Monday, May 12, 2014

Burdastyle Magazine US: A Big Disappointment

Like many sewists, I was ecstatic when Burdastyle announced their United States edition of the Burdastyle magazine. I eagerly signed up for the yearly subscription, and received the Spring 2014 issue last week.

The Good
Unlike my Portuguese issue of Burdastyle magazine, the US edition is thicker, with a strong binding and pattern instructions printed on glossy paper rather than newsprint. The pattern sheet also feels thicker and sturdier. Instructions were printed in a larger, easier-to-read font. This is where the positives of the magazine end...

The Bad
Also unlike the international Burdastyle magazine, the US edition has much more advertisements and features. As a Public Relations student, I just see pages and pages of press releases translated into product placement; an example is the two-page spread on makeup and hair products. Really? If I wanted the season's "hottest hues and makeup musts," I'd read trash like Seventeen or Cosmopolitan. This issue also contained more advertisements than its international counterpart.

There are also no children's patterns included. Not that I have children, but if ever I have to make a Christmas or birthday gift, patterns would be nice to have.

Also, it appears that the US edition is merely recycling patterns that first appeared two years ago in the international issues. Why?

The Ugly
The cover beckoned with an enticing "20 Full-Size Fashion Sewing Pattern Insert, +23 more style to download!" and in the editor's note "43 original BurdaStyle designs." I delightfully found patterns that would work perfectly with my wardrobe, like the Cropped Cowl Top and the Tiered Mini Skirt. I scanned the instructions and was excited to see how easy these patterns were to sew up, but wait...where were the patterns? Not in the pattern insert, but online...for $5.99 each!

What? More than half of the patterns in the magazine must be paid for separately. To my understanding, the Winter 2013 issue included patterns with a free download code...why not in this issue, too? According to one blogger, buying all the extra patterns would total upwards of $130 per magazine!

As it is, the magazine is half glorified advertising--between the pages of pattern drawings, instructions, and photo spreads of patterns that must be bought separately and the irritating features.

The US edition is disappointing and misleading:  it took me an hour to realize that over half of the patterns weren't in the magazine and had to be bought separately. All 43 styles are featured in the "Styles at a Glance" section preceding the instructions. Why? Nowhere in the magazine does it say that 23 of the patterns must be bought separately.

As a Burdastyle customer, I feel extremely  tricked and cheated with Burdastyle's bait-and-switch. Burdastyle, this is not the way to treat a new market of customers. Very unoriginal patterns and deceitful wording...this is not worth the investment.

I promptly reached out to Burdastyle and had my subscription canceled because I did not want to pay all that money for only 20 patterns, and a magazine promoting all the other patterns I want. I'm considering subscribing to the UK version.

Do you subscribe to Burdastyle pattern magazines? What has your experience with them been?


  1. This is weird ! The french issue is not like this at all ! At least, it wasn't the last time I checked, but since I have a very big collection of Burda mag already I am trying not to buy it anymore. In my issues, the patterns are all included. There is usually some kind of beauty advice page though which I skip entirely, but it is not too distracting. I guess the french issue is more similar to your Portugese one. I wonder if it might not be exactly the same one only translated, actually. Since many people seem to be disgruntled by this, let's hope Burda US will step up their game for the next issue ! (And it is a monthly mag in France, is it not the case in the US ? I wonder since you write the "Spring issue" and not the may ou june issue.)

  2. You wrote an excellent post covering the aspects, or rather non-aspects, of this issue very well. I, like you, was 'ecstatic' to purchase the Spring 2014 BurdaStyle Magazine at a local bookstore, immediately wrote a glowing review before realizing the fradulent behavior Burda bestowed on its consumer through a comment left by one of my readers letting me know I could not have access to all 43 patterns without paying for 23 of them. It's hard to explain how all that felt. You might've felt the same way, to go from 'ecstatic' to 'disappointment' to 'angry' at Burda's, in my opinion, deliberate deceitfulness. After saying all this, I am considering subscribing to the international English version, but will never purchase a US Burdastyle Magazine again.
    P.S. Be careful with the international versions now, as I understand Burda has taken off the English written instructions for the patterns written in other languages from their website. You will not be able to access those for free through their website anymore.

  3. My boyfriend's grandma has been subscribing to the UK Burdastyle since the 90s or something, I have looked through her old magazines. I had a bit of a laugh at an old article in there about 'taking care of your decollotage'. I love the UK Burda, although Grandma, his mum and me often despair over the beautiful fabrics in there that we can't get here! I would definitely go UK anyday. It is in English so I assume it's the English version? I didn't realise there were so many versions!

    I can't believe they advertise the patterns when you have to pay for half of them! That is disgusting!