Burdastyle patterns do not come with seam allowances. In some ways this is a good thing – you have to trace them and it’s a lot easier to check that all the traced pieces match up without the seam allowances getting in the way. You can also add exactly what seam allowance you want. I can see that using different allowances in different places can be a really good thing – you can avoid having to trim seams around facings for one thing – although I’ve not yet been brave enough to try this in practice.
However at what point in the process do you add the actual seam allowances? On the paper pattern tracing, or do you just place the pattern down on the fabric and add them at that point? The odd photo of the sewing process that I have seen in the magazine implies that you’re expected to add them on the fabric but not the pattern. I find this is rather fiddly and not very accurate. Having just traced a couple of Burda patterns without adding allowances I was wondering if there was a shortcut. I was in John Lewis looking for a zip, and found this nifty little device.
It is made by Prym although I can’t find it on their website. Nor has Googling found me any suppliers selling it. It has three settings for seam allowance – 1.5cm, 2.5cm, and 4cm. The marking end is just a regular chalk wheel (one of my favourite sewing gadgets) and the other side is a serrated wheel that you run around the edge of your pattern.
I haven’t tried it out for real yet because I’m currently sewing a muslin using a fabric that is far too pale for white chalk to show on it. However experiments on scraps suggest that while it’s not as accurate as adding proper allowances to the paper pattern, it’s a useful tool on a stable fabric. It’s completely unusable on a stretchy knit, but that’s not a great surprise.
Having said all that, I went and retraced my original pattern adding seam allowances in the end and used that for the muslin – if I’m going to the bother of making a prototype and fitting it then I don’t want to risk introducing any inaccuracies!