When I started sewing, around ten years ago, I did not know about the sewing blogosphere and indie patterns didn’t really exist yet. Instead, my world was filled with Burdastyle magazines and their many cheap patterns with minimalistic instructions and no seam allowances. Oh, how many times I realized that I should have finished my seams when it was already too late… So, even though my bookshelf has since been filled with vintage Vogue and Butterick reprints on one side, and Deer&Doe, Colette and friends on the other side, I did manage to bring with me to the US two dozens of Burda magazines (let’s not mention the enormous box that I left at my parent’s place…). A few weeks ago, I was reminded of the amazingness of Burda in a not-so-amazing way, when the french-speaking sewing blogosphere burst into flames at the reveal of the latest plagiarism scandal: some of the patterns of the French brand Aime comme Marie were strangely identical to existing patterns, amongst which a Burda shirt from 2009 (see the story in pictures here). In the discussions that followed, some people started questioning indie brands as a whole: why should we pay so much money for indie patterns when we can have twenty patterns for half the price in a Burda magazine? Well, let’s take a rain check on the question for now, I want to show you my new Burda skirt…
All this talk about Burda reminded me of the december 2011 issue, in which I had at the time spotted a nice pleated leather skirt. The suede version made by Juliette had convinced me of the pattern’s potential, and I had bought fabric for it, a weird synthetic mustard mystery something that had a very appealing price (1€ / meter). And then I made something else, then forgot, then three years later the fabric was still in my stash when I remembered the pattern.
So I took out and unfolded the pattern sheet in front of my half-amazed half-terrified boyfriend… Because if you have never seen a Burdastyle magazine sheet, this is what it looks like… to a colorblind person:
So much for accessibility..!
But anyway, Burda patterns and I, we’re buddies, so it took me a couple sessions over the weekend and then this skirt was one.
I really like the result, especially how the pleats look with this fabric that is very different from the one used for the magazine version. However… it is super short! I did not forget to add the hem allowance, it’s just that because it is more poofy in this fabric, it looks very different from the straight leather version, so I should have added 4 more inches or so. Worn with tights, it still works (as long as I remember not to bend over). The skirt is lined, and has pockets in the side seams.
An interesting thing with this pattern is that, unlike most pleated skirts I have seen, the back does not have pleats but it A-line. I think it’s a great feature! As much as I love pleats on the front of skirts, I have to admit that on the back they tend to add a lot of volume. So, to fit my hips in the A-line back and lining of the skirt, I had to grade from a size 36 at the waist to a size 40 at the hips.
Instead of pleats, the back had darts. I did the best I could, but the darts and the zipper don’t look so neat, there is a lot of puckering going on. Let’s blame it on the fabric.
The lining is done in a super soft gingham cotton, that you might get a glimpse from in the pictures. The pockets are gingham too.
I understitched the seam allowances to the pockets so that the pockets stay in place, but from certain angles you can still see the lining. Looking back at it, I guess I should have made the pockets in the outer fabric, but it’s okay, it looks more fun that way.
After making the skirt I started to feel very unsure about its color, that seemed very dull and khaki-beigish under artificial lights. However, under natural lights, it lights up and turns into this pretty mustard color, which I think goes well with my usual palette of purple and teal.
In the end I am really glad with this skirt, and it revived my love for Burdastyle magazines. I think it’s a good example of why one should look beyond the presentation pictures and pay more attention to technical drawings: in the leather fabric, it looks straight, rigid, edgy, and not really my style. But in this fabric it’s a high-waisted retro skirt! Something that helps is that I only marked the pleats at the top: I thought I might end up marking them all the way, but the feedback on Instagram was quasi-unanimous, and I’m glad I listened because the skirt has much more volume this way.
Now let’s get back to the question from the beginning of this post. As I was saying, there has been this debate on the french-speaking sewing blogosphere about Burda patterns versus indie patterns, something I think echoes in some ways the Big 4 vs. indie patterns discussions that take place on this side of the pond (in Europe, without Jo Ann’s sales, Big 4 patterns are often more expensive than indie patterns, so Burda is in the lead for offering variety and cheap prices). Basically people are starting to be annoyed by the constant flow of shiny new indies and the fact that everyone ends up making the same thing, and voices are raising against indie pattern brands (too expensive, marketing over quality, etc.). I’ve been feeling some of this too, and that’s why I’ve been diving back into my old Burda collection. I have to say, the case of Burda is special in that there is just no comparison between the quality of experience you get from making a good indie pattern (<3 Deer&Doe) or a Big 4 pattern rather than a random pattern from a Burda magazine : the tracing part that leaves you with PTSD, the lack of instructions, the need to add seam allowances... Plus I feel like being able to see so many versions of the same indie pattern can be a big help, both for design choices and for technical difficulties. How do you feel about all this? Have you ever made something from the Burdastyle magazines?
Skirt 124 – Burda 12/2011 (available here)
Size 36 – 40
Mystery fabric from Stop Tissus in Paris