern sheet they are on, what colour they are and the piece numbers. 
For the pattern I’m doing I will need pattern sheet B

So I look for the numbers 24 to 27 in red round the outside of the sheet, then follow a line into the sheet until I find the same number, which will be the outline of the piece that I am looking for.  I then outline the piece that I want to trace with the felt tip pen to make it easier to trace off.

I am using a magazine from June 1991.  In the mid 1990’s the pattern sheets were redesigned to make this part of the process a lot easier. Don'f be put off that it looks hard to identify your pieces.  The newer magazines are A LOT easier, but the process is the same

Preparing the tissue paper.

At this point I will be able to see whether a single piece of tissue paper will be large enough. If I need to stick two pieces together I take both pieces and the glue to the ironing board.  I iron the tissue flat, then glue pieces together as required.  I then run the iron over the join to dry the glue quickly.

Tracing the pattern

I use a soft pencil so that I don’t damage the tissue, and carefully trace the lines that I have outlined.  I always include the numbers.  If I can’t see them while I am tracing I refer to the sketch in the instructions – these numbers are a great help if you want/need to operate without the instructions.  I do use a ruler for straight lines and French curve for curves, but this isn’t compulsory.  Mark grain lines, fold lines and other markings and cut out your pattern pieces.


I mark the pattern pieces with my own simple code – this one is 5/1991/119-42.  5/1991 is the date of the magazine, 119 the pattern number and 42 the size.  I also write the piece number and description on each piece, and refer to the instructions for any cutting instructions (e.g. cut 2, cut one on fold, etc.) .  If I have a problem when I’m fitting it I know where the pieces came from.


I frequently trace a pattern off and don’t sew it straight away.  I am a little picky about storing patterns, ‘cos let’s face it, if you’ve got a great pattern, you may want to use it again. 

I store my patterns in A5 envelopes with a photo from the magazine glued to the front.

It then goes into the covered photocopy paper box which is the perfect size for filing all my Burda drafted patterns

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