We make a lot of national/folk costumes, especially around the Twin Cities' Festival of Nations and Oktoberfest. While we work with groups of many nationalities making everything from kilts to kimonos, our specialty is German/Austrian Dirndls (folk dresses). Our dirndls are of excellent quality. They are made in the US, not Europe, and are therefore less expensive than buying from a German or Austrian company.
We are happy to make national costumes at any level of authenticity you prefer. We are willing to make less authentic styles, but we don't want you to stick out for the wrong reasons.
Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation about German/Austrian folk dress. The ones we generally make can be compared in style and quality to those on sites like http://www.tostmann.at/en/sortiment/. We will make any style you choose no matter how "creative" you want to get!
Dirndls are worn as both formal wear and everyday dress throughout Austria and Southern Germany. Sheila lived in this part of the world for about three years. Most of the things Americans buy are not very authentic and would stand out as a touristy costume when worn among natives. We can and do make these touristy "German" costumes - but if you want to fit in, we can steer you in the direction of the sort of dirndls worn regularly by the locals.
A dirndl consists of three pieces:
Dress: Very full skirt (gathered or pleated) and low cut fitted bodice. Knee or ankle length.Generally closed at front with buttons, hooks or an invisible zipper. Usually not worn with silver chains and metal lacers, except at very formal events like weddings or parades in Bavaria (southern Germany). Usually made of cotton, linen or wool.
Blouse: Nearly always white cotton, often with puffed sleeves or lace detail around cuffs and neckline.
Apron: Usually not white - contrasting color and pattern that compliments the dress
PRICE: Our dirndls generally cost $110-160 for all three pieces, which is about half of what it costs to order directly from Germany. They are just as well made but cost less due to the lower exchange rate, cost of labor in the US, and lower cost of materials. Check the "dirndl" album on our facebook page for examples. You can also send your own fabric for a $25 discount. Below is the materials list if you provide your own:
FABRIC: Our fabrics are all good quality cotton that is machine washable. If you provide your own, please ship us the following:
2 yds. for skirt - usually a "quilter's cotton" or colorful cotton print
1/2 - 3/4 yd. for outer bodice - often same fabric as the skirt
1/2 - 3/4 yd. for bodice lining - this should be sturdier than quilter's cotton (duck or twill work well; canvas is too heavy; quilting cotton is too light). If your bodice has grommets, the lining can serve as an optional outer layer instead. Otherwise this will be lining and can be any color you like.
1 yd. for an apron - usually a solid color, or a contrasting colorful print. Cotton. If the fabric has vertical stripes (with the grain), please purchase an extra yard.
Extras like a full length skirt, piping, ruffles, trim and collars will require more fabric.
*Please do not choose fabric that is stretchy, sheer, or knit.**
If you do not have access to a fabric store, you can choose fabrics online at fabric.com, JoAnnFabrics.com, etc. You can also tell us your preferences and we can provide swatches for you to choose from at no extra cost.
The "base model" (if we provide fabric) costs $130-150 and consists of the following:
*All of our dirndls can be washed in a washing machine* unless you provide different fabrics, or you wish to add pewter/silver lacers and embroidery.
REVERSIBLE OPTION: For the same price, we can make your bodice reversible like the ones below (though it is not the most traditional closure). Many customers prefer this because it gives the outfit more versatility. You can wear one side showing one day and the other on another day. If you get a stain on one side, you can flip it right away. However, in order to do this, the bodice must have grommets in the front rather than buttons or a zipper - it also has to be separate from the skirt. This means that it can also be re-used as a bodice for Halloween or a Renaissance festival, etc. It stretches out the life of your dirndl by making it possible to re-use the pieces for other occasions. The grommets are sturdy and there is boning in front to keep them straight. This also holds you in a bit more than a typical button-up dirndl, and will fit you better if you are not able to give us detailed measurements or come in for fittings. It is less authentic, but more versatile. See pics below (left side has blue bodice with plain side showing, right with floral side showing and apron in front).
$10 for trim around the bodice neckline
$10 to add a collar or ruffle to the blouse
$10 to make the skirt ankle length instead of to knee
$30 to add contrasting piping all around the bodice edges
$5 per set to add silver/pewter lacers to front of a zipper bodice (usually need 3-5 sets)
$30 for metal chain to be threaded through lacers (for extremely formal dirndls)