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Jun 26, 2013

Sewing Pattern Magazines -- YEA or NAY?



Readers, there is still so much about sewing I don't know.

For example, those thick pattern inserts in pattern magazines.  How on earth are you supposed to trace off THIS?



This looks like something I made with Spirograph when I was six.

Does one put translucent paper on top and trace with a marker, or put dressmakers tracing paper (the kind coated with colored wax, i.e., carbon paper) underneath and trace with a tracing wheel -- or something else entirely?  I know people do it, I just don't understand how.

Longtime MPB reader Pam O. very generously sent me a copy of the Italian sewing pattern magazine "La Mia Boutique", which arrived today.  It's the May 2013 issue and includes some nice looking men's patterns, including full men's evening dress: tailcoat, vest, pants, shirt with plastron -- the works!







The smallest men's size is a 48 however, which I suspect corresponds to a men's 38" chest (32" pants) which would be too big for me, but I could be wrong.  (Anybody know for sure?)  It's weird since Italian men are often on the slim side.





There are some lovely women's patterns in this issue, nicely styled and photographed, particularly a Grace Kelly-inspired spread.





There are also some oddities.

First, doesn't this...





...look an awful lot like this? 



Next, just how tall is the model below in blue ?  Look closely -- on what planet do women with those dimensions live?



Finally, I'm no expert, but if you're going to wear a very sheer top....



...should your bra be bright white?

Most Americans sew from printed paper patterns.  We don't have our own pattern magazines like "La Mia Boutique" or "Ottobre Woman" or "Patrones" here.   (I wonder why -- tradition?)  From what I read on the sewing blogs, people are forever considering dropping their Burda (or other imported pattern magazine) subscriptions or writing scathing/hilarious commentaries on the latest issues.

I totally get the appeal of these magazines: instant traceable patterns at your fingertips, multi-sized, and (usually) contemporary looking.  Also kids patterns, men's patterns, and even craft patterns included!  But how much time does all that tracing take and how do you actually do it?

Readers, I eagerly await your opinions.

Sewing pattern magazines -- YEA or NAY?   

(And for you YEA-ers, do you have a favorite?)

"Dots a lotta look!"

107 comments:

  1. I have a few burda mags and they have dust on them. Maybe one day when I have time. LOL!

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  2. I had a subscription to Burda for six months and I didn't make a thing. Tracing the patterns just seemed too big of a bother.

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  3. Yaaaaaaay! I sew exclusively from Burda. So many patterns for so little cash. And I loathe those scathing reviews. They are always so narrow-minded. Whatever you hate, someone else will love. They are also great if you sew for other people. So, for example, there are some great plus size patterns in them. And yes, popular styles/patterns will show up in them. And Melissa of Fehr Trade is the expert on tracing.

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  4. Hi Peter, I have a stash of Buda mags, Fait Mains, and Neue Mode. The middle one is French, the others are German. I love the fabrics, and the styles, with kick. But mine are from 80's to present, and I use as therapy, especially the Plus styles, where the models are smiling, with good skin, as are the slimmer ones. I have not copied anything (yet), but in some issues there are less patterns on top of each other, so more doable. Also some fitting articles, and I like to read the instructions. Mine are in Portuguese, French, German, and a few in English. I paid from 5 cents to 50 per issue. Very helpful as I returned from a huge depression, and my favourites are now in lovely binders. Cathie, in Quebec.

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  5. YEA. I use Burda Style magazines. I gave it a try 4 years ago and haven't looked back since. Burda fits me better than any of the big 4 patterns. I don't mind tracing off patterns one bit. I will admit to being a little intimidated at first. I use large sheets of tracing paper and pin it on top of the piece to be traced. I have a 3/8" and 5/8" wide rulers that I use to add seam allowance. I also like using the sturdier tracing paper rather than the flimsy pattern tissue. Once you get the hang of it tracing goes along pretty fast.
    Give it a try you may like it.

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    Replies
    1. Kathi, you're using tracing paper thin enough for you to see the correct colored line? (i.e, you can distinguish blue from green from black)

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    2. I find it helps to use a highlighter to trace around the line you're going to trace (especially with blue and black). There are lots of highlighter colours so even if you need to trace multiple overlapping pieces you can usually get it to work.

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    3. You can make a distinctive mark along the lines of the size you want, for example, dashes or small circles. That makes the outline stand out.

      Tracing isn't my favorite thing to do, but it's part of the process. I don't like to cut patterns and I always make a muslin.

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    4. I use Strathmore tracing paper. It is sturdy enough and I am able to see the different colored lines through it. I use the large sized pad 19" x 24".

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    5. Peter and friends, if the pattern tracing sheet is very busy I use a highlighter just to mark the notches and other markings. I also compare the notches on the technical draing of the pattern pieces to make sure I have them all. I don't pin but I use smll weighty items and a collection of clear sewing/quilting rules to hold down the transparent tracing tissue paper on top. A bonus for tracing is you can be fearless with alterations or making several sizes as you retain the pattern original. Time yourself for tracing to get a true idea of how long it really takes, and start out with a pattern with fewer pieces. I absolutely must trace with a sewing ruler handy to mark the s/a's & h/a's. Burda really had superior drafting so the time you put into drafting I find works out the same as if I had started with a Big 4 pattern.

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  6. I have had a subscription to Burda and I made a few things from it, but I realized that I didn't really make much from it and so I dropped it, however, I did really like the things I made from it and had I an infinite amount of time would likely still have the subscription and a number of other thing made. I have a standing renewal of my subscription to Ottobre, but I mostly make my three daughters things from the children's issues.

    As for the tracing, I find it sort of mind soothing to do. I use medical table paper and simply lie it on top of the pattern to trace. I alter almost everything I made fit-wise even for my girls so it isn't too much different from tracing and doing the alterations as I normally do for even the patterns that I buy from the big 4.

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    Replies
    1. Medical table paper!?!? That is Genius!!! I will copy that idea!

      Delete
  7. I have a bunch of Japanese language magazines (and some books) that are more specific style than "sewing" interests. They have a few patterns that like regular patterns, not layered like above, and need to be enlarged (marked at percenage or just diagramed like a sloper).
    I like them, but haven't made much as I am still learning and they are a tad more complicated than I want to try right now.

    I own no American or English language ones.

    THe magazines are in the Loli, goth or "English country side" style. With the books being more regular clothing.
    The thing is with these publications, they show step by step photos that act more like a how-to book than being a "pattern book". That's where I learned to do sleeves from.

    ~Ann

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  8. I recently purchased 2 Ottobre Kids magazines and LOVE them...the first pattern I traced off was a little difficult and confusing...after that I found I could mentaly block out the colored lines I wasn't using. I like to use artist sketch paper/tracing paper..it comes in 18in and 24 in wide rolls and can be found at art/school supply stores andsome office supply stores...I'm happy with them and can retrace my favs as my son grows.

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  9. I haven't gotten any of the pattern magazines, since regular patterns are so plentiful and cheap with a Joann's just down the street. I can understand the magazines being popular in places where patterns are more expensive.

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  10. Massive Yea! I sew from Burda, Burda Plus and Ottobre all the time. I'm with Ruth in that I intensely dislike those negative reviews of the mags. In my mind, if you don't like something, don't buy it and have the good grace to realize that someone else DOES like it.

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  11. Use a tracing wheel with cartridge paper roll underneath or a tracing sheet- Burda sells those too.

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  12. I don't buy pattern magazines specifically because they have contemporary designs. If they had one with accurate (that is, not modernized or redesigned) reissues of vintage patterns, I'd probably be all over it.

    Everybody did this . . . I almost said "back in the day", but I'm familiar with them from "Godey's Ladies' Book" in my days as a Civil War reenactor, and I guess that would be back in our great-great-grandmothers' day.

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  13. I don't find the tracing too bad, though I don't do much of it. The Curious Kiwi did a tutorial on her method a while back, which is more or less the same as mine. I use medical exam paper, which is appropriately see-through and dirt cheap.

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    Replies
    1. Oh yes and with such a great video too!

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  14. As for the "La Mia Boutique" issue, don't they have measurement tables in there? From recollection, a German men's size 48 is pretty slim. I would estimate you to be not less than a 50, but I could of course be wrong. French, Italian or Spanish sizes tend to be even smaller, I assume, by about one number.

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  15. In continental Europe (I don't know for sure about the UK), envelope patterns are NEVER on sale - they are ALWAYS at least $12 each. In Denmark, I can get a Danish pattern magazine or a Danish Burda (same issue as all the others) for that price. Ottobre is a little more.

    If I want a Simplicity pattern, I have to order it from abroad or pay at least $16 for it (very few places carry them) - and a Vogue is more than ´20. And shipping from the US or somewhere else in Europe is at least $12.

    If I buy an envelope pattern, I can assure you I'll trace that as well. Not in a million years will I cut a $12+ pattern.

    When I want to tissue fit, I have to use paper that I get from Germany or the UK because tissue fitting is not in European sewing tradition so people think that the sturdier the pattern paper, the better it is - and you can't tissue fit with butcher's paper.

    I have traced patterns all my sewing life. I have no problems finding the right line to follow (except some of the lighter red ones) and I trace with a pencil on the tissue paper. (Why would you use wax paper?)

    I think it is a larger stumbling block for most people that you also have to add seam allowances as the European patterns don't have that. So it is two more rounds of work before you have a paper pattern. And we all have limited time to sew.

    I have worked with a few American Big4 patterns and I have cut my fitting patterns from Butterick and that is just soooo easy to take your scissors and snip-snip. I can understand why Americans prefer to use them when you have $.99 sales and that sort of thing. :-)

    But really - I see many sewing bloggers rasing a storm about tracing patterns and oh dear so difficult and I can't see a thing and I hate and bla bla bla ... come on. Stay sober, stay positive, trace four patterns in a row and you're off and running. It's just habit. :-)

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    Replies
    1. Oh how I relate to your comment.. I am also from Europe and have been tracing ALL my patterns ever since I can remember, both from magazines and paper patterns. In fact the very first skirt I've ever tackler was Burda pattern from a magazine and I've managed to trace it all by myself. Not gonna lie, it took me about 3 hours to figure it out but it worked. Never ever would I even consider cutting my precious patterns that I've ordered and payed at least $15 and often more from US.. NEVER! I think it's funny when I hear Americans complain about tracing, really it's not that hard and once you get used to it the lines are quite easy to follow. But then again why trace when you can buy patterns on sale for cheap so yeah I do understand... oh well:)

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    2. I could have written your post myself!
      I would only like to add that I prefer adding seam allowanses myself becourse as Julia Roberts says in Pretty Woman: "I say where, I say then and I say how much"

      Delete
  16. I personally don't mind that style of patterns. I just throw a few sheets of cheap baking paper (pattern tracing paper if I can get my hands on it,) taped together over the top of the sheet pinning it so it doesn't move and trace off what I want. Cut it out do my pattern adjustments and start working like any other pattern. I just wish I could get more than just Burda in Aus at the local news stand.

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  17. I'm a cutter. Of patterns that is. So while I LOVE burda the tracing off kills me. I have a cutting table that I made out of large sheets of cardboard (the kind they put between pallets) that I put onto of one of those long folding tables and what I find that works is putting my pattern paper or kraft paper underneath then placing the pattern sheet over it and then tracing with a needle point wheel. Then I just connect the dots. But thats more effort than my scissor happy self can take. So unless a magazine has more than 2 patterns I like I'll just buy the downloadable patterns from BurdaStyle.com since they are about $5 each and a burdastyle mag is ~$10. I'd much rather sticky tape them together while surfing the next and the patterns are easier to transfer to hardcard if they are a winner.

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  18. Nay. But I did have a spirograph.

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  19. Yea to pattern magazines. I love the fact that should I have an emergency ;) need for some garment I am almost certain to have it in my stack of Burdas. Yes, tracing sucks, but that is why there is television and Netflix. Also now that I have learned about Frixion pens, tracing will be much easier and you don't mark up the pattern sheet permanently.

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  20. Yea, with reservations. I grew up with a mother who sewed exclusively from Burda, so "Burda" and "sewing" pretty much go hand in hand for me. That said, I dropped my subscription to Burda a while ago (around the time when they became Burdastyle), but still will buy the occasional issue if something sings out to me.
    I have that same issue of La Mia, and double checked the sizing - I think you're right , the smallest sizing is a 38" chest. Totally weird because Italian sizing errs on the small size.
    As far as women's sizing is concerned in La Mia, the waist measurements seem to be quite small compared to bust and hip - perfect for hourglasses.
    As for the hassle of tracing.. the pattern sheets these days are simplicity itself compared to what the pattern sheets were. Check out this post from my blog, where I have a photo of a pattern sheet circa 1989.
    http://lasartora.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/ghost-of-burdas-past.html
    Now THAT is a spaghetti junction.

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  21. I don't buy pattern magazines although I might buy some Japanese pattern books in the future. I usually trace my patterns before using them by using a translucent medium such as Swedish Tracing Paper. If I need more than one size, say, the hips need to be bigger, I take the size that is appropriate and then when I remove the pattern I connect the lines and true the pattern. Then I add seam allowances with a clear ruler, French curve and hip curve.

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  22. I pretty much only sew from sewing magazines these days, though I do purchase Colette patterns and have recently bought some other American-style patterns, though I trace those, too. I have a subscription to Ottobre and Ottobre Woman, plus I've used the Dutch magazines, Knippie and BizzKids to sew clothes for my kids. Farbenmix is a well-known German pattern collective and while they sell their patterns individually, they print them on heavy paper and I trace from those, too, since I've used them repeatedly in different sizes for my girls. The best part about this method, I find, is that if I want to make something for someone else who is not my size, all I have to do is quickly trace a new size. And if you decided you no longer need the pattern (your kids outgrow it or maybe you don't like the end result) you can resell it on ebay or wherever and it's still intact.
    I use STP (Swedish Tracing Paper) because it's very easy to sew through for fitting and sturdy enough to pin fit, even after doing my usual FBA - unlike tracing paper, which I find has more of a tendency to tear. Plus, you can write on it AND erase your marks if you use pencil. I usually use a #2 Ticonderoga pencil for tracing and adding my seam allowances, since most European pattern magazines don't include them. At first, tracing the pattern pieces is intimidating, but you get used to it and I can do it quite quickly now. My son's summer wardrobe is almost exclusively made with Ottobre patterns, with only a few purchased garments.

    As for sizing, I usually just measure the pattern piece, so I can get an idea of how much ease is built in to the garment. I would do the same in your case so you can figure out just how big that size 48 is.

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  23. Sewing pattern magazines - nay.

    Japanese sewing pattern books by Yoshiko Tsukiori - yay.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Yoshiko%20Tsukiori&search-alias=books&sort=relevancerank

    Spud.

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  24. I've just traced off my first ever Burda magazine pattern. The hard part was finding the pattern in the maze of colored curves. But I noticed that once I spotted the location of the pattern on the sheet, the eyes automatically adjust to focusing on that one pattern.
    I used carbon paper- easily obtained from any stationery store. Put that under the pattern onto a sheet of brown paper (I trace my patterns onto brown paper) and then used a tracing wheel on the pattern paper. Pattern transferred super-easy- I was impressed! Now, fingers crossed the fit is good- I'm making my first ever pair of trousers

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  25. yeah! I bought a 3 month Burda Style subscription and for about $25 I will have at least 10 patterns to make, way cheaper than most envelope patterns I could buy. The sizing of Burda is closer to my proportions than American pattern makers (Colette patterns labor under the delusion that my breasts are larger than an A cup.) and I find the pattern styles are smart and stylish rather than the matronly stuff in simplicity. I trace with left over tissue paper from the holidays and when I'm done I feel as though I located the nuclear reactor in the submarine blueprints.

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    Replies
    1. Colette patterns are designed for a C-cup. However, you can always do a SMA (small bust adjustment) - many people have done them and Sarai has at least one tutorial for doing one on the Colette Patterns website. Just a thought. :)

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  26. Peter, I am with everyone else who raved about sizing in the Burda and Ottobre magazines - worth the hassle of tracing for that alone. I use architectual drafting paper, which comes in various widths, and those flower doodle quilters pins to keep it pinned on the master draft. They are nice and flat so you can lay rulers, etc. on top of them. I do have a gripe with Burda, though. They have condensed the pattern sheets from two to one, even more confusing to find your correct lines. Once you get your head around no seam allowances I think you will find them a pleasure, especially matching plaid lines.

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    Replies
    1. I have a $20 cardboard craft board. I lay it out or sometimes keep it doubled. I attach the pattern and the tracing paper with pushpins.

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  27. Although I no longer have a subscription to Burda or Ottobre, I do still buy single issues when I see a unique design or new twist on old favorites. When I was in Europe I discovered a Burda tracing paper that was yellow instead of white. The yellow color has made it so much easier to trace the lines.

    I ran out of my original supply and didn't know where to get more until I read about Bienfang canary sketching and tracing paper on the Gorgeous Fabrics blog. It comes in a variety of widths, is inexpensive and works like a dream. It is available at the Dick Blick's Art Supply website (and probably other places as well, just too lazy to look into it).

    I would much rather trace patterns than tape together a zillion sheets of paper!

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  28. I HATE those spirograph-inspired patterns in sewing magazines!! They make my head ache and are near to impossible to see. That is one of the main reasons I stopped my subscription to Ottobre. Incidentally, trying to cancel your subscription to them is as bad as trying to cancel your gym membership! Eeek!

    I'm and old-fashioned paper patterns kind of girl. Love them!

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  29. I love, Love, LOVE my pattern mags!
    I have subbed to Burda for almost 2 decades, and their plus sized patterns are drafted perfectly for me.

    Re:LMB, I find they fit very slim...they have very little ease, so I usually cut a size or two bigger than my measurements. Try laying a current pattern on top of LMB to see how they compare.

    I put canary tracing paper (I buy in rolls from art supply store)on top of the pattern sheet and trace with a colored pencil.

    Have fun!

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  30. Yay - I subscribe to Burda. I like the mix of patterns as I have a family so it works out really cheap. Plus I like getting stuff in the post each month.The fit is better for me than the big four, so I don't mind the tracing out versus the endless fitting issues I encounter with da big 4.

    The styling and fabric is usually more modern too, which I prefer for everyday. If I want a vintage style I can adapt or use a vintage pattern or draft one.

    I do own envelope patterns but the mostly come from independent pattern companies. I would trace these too as I usually have to go between sizes.

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  31. I avoid those. for that matter, I avoid things like Japanese pattern books, too. I know they're supposed to be great, but if 1) I can't read the instructions and 2)I can't tell what pattern goes with what pieces, I won't go there. I need to be able to read the key to find out what goes with what. I need to be able to actually *use* the stuff, and even though I usually ignore pattern instructions, I still have to be able to read them in case of some tricky construction detail that I don't know how to do!

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    Replies
    1. Bratling, the Japanese pattern books are available in English.

      Spud.

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  32. Yay! I love Burda Style as well as Japanese pattern books that also require tracing. I am super cheap, so I tape together sheets of tissue paper from the dollar store. (The stuff one might buy when wrapping a gift.)I use a mechanical pencil for tracing, and one of those clear rulers comes in handy as well. So far I have had great success with this method, and it does get easier to trace once you have done it a few times. I pretty much trace all my patterns anyway - even from the big 4 - so it really doesn't seem like much more effort.

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    Replies
    1. Try using plastic tablecloths from the dollar store, almost as cheap, no taping, and a lot more durable.

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  33. Subscription to both Ottobres (Kids and Womens')and I use them all the time for all the reasons listed above. Tracing is a necessary evil, so I try not to dwell on it.

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  34. Yay, pretty much the only patterns I use. Tracing is not an issue, quite quick. I like tracing paper rolls found at any art or architecture supply stores. Lines and colors are visible even when folded double, any writing implement can be used and the tracings are durable. I eyeball seam allowances by finding reference points on my rotary cutter.

    It's all a matter of finding a magazine which suits your interests. I adore Ottobre--superb fit and styles and a wonderful margin especially for kids. The women's styling may not be as immediately appealing but the designs are very useful and again a great fit.

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  35. I grew up in Argentina and magazines with multipatterns and sizes is all I knew until I came to this country.
    I like Patrones the most.
    I use a tracing paper that I found online, it's translucent with a texture like parchment paper. Here I live the link so you can see: http://pinterest.com/pin/84935142944478884/
    I trace all my patterns using this paper and then I store the patterns in a binder.
    Hope this help.

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    Replies
    1. That was the wrong product. Here is the one I use. Sorry.
      http://pinterest.com/pin/84935142945589179/

      Delete
  36. The only time I've used a mag pattern (Burda) was when I coerced my fitting friend into tracing it for me! (And we were using an issue from a few years ago when things weren't that bad.) I did trace once from Drape Drape. Never done that again.

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  37. I love my Ottobre magazines. They fit me much better at age 50 then the big four. I have made several things for myself and my nieces. It gets easier the more you do it.
    I use Swedish tracing paper and lay it over the lines and then trace with a pen, adding notches/darts at same time. It's easy to add the seam allowance and with a serger, you only need 3/8" sometimes. But on the neckline you might want none if you are adding a binding. Tracing makes it easier to control these various seam allowances.

    I like the swedish tracing paper as I can drape it on me prior to sewing. A lot of Ottobre patterns are for knits which are pretty forgiving and generally don't require making a muslin too.

    I have no problem cutting out $3.00 or less big4 patterns but the magazines force you to learn something new.

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  38. A big NAY. I hate tracing because it is boring and exhausting, and my day job just doesn't allow a lot of time for mind-numbing tracing sessions. When I get time to sew, I want to sew, not trace. That being said, I live in the US with Joanne's and Hancocks just down the street. I buy patterns when they are on sale for $ 1.99 (bought three today on my lunch hour). My time is definitely worth $ 1.99. And if I really love a pattern and want another copy so it is pristine and uncut, I just wait for the $ 1.99 sale and buy it again . . .

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  39. I buy the canary/yellow tracing paper on a roll from Dick Blick or GS something and I swear you can see the lines so much better with the yellow tracing paper than the white. I also trace with curved seam allowance rulers because of how fast and accurate they are.
    I adore Burda for fit. They have the best crotch curve on pants. Ottobre is pretty darn good too.

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  40. I used to subscribe to Burda magazine and use it quite a bit. Then they put the patterns on fewer sheets and the lines were just overwhelming. I have great luck with regular patterns and independent patterns. Here lately I really like the pdf patterns, instant gratification. When I did trace the patterns, I did it with medical exam paper over the pattern sheets.

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  41. I love my Burda magazines - I like the options they give me to make up-to-date patterns if I need them. I don't make a lot of patterns from them - maybe one from each issue - but I love the styles and the fit.

    I also trace after highlighting the pattern. I trace onto thicker painters' drop wrap which comes in a big roll at Home Depot - 6 feet wide and 50 feet long - for $12 in Canada, so about $4 in the states. (We get ripped off for everything!)

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  42. I wonder whether it is a culture thing. I am frequently jealous when I see the sales that the Big 4 have in the US. We just don't have those. Occasionally we have half price sales, but that's still 10 odd dollars a pattern. In comparison I can get the Burda magazine out of the library for free (or I pay like 30 cents to reserve the copy I like). Yeah tracing is annoying and I have given up on some, because it was just too terrible, but still. I use something called McCalls trace and toil, which is found with the interfacing, and a permanent marker. I frequently trace the 2 sizes around my measurements and then add a generous seam allowance :-)

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  43. I trace over the lines on the size that I want. In foreign language magazines that means interpreting the color of the line and the numbers of the pattern pieces. Then go over the line with a colored pencil. I use Soil Separator as tracing paper, which can be found at Home Depot. It's somewhat like pellon but more transparent and comes in 150 foot rolls.

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    Replies
    1. That Soil Separater is a great tip!

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  44. My sister got me October women's book and it has been gathering dust until now as I got scared on seeing those scribble like tracing lines, I can self draft the pattern in that time taken to trace!

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  45. I use a tracing wheel and just put the pattern over butcher paper. The butcher paper is over a scrap of old carpeting with the shag side down. It doesn't take long actually.

    Asiyah (aka Saro)

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  46. Nay to tracing off patterns. I've only tried to trace off Burda patterns a couple of times but they didn't really seem to be worth the struggle. Besides, I have a ton of patterns anyway. My wardrobe needs these days are pretty simple. I can find what I need from Vogue or sometimes McCall's--if I don't have a pattern already.

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  47. Nay or Yea? I'm yet to decide, but I have big news for you. If you can get through the tracing, the adding seam allowance thingy can be overcome. I recently bought this gadget that fixes via magnet to your scissor blade. You simply decide on the seam allowance you want, fiddle with the gadget to set it and then align it with the traced and cut pattern edge and starting cutting for a perfect seam allowance without further measuring. Genius! Highly recommend - here's the link

    http://www.seamallowanceguide.com/

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  48. Hi Peter, Of course you got right to the heart of the matter here! I have a ton of Italian Burdas and La Mia Boutiques, some Ottobres and Patrones. I've only traced a couple of times, using pattern paper that I bought in a big roll online from (uh, I don't remember). I confess that I prefer envelope patterns and buying them online from the big publishers when they have a sale is pretty reasonable. But the tracing wasn't so bad -- and the clothes turned out well: a pair of pants, a skirt, and a blouse. They are still in regular rotation -- so that's something! Thanks for the highlighter tip all you YAYERS! Sono contento che ti piace la rivista, Peter! Pam O

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  49. A big yea from me... I'm with Ruth and Kelley on this... I sew almost exclusively from Burda magazines... tried big four (which are definitely not value for money when compared to Burda) but I still traced the pattern and found having to iron the thin pattern sheet truly annoying! Plus, the seam allowance is no biggie for me cause I use the seam allowance guide. The only time I'm willing to pay extra for an envelope pattern is for an indie pattern, especially sewaholic... but I will still trace it :-)

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  50. I have a light box which makes it very easy to trace off any pattern, either a Burda magazine pattern or a bought pattern which has multiple sizes (and I don't want to cut into it). The light box is one of the best things I have ever bought for my sewing workshop and I am using it constantly.

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    1. I'm told you can also use a window. I think that would be awkward and that I'd need a very big light box.

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  51. personally before I learned how to drafted my own pattern I used to buy burda magazine (the only one one available)but I think I only sew about 4 garments from their magazines I found very frustrating to race out the patterns and then adjust the fit so for me a regular subscription to sewing magazines it's a nay but to sometimes treat myself to old( and i mean very old) issues of burda. However I think sewing magazines are for people who don't know how to draft patterns because they have an array of pattern in the smallest price and from what I have seen some magazines have a great variety of patterns.

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  52. It is YAY for me because I live in West Africa and while I can't find any big 4, I can find issues of the French Burda!

    I place a large sheet of paper on my table first. Then I carefully tile down small sheets of carbon paper. Then I place the pattern on top and trace the lines I want. Then my large sheet of paper has the pattern. Tada! It is a pain but really wonderful when you don't have sewing shops. (Though, the other great things are online pdf patterns - but thats another topic)

    I'll admit though Burda is not good for learning new techniques or trying out new patterns - I only make Burda things that are similar to things I've made before, because the instructions are plain awful and I cant figure out something ive ive not made it before.

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  53. To me that's a complete no-brainer: I have grown up with Burda Magazine and with one exception I have only ever sewn from Burda magazine patterns. The tracing takes about 15 - 45 minutes, depending on how many pattern pieces there are. I just put tracing pattern on top, squint a little and just follow the tracing lines. Obviously it's not the nicest job in the world, but it is nowhere near as bad as blogland seems to suggest. And of course it appeals to my thrifty German side: In one magazine you get dozens of patterns that you can change in size, can combine and you get patterns that you would not normally buy but may be worth a try. And all that for around 7 $ (in Germany at least) - in fact I don't understand how anybody can NOT use magazine patterns but goes to spend money on individual patterns instead...

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  54. Oh, and another thing about the seam allowance: When I learned sewing in the home ec class we never had patterns with the seam allowance included. We simply traced the seam lines onto the fabric (using the coloured Burda tracing paper and those little spur like roller things). Then you sew along the seam line - it does not matter how big the seam allowance is or whether it is the same on all pieces of fabric because you don't use its width as a guide but the seam line instead. In fact it took my ages to figure out what all the fuss about lack of seam lines in magazine patterns was about.
    The only time ever I used a Big 4 pattern (for my wedding dress...) I never realised that the seam allowances would be included in the pattern, so I added my own seam allowances as I was used to. You can imagine how big it turned out ;-)

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  55. NAY! I just can't bear the thought of it. I appreciate that an issue of Burda magazine is excellent value compared to buying the equivalent in paper patterns. But that's still not enough to tempt me. I traced an A line skirt from a Japanese pattern book once - they have a similar Spirograph/road map pattern sheet to Burda - and it gave me the worst headache I've had in years... x

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  56. And yet another thing Peter: Make sure you check the measuring table in the La Mia Magazine. Italian sizes normally are much smaller/more fitted than other European sizes, so I would be surprised if the 48 did not fit you. A German 48 (which may in fact be bigger than an Italian 48) seems, by the look of it, about the right size for you.

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  57. Yea for me too - I'm in South Africa and Big4 patterns are also very expesive here, I trace those too, if I buy them. My library stocks Burda, so essentially I get those patterns for free.
    I also have family that sends me pattern mags from Brazil. They have great variety.
    Tracing is just part of the process, and I tend to do a whole bunch at once - good music helps!
    Finally, I find the pattern mags have way better fit than big4. None of this excess ease nonsense.

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  58. Yea for me as well. Like other Europeans I have grown up with pattern magazines and tracing. Only found out the existence of Vogue patterns when I was over 20 and then (in the 80's) I bought a few and learned a lot from them because of the detailed instructions. I do buy the occassional Vogue pattern nowadays, but mostly stick to Burda, use issues over 10 years old or recent ones. Tracing is easy. 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the difficulty of the pattern (amount of pieces and complexity). Don't be intimidated.

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  59. About Sizes:
    The current issue´s size table of Boutique says that a men´s size 48 fits a person with:
    96 cm chest measure (37,7")
    84 cm waist measure (33")
    100 cm hip measure (39,3")
    178 cm body hight (70")
    39 cm neck width (15,3")

    European men´s sizes for normal figures are always the half of the chest circumference in cm, so that f.e. a size 46 fits a person with a 92cm chest and a size 52 fits a person with a 104cm chest.
    In fashion industry there are also sizes for other figure types like taller men (size 90 to 110) and for shorter men (size 22 to 29). Usually these sizes are not covered in pattern magazines.

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  60. Not in a million lightyears. As it is I struggle with all these new patterns that you have to trace out first (unless I'm going for the largest size, in which case I'll cut it out, all the time respecting all the lines for the smaller sizes too as I don't want any loss of information).

    Give me ready cut or used vintage patterns any day!

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  61. I trace most patterns anyway as I alter the paper copy by cutting into it. I started the tracing thing when my girls were small and didn't want to ruin their patterns that had a lot of sizes so it's a habit I have. I make notes on my trace and when I love the fit retrace it onto something permanent if I will reuse it like a basic wardrobe piece. My first burda trace was from a russian copy bought on ebay since the english copies were sold out-that was a first time initiation for sure. I really wanted the pattern for a cut on turtle neck that was very popular in blog land and pattern review so this was the only way to get it. I used medical exam paper to trace. Soil separator is usually what the permanent copy is on for a pattern I reuse a lot. Not for every one but works for me. I guess one would get used to tracing the inserts and it wouldn't be a big deal. I suspect your men's sizes in the book are for average sizes despite the numbers used. I'd flat measure to see what size I needed to trace if I wanted to use one in there and adjust the paper trace to fit.

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  62. I had 2 years of back issues of Ottobre and Burda before I got up the courage to trace something. It was Saturday night, everything was closed & I was desperate. I had finished a sheer blouse that needed a cami. I had the fabric in my stash, and I had some swedish tracing paper, and I had a Burda catalog with a simple shell pattern.

    It was very simple, actually. I would even go so far as to say that swedish tracing paper is QUICKER to cut out than paper. You don't have to be careful with it, it doesn't need ironing, and it'll last forever.

    So, now do I trace patterns all the time? Nope, I still use paper. But, I'm ready to try Ottobre. Frankly, Burda & Ottobre offer more casual clothing than the Big 4. If I want a well-fitting hoodie, they have it. If I want a fitted blouse, I'll stick to paper patterns.

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  63. I have been a long-time subscriber to Burda. I use a few patterns here and there, but the one thing I like is that the fashions are a little more ahead of the trends than U.S. patterns, and because Burda is the most readily available magazine of its type in the U.S.

    I use tissue over the top of the pattern to trace them, but I have often thought that using tracing paper underneath might be easier overall because the patter sheet (and tracing lines) would be easier to see.

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  64. I buy medical exam paper by the case from Amazon (just to say it's the same stuff Nancy's Notions carries and works out to be $3 a roll with free shipping for Prime customers). This paper isn't particularly transparent but I'm still able to easily trace my Burda patterns.

    When I'm stressed, nothing calms me down like studying that crazy sheet, finding my pattern, identifying the little marks, grainlines, etc. that also need to get traced and then working away.

    It's like bringing a little order out of chaos but I love that part of sewing up a Burda pattern.

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  65. Great question about which I also mused here (http://wp.me/p3hVHR-8t) some time ago. For me it is a NAY for the poor customer service!

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  66. Mega YEA to the pattern magazines. I have Burda, Knipmode, La Mia Boutique, and Patrones, though I've only sewn from Burda so far. What I like most about them is that the seam allowances are NOT included so you can alter the pattern to fit right at the seamline. Additionally, you can add whatever seam allowance you want right on the fabric. Burda is drafted for a larger cup and curvier figure - two additional pluses for me.

    To trace the patterns, I use tracing paper on top of the sheet and a regular pencil. The paper is thin enough to distinguish colors and sturdy enough for making adjustments. When one first looks at a pattern sheet, it does look confusing. However, when you are focused on tracing a pattern that is outlined in a specific color, your eye is immediately and always drawn to that color. For example, if I want to trace a skirt that is colored in green, I don't even see the other colors; my focus narrows to only the pieces and markings that are green.

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  67. I subscribed to Burda and Burda Plus for a few years and then dropped when the subscription price was raised and they cut the Plus to 2x a year. And I realized that most of the patterns seemed to be repeats, with minor variations. I never did sew anything, but with the favorable comments on the fit of their pants, I may have to move giving it a try up on the priority list.

    IIRC, the pattern pages have undergone a few transformations. Years ago (in the 70s and before?) they were much harder to follow than now. In the 80s-2000s they were simpler than now. I don't think the tracing will be an issue for me, I now trace all patterns due to the number of changes I must make.

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  68. This is what I thought all patterns were like for a long time. I learned sewing in school and we had subscription to several (Finnish) sewing magazines and when you knew what you wanted to do, you would search the stack of magazine to find your pattern. So, I always traced from these. We use pattern paper that I've heard in English to be referred to as Swedish tracing paper (it looks like baking paper, which you can also use) so it's see through enough to trace the correct lines.

    I always added the seam allowances only on fabric (I had a bit of a surprise with my first american pattern when I didn't read it carefully and just did normal tracing and it ended up quite big: I added my normal 1cm seam allowance on top of the 5/8"...). But I always trace my patterns. Even the US ones on flimsy paper... (I REALLY hate that flimsy paper, even my pattern tracing paper is sturdier).

    Also some people commented on the instructions. I don't know how it's been in other countries in Europe, but in Finland I think it's always assumed that you learned in school, or from your mother the techniques and the pattern magazines are just that: or they might have a regular segment about technique, where they describe something and you just look it up. And people tend to have a technique book if they sew a lot (the idea being that the technique and patterns are in separate publications). And I actually like that idea. In sewing I'm not bothered by the technique instructions in pattern books, but in crocheting and knitting I've stopped buying books because of this. I'm annoyed that I pay 20 € for a book that is half instructions (that I know or can look up) and only a few patterns however cute. Or that half of the patterns are simple accessories and nothing I really want to make.

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    Replies
    1. Swedish Tracing Paper is softer than baking (parchment) paper. It's more like interfacing. I'm told it can be sewn or even washed. I've only used it for tracing and an initial pin fitting before transferring the pattern to muslin.

      I prefer patterns with out seam allowances, too.

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  69. I love using Burda magazine patterns. I'm cheap so I use baking parchment to trace over the top of the patterns. As long as I've followed the size chart, the items usually fits me pretty well. I've yet to have to make any major alterations, but that might be because I'm a big fat scaredy cat of making alterations. :)

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  70. I grew up sewing with Vogue patterns, especially the designer patterns as I got into my 20's and 30's. I discovered Burda magazine, then Burda World of Fashion about 25 years ago. I loved them and I was already a good sewist so the transition was easier.. It helps if you are not tied to instructions since they are either in another language or they have minimal instructions.
    I love that they don't include seam allowances, I like to use different widths for enclosed seams and fitting seams.
    I trace with thin tracing paper on rolls. I use it in my work, so it was something I always have on hand. First though I find my sizes and mark them on the pattern sheet so that it is easier to find under the tracing paper. I use colored pencils for this so that it stands out.
    In Burda sizes, a size 48 is equivalent to an Americansize 38 in rtw. I compared an LMB men's size chart to Burda and it is based on the same size as Burda. However, the European sizes have less ease than the American pattern companies. Measure the pattern itself and compare to your measurements. If it's still too big it's easy to grade down one size. But I bet it runs smaller than American patterns. I'd love to know.

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  71. I've never done this, but if I really hated tracing, I would try to find a large format copy place. I don't think that making one copy for one's personal use for the purpose of preserving the original would be a copyright violation.

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    1. I checked into this option . . . the pattern pieces overlap each other so you need at least two copies, often more. At approx $7US per grey-scale copy, that gets expensive.

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  72. I have a subscription to Burda and Patrones right now and check the mail excitedly at the end of the month for my magazines. I also buy the occasional issue of Manequim Magazine on eBay which often has some incredible designs in it that are very fashion forward! I also have a Knip Mode that I searched the Amsterdam airport for during a layover and a La Mia Boutique from the same trip. Out of all those magazines the pattern sheets of Manequim are the craziest but I loved their designs so much it was also the first magazine I traced a pattern from and it was so much easier than I thought it would be. I also have tons of the big 4 patterns and a range of independent patterns and quite a few vintage patterns that i trace off, and like another commenter said its nice to know that I can always find something in my stash of patterns and magazines for any occasion. For example if I ever have a super fancy formal occasion to go to I have an issue of Manequim with the pattern for Naomi Watts gorgeous modern asymetrical silver Oscars dress from this years Oscars as well as a ton of other amazing patterns in it.

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  73. Do do some from Ottobre which imo are easier to trace then Burda. I like some of the Burda styles but I buy them as pdfs. I'd rather tape then trace I guess.

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  74. I have used the Burda magazines (before I learned to draft my own patterns) and also Octobre and one they used to have here in Oz for kids clothes. I just used a tracing wheel with paper underneath (butcher's paper even old newspapers) and then cut along the impression left by the wheel - no need for tracing paper. They are great value for money and sewing without a set seam allowance can be really useful at times.

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  75. I love European magazine. Tracing! Yes, tracing, that's what you do. All the patterns are color coded and have a sheet numbers. The sizes you will find in the insert too. They could differ from American.
    I also like to add my own seam allowances.
    I love those patterns, they fit me better too. Anyone who could easy part with their magazines, please send them to me! I will give them a loving home!
    ~Iryna

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  76. Burda has lovely plus sized patterns. So far I have 7 magazines and have traced and cut exactly 1 pattern. While a bit dizzying (I have vertigo), it was easy enough. My main complaint, as with all print at home patterns; I hate the taping or stapling part (I'll get over it one day). Other than that, I definitely think it's worth it for not only the price but also the styles (European plus fashion sometimes has that extra UMPH!). :) I definitely don't mind buying them even though I may not use them for the next decade. :)

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  77. YAH! you get more patterns for your NZ13.50, and I like the Burda patterns - remember they don't include seam allowances. I trace them onto frost cloth, which is a woven translucent cloth bought in garden centres and The Warehouse for about $10 per roll of 25 metres, 1 metre wide. It's easy to work with and you can write on it or even baste pieces together to see if they will fit you. If you trace the pattern sheets with a tracing wheel and carbon, you might end up with a pattern sheet in pieces so I recommend tracing onto paper/cloth with a thin sharpie. Tracing also lets you become familiar with the pattern; I don't mind the extra time spend on it. I love your blog!

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  78. Definitely Yay! Here in Serbia, where I live, Burda Style was the only source of patterns for a long time. Now we have the Italian La Mia Boutique, and, if I'm not wrong, Ottobre, too. I have a small stash of the Spanish Patrones.
    From my point of view, you get a bunch of patterns for cheap. For example, we pay 3 euros ($5)per issue for the magazine, while a single pattern can cost up to 15 euros ($20), and you get at least 20 patterns in multi sizes.
    I don't mind tracing, and I actually like that patterns are given with no SAs, since I like seeing the seamline. I use several methods, depending on a paper I have. Most often I use the endless printing paper, since I have a lot of it in my stash. It's durable, and it's enough see through to see the pattern line when you place it over the pattern sheet.
    The alternative method is with a tracing wheel and paper from old newspapers (it's cheap and eco friendly). I usually put some thicker cloth (some thin blanket, for example) on a table first. Then I put the newspaper and the pattern sheet on top. As I roll the tracing wheel over the pattern, it leaves slight perforation on all of the paper layers (it doesn't tear off the paper or the pattern sheet, don't worry). Finally, I trace the line with a felt pen, following the perforations on the newspaper.

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  79. YAYYY!!!
    I'm italian and the patterns we can find are (almost) only the ones in Burda or La Mia Boutique.
    Basically, in Italy the first lesson is about learning to sew and the second lesson about tracing patterns from magazines.
    I think they are not so easy to trace but for around €5 you get a lot of patterns in a lot of sizes and if you sew for others it gives you a good choice.
    Now I live in England and I'm starting to use single patterns, but to me they seems really expensive (a Butterick's dress pattern for £7?) compared to Burda.
    I keep buying Burda here, maybe not every month, but it's a felling of "home" for me lol.

    For tracing the patterns i usually use the big window of my living room: sellotape for the pattern sheet and pattern pater on top. At the end I can't fell my arms but it's ok.

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  80. Give tracing a shot. There are some nice details/nice cut to some of the patterns. I use a roll of artist's tracing paper from Flax. As a graphic designer, I'm LOLing about the model in blue - photoshop horror hall of fame!

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  81. Yeah, although I've almost gone blind tracing the patterns. And I have the time to do this now. The magazine isn't available in stores where I live, so the only option is to buy a subscription, which is pretty pricey in Canada. Luckily, I discovered that my library carries this magazine. That's great, because some issues have nothing that I like, whereas others have many items I want to make.

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  82. Peter, on Euro sizing, this isn't definitive, but will help you figure it out. http://www.lexiophiles.com/english/clothes-sizes-us-vs-italy

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  83. My favorite magazine is Threads, but I don't subscribe. I just pick it up at the store once in a while if I find something in it to make it worth owning.

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  84. Swedish tracing paper, Ottobre magazine (women), highlighter for tricky tracing and I'm off and running!

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  85. Just catching up after a week away from my computer and you've made the almost perfect blogpost for me to ask whether you've ever looked at Australian Home Journal magazines. They're available on eBay (and probably Etsy but I haven't looked there) dating back to the 20s, but mostly from the 40s, 50s and some 60s issues. Each magazine has at least two, sometimes three paper (but unprinted) patterns and instructions as well as pictures of other patterns. Do you have any of these? (The magazines are a fun read too!)

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  86. i'm coming late to this party, but thought i should say a few words, too.. i actually sew only using burda patterns (if i'm not drafting my own patterns), and it was the only option for years in my corner of the world (i live in serbia).. i trace my patterns with tracing paper (or baking paper sometimes).. it's not that bad, once you figure it out (gets much worse when you work with vintage burda magazines, where even more lines are printed on one sheet, and all the lines are in black color).. nowadays i can get other company's patterns online, but i still prefer burda (main reason being that burda does not include seam allowance, and cause i'm used to it, i prefer it that way)

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  87. Okay, why don't they have this magazine in stores where we live?

    I find the Burda Magazines do odd things with ease, but once I started sewing again, I broke into my mother's 80's Burda stash... apparently, it wasn't in fashion to have clothes fit back then, but the patterns seem of a higher quality, so I've been using those - generally going down a couple of sizes.

    My favourite sewing magazine is Knipmode, even if the Dutch breaks my brain on a good day. There's also a Danish magazine, Sy Magazine, which has especially good children's clothes.

    The trick to tracing off of these enormous sheets of paper is, in my honest experience, to do it on the floor in plenty of light, to use a blunt, soft pencil on pattern paper or baking paper, and to not worry too hard about sticking to the lines all the time, because it's a lot easier to cut long straight/softly curved lines than it is to draw them with a pencil.

    Also, I find it helpful not to use a full cup of coffee as a paperweight. Just in case anyone out there is as silly as I am.

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