Ninety-five percent of the patterns I sew are Burda - either the envelope patterns or the WOF magazine patterns. I’ve convinced myself I get a better fit with Burda than with other pattern companies because I can make a garment with minimal, if any pattern adjustments. As I was skimming through “Fit for Real People” (Palmer & Alto, 2005) and I noticed Chapter 26: Pattern Company Basic Bodice Comparison. Palmer & Alto say, “We have heard may sewing authorities talk about how one company fits better than all of the others.” That is the way I feel about Burda, but Palmer & Alto disagree. They say, "The only way this could be is if all bodies were the same. Only then could you analyze patterns to find the best fitting brand." (p 249) Palmer & Alto compared the basic bodice patterns of Vogue, Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity and Burda. They used Vogue as the control and compared all other brands to it by placing the bodice pieces on top of each other and comparing the differences. For all intents and purposes, the bodice pieces were the same. Burda patterns differed from Vogue on more points than the others. The differences, however, were in the depth of the darts. When the darts were sewn, those differences disappear. To further defend their assertion, Palmer and Alto show the bodices sewn in the same fabric, using the same size pattern on one model on the same day (p. 21). The fit is more similar than different.
So, why do I remain so committed to Burda? The difference must be in the design ease. According to Palmer & Alto, “The need for alterations depends on the pattern design. Fitted patterns require more alterations than fuller designs” (Well, duh!) Maybe Burda’s design ease matches my body more closely than the Big Four. More likely, I’ve been playing a numbers game with myself. Burda’s European numbering system is less meaningful to me and doesn’t carry the same emotional charge. Burda’s size 38 is more random than the American size 12. (Of course, if I wore size 12, I wouldn’t have to play this numbers game with myself, now would I?) What I need to do is get over my size issues, compare my measurements to an American pattern company and select the size. Then I could objectively compare Burda’s fit with the other pattern company’s fit and probably find an American size that requires the same minimal pattern adjustments as Burda. And then, the pattern pool from which I could choose would be four times larger!