Saturday, 30 July 2011

Inscrutable Burda Instructions

Dear Sewers and Readers
As you may know I am in the midst of making a liberty shirtdress from no 117 from the May 2011 issue. Warning:  there may be a rant approaching. Firstly I have to say I love Burdastyle magazines. They are more likely to have some items that are just a bit more up to date than any of the big pattern companies. They draft for a body that resembles mine a bit more than any of the big companies except maybe Kwik Sew. They presume that you know what you are doing which is both a blessing and a curse. Occasionally they come out with an issue that makes me go "Ah I'd like to sew this and this and this".
In regard to their instructions, I have a love/hate relationship. This is how it went with this dress. I think to myself "Hey I've been sewing for a long time. I've made shirts and dresses and shirtdresses. I can figure out what they mean". Then I read through the instructions and sure enough and there is always a bit concerning a shirt or coat collar where I go "What the heck do they mean?" then "Never mind, I'll just go ahead and do what I think they mean". I assembled the collar, easy enough.

When I sewed them together I closed off the angled seams at the bottom, 'seam 7', then stitched the collar to the neck then thought 'That doesn't look right". I'd misread the instructions. Out with the unpicker.

My make -do tracing - waxed kitchen paper and texta!

At this point I think If only I had a picture or three, I wouldn't care if they don't write anything!" Luckily there was a picture of the collar in another closeup of the dress.

This of course, matched the line drawing. I had a little 'boy do I feel dumb' moment. You treat 'seam 7' as part of the collar and attach the collar all in one go. I think. Well that's what I did and it worked. If someone can decipher their instructions and post a detailed explanation I will be truly grateful. I'm not sure if there was a pivot point as I had already trimmed the collar seam allowances on my first go around.

collar/facing sandwich

The instructions do say to make a sandwich - by that I mean attach the back facing to the front facing extensions, sew the fronts closed to the centre front points, then making a collar sandwich. I had reached the stage where this was what I was going to do whether they said to or not!
Rant disclaimer: The collar, the front, the sleeves, are all beautifully drafted. I modified the back and unpegged the skirt but I'm sure on the right body they would be good as well. I'm still pleased with how it is all going. The little inbuilt collar stand is so comfortable.

I'm working on the voile lining as the liberty is too lightweight on it's own, dark but almost sheer. Oh and the hem is not uneven but the way I am standing..
More to follow stay tuned!


  1. Valerie, I love and hate BurdaStyle to for all the reasons you listed above. I was also thinking about making this dress. Yours is coming along nicely.

  2. Every Burda sewer has a few "what the heck does THAT mean?" moments. I am always surprised by them, because I've been sewing Burda so much, for so long, I think I've got it all worked out - and then there's a new detail and I'm humbled all over again.

  3. Mary Nana Thank you! It's not even a language thing. They try so hard to save space that the most important points are often just a few words hidden deep in a paragraph that tells you six things at once - and that not very clearly.
    Their learn to sew articles however are excellent. I just wish they would put out a booklet of instructions for different components - a Burda Companion With Diagrams. I think it would sell well.

  4. I've had a few moments too! I remember someone made a comment on a blog about seeing a collar like this (maybe it was Kbenko?) and it was a Burda too.
    Your dress looks great. Hope you are having a good time.

  5. Thank you Cenetta and Summer Flies (Hello fellow Aussie!). I really appreciate all comments. BTW I looked at Kbenko's blog and yes it is the same style of collar. She wasn't impressed with it but I am as I have to do alterations because of my square shoulders and wide neck and this collar is going to become a favourite.

  6. Very nice indeed. I find Burda instructions less than useful. After you've made a few things though you can do it by instinct.

  7. Your dress is going to look awesome! I love that fabric. I giggled a little because I'm trying to decipher some Burda instructions as we speak. They make no sense, but I really like the pattern so I'm soldiering on...

  8. I can't speak for the English instructions, but even in German "burdaish" is a language on it's own.. but similar to computer programming languages a very precise one and once you have learned it the instructions do make sense.

    I checked the German instructions and what makes me wonder is that you have a "seam 7". Normally the numbers to not mark seams or lines, but points. So in the German instruction "7" is the point where that little "dash" hits the seamline.

    And then it makes sense, at least the German instructions.

  9. Nowaks that does make sense! But now I'll quote you the EXACT instructions as given in the English version regarding the collar:
    "Stitch collar pieces right sides together along outer edges, from seam number 7. Begin and end stitching on narrow edges of collar, exactly at seam line joining edge. Trim seam allowances" and so on ..
    sorry, but it's clear as mud.

  10. Oh yes.... it looks like a slight mistake in the translation and indeed, the English version does not make much sense.

    (And if it doesn't make sense to you than it is not due to my poor English.)

    I have stored my issue away, but I think it said something that I would translate as "stitch seam starting at number 7", definitely not "seam number 7".

  11. Whatever they mean to make it up as shown in the close up the whole neck edge of the collar is included. Maybe they mean to sew it in two goes, but I did it in one. I might email them with my idea of an instruction supplement with diagrams!