Sewing for Me

Sewing a real Bavarian “Dirndl”

Diesen Post gibt es auch auf Deutsch!

Hello all!

It’s the end of September, and in Munich that means: Oktoberfest time! For those of you who don’t know: The Oktoberfest is a huge traditional beer festival that is held every September in Munich (don’t ask why it’s called Oktoberfest when it’s held in September, that’s a long story…). Anyway, Oktoberfest is one of the times where most Bavarians bring out their traditional clothes and wear their “Dirndls” (for the girls) and “Lederhosen” (for the guys). When I started sewing in the summer of 2015, I got it stuck into my head that I wanted to have a hand-made Dirndl. So I booked a course at one of our local sewing schools and embarked on the project with a meager 5 months of sewing experience…

Little did I know how difficult it is to make a traditional Dirndl! But maybe it’s good that I didn’t know, because I doubt that I would have enrolled into the course otherwise. On my first course day, I was in for a shock: I thought that we would all make a Dirndl together, with step-by-step guidance from the teacher. Instead it turned out that all the other participants had been taking the course for several consecutive semesters, and were all working on their individual projects by themselves, only occasionally asking for assistance. Ahem… Luckily, the teacher quickly noticed my confusion and came to my rescue. Together, we picked out the type of Dirndl that I wanted to make, and she helped me to construct it from her pattern blocks. I hadn’t worked from blocks before, only from bought patterns, so I learned a ton in the process.

Plus A LOT of traditional finishing techniques –  my teacher was a seasoned seamstress and not in line with cutting (sewing) corners. So hand-basting and –finishing it was. It took my three episodes of “House of Cards” alone to finish the skirt seam… but that massive amount of fabric makes for a nice twirl!

I also opted to include piping in all the bodice seams, making things even more challenging for me – but now I am a pro regarding piping ;-).  I am not sure if I would make a Dirndl by hand again – it is such a tremendous amount of work, and if I am really honest I only ever wear it at Oktoberfest. So not exactly an everday item. But I am happy that I got to make one and learn so much in the process. Plus, it makes going to Oktoberfest even more fun!

I wanted to honor this special project by taking the blog pictures with mountains in the background – so I extra packed the dress for a short trip to South Tyrol. When we wanted to head out to take the pictures, I realized that I had forgotten the little chain that goes onto the bodice at home. So no mountain pictures, but my in-laws garden it was! Without shoes, because this time I had brought the chain, but not my shoes… But well, sometimes you ‘ve just got to go with the flow! But I brought back a picture of the mountains anyway, just imagine me in front of them 😉. As the pattern for my Dirndl is self-drafted, there is no Flying Needle sewing blog summary today – but I’d love the hear about the sewing projects that make you proud!

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  1. Wow! This is incredible. What an amazing job you did!

    1. Melanie

      Thanks, Let’s get sewing!

  2. Diane

    Wow, it’s so beautiful! I especially love the detail around the neckline.

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