Clothing

Das fertige Dirndl / the completed Dirndl

I, my friends, have finished sewing my dirndl!!! I can’t tell you how excited I am to have a beautiful new dress to wear to the biergarten, and to be able to say that I made it myself.  The weather yesterday was unseasonably bright and warm, so I took the opportunity to take some pictures of my latest creation (thank you to my mom for taking the pics)!

My hard work paid off, but it has been quite the road to get here. We left off in my last post discussing the completion of the red bodice. From there I pleated, pinned, and sewed the back skirt panel onto it – I ended up having to completely remove this later in the process to adjust the waist. I’m glad this happened, because even though it took me longer, it meant that I was able to adjust the pleats to have a more flattering appearance. In the photos below you can see how the pleats are a little funky.

Next, I needed to attach the front skirt panels. But I really, really need POCKETS in my dirndl because every girl needs pockets in everything. Fact. So I made them out of red material to be cheeky, but had not intention of letting them show when I’m wearing the dress. So when the side seams turned out not to leave much depth, I added 4 inches of matching blue fabric onto the pocket sides, pinned and sewed them in. It was tricky because each side front panel had to connect to the back panel for about 4 inches, then come away to create the pocket, and then reconnect for the remainder of the skirt length. It was fun solving this puzzle, and as I have never installed pockets before I pinned everything a million times before I sewed to make sure that I was getting it right.

Sadly I only have one picture for the process that was putting together the front skirt panels, because it took so much brain power that I simply forgot to document! After sorting out the pockets, I pinned each front skirt panel into pleats, while keeping about 3 inches free so that I could wrap the fabric around the open bodice front to create a finished front (and a way to get into the dirndl). Then I sewed it all to the bodice and then sewed the two panels together to form a neat seam down the front of the dress.  This took patience and a lot of planning, and when I had finished I thought I was done (HA! YEAH RIGHT!)

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I excitedly put on my new dirndl and looked in the mirror – and was instantly pissed off. It was too big around! Dirndls should fit nice and tight, and when I tied the apron around my waist, fabric was bunching in the small of my back. It was back to the drawing board!

I decided to take in each side seam by 1/2 inch, which meant that I did not have to undo the existing seams, but rather simply sew a new seam and then cut the old seam off and finish the fabric. However, I needed to adjust the top of the skirt as well to take in the waist, so I ripped the seam out that connected the back skirt to the bodice. After a little work and making sure to be careful, I had everything the way I wanted it. Hooray! Sometimes things are just meant to be. This adjusting of the side seams also gave me a chance to clean up the joining of the piping at the bottom of the arm hole, and I’m now very happy with my craftsmanship on this dirndl.

Sewing a dirndl is not for everyone, since there are so many steps to the process, but I am very glad that I did it and I would like to make another one (because I am nuts!) If you are interested in creating your own, check out this neat group on Facebook: Dirndl & Tracht: Nähen, Trends & Tipps  They are walking participating members through the process of sewing a dirndl one month at a time. So cool!!!

Clothing

Dirndl Update: Blut, Schweiß, und Tränen / blood, sweat, and tears

This dirndl was never going to be a simple weekend project. I knew going into it that I would have to learn around a dozen new sewing techniques, and you can bet that I have worked my butt off! I am proud to say that I am not giving up, and persevering despite the challenges.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that sewing in piping is fun! and somehow makes sewing on the curve easier. I really like the finished look that it gives to my seams (here you can see I did the back seams first).

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Then it was time to sew the arm holes, which went smoothly, and then the neck line. This went well, and then it was time to turn the whole thing inside out and see the results! I did this by pulling it through the open bottom and through the shoulder hole (see below) – this sort of thing always makes my head spin a bit as it’s so funky to look at, but it works!

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While I was admiring the glory of my piped bodice, I noticed something odd…

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This evil bit of piping had escaped! and right smack dab in the middle of the front panel – luckily I kept my cool and positioned it properly and sewed that devil into submission.

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AHA! VICTORY IS MINE! I thought as I stood admiring my bodice (over my old dirndl blouse). Then I began to see the error of my ways…that by taking the side seams in quite a bit, I had inadvertently pulled the front seams too far toward my arms, and now my boobs were not happy. ↓

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So it was back to work for me, and a nip and a tuck led to a much better fit. I think part of the trouble was that this pattern, like all patterns, is made for some person out there who is NOT ME. Naturally I have to alter it to fit perfectly, and I am happy with the results. But it took me quite a while to achieve the proper look; I was frustrated until I had the brilliant idea to put it on OVER my old dirndl in order to decide where to place the buttons! (This was the sweating part).

I carefully finished the edges of my front panels and folded them over and sewed them down. Then I carefully marked the positions of where the buttonholes should go (this required math, so bonus points here). I pulled out my sewing machine manual to refresh my memory on how a buttonhole foot works, and quickly recalled my distaste for the finicky plastic thing. After much patience and swearing, I had 9 relatively straight buttonholes that needed opening. In order to do this, one must cut the fabric very carefully, so as not to cut the thread as well. The manual, and my own experience, said “use your seam ripper!” Well I really wish I hadn’t because on the third buttonhole the blasted thing ripped straight through my fabric and INTO MY HAND. (This was the blood and tears part).

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I may have screamed out in frustration, and I definitely called my hubby to complain for sympathy. This mess happened right on the front of my bodice; I am very lucky that the thread I have matches perfectly and it is pretty much camouflaged unless you really look for it.  A small pity party was thrown at which I drank a beer and ate junk food, and immediately felt better.

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The easiest part of this whole thing has also been the most satisfying – sewing on the buttons! I chose little silver hearts because they are adorable and it is almost Valentine’s day, so why not? Here’s a pic of what I have accomplished so far! Stay tuned for (hopefully) the final chapter of the dirndl dress saga!!!

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