Dirndling–the real thing

Well, October is gone, and I’ve done quite a bit of sewing since finishing this particular project, but somehow I never got back to posting details about the finished dirndl.

In the few weeks since sewing the first and second dirndl muslin, I was sewing up a storm trying to get it completed in time for my office group Halloween costume on Oct. 30. (We were all Edna Mode from The Incredibles.) See?? A plain black dirndl is so versatile.

I decided not to use fusible interfacing with my black linen, as I couldn’t find black interfacing and I didn’t want anything to dilute the color of the outer fabric. Instead, I chose black cotton duck as an interlining. I sewed a few samples of various ways of applying it, and also a few without it to feel the difference it would make to the garment’s structure. Hands down, the cotton duck interlining was the best option. So I had to cut and sew 3 versions of the bodice: outer, interlining, and lining. (the photos here are kind of blown-out because to get a good view I had to adjust the images’ brightness and mid-tones, etc.)

The dirndl bodice interior is cotton canvas: firm, heavy, and sturdy. It really helps the bodice keep its shape.

The dirndl bodice interior is cotton duck: firm, heavy, and sturdy. It really helps the bodice keep its shape.

I chose a silk twill in black with a purple stripe for the bodice lining; unfortunately the fabric was too narrow to accommodate the skirt pieces, so I had to use a different fabric for the skirt lining. The pattern didn’t call for a skirt lining, but if I’m going to wear this in fall/winter, I’ll be wearing tights, and without a silky layer in between, the tights and linen would stick together. I chose a polyester-blend jacquard lining fabric in gray tones from my stash.

One lining for the bodice (silk twill) and another for the skirt (some kind of poly/rayon jacquard).

One lining for the bodice (silk twill) and another for the skirt (some kind of poly/rayon jacquard).

From the numerous dirndl images pinned to my Dirndl Pinterest board, I’ve found that one of the common details in simpler dirndls is piping at the neckline and armholes. It gives a nice finished-looking edge and adds a really crisp, professional-quality detail. Some of the black linen yardage, combined with some narrow cord from my stash, became piping for the dirndl.

Piping at the neck and armscye edges stabilizes the edges and adds a nice dimensional detail.

Piping at the neck and armscye edges stabilizes the edges and adds a nice dimensional detail.

Unfortunately I didn’t really think out how the piping would affect the shoulder seam, and I had some trouble getting it all tucked under the lining in a neat, clean way; if I used piping again, I’d have to change the construction sequence a bit and apply the lining entirely by hand, wrong sides together.

From the lining side, you can see all kinds of messiness caused by the addition of piping BEFORE sewing the shoulder seams.

From the lining side, you can see all kinds of messiness caused by the addition of piping BEFORE sewing the shoulder seams.

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But from the right side, it looks okay…Not ideal, but passable.

Live and learn! EVERY single garment I make provides a lesson in some way. Which brings me to the next issue I ran into with this project…

What should I discover once the skirt front and back were sewn together but that the two cuts of linen I purchased–from the same store, of the same type/weight, but purchased a few months apart–are two different shades of black. Of COURSE they are. Le sigh. The front skirt section is a brown-black while the back skirt and bodice are a blue-black. Different dyelots. I should have expected this. Learn from my mistakes, people!

It's difficult to see the color difference in these photos--or any photos, really--but in real life, it's obvious. If you're looking for it. The bodice and back skirt are from one dyelot. The skirt front from a different one that's a brown-black. Oh well.

It’s difficult to see the color difference in these photos–or any photos, really–but in real life, it’s obvious. If you’re looking for it. The bodice and back skirt are from one dyelot. The skirt front from a different one that’s a brown-black. Oh well.

If I was going to wear this as a festive dirndl with an apron, the difference wouldn’t be a problem. I’m still considering it not that big a deal because the color difference was only obvious once the two different dyelots were sewn together and viewed in the weird light (tinged with lime green) of my sewing room. Fortunately, when I wore the dress to work (with other sewing people who really notice things like this), I was told that if I hadn’t mentioned the color variation, it wouldn’t have been noticed at all. But it is visible at the side seam. Oh well.

Now, dirndl dress patterns don’t include pockets–but I really like a pocket in a full skirt. So I added some on-seam pockets, taken from the Sewaholic Cambie dress pattern (thanks, Cambie!). The pockets are inserted into the skirt side seams, and they live between the outer skirt and the lining.

Oh how I love pockets in a skirt!

Oh how I love pockets in a skirt!

The pattern calls for an invisible zipper, but I chose to use a regular zipper because they’re stronger, and the multiple, somewhat thick layers of the bodice would be too much for an invisible zipper. A centered application with little flanges covering the zipper looks fine and is the more usual closure used on RTW dirndls. This closure change necessitated a change in how the lining was applied at center front, but it wasn’t a big hassle.

Zipper installation was a bit different from the pattern directions because I used a standard zipper instead of an invisible zipper. My installs of this type are usually a bit pucker, but it's stronger than an invisible zip.

Zipper installation was a bit different from the pattern directions because I used a standard zipper instead of an invisible zipper. My installs of this type are usually a bit puckery, but it’s stronger than an invisible zip.

I even dangled a pretty silver charm from the zipper pull. Overall, I’m really happy with how the dirndl turned out. I still have to make some longer-sleeved blouses to go with it, but all in good time!

I actually like this blouse with the dirndl, but it's not good for winter.

I actually like this blouse with the dirndl, but it’s not good for winter.

Here’s my review of BurdaStyle 7443 on PatternReview.

Dirndl fitting

Even though I’m supposed to be working on this insane Chanel-style jacket project, I decided I just have to have a basic dirndl and some blouses (or at least 1) to go with it. This Fall. And preferably in time for Halloween, because it’ll be perfect for my costume (Edna Mode, the diminutive fashion designer from The Incredibles).

So before September ended, I cut apart the Burda dirndl pattern, measured and compared, figured it seemed pretty good as-is aside from my usual torso shortening between bust and waist, and cut out a mock-up from medium-weight linen from my stash. Wow. So not good as-is.

The bust gussets that provide shape to the bust area sat close to my waistline instead of cupping my bust as they should. They were SO LOW! And it had nothing to do with my shortening the waist length.

The neckline was WAY too low...

The neckline was WAY too low…

Turns out the pattern is drafted for someone not only taller than me, but with a bust set much lower than mine. Granted, mine begins practically below my chin, but I didn’t anticipate having to raise the dirndl neckline by 1 3/4 inches! Which is what I did.

This is how much the neckline had to be raised (including seam allowance).

This is how much the neckline had to be raised (including seam allowance).

Minus the 5/8″ seam allowance, this change made the finished neckline sit slightly above my bust point. It looked great. These photos show how I did it:

Raising the dirndl's neckline (side bodice).

Raising the dirndl’s neckline (side bodice). The gusset points (where the bodice seam intersects the gusset’s lowest point) also had to be raised.

After the 2nd muslin I also added about 1/4 inch at the waist on the side front/center front seam (the one that runs into the bust gusset) for a tad more breathing room through the belly. I want it to fit close, but not squeeze anywhere. Here’s what the new pattern pieces look like compared to the original, unaltered pieces.

Both side front and center front bodice panels had to have their necklines raised about 1 3/4 inches.

Both side front and center front bodice panels had to have their necklines raised about 1 3/4 inches.

The gusset insertion method Burda gives is odd and it makes for a messy seam intersection at the bust gusset point (where the gusset’s two seams intersect with the side-front/center-front panel seam). The pattern has you sew one edge of the gusset to the side front section, then sew the other side of the gusset and the side front/center front seam in one step. Unfortunately, this catches the gusset’s previously sewn seam allowance in the new one at the gusset point, and it creates a clusterf^%#.

What I did instead was to sew the SF/CF bodice seam first, up to the gusset point, backstitching there to reinforce the point. Then I attached the gusset to the center-front panel and the side-front panel, trimming and pressing the seams as necessary to make the intersection lay as flat as possible. It’s helpful to reduce the stitch length near the intersection point for greater precision so you don’t over-step the point and muck it all up. This is somewhat similar to how I’ve inserted gussets into 19th century stays and it works much better. It looks SO much better. Make a note of it!

This is a MUCH cleaner gusset installation than that created by the pattern's insertion method.

This is a MUCH cleaner gusset installation than that created by the pattern’s insertion method. BTW, this is the interior view of my black linen dirndl; the fabric you’re seeing is a cotton duck interlining.

Next up: some more in-progress photos of the dirndl (particularly my screw-up with the shoulder seams because I added piping and didn’t think it through); and finally, the finished dirndl!

Dirndls, dirndls everywhere…. especially in my head

First things first: Happy Birthday to me! Now, what can I sew as a kind of birthday present to myself? Hmmm…

Bam! A great Burda Style dirndl pattern. The perfect base for my very own dirndl.

Bam! A great Burda Style dirndl pattern. The perfect base for my very own dirndl.

Lately, all I can think about sewing is a dirndl. Probably because the weather promises to become fall-like very soon now, and the trees are already turning here in Connecticut. But it’s probably also because October is really right around the corner and that means Oktoberfest! Beer! Brats! Polka!

I’ve always loved dirndls, and I’ve been wanting to make one for a few years now. I have the pattern and the requisite Dirndl-centric Pinterest board and everything. Even the fabric: suit-weight black linen bought on sale, and a lovely black silk twill for the lining.

What’s not to love about dirndls? They’re cute, folkloric, feminine, and really quite versatile if they’re not covered in brightly colored embroidery and heavy ribbon trims–not that there’s anything wrong with a little embellishment. A dirndl looks fabulous with a cardigan or a nipped-waist blazer.

I want a dirndl to wear outside of the local Oktoberfest celebration, as well as inside, so it has to be a bit plainer for greater versatility. Sure, I want to do a dirndl that’s all-out embroidered and bedecked with channel stitching and those fabulous pewter hooks with chains looped around them, too–but to start, I’ll make a simple one that can go anywhere, with anything (an all-rounder, if you will).

The blouse is a conundrum. Most of the dirndl blouses out there are poofy sleeved and very peasanty in style. If I wore a poofy-sleeved, lace-ruffled, peasant-type blouse to work, my coworkers would think I’d regressed to the age of 6. Luckily I managed to find a BurdaStyle downloadable pattern for a dirndl blouse that’s pretty sleek; no poof in sight. And in a pinch, a button-front shirt would do, perhaps even in a striped shirting.

So despite the fact that the ladies at work have formed a Chanel Jacket Club, and that I’m participating in it and am behind already on my Chanel-style jacket, I’m going to make my first dirndl. Hopefully it won’t be the only dirndl I make. It all starts this weekend.

I’d love to post some inspiration images, but they’re from all over the web, and none of them belong to me. So you’ll just have to peruse the aforementioned Pinterest board. Here we go!