Burda Vintage, Simon Doonan, and Winter Get the Hell out of Here!

I’ll admit I’ve been cheating on winter by visiting warmer climes, and now that I’m back, I’m hoping a quick wrap-up post will get l’hiver to leave here. (By making it run from multi-lingual puns, apparently.)


While I was away from home and my dear Karl (once again he was really ticked not to come along), I did some quality beach reading, as you can see.

I’d been contacted by BurdaStyle about reviewing their new (to the U.S.) Vintage Burda Patterns Kit, with 11 downloadable patterns for vintage styles from their archives.

vintage kit

Some great designs, n’est pas? I decided to go for it, because when this collection was released in magazine form in Europe last fall, there was a great deal of on-line hubbub about it among my European sewing peeps. So much so, that I ended up ordering the English-language version of the Euro mag from GLP News.

The magazine is a fun read, giving background on the designers and fashion icons who inspired the collection:


Since the articles were written for a German audience, I have to say that reading an article about a 1950s German family driving through the mountains to go to Italy on holiday was a cultural eye-opener as an American. Basically we think we own the 50s, and we tend to picture post-war Europe as this sad, depressed place with old dresses and no rock ‘n’ roll.


As some of my pals in Europe started making up the patterns this winter, I could see what a great collection it was. Here’s Carmen, of the CarmencitaB blog, and winner of the French sewing bee show Cousu Main, with three of the makes from this series:

The “Fiore” Prom Dress, with skinnier straps and without what she called the “mother-of-the-bride” frou frou on the shoulders:

Carmen's dress frontBurda Fiore

(Here’s Carmen’s blog post about making the dress, which is a super rockabilly girl design, don’t you think?)

Here’s her hack of the “Kim” coat, which she turned into a hoodie for her Breton climate:

Burda_Kim_CapucheBurda Kim

And finally her version of the “Rosa” balloon jacket, inspired by Balenciaga.

Carmen's jacket backBurda Rosa

Here’s a completely different version of the Rosa jacket, by Claudine of the Rolling in Cloth blog. She’s always pushing the envelope with her beautiful makes, and she really scored with this one:

Claudine's jacket frontClaudine's jacket back

Unfortunately, the downloadable version of the collection available here in the States doesn’t include the fun and funky articles from the magazine. But it does includes a lot of great designs. As to the $29 price tag, for a collection that was available in Europe for less than $10, I’ll leave that math up to you. $29 is still a pretty good price for 11 patterns of this quality.

The downloadable version includes a photo, instructions, and pattern for each design. You can check it out here: Burda Vintage Collection. Here are some more looks from the collection:

Burda SweaterBurda SofiaBurda LolaBurda LBDBurda Beach Collection

My thanks to BurdaStyle for giving me access to this online collection so I could share this info with you.

My other beach reading was the hilarious book The Asylum: True Tales of Madness from a Life in Fashion by fashion maven Simon Doonan, another writer of which I’m completely jealous.

In a series of essays, Doonan explains why models start dumb and stay dumb, talks about how he got cult Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo to spend time at Fredericks of Hollywood, and illuminates why the Queen of England is always frumpy, because it’s impossible to be both “kind” and “chic.”

That concept is borne out in the new Disney movie “Cinderella,” which everyone must go to immediately, whether or not you have a child to go with, because the costumes are a tour-de-force of color and design. Costume designer Sandy Powell is a genius. I want to go sew on snaps for her.

Here’s Cinderella. Though she’s beautiful and “kind,” I’d argue that she’s not chic:


(There’s enough tulle in that dress to crinoline the entire rockabilly Hall of Fame.)

Cate Blanchett as the stepmother is most definitely “chic,” wicked, wicked chic:



Soft and kind/taut and chic.

There are a few exceptions to the chic/kind tradeoff, for example, Audrey Hepburn was both chic and kind. But there aren’t many.

Audrey Hepburn UNICEF

And speaking of chic, Karl Lagerfeld says that his pampered, social media savvy cat Choupette made THREE MILLION EUROS last year!


For that kind of money, I’d sit on Lagerfeld’s lap and purr, too. (Not that he’d be into it…)

Lastly, I wanted to say hello and welcome to the new readers who have joined Jet Set Sewing in the past several months. I get such a huge kick out of everyone’s visits and comments, so thanks to all of you for dropping by!

And I did finally get a chance to attend two exhibits featuring designs by Halston…the YSL/Halston exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the surprising “museum of Halstons” in the back of my sister’s closet! More on that later!

How’s your sewing going?


28 thoughts on “Burda Vintage, Simon Doonan, and Winter Get the Hell out of Here!

  1. Fun piece and I love this collection! Nice examples of the pieces made up, too. If I ever complete the items already on my list to make, I will definitely make at least a couple of these.

  2. While I’m not a new reader, I’ve enjoyed stopping by all winter. So, thank you for continuing to post!

    I didn’t know about Burda’s vintage pattern collection – what a great selection of old-school garments. My favorite is the red and black striped top. How great would it be in black and white Breton stripes?

    • Thanks so much, Maddie…I’ve enjoyed checking in on your pretty blog, too! I think that top is my favorite, too. Breton stripes are a great idea, or maybe Missoni-type sweater knits for fall.

  3. I wonder if I can get my hands on a copy of that MAG- the European version!… I love the little shorts romper with the overskirt… Beach reading sounds good! And I need to check out The Asylum! 🙂

  4. Thanks for the tour of the Burda collection, really too bad they are not releasing the print publication here. It sounds like a fun read. For $10 I’d buy it, for $29 I’ll skip the collection, but the Simon Doonan book sounds great. My next Kindle download. I recently read one of Betty Halbreich’s books. Fashion and craziness all rolled up together, much more entertaining than a murder mystery and no nightmares.

    • I wish Burda would release their monthly English language version here in the U.S.; it’s a lot better than the quarterly that they sell here. There are so many good pattern magazines around the world. I’d like to see more of them in the U.S.

  5. Ha! I liked the part about the cultural eye opener. Post-war Europe was bouncing back vigorously. Old dresses? Remember Dior launched the New Look collection in 1947! These Burda vintage patterns look pretty much like my mom’s 50s wardrobe.

    • I know, Marianne, it’s so funny how we “Cold War” babies in the U.S. viewed the world. That’s why I love the TV series “Mad Men,” because it really shows what it was like back then. And the costumes are great, too!

    • They did a great job telling the Cinderella tale without making it into a victim/rescue story, and the costumes are awe inspiring for the design, execution and character development.

  6. Thanks for this! I’ve been prowling for the vintage magazine, with no luck. Until now!
    I can get a copy of the monthly at Nancy’s Sewing Basket in Seattle, about $10 after tax. What’s nicer is that they let me paw through it a little for free!

    Sewing? Too many Regency costumes this week. Boooooring.

    • I wish I could find more of those European mags here. I think I found a European Burda once at the international news kiosk in Harvard Square, but we Bostonians don’t cross the river that frequently.
      As for Regency, Claire McCardell was big fan, so cut them on the bias and call them 40s.

  7. Thanks for the link to Burda Magazine. I use to get a copy here and there when I traveled at airport newstands. I’d like to know how the cat made that much money? I hope he is donating it to animal rescues and shelters. Looking forward to more details on the YSL/Halston exhibit.

    • Apparently Choupette was in several European commercials for which she (or he? or it?) received millions. Lagerfeld recently had his tween-aged godson walk the runway, so I’m guessing he’d market his own mother.

      • Karl L, I guess that is why I and many other refer to him as “The Prince of Darkness” – aging vampire. The money the kat makes should be donated to charity. There is a strange little kat on youtube, his name is LilBub and he has donated over 200K to special needs pets across the USA.

        btw, i am going to look at buying a 580 or 560 Bernina at some point and a 1008 Bernina mechnical. I would love to get the 950 industrial but I would have to purchase that used now they don’t make them anymore. You have had good luck with your sewing machine.

      • The one think I’ll say about Lagerfeld is that Chanel has bought up a number of the small companies that do things like feathers and beading for their haute couture, so they are keeping those artisans in business. As for my “Karl,” the B560, I highly recommend it! It’s a great all-around garment-sewing machine, and the even feed and stitch quality make such a difference. Not to mention the fantastic buttonholes! Karl never lets me down.

  8. Thanks for the Burda review. I’m always on the lookout for new style sources. How smart to escape the nasty northern winter. I hope it’s finally over.

  9. Thanks for the shout out Julie! That Burda Vintage issue was great! It’s also quite miraculous that I don’t have to tweak too much for it to fit me. Expect more from them on my blog!

  10. Choupette! I’m so glad to be half-Hindu, since I can have hope to be reincarnated as Choupette.

    Carmen, per usual, is right about the mother-of-the-bride shoulders. But, damn, that is a good Burda collection.

    • If Choupette has nine lives, this one is definitely the winner!
      I think you’d look good in the big “Roman Holiday” skirt from that collection. They’re so much fun to wear swishing around in the summer (I know from my New York days in the 80s…)

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