Dirndl a Go Go

Note: The following post relates to the project requirements for my Foundations in Creativity class.
Originally posted to the creativity blog on November 25, 2015.

I’ve been happily basting the zipper into the side of my dress but have arrived at the point where I need thread that coordinates with the color of the fabric. Of course the fabric store with the best selection of thread that is appropriate to use on India Silk is only open while I’m at work. Thread will have to wait until Friday when I’m off from work.

Meanwhile, I will share a little more about the process of creating a garment. Because I do not have to sew for business, making clothing is an entirely whimsical activity. The initial motivation of wanting to look like exactly who I want to look like is already inherent. But, for specific projects, inspiration comes from all over. The Victorian dress came from a classmate, the sacque gowns from a movie, and the 17th Century dress from Vermeer. I don’t remember why I made a bustle dress but I have one. Sometimes, it’s the fabric that speaks to me and tells me what it wants to be. I have a piece of quilted fabric that is currently asking to be transformed into an 18th Century bodice but I must finish the dress for this project first.

The inspiration for this particular dress is the Ophelia dress from Lindy Bop (http://www.lindybopusa.com/dresses-c1/swing-jive-c3/ophelia-red-swing-dress-p185). Our budget being what it is, I can hardly justify the cost. I already had the fabric lying around and, after examining the style more closely, I figured that I could use the same pattern I use to make dirndl. A dirndl is a German folk dress (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirndl). For a really nice one, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to more than $5,000. I started to make my own dirndl because I certainly don’t have that sort of money for a fancy dress I’ll only wear once or twice a year. I also wanted to make dirndl I could wear every day considering normally they’re rather ornate with embroidery, ribbons, and fancy fabrics. There is one woman who makes dirndl out of African fabrics and another who uses Indian sari fabric. Who would have ever thought German folk-ware could be so diverse?

I did make one fancy dirndl for events like Oktoberfest. I made it out of fabric my great-aunt gave me that has light blue vertical stripes and a dainty pink floral design with little pink birds. It’s lovely fabric with fantastic texture; really just perfect. This is infinitely more meaningful then if I had bought the most expensive dirndl ever made. My family is very important to me and my grandparents connect me to Germany, which for so many reasons is an essential part of my identity.

The photo is of a dirndl I made two years ago. The fabric is called Brooklyn Heights, which is endearing because I used to live there and have fond memories of the neighborhood. Because it’s more plain than most dirndl, which are on par with custom-made couture, I can wear it all the time. Extra bonus? Very few people wear these dresses on a regular basis and this is the only one made in this fabric in existence.

Anyway, you can see from the photo that the basic structure of the Ophelia dress is very similar to a dirndl and certainly close enough for me, given the money I’ll save. When I am done, my version will be unique.

I realize now that I probably could have limited this project to just my dirndl because making them and wearing them is certainly novel and useful, especially the simplified versions I made. However, it’s too late to start over. Instead, I will happily focus on one creative project instead of something every day.


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