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Pattern sheets

Today I had to revert to the pattern sheet of my blouse, because I had forgotten a marking on the yoke where the sleeve top should match. It reminded me of the fact that the pattern sheets are more crowded with lines since this month’s BurdaStyle  (someone else already wrote about it, forgot who, sorry). There are 4 sheets, labeled A-D now when there used to be 8 (A-H). I must say that I really didn’t notice it when tracing the pattern earlier this week, it’s still clear enough to me. Could be because in the more distant past at the time I learned sewing, the pattern sheets weren’t clear at all.

I thought it would be nice to share how pattern sheets were in the past. When I took out an old pattern sheet from a 1965 issue of Marion (a magazine like Knip mode today) I even wondered how my mother or grandmother got to sewing at all, they’re so confusing.

A pattern sheet from the April 2010 issue of BurdaStyle. Though more lines, the pattern pieces can be seen.

Burda issue from 2009, less intersecting lines.

Here’s 1984, only red and green, difficult to make out specific pattern pieces here (and how lucky women are seldom color-blind, my dh wouldn’t see the difference). And I do remember tracing wrong lines regularly at the time, usually you found that out quick enough, because it made no sense where a line was going.

Marion 1965! Only black lines and only one size. If I understand it right you could order other sizes, and of course pay for them.

Complaining about Burda’s instructions nowadays? When opening the patternsheet I noticed two measurements taken down by either my mother or grandmother for this outfit.

This drawing below was all that you got as instructions. The plus/minus indicates which lines you would have to trace for this pattern on the sheet, there’s a line drawing and a cutting layout. Nothing more. How you would put this together was entirely up to you.

Must ask my mother whether this was made and by whom, the numbers written down are for a waist and back length measurement I think. In 1965 I was only 4, so this was not for me.


  1. Holy Cow Sigrid! I read on the PR Boards that the April edition was a maze. But, the comparisons really show that! And, the older patterns quite frankly scare me a little :)

  2. What a great history lesson! Thank-you!

  3. OMG! I don't think I'd love Burda as much if I had to deal with that pattern sheet! I think I'd better stop complaining so much!

  4. Wow! I have a hard time tracing the easier Burda...the new ones make my eyes hurt and the older ones well forget it I would never have sewn! I think I will now say a prayer of gratitude to the Big 4 pattern company!

  5. OK time to stop complaining about burda! I don't know if I would have started sewing with them if they had looked like the early ones! I was very definitely spoiled by vogue.

  6. that last comment was mine, don't know why it showed up as anonymous.

  7. A really interesting post! You are right we don't have too much to complain about when you look at those photos.

  8. This makes my eyes hurt! Great post...

  9. I can't imagine sewing with those older pattern sheets (I don't think I would). Thank goodness they are easier now.

  10. How interesting! I love that suit your mother or grandmother may have made. Very 60's.

  11. I'll comment in English. Nice post! Last week I compared a recent Knipmode with one from 2005, that was a big difference too! I really like their pattern sheets as the size and paper is so much more convenient than with Burda. I have some Marions from the sixties as well (bought them through marktplaats I think), so lovely to just look through. Wonderful that you have them from your family. My grandmother still has some old Marions and Knips she told me, but I haven't seen them yet. It will be great to look through them and hear what she made.

  12. I remember those early 1980's Burda magazines. The pattern sheets were a nightmare. This was my introduction to Burda Mode. The instructions were also not as clear as they are today, and I didn't have today's cool gadgets to add seam allowances, but I managed. :)

  13. What a great comparison, thanks! Actully I think the sparse "instructions" from 1965 would suit me just fine - that's all I use anyway when I sew from pattern magazines not in my language, like KnipMode, Patrones, and La Mia Boutique! In fact, I swear the pattern sheets for Manequim magazine look a lot like the 80s Burdas.

    I'd love to see more of that 1960s pattern magazines if you get the time, too!

  14. Patrones used to be a jumble like that. They have improved quite a bit over the past couple of years. I have some older German pattern magazines (1950's) like the vintage ones you showed and they're just about the same - a little text and many pattern pieces must be extended to the proper length.

  15. I have some Marions from the 1970s my mother used to sew from, and I agree, people complain about the new Burdas but back then they had limited sizing, lots of black lines, and virtually no instructions. I think they assumed everyone was trained in sewing.

  16. The 1984 and 1965 sheets give me a headache just looking at them! And why do I think that the real reason that they changed to an easier-to-follow layout is that the person in charge of the pattern sheets came to the US to design the urban "freeway" systems found in our big cities? And then they couldn't find anyone new to do such a job? Did the 1984 sheet also have one size?


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