Who We Are: The German Sewing (Blog) World

Hello World! My name is Anna. I live, sew and blog (PeterSilie&Co) in the German speaking part of Europe, and today, I have the lovely task of introducing the German speaking sewing (blog) world — which includes Germany, Austria and parts of Switzerland. To get a broader view on the topic I asked some fellow sewing bloggers with different styles, backgrounds and international connections to join me! So let’s start with a round of brief introductions:

Fredi from Seemansgarn handmade started sewing when she discovered her mom’s sewing machine. Since then she has become a bit of a sewing pattern junkie (Named, Pauline Alica, Megan Nielsen, Closet Case to name a few) and has made quite a sewing journey from her early sewing days – from colourful prints to single-coloured, combinable clothes. Fredi is the author of the “Sonntagsschnack” a weekly Sunday-column about everything sewing related — similar to “The Sew Reporter” written by The Fold Line.

Annika from Nähconnection stumbled into sewing due to building (and accessorizing) her new family home and found sewing clothes much more interesting. She only uses Indie patterns (schneidernmeistern, Paprika Patterns, Sew House Seven and True Bias) to  create her “sporty chic” style (whilst trying to stay away from a too casual look). Annika actually makes a living translating English sewing patterns for the German speaking sewing market, as some sewists prefer to read and sew in their mother tongue.

Dorthe from LaLaLa Patchwork started out with clothes in her early sewing days, and in time discovered her love for the precision of patchworking and quilting. She likes traditional blocks and is often amazed how modern they feel with today’s fabrics. Her style is a little tradition mixed with lots of modern influences (e.g. Elizabeth Hartman and Diane Bohn). Dorthe is part of the team behind organizing the community sewing challenge “6 Köpfe – 12 Blöcke“, where she passes on her love of quilting.

“First, we cut pretty fabrics apart and then we assemble them together artfully.” — Dorthe

Julia from sewing galaxy grew up in the former Soviet Union, where a Burda magazine was considered (and still is) sacred. Sewing was not considered to be a hobby, but a necessity, and the only chance to wear modern, fashionable clothing. Due to attending sewing classes for many years, her skills and construction are impeccable. Julia is still a Burda fan and describes her style as conservative. She is our Russian connection and forwards knowledge from the really active Russian Burda community — like this gem: oversize patterns are always 2 sizes too big.

Selmin from Tweed&Greet has a mother who is a tailor, but her spark for sewing ignited at a later point in her life. A variety of sewing courses have shaped her wardrobe considerably and she is always on the hunt for new exciting Indie patterns. Her favourites are Tilly&Buttons (she’s sewn everything), Closet Case Files, Named and Dessine Moi un Patron. Selmin describes her style as casual, contemporary and rather minimalistic. Last year, she also organised the blogger challenge “12 Colors of Handmade Fashion“.

Bianca from Sleepless in Bavaria started her sewing career with a pink quilting disaster, before the collapse of Rana Plaza made her rethink her shopping habits. Due to her love of vintage inspired sewing patterns, her go-to patterns stem mostly from Sew Over It although she does mix it up with StyleArc. Bianca’s style is both very feminine and classic, with lots of dresses, skirts and fitted jackets, which means being a little bit overdressed for Germany! On a side note: She has actual experience in the English community (she lived in the UK for 2 years), which came in handy for this post.

Finally, a bit about myself, I’m Anna from PeterSilie&Co. I actually started to sew, because I felt left out when my sister and mum would talk about it (a lot). I then fell in love with fabrics, blogging (I blog with both my mom and sister), and the whole range of sewing patterns that are available. My style is somewhere along “sporty chic” with a feminine element, and I love the style of the magazine “La Maison Victor“. I am now part of the Sewcialist team and I loved the idea of introducing different sewing (blog) communities.

Naturally, language can be a barrier, so here is the insider’s info’s on the German blogging and sewing community (and what we think of the rest of the sewing world). 😉

“It is great, if a blog post is in English, but I like to try reading different languages.” — Fredi

Since not everyone is that great in other languages (and a lot of the links provided today are … *drumroll please* … in German), I recommend the use of Google Chrome with the option to translate the homepages! It is not perfect, but at the very least, a start.

Sewing?! You sew? …

Unlike the Soviet Union (later more on that), there was never a need to sew clothes to dress fashionably  in western Europe, which is why fabrics and DIY stores started to die out. Then the DIY boom began in in mid 2000s and sewing became popular again. 10-20 years ago it was not easy to source beautiful fabrics, first there was phase of vibrant kiddie prints and if you fast forward to today, there is an amazing range of online shops, fabric stores, sewing magazines and indie sewing patterns. The quality and prices do vary. They range from cheap fabrics from Dutch or Polish online shops (3-6€/m for jersey) and discount sewing machines, to high quality organic or fair-trade fabrics (20+€/m for jersey) and the Swiss BERNINA models. There is a niche and community for all fields of sewing and this is what makes sewing so versatile.

I would say that pretty much everyone here learned to sew, knit and crochet in their crafts lessons in primary school. Due to different schools to choose from during the secondary school years, some (like me) learned to sew clothes in school (although it did not impress me at that time) while others focused solely on learning theoretical stuff like Latin. And then there are the teen-years when crafts become really uncool. Yet, for one or the other reason we all fell in love with sewing all over again.

The general public, however, often still connects sewing with grandmas and unfashionable clothes. When you tell people that you sew, the reactions rage from positive surprise, astonishment and “I would looove to be able to sew myself” to sometimes condescending smiles — until you show them what you have actually sewn! People are really amazed by the possibilities of sewing (and totally underestimate the time, costs and difficulties you encounter).

“Most people are surprised and then usually say something along the lines of “I thought only old people sew” or “you must save so much money on clothing”, I try to smile and usually say something polite but I often want to roll my eyes and tell them that 1) No, sewing is not something that only old people do and that 2) Sewing is not a cheap hobby. #RANTOVER” — Bianca

In the former Soviet Union, crafts have a lower standing. For decades women were reliant on self-made clothes. Therefore store-bought clothing still has a higher standing (although they are not better!). While in Germany a whole range of different things are sewn, the Russian crafts scene is dominated by sewing clothes. The goal is to learn construction and recreate designer clothes. Also, right now, the Luneville embroidery is booming (see the amazing examples provided by Julia below) to embellish clothes and accessory.

I teach sewing techniques in sewing workshops and I have experienced the same situations often (and have to smirk a bit about them): Sewing is underestimated by people in most cases! … In the end they realise that a blouse can’t possibly only cost 12€ and this is a really important realization” — Julia

How is the community organized? And how can you join in?

Of course there are real life blogger meet-ups and sewing weekends, but I’d like to focus on the “online” communities.

  • The “Me Made Mittwoch” is a weekly (now monthly) link-up for new blog posts on Wednesdays. It’s completely ad-free and focuses on self made clothes for adults. It is organized by a group of sewing bloggers, with some theme weeks in between (stripes, holiday clothes, biggest misses) and also hosts a Christmas Dress sew-along each year.
  • Rund ums Weib” or RUMS for short (Google Translator says it means “around the woman” — which is kind of a harsh translation) is hosted every Thursday and features everything the blogger has made for themselves. Sponsored content is allowed.
  • Last year (2017), Selmin organized “12 Colors of Handmade Fashion“. It is a great incentive to try different colours and think outside the box. We look forward to this years topic?! (if planned …) Next-to-last year’s theme was “12 Letters of Handmade Fashion” — soo, what would you do for “L”? Leather? Long-sleeved T-Shirt? …
  • Vom Laufsteg in den Kleiderschrank” (From the Runway to the Wardrobe) and the “Film-und Serien Sew-Along” (Movie and Series Sew-Along) focus on taking inspiration and recreating a similar look (for the experienced sewists).
  • Dorthe is (as already mentioned) one of the organizers of “6 Köpfe – 12 Blöcke” with the goal of providing tutorials for assembling a quilt together within one year. They created a lively online community within a Facebook group and encourage quilting.

Testing patterns and providing design samples for fabrics is another way of getting recognition within the community. It is also an easy way to meet other sewists online. Compared to Russia our online life focuses mostly on our own blogs, whilst they prefer to use community platforms, like the one Burda is providing. If you ever want to find a review of a Burda sewing pattern, this is the place to find it! But in the end, community is created by communicating! So Selmin’s tip is: “Simply be open and kind and comment on things that you like, join link-ups and sew-alongs if you have the time,” which is universally/internationally true!

Some pattern recommendations from the German sewing world:

There are a massive amount of sewing pattern companies with different qualities out there and their number is increasing. Each of them have their own niche and target group. The following Indie pattern designers are only a small portion and are arranged by origin:

  • German pattern labels: Schnittchen, schneidernmeistern, Hedi näht, pattydoo, Lotte&Ludwig, SO! Pattern, Rapatinchen… (most of them can be found on makerist)
  • Scandinavian pattern labels: Named Clothing and Salme Patterns (special recommendation from Julia)
  • French pattern labels: Deer and Doe, PG Pattern, Anne Kerdilès Courture, Aime Comme Marie…
  • English pattern labels: Sew Over It, By Hand London, Style Arc, Tilly & the Buttons, Closet Case Patterns…
  • Magazines: La Maison Victor (original in Dutch), Ottobre, Patrones/fashion style (from Spain)…

“I am a hunter for indie patterns and I love creating ‘to sew’ lists and browsing through newly launched patterns and design examples, even though I know that I will never be able to sew all the pieces.” — Selmin

There is sooo much more to share, but that’s it for today! Do you have any questions? Anything that you are interested in? Leave your questions or remarks in the comments for us! We hope to see you all soon!

All the best from Germany,

Anna & Team