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BWOF -is there nothing to dislike?

BWOF receives a lot of praise these days, and as you know, I love BWOF patterns. When I started browsing the internet and found Pattern Review and the first sewing blogs, BWOF was not mentioned a lot, as I remember it.
On Dawn's blog I left a comment, saying that when I started sewing again for myself, I was a bit envious of all US ladies who could get their "big 4" patterns so cheap. The envy has faded away after a few disappointing results.  Mind you, I'm not saying I'll never use a big 4 pattern again (I've got a few in my stash that I want to try), but am more critical of whether the extra money I have to pay for these is worth it.

I'm happy I learned to sew tracing patterns, adding my own, in general smaller, seam allowances and using their short instructions (or just doing it my own way). BWOF and similar magazines like Knip Mode were the only patterns you could get here in the Netherlands when I learned to sew in the early 70's.

Is there nothing to dislike about BWOF?  Cidell said in a comment on my previous post, that the ease in coats is not large enough. That could be true, and I remembered I observed in my review for a jacket from the November 2007 issue, that I found it strange that the same pattern was used for a jacket and a coat, because of the jacket being close fitting. That's why I traced my BWOF coat a size larger than my usual BWOF size. I never actually have sewn a coat from BWOF yet.

My main dislike are the magazine pictures. Regularly the pictures just don't show what the pattern is about, you must use the line drawings to see that.
The line drawings are the most important part when deciding which patterns I like and want to make (usually more than I can actually sew). My BWOF subscription is worth every Euro I spend on it. I predict a lot of BWOF sewing for me in the next months (and 2 Jalie tees I'm expecting in the mail, my experience with these patterns is great too).

But: I would like the pictures to be better. A few examples.

Skirt with flounce, the model is really showing off the flounce, isn't she? Or is there something to hide in the way the skirt was made?
Jacket with pleats? Not to be seen in the picture. Collar only to be seen in the line drawing.
Magazine text: "Did you see the striped sleeve cuffs?" 

The total idea of the blouse is lost. It's a basic one, nothing wrong with that, they may show it. We all need those basics.
The picture of this jacket doesn't show collar style, the model has beautiful long hair, but this is not a hairdresser's advertisement.


  1. Agree completely! I always look at the line drawings. And it is amazing how similar a lot of the patterns are.

    I love Burda but wish all the tops started at size 34!! I'm a 36 bottom and just about all bottoms have size 36.

  2. I have to agree with everything you've said! Lately the website is showing better pictures of the patterns that are very helpful. I love Burda though, as the styles and fit are usually better than the big 4. I really hate the 'very easy Vogue' patterns that have such bad details and poor technique. Unless you are experienced enough to alter the finish details they are just guaranteed to have that 'loving hands at home' look! I used to be intimidated by the poor Burda instructions, but now that I've sewn so many, it has actually improved my sewing having to figure out how to do it better or a better order for sewing. The other thing that I hate about BWOF is that invariably I want to sew the piece that isn't a pattern, but rtw! I may not like all there is to BWOF, but I will be sewing more of these than anything else.

  3. I will be taking the plunge very soon and making my first BWOF pattern. (Seriously, I feel like I'll get kicked out of the sewing circle if I don't!) In the meantime, I wholeheartedly agree with you about the photos. Impossible to see the details! Vogue Patterns magazine does a much better job with its photo shoots.

  4. I like the more "artful" BWOF photos, but like you, I get my idea of how the garment actually looks (front and back!) from the line drawings.

    My only problem with BWOF is that many of the styles I like start at size 38. I need mostly a size 36 and in some areas need a 34. This means I need to grade down a size. It's not like I can't do it, it is just nice to trace, cut and sew!

  5. I recently received my second issue (ever) of BWOF, and althogh I've been frustrated by the pictures online, I thought they'd have better ones in the magazine -- Nope, same ones. I too look at the line drawings, and truthfully, I do that with the big 4 too, but with those it's generally secondary.

  6. I agree with you on this. I'm glad that they started putting better photos on the website, but it would be nice to have them in the magazine too.

  7. I'm a hugh fan of BWOF as well and I agree that we have to rely on the line drawings to make the decision if that pattern is for us or not. I actually spend more time studying the line drawings than looking at the pictures. I am from the US and prefer BWOF more than the big 4 or any US pattern. I find that my alterations in BWOF are minimal to the ones that have to be done with the big 4.

  8. You're so right. Just yesterday I spread out all my mags (7 so far), all open to the line drawings. Like Vicky, I have noticed how similar many of them are. The photos are like eye candy- and very inspiring to my DD's- especially the six year old. :-)

    Nancy K brought up a good point; I too often hope the RTW item is the pattern...

  9. i have always had a difficult time with the ease in bwof patterns. broad back, square shoulders! but their pants patterns are the bomb! the first pair i made i noticed the difference...that was when i first started 'really' looking a the patterns. 'fitting finesse' has a smart idea when choosing a pattern size. you just measure from armpit to armpit. that is a more accurate way to determine size vs bust.she says get the shoulders/neck to fit first and then alter for the bust. i went down a size....

  10. More agreement from me. I want to be able to look at the photos to see how a specific technique or style feature is supposed to look when finished. The line drawings don't help with that. I'm glad Burda is including some more detail photos on their webiste. I just hope they don't remove them in my lifetime because I'm keeping my magazines forever!

  11. I am with you, Sigrid, the pictures leave much to be desired. I usually look at the line drawing and say, "wow, that is the same garment?"

  12. I so agree! The pictures never make me want to sew anything. Only after I look at the line drawings am I interested.

  13. Yep, I agree with you too! I do really like the section in the front that shows all the clothes off the model and straight-on. Much easier to figure out what the things actually looks like when you see them that way. I really like that they group the line drawings in skirts, pants, dresses, etc. Makes it easier to compare details.

  14. Y'know its funny...I've been buying BWOF pattern magazines for over 10 years and I've only made 1 or 2 things from them. I know I should use them more but they are like a good fashion magazine that I hold my DD she regularly grabs them and finds something to trace and make!

  15. I totally agree. I actually flip to the line drawings first, then go to the pics to see the fabric choices and styling Burda chose.

  16. LOL! I couldn't agree more. I do like the Big 4 patterns though, because my time has been so short. I like both. The styles are different, so I see European magazines and US patterns as wonderfully complementary.

  17. Very interesting post and comments, seems we all feel the same way. like you when a key detail is hidden I often think that they are trying to cover up a mistake!
    the at a glance pages are so much better now they just show the clothes rather than thumbnails of the photos.

  18. Amen, I sign my name under everything you said! I learned how to sew from my neighbour's (a very skilled dressmaker) old Burdas. And I also pick the models I like from the linedrawings (mostly). The Burdamode website is showing both the model's pictures and pictures on a dressform, which is a good thingto be able to see some of the finished details.

  19. Hi Sigrid: I'm late to the party, I know. Just a little PWOF/PR history FWIW (I lurked at PR for months before I joined FoPR in Jan 03): I'd never heard of Burda so PR really was the best way to learn about sewing patterns that weren't sold in Big 4 outlets and many were excited and discussing their BWOF projects on the message board. But for the next few years it was really hard to post a review of a BWOF pattern there because of the site's programming. Deepika has since figured that out. But these days I don't read the message board often and am out of touch with what used to be a close, intense and much smaller community.

    Now we sewing fanatics have wonderful blogs so we can share! I think that's a good thing :)

  20. Whilst everybody's comments about Burda WOF are true...can I just add a positive...the extra effort with styling, accessories and especially shoes inspires me...I think these details are part of the reason that the clothes don't look homemade. Now I am also trying to up the ante with accessorising so that my sewing doesn't always look home-made either. The other thing I like is that often 2 photos of the same pattern look completely different, which encourages me to think beyond my first fabric choice as well as encourages me to revisit patterns I already have when I want a different look. In saying all that...I have only bought 2 magazines myself, the rest I have borrowed from my library (I'm loving that the library stocks them, but I would also love to meet the other person who always gets to them before me, to see what she is sewing!!)

  21. I agree. I think the magazine has gotten worse in this respect in the last year or so. I think older issues show design lines better. And some of the older issues even show front and back views. Current issues seem to focus on dramatic poses and don't seem to care if they "sell" the garments. Thank goodness for the line drawings, because I love their fashions

  22. Pretty late to the party, but I must mention how much I detest when they use RTW with a BWOF garment. I find myself looking at a garment and then being disappointed the pattern isn't in the magazine - naughty Burda!

  23. Another BWOF fan here! I agree about the photos - they are practically useless.


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