A non-traditional Dirndl for Oktoberfest
Hello everyone! As I’m writing this, it’s Halloween, so Happy Halloween! October is one of my favorite months because not only am I a sucker for Halloween, but it’s also the time of year when the end of summer is in sight, and it marks the start of Festival Season here in Galveston. After the beach season ends for the year, the island tries to make up for the lack of tourist economy by hosting big festivals throughout the winter months. There’s the Lonestar Biker Rally, Dickens on the Strand, Mardi Gras, and, my personal favorite, Oktoberfest! I love Oktoberfest because it’s basically one big street party. I also love sauerkraut, and bratwurst, and beer, and most importantly strudel! I’ve been saying for years that I wish I had a traditional dirndl to wear to Oktoberfest, and this year I finally got my act together and made one.
Although, spoiler alert, I didn’t actually finish it in time to attend any Oktoberfest festivities, and it was actually too cold to wear it anyway! But a couple days later, and a few degrees warmer and it made a sweet Halloween costume! And now I have it for next year’s Oktoberfest (weather permitting) and any other day of the year I feel like injecting a bit of prost! into my day!
Traditional Austrian or Bavarian dirndls are usually plain colored – either blue, green, red or brown – or sometimes they have a small, regular, all-over floral print, or vertical stripes. They consist of a tightly fitted, front-opening bodice, a gathered rectangle skirt, a gathered blouse with full sleeves, and typically an apron. It’s very common to see these types of costumes cut to be very bosom-y, but they can also be quite modest as well. They vary from being quite plain and practical, to being prettily embellished with ribbon, buttons, and self-fabric trim.
I initially searched Mood Fabrics for some fabric that would be suitable for a traditional dirndl, but in the end I went with what attracted my eye and what I thought would be pretty. After all, when you’re making your own why stick with what’s always been done? Besides, it was incredibly hard for me to resist picking up some of the prints from the Mood exclusive “Jacques Collection . What was I supposed to do when faced with these gorgeous botanical prints? Not snatch them up? Nope, wasn’t gonna happen!
I ended up buying several yards of the Promenade au Pavot White Cotton Poplin Panel . (I’m just realizing now that they offer this fabric in a midnight blue colorway, which perhaps would have looked more traditional? Oh well! Maybe I need two dirndls?!?) One thing I love about these Mood designed fabrics is that the prints are available in a number of different fabrics – cotton poplin, voile, sateen – so you have options in drape and opacity depending on what you’d like to use it for. For this project the poplin was perfect. I lined the bodice with some leftover linen to give it a bit more “oomph” since I wanted it to have very little ease. The skirt I lined with white rayon challis to ensure there was no see-through, which is always a concern with white fabrics.
I love working with panel prints and border prints because you can get so creative about how you use them. This print consisted of a heavily patterned “garden” design which ran cross-wise along my yardage. The “garden” portion sort of faded out in between strips, with little delicate wildflowers seeming to float away from the rest of the group. For my dirndl I knew I wanted the flowers to appear to “sprout” from my waist, but I wasn’t totally sure how best to use the print for the skirt portion. I didn’t have a ton of yardage so I had to do some problem solving. I cut several rectangles that ended with the “garden” portion on the bottom, then used whatever I had leftover of the “garden” portion to create a strip that I sewed onto the bottom of the other, creating a mirror-like reflection of the flowers on the bottom half of the skirt. If you look closely you can see the seam.
There are several patterns available for dirndls for the home sewist. Burdastyle has a couple to choose from. I wanted mine to look very traditional so I ended up using the Austrian Dirndl pattern from Folkwear Patterns. I love this company for finding traditional, but hard-to-find patterns. You can tell that a lot of research goes into each pattern, and I really appreciate that. The pattern for this came with a whole insert on the history of traditional dirndls, how to make your own traditional fabric trims, and even how to alter the pattern to suit medieval costumes and cosplay.
For my dress I went with View B, which has the mid-bust bodice and lower cut blouse. While I didn’t particularly want my dirndl to be the overtly sexy costumes you sometimes see, I didn’t want to feel like I was buttoned up to the neck either! This version has gussets inserted into the neckline to provide fullness for the bust, and closes up the front with hooks and eyes. The front is also supported by boning along the center opening. I added black piping to my bodice, rather than the traditional trimming, because I wanted something to give it a bit of contrast and I felt like ribbons and trims might get too fussy for me.
The blouse is made using this Ivory Solid Viscose Batiste which is one of my favorite fabrics from Mood. Honestly, every few months or so I buy a couple yards because I’m always finding a use for it! It’s so insanely soft, and fine. It makes a glorious lining, and for something like this blouse, with it’s puffed sleeves, it keeps things looking softer and more delicate, where a crisper fabric would look too buoyant (in my opinion). This blouse actually ends right below the bust, so it’s really just a neckline and sleeves! A drawstring is sewn into the bottom hem to cinch it tight under the bust.
And now, to finish things off, here are a few photos I took to capture a little of the Halloween spirit!
Happy Halloween, and Happy November everyone! Now tell me, would you wear this dirndl outside of the costume-y-ness of Oktoberfest and Halloween?