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Which Sewing Pattern Magazine?

21 April 2010, 15:56

There have been quite a lot of people wondering about the various sewing pattern magazines out there and which they should buy or subscribe to. Since I’ve been primarily sewing with pattern magazines over the last few years, I thought some of you might appreciate my opinions on the major pattern magazines (and no, I’m not getting any kickbacks or referral money from any of these links, if it wasn’t obvious!).

For all of these magazines, you receive a glossy magazine with lots of nice photos of models wearing the various designs, and there will be a section containing the technical drawings, instructions, and fabric layout for each design. Patterns are included in a special folded bunch of papers (usually stapled in the centre so you can pull them out easily without damaging the rest of the magazine). The patterns come in a variety of sizes, but none of these contain seam allowances and you need to trace them off the sheets provided.

I trace my patterns using a serrated tracing wheel and brown kraft paper, but many others prefer to use tracing paper and pencils. I add my seam allowances when I cut out my fabric by simply cutting 5/8”/1.5cm away from the edge of my paper pattern, but there are double tracing wheels available to do this for you.

You’ll see that most of these magazines are printed in languages other than English. I personally speak only very basic Spanish and a bit of conversational French, neither of which are particularly helpful when it comes to sewing terminology. I honestly do not think that language is a huge barrier when it comes to sewing patterns – you can always figure out the important things (front, back, side, skirt, zipper, lining, facing, pockets, and fabric types) from Google Translate, and then look at the pattern pieces and technical drawing and see similarities between patterns you do have the instructions for, either in envelopes, online, or in sewing books. For instance, a jacket is nearly always sewn with the same steps, or a pair of trousers, or a knit top. After you’ve been sewing a while, you start to see that items are sewn in the same order time and time again and you won’t actually need the instructions for the most part anyway. Or if all else fails, ask myself or one of the sewing messageboards for help!


Ahhh my first magazine love, but the designs are getting really pedestrian/boring lately, so I’m letting my subscription lapse and only buying single issues if they up their game. A few years ago, I honestly couldn’t comprehend sewing without them, but the new editor has made some bad decisions, IMHO. In the last issue they also condensed their pattern sheets to an extreme degree, so they’re much more difficult to trace than in previous years. This actually doesn’t bother me as much as it does other people, because if a pattern is good enough, I’ll do just about anything to sew it, but frankly, the patterns have just been so “blah” so I haven’t even tried the new sheets yet. But if you like the designs and the pattern sheets don’t put you off, the drafting in their magazines is second-to-none, and the fit is truly superb. Their instructions are infamous for being mostly incomprehensible, even if they are in your native language, though!

Burda magazine is published in a huge number of languages, including English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, and Dutch. They also publish a “Burda Plus” magazine with only plus-sized patterns, and a “Burda Easy Fashion” magazine which has more youthful styles and is published in German, Dutch, French, and Russian (but not English) [thanks, lauriana, Julietta, & Olga!].

Note: I’m only speaking about Burda magazine here, aka “Burda World of Fashion”, “Burda WOF” or (to be really confusing, thanks!) “Burda Style” magazine. I’m still happy with Burda envelope patterns and BurdaStyle website download patterns!

See loads of my Burda magazine projects here
Subscribe to Burda magazine here


I’ve bought every issue for the past few years, and recently they’ve been getting REALLY good. My two favourite pairs of jeans are theirs, and I’ve sewn probably more KnipModes than Burdas in the past year. I’ve not had any problems with their drafting, though I’ve been warned to only sew the ones that they’ve made up a sample for (ie: not the designer knockoffs). Despite featuring tons of readers and “real women” as their models, I think they’re more fashion forward than Burda right now. They also offer the widest size range of any of the other pattern magazines (all regular patterns are 34-46, plus is 44-56).

KnipMode is written in Dutch and they also produce a bimonthly children’s pattern magazine, “Knippie” (formerly “Knippie idee”), and a biannual collection of Plus sized patterns in the magazine “Knip XL” [edit: ah, apparently Knip XL is no longer being published, thank you Rose, Laura & lauriana!]

See loads of my KnipMode magazine projects here
Read my post all about subscribing to KnipMode here
Buy individual KnipMode issues here

La Mia Boutique

Their designs used to be downright bizarre (think D&G’s Italian brand of weird), but recently they’ve become infinitely more wearable than they used to be, and feature a lot of interesting designs. The draft seems good, though I need to sew one size smaller than the size chart suggests to get a fit on par with Burda. I’ve just picked up a 6 month subscription to test it further. They include a lot of designs that teenagers would be happy to wear, in addition to stuff I’d wear, too.

La Mia Boutique is written in Italian but is also newly produced in French under the title “Ma Boutique”, and periodically in Russian too. They also create a quarterly(?) Plus sized pattern magazine, “Taglie forti”, and occasional children’s and bridal pattern magazines.

See my La Mia Boutique magazine projects here
Subscribe to La Mia Boutique here (Note: I do not recommend ordering single issues from this shop. You will not receive your magazine – they’ll take the money and refund it a few weeks later. Apparently they’re better with 6 or 12 month subscriptions)
Or subscribe to La Mia Boutique here


Home of the designer patterns including designs from Prada, Gucci, Jil Sander, Dolce & Gabbana, et list goes on…) but they had a rough patch last year where they dropped the designer names and made their instructions really user un-friendly, but they’ve clearly listened to reader complaints and switched back to the good instructions and brought back some of the designer names. The size range is limited (only three sizes in the regular range per issue), but the fashions are cutting edge. I personally avoid the summer month issues because there’s too many shorts and skimpy clothes for English weather [ahem, not “winter”! thanks, Susannah!], but their Fall/Winter “Extra” editions are MUST-buys as their coats are FABULOUS. Best coat draft ever, but beware the tiny sleeves if you’ve got anything other than stick arms.

Patrones is written in Spanish and is 12 magazines per year, but with different distinctions under the title: “Ninos” is children’s designs, “Extra” has a ton more patterns, “Vacanes” is holiday/vacation wear, “Joven” is more youthful styles, and there are a few holiday issues thrown in, too, that have more glitzy formalwear.

See my Patrones magazine projects here
Subscribe to Patrones here
Buy individual Patrones issues here or over here.

Ottobre Woman

I’ve never sewn with them because I’ve never seen a design of theirs that I didn’t already have elsewhere, or that I’d actually want to wear. I personally find a lot of the designs to be dowdy, but others may see them as nice basics. Those who do sew from Ottobre are very complimentary about their drafting and instructions. From what I’ve seen of the pattern sheets, however, they make the new compact Burda sheets look like heaven.

Ottobre is mainly a children’s pattern magazine, but they publish “Ottobre Woman” twice a year which is entirely women’s sewing patterns. It is published in Finnish, English, German, Dutch, and Swedish [thanks, Laura!]

Subscribe to Ottobre and buy individual issues here


Prima (UK) is a standard women’s magazine, but they feature one sewing pattern in each issue. If you’re a subscriber you get the patterns alongside your magazine, but if you buy it on UK newsstands, you must ring a premium-rate number to have the pattern shipped to you (it works out to be around a pound or two on your phone bill). Manequim magazine (Brazilian, written in Portuguese), is just amaaaaaazing but near impossible to get a hold of. Or the Dutch FIMI magazine, which is quarterly (or biannual?) and contains about 30 basic designs (and is now apparently combined with “TopKids” magazine [thanks, Laura!]. Or Mrs Stylebook, a Japanese magazine with drafting instructions rather than patterns to trace [thanks, dris!]

[b]Edit: Since writing this article, I’ve since gone and subscribed to Manequim Magazine! You can find out how to subscribe to Manequim magazine at the end of this post.

I hope these have been useful for those of you who’d like to step outside the limited fashions available in envelope patterns. Or if you’re also a pattern magazine junkie, which are your favourites?

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  1. “I personally avoid the summer month issues because there‚Äôs too many shorts and skimpy clothes for English winter”… A Freudian slip for “English weather”, perhaps?

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been marveling at your secret insider access to exciting foreign pattern sources, and you’ve broken down what’s out there wonderfully!

    Susannah    Apr 21, 04:30 PM    #
  2. Hm, I’ve managed to kick my magazine habit about two years ago, but I can still be tempted by good designs (I’d love to get my hands on any of the southern ones). Just a few notes on the Dutch magazines (doesn’t make much difference for you, but I know there are more Dutch regulars here): Burda Easy fashion is also published in Dutch and has few patterns, but the advantage of elaborate instructions and pattern-envelope style pattern sheets, Ottobre also appears in Dutch as well. I own one issues of FIMI, which is biannual as far as I know, and I don’t recommend it. The designs may look nice but the sizing is a bit sketchy (S-M-L) for all designs and the drafting seems to match that. Knipmode is big in the Netherlands, but most Dutch seamstresses I’ve spoken to about magazines agree that you tend to be either a Knip- or a Burda-woman. Burda tends to draft for women with rather well defined bust, waist and hips, Knipmode making their patterns more ‘flat’. Individual experience may vary, of course.

    lauriana    Apr 21, 05:23 PM    #
  3. I am working through my first garment sewing project ever, and I chose the Maryy dress from Burda to start with…and their instructions are about to reduce me to tears. Good to know I’m not a moron and that they aren’t the greatest!

    Stacy Marie    Apr 21, 05:32 PM    #
  4. Thanks for the in depth review! I wish I joined on the pattern magazine bandwagon much sooner! These are great! _

    Angela    Apr 21, 05:40 PM    #
  5. I fully agree with you on Burda, I’m thinking of stopping my subscription. Also agree that you hardly need the written instructions. I have yet to try La Mia Boutique (bought one issue which doesn’t have much to my liking) and like Patrones very much. For a long time I stayed away from Knip Mode, but yes, they do have some great designs nowadays.

    Sigrid    Apr 21, 06:38 PM    #
  6. I am disappointed with Burda lately too. But, I love their draft. I’ve made a few Knipmode, and I agree that lately they are getting much more cutting edge. I don’t feel as comfortable with Knip, maybe because the only things I’ve made are their designer things that they don’t make up and they seem to have drafting issues with those!

    Nancy k    Apr 21, 08:39 PM    #
  7. Thank you so much for those magazine reviews. I have sewn several BWOF’s and I agree that their magazine is going downhill fast. I am definitely dropping my Burda subscription, and I have been considering subscribing to knipmode. I have made one knipmode pattern by using google translate and it fit perfectly. I am intrigued by la mia boutique, but will probably go with knipmode. Is it possible to get a subscription to knipmode?

    Rachel    Apr 21, 08:43 PM    #
  8. I appreciate your summary of these magazine reviews. When I last checked (about a year ago), I was told that Knip XL was discontinued by the publisher. Have you heard differently? Thank you again. :)

    Rose in SV    Apr 21, 08:56 PM    #
  9. Great roundup post. I agree with Rose (hi Rose!) that last I heard, Knip XL was no longer planned for the future – they’ve got more plus patterns in the monthly mag now than they used to be, as you probably noticed.

    Also, I was doing some research on Fimi recently, and it appears that it is now been combined with TopKids (I think I’ve got that name right), and can only be purchased as a combined magazine.

    Oh, and Ottobre is also available in German, Dutch and Swedish as well as English and Finnish.

    There are some other pattern mags out there – Stoff-Art regularly sells one called Diana Moden and something else similar; I think one is plus and one is misses’, and are German.

    My favorite is Knip, although in a totally ideal world it would be available in English, because I’m not experienced enough yet to be able to go totally sans instructions on all but the simplest garments. I stick with it, though, because the styles fit with my aesthetic, and most importantly, they fit without many adjustments (I am so sick of lengthening and grading up in the bottom half and monkeying with ease from the big 4 I could scream).

    Laura    Apr 21, 09:15 PM    #
  10. thanks for a fabulous review of these mags. I agree with the Burda comments. I’m wondering about my subscription too…

    I’m in Australia and haven’t seen Patrones or Knip or La Mia in the shops here. Is it easier to find these mags in London? I’m going to be in London for work in June and am planning a raid on Goldhawk Road (thanks for your info on that too!). It seems like a good chance to pick up a few of these other mags on trial before i plunge in with a subscrtiption.

    — sewing elle    Apr 22, 01:06 AM    #
  11. What a great round up of the pattern magazines, I think this will really benefit a lot of people :) Like you and alot of other commentators I agree with you on Burda, I have just subscribed for one more year only because I found a super cheap way to subscribe (direct through their website) and I have also noticed a few repeats in the short time I have been purchasing this magazine. Right now I am totally in love with Patrones, the patterns are super fashion-forward and I love almost the entirety of each issue, if Burda does not pick up after this year I would be happy to only receive Patrones. I also bought a 6-month sub to LMB after buying a really good single issue off of ebay (Dec 09) but the two I have received so far were very disappointing imo, the models are waif thin with far too much makeup on and the clothes hang off of them, they rely more on the models shape than structured garment construction. I prefer patterns with great seaming and darts so unless things change in the next 4 issues I will not be renewing.

    — kaitui_kiwi    Apr 22, 04:00 AM    #
  12. Sewing Elle – I buy my single issue copies of magazines from craftymamas.com.au They sell Knipmode, Patrones, La Mia Boutique, Ottobre and Burda.

    — Mischka    Apr 22, 04:18 AM    #
  13. About Knip for non-Dutch seamstresses: I’ve had a look at their site (www.knipmode.nl Dutch only, but ‘plus sizes’ is ‘grote maten’), and it is true, Knip XL isn’t shown there anymore (although they do some plus size patterns in each issue). You can now also order envelope patterns from them, the plus size ones are here: http://printmagic.grafiportal.nl/liveknipmode/index.aspx One other comment on Knipmode: it’s not very suitable for petite ladies. I’m between Burda’s 34 and 36 and Knipmode’s most recent update of its sizing dropped me off their charts. And they now use 1,72 as a standard height (instead of 1,68).
    One last thing: I made this list of sewing term translations on my blog a while ago, over here: http://petitmainsauvage.blogspot.com/2009/07/translating-sewing-terms.html and if you get in trouble with the Dutch instructions, feel free to contact me through the comments.

    lauriana    Apr 22, 06:55 AM    #
  14. Great overview of all available pattern magazine. I think you only missed Diana Moden, which is really dowdy. My pattern magazine addiction certainly started with BWOF but I have to admit that they are getting quite boring. As long as I find one garment in each issue it is still worth it for me but I might switch to buying only individual magazines. Also the Burdas easy fashion is getting boring but I have also seen that one in French. My current loves are Patrones and Knipmode. A Brazilian friend just brought me an issue of Manequim, I’m loving it but wonder what kind of underwear you can wear under most garments as the back or sides are almost always open. Still a great magazine and I hope to get my hands on more of them.

    Julietta    Apr 22, 09:06 AM    #
  15. Thank you SO much for this review and the links! I used to buy Neue Mode in the 1990’s but only recently got back into sewing. I have been using Japanese books / mags but they tend to be quirky rather than fashionable. I am off to explore the wonderful world of Knipmode!

    Roobeedoo    Apr 22, 03:15 PM    #
  16. I think I am the only one left who still likes Burda magazine! :) Perhaps it’s because I am not very fashion forward and enjoy the fact that Burda patterns fit me with minimal alterations. As for Patrones, after acquiring the Extra 272 (the best pattern magazine issue of all times and nations, btw), I bought a subscription last year (which I thought was way expensive, but I just couldn’t resist the “Patrones Charm”) . Of course, that was the time when Patrones started going down-hill, so in the last issue, there was maybe 1 or 2 patterns I would be evan remotely interested in sewing. So, I will not be renewing this subscription and will try to get individual issues from Ebay after reading your reviews (you always make me like my Patrones better than I did before your review :).
    Btw, Burda Easy Fashion is also available in Russian, in addition to German (per GLP news), not that most people here would find that very helpful.

    — Olga    Apr 22, 04:21 PM    #
  17. Thank you for an excellent review of the global magazine scene — here are my comments…

    1) I subscribed to Patrones through Global Magazines in NOVEMBER 2009, and have yet to receive a copy of the magazine, despite a ton of correspondence about it…
    2)Manequim was suprisingly easy to subscribe to — and I have received a first copy quickly — atdmexterior@abril.com.br was my contact in Sao Paulo, Brazil
    3) I agree with annother commenter about craftymammas — they provide great delivery for single copies.
    4) Additionally, Mrs. Stylebook is a Japanese quarterly sewing periodical. Good for petite women. Probably available through Kinokuniya — an Asian bookstore accessible on-line in the U.S.

    Thanks again!

    — dris    Apr 23, 03:25 AM    #
  18. Mischka – thanks for the craftymamas tip!

    — sewing elle    Apr 23, 04:44 AM    #
  19. This is a great resource for those of us who wondered if and how to get European magazines. I suggest you put a copy of this over on PR.

    — Becky McKee    Apr 26, 05:51 PM    #
  20. Thanks, this article was extremely helpful to me. I wear and sew plus size garments and am always looking for more stylish pattern sources.

    — ShereeSews    May 4, 02:10 PM    #
  21. Thank you so much for that review, it was exactly what I needed. I cancelled Burda as well, too many repeats and ?hello? we aren’t all into wearing tunics and ponchos anymore. Knip is also available in German (I live in Germany) but is well-nigh impossible to find. Their size chart is great for me-tall and not well endowed. I will check out la mia boutique. Thanks again!

    — Joan W.    May 28, 07:12 PM    #
  22. for those of you in australia, you can buy any of these mags at www.CraftyMamas.net. I just splurged after reading this review & bought all the latest mags to ‘test’ them out!

    — Marilyn    Aug 8, 09:49 PM    #
  23. Thank you very much for this review. I am a novice and find hard to get hold of good magazines…not any more



    — Tania    Sep 19, 10:49 AM    #
  24. If Burda is my husband, Patones is my toyboy )))) enough said

    juliette    Mar 6, 05:12 PM    #
  25. Hi
    Thanks for the overview.
    There is a Danish sewing magazine too, SYmagasin. http://symagasin.dk/Copy-of-side-1.22366.aspx

    — Charlotte    Oct 14, 09:02 AM    #
  26. I am a Brit living in Spain and have just bought a couple of Patones mags. The patterns look good, I just find it a bit of a pain having to trace them! I get fabric sent from the UK, it is very expensive here, so it is hard matching up patterns to the fabric I already have!

    Sandra    Jun 12, 08:01 AM    #
  27. Just to let you know you can now buy back issues of Burda going back to 2009 from my website www.patternpostie.co.nz I am happy to post overseas. Love your reviews of the sewing magazines!

    Bronwyn    Dec 30, 12:32 AM    #
  28. This has been incredibly helpful. Thank you! I recently stumbled into Burda & Manequim (bought one off ebay…LOVE it and I’m hanging for exams to be over so I can have a veritable sewing orgy). It’s good to know that I should add Mrs Stylebook and KnipMode to the list of things to wish for and track down.

    — Liz    Nov 14, 03:22 AM    #
  29. Thanks so much for these reviews! Burdastyle is easy to get here in Australia but I agree that the designs are getting a bit boring. I had never heard of Knipmode, La Boutique or Manequim, and I am going to check them out right now!
    Thanks Marylin for the tip on craftymamas.net too, will check them out.

    Laura    Feb 8, 10:53 AM    #
  30. This is a great article. You did miss My Image magazine from the Netherlands (they have an English version). They have cute really wearable styles. I just ordered some back issues but have not had a chance to make anything up as of yet. I think it’s worth checking into.

    — Mary Willemsen    Jan 21, 10:02 PM    #

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