Is Burda dumbing down?
I’m a big fan of Burda Style magazine. I started buying it in 2009, and eventually got a subscription. I don’t make something out of every issue but I think I get my money’s worth.
Burda has a rating system for their patterns which uses dots. It seems to combine both difficulty and time, so one dot is ‘quick and easy, great for beginners’, one-and-a-half is ‘Easy to sew with simple features’ and two is ‘Easy to sew but more time-consuming’. The highest rating is four dots, the description of which is ‘Challenging, detailed, and time-consuming – for pros’. Those almost never appear in the magazine; I think there are five such patterns in my whole Burda collection, including the glorious Karl Lagerfeld jacket pictured below.
When I started out, two dot patterns were about the hardest I could contemplate making. These days I’d tackle a three dot pattern (‘Intermediate difficulty, for advanced learners’) without a qualm and have even managed to make a three-and-a-half dot dress. But I’ve been thinking there have been fewer difficult and detailed patterns in the magazine lately, and an awful lot of one and one-and-a-half dot sack dresses. Now it’s possible for a one dot pattern to be great, and I can think of at least one example in the amazingly simple and versatile 105-05-2010 – my version’s below and there are many others on Pattern Review. But in the main I find the very simple patterns a bit dull and they certainly seem to be multiplying.
So I set out to check if Burda really is sneakily reducing the difficulty level of the patterns. I worked out the average dot rating for the issues in my collection, skipping patterns for children and accessories, and plotted a graph. (Argh I just noticed my y-axis label’s fallen off the plot. Sorry. Also I deliberately didn’t start the y-axis from zero.)
And actually, although it looks as though there’s a slight downwards trend, there’s so much variation that I don’t think there’s any real evidence that the patterns are getting easier. (No I didn’t do a proper regression analysis or anything like that. I could have, but that would have involved getting out a stats textbook to remind myself how to do it properly. You may call me a lazy slacker if you like.)
I’m putting the impression of easier patterns down to the extra editorial emphasis that’s been placed on them in recent issues. They get a special ‘Easy’ flag in the ‘All Styles at a Glance’ pages and there’s always an ‘Easy sewing’ section with very detailed instructions for one of the patterns in the magazine in addition to the ‘Sewing course’ pattern each month.
What do you think? Has Burda got easier? And even if it hasn’t, what sort of patterns do you prefer to find in it?
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Tags: Burda, Dressmaking, maths, Patterns, Sewing