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
Reading english and german blogs. One of there differences that have been noticeable the german Sew Alongs are without sponsors, give aways or stuff to win. (The only big sewing competetion is from burda and most bloggers dont participat) Its more about the fun to sew something together (like sewcialist).
And there is also a little gap between those who sew preferd woven (MeMadeMittwoch) and those who prefer stretch (RUMS).
Thanks for mentioning! These a good points!
This is really interesting! I met Linda a few months ago, she is a wonderful girl and sewist from Germany (@listokap on instagram) and she introduced me to initiative-handarbeit.de. SO MUCH FREE PATTERNS. And good ones too..!
It is so interesting how others perceive other communitys! (patterns are cheaper in the german part overall as well – and 4 times a year makerist.de as a 2€ per sewing pattern sale)
Can I have a little rant of my own? Please can you consider your audience? I am a grandma who sews and loves fashionable clothes as much as when I was younger. I’m 65 but in my head I’m about 40. It is a shame sometimes when the sewing bloggers who are usually 20-30 years younger make massive assumptions about other generations. I am happy to learn from younger sewists. I’d like to think I also have something to offer them back. Rant over.
Rants are always allowed! I tried to fit as much information as possible into the post, and had to generalize in some areas, so I am really sorry if i mentioned grandmas and attached prejustices one to many times! I myself know how valuable sewing moms & grandmas are! They are the first to call when I have a problem or I want to rant a bit myself.
Also one of our fellow german sewing blogges Reni (https://renisoddsandsods.com/) is one of the most fashionable “grannies” I know & she blogs in German and English!
Wow! Thanks for the recomendation. I want that teal coat!
She has a fabulous style, right? I want to be like her, when I grow up.
Thank You! for her link! I’m 61, I sew for my youngest 4 teens at home and myself as well as our 6 youngest with special needs. So I enjoy seeing all ages sewing! But very few I see are my age. :o)
I’m so excited to see this post! I’ve set a goal of improving my German, and I’m eager to subscribe to more German-language sewing blogs as part of that learning experience.
More readers are always welcome, some of the german bloggers actually translate their posts (just ignore in your case if you want to improve your German!)
I’m English but I’ve studied and lived in Germany, I currently live in the USA teaching beginners German. Having German sewing blogs to visit is such a lovely way for me to combine my language love and sewing love – also ich danke Ihnen! #Nähenmachtglücklich 😉
Oh, I hope your students are motivated! As far as I heard German is not the easiest language to learn! What is your experience?
Und die Nähbloggerwelt ist eindeutig nicht formell! Also unbedingt das Du verwenden. Viele Grüße in die USA! Anna
I”m always curious about the German sewing world, so thanks for writing this! Every now and then, bloggers I follow mention cool things going on in the German sewing scene – it certainly seems to be a lively community! I”m also in complete awe of anyone who is fluent in multiple languages!
One of the trends I have seen this year is posts about combining selfmade clothes in different outfits. Because otherwise they are just often “one-hit-wonders” – and the interesting thing is combining them to wearable outfit. Or lets say creating a wearable selfmade wardrobe with combinable items.
One of the new hashtags is #flatlayfriday for outfitposts on Fridays.
And this year there is a zodiac sign sew-along.
Sooo, its going to be interesting!
Thanks for sharing! I would love more information about the Luneville embroidery you mention–it’s beautiful, and that coat application is lovely! I aspire to making and buying clothes with details like that.
For the Luneville embroidery Julia (https://sewinggalaxy.blogspot.de) is the right person to contact. One of her latest blogposts is actually a brooch (took her a month). She is not fluent in English, so you would have to make do with google translate, but she can for sure point you into the right direction!
Here are some courses Julia took:
Another oldie here (59) and I enjoyed the post. I didn’t feel it was aimed at only the young. Thanks for links. I love Burda and have ever since I was about 20 when I worked with two German ladies in my office here in Australia. They used to talk about Burda all the time. One of them who was at least in her 50’s (she seemed so old..haha) would get up each morning at 5.30 to fit in some sewing before work. She wore the most amazing suits that she made.
Thanks! Were the english speaking community has their Big4, the Europeans have the Burda. It’s just a classic. The thing is: Burda is not for the unskilled newbie-sewist. But if you can deal with the very short instructions, it is providing great sewing pattern with interesting details.
OH…what a great post, thanks! I really enjoyed following the links through to these lovely bloggers. Their blogs all look so inviting with lovely graphics and photos!
I’ve followed German blogger Stephanie from Sea of Teal for a long time. She blogs in both English and German…helpful because I don’t speak German.
You are very welcome! I have noticed myself, that it is really difficult to find bloggers in different languages.
My family and myself started to translate our posts, but to be honest, it is a lot of work… so i admire everyone doing it, but use google translate otherwise.
Well that was an interesting post, thank you.
Could you help me with my search for Dutch jerseys please? There are some good quality, really beautiful, patterned ones at about £20/m sold via Singapore, but I think there must be a bigger range (and less postage) on Dutch, or other European sites. It’s very difficult to get search engines to look at non-English sites! Many thanks.
You could check naaiplezier.nl, sewnatural.eu or stoffen.net
To be hones I am not a big online shopper, I just know of https://www.driessenstoffen.nl/ und https://www.megastoffen.nl/de/ – I hope, they are a start for your search. Anna
Thank you both very much! I’m going to be very busy this week checking out those sites, and the blogs you list. The sewing community is so generous with their help 🙂
You are very welcome. I tried to get a good range of sewing bloggers (age, hobby/making a living, style) and all with some connection to the international community. There are of course soo many more, but I had to stop at some point. If you are looking for a specific type of blogger (like the 60+ recommendation above), let me know!
Just wanted to let you know that my favourites of the lovely knits were finally tracked down to Nuppu Print Company in Helsinki! It’s so hard to find a good patterned jersey for adults, so it’s great to see the whole range, although it is more expensive to buy direct :O Thanks for your help with the hunt!
Ahh, that is sooo great! I am so happy for you. I just have found the perfect stripes as well, wanted to buy another 1-2m … gone =(
So, a good (and reliable) source is the most important thing!!!
This is so cool. I love to learn about sewing communities around the world. 🙂
Thank you that was such a good read. Fascinating to hear more about the global sewing world.
Are there many male sewists in Germany? As it does seem to be picking up for us guys here in the UK … I wonder if it’s the same..?
You are welcome. Yes, sewing is picking up with men here as well (always interesing in FB-groups, when a men is asking something ;-)). Unfortunatelly I can’t find the one and only blog I know (its from a man quilting and patchworking) … So, if I ever stumble upon it again, I will write another comment. Anna
Thank you for starting this interesting discussion! I am super curious about diversity in the german-speaking DIY world. I never felt much at home there as a queer person, but maybe I just haven’t looked close enough!
I’d say personally that the community is very much focused on sewing things, rather then analysing related issues like gender or diversity. I would not say they are ignored, but stay untouched due to various reasons. What would have to change for you to feel included? Or what are you missing? Anna
I am not always looking for an analysis of gender in fashion, I am just looking for inspiration and rarely find blogs or makers that share a similar point of view on fashion or style (like Shannon is doing with her “Sew Queer” series) or who don’t have a “classic feminine” style. I also realize more and more that I cannot separate my practice of making things from my feminism. And so far, I didn’t find anyone in the german-speaking region who does something similar.
Anyway, I am a fan of the work you all are doing here!
Me as a baglady really missed bayladys in the list of intodruced german sewing bloggers. German sewing scene is so much more than sewing clothes or quilts. I don’t know how it is in other sewing communities all over the world, but I guess it is what your own filter bubble is focused on. I love sewing bags and so I follow other bagladys. But I do also follow blogs about sewing women or kids clothes or quilts. They all are a bit seperated from each other, but at linkpartys like “handmade on tuesday” they come together to inspire each other.
Dear Carmen, I have to admit: you are totally right! I personally love bags, but do not sew them and therefore always thought of bags as an accessoire to an outfit. Thanks for pointing it out.
PS: Loving your Espandrilles!!! They are amazing!
„I would say that pretty much everyone here learned to sew, knit and crochet in their crafts lessons in primary school.“
Unfortunately, my experience is quite different – at least, for younger people.
I’m 33, live in NRW and no one I know in my age or younger had any real crafts lessons at school, neither primary nor secondary. I had the subject „Textilgestaltung“ (textile design) at secondary school, but only for a few months and we weren’t taught anything useful there, more things like glueing fabric to boxes and stuff like that.
Maybe it depends how old you are and where you went to school and maybe you just have to be lucky.
Thanks for sharing your experiences and info with us. I love some European designers and wish they had better exposure in the US. I am curious though – why no love for Burda? When I think of German sewing, Burda jumps out at me for its very high-quality offerings.
Burda has in my opinion quite a similar standing as the big4 in the US. I myself grew up with Burda, my grandmother has sewn with them, my mom & my sister use them and I myself from time to time as well.
Within the community there are the ones who love Burda, for others its a classic but mostly for inspiration and than there is this new generation of sewers, who are mostly self taught and have big trouble with the minimalistic instructions. Unfortunatelly I think burda missed a bit the transition from a magazine to an active online brand/community here in Germany, while the Russian burda community is really active. The patterns are also quite underrepresented within the blogger scene – Anna from Oh Chiffon! (http://www.ohchiffon.de/) is one of the few bloggers I know, who predominantly sews burda. I am hoping that the burdachallenge will spill over into the german speaking community as well (because most of us have a stash, we just don’t use them).
What an interesting blog, I would love to find out more about the German sewing scene. I grew up in Germany and Austria before migrating to Australia and like to keep in touch with ‘home’. I am particularly intrigued with the Russian connection, the Russian girls are so creative judging by what I see on Pinterest. I like edgy fashion like Rundholz and Oska, Kaliyana, Bryn Walker, Gudrun Sjoeden etc, and I love it when someone manages to put patterns together to sew these things and shares them with others!
Thank you, I myself still discover new blogs and facettes of the german speaking scene. Sewing is so diverse, so that everyone finds their own niche. If you are interessted in more blogs, the best thing to do is look through the link parties like mmm and rums.
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Thanks for this post! I’m Dutch and my German is okay-ish, so you gave me a whole lot of new stuff to follow 😀
Okay-ish is probably more than enough to understand the most imlortant parts of blogpost! I hope you find some inspiring sewists! Anna
Hello from Chicago,
I am interested in finding out how many sewing/Quilting stores or chain stores are there in Germany, What is the size of the home sewist/quilters market and if there are quilting/sewing guilds in Germany?
Could you please point me in the right direction for this kind of info? I would really appreciate any help in this direction.