Help me make a Dirndl?
March 20, 2012 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find a pattern for a modern dirndl-style summer dress?

I would like to make some dresses in a style similar to this, or this, but I'm coming up blank for specific patterns. The stated style is "dirndl," but I definitely don't want a Bavarian milkmaid costume - just a fitted, pretty summer dress. I found this vintage pattern on Etsy, but it's for a size 14, and I'm a size 4. Searching for the pattern number (Butterick 3410) turns up totally different dresses. I am not looking for an Oktoberfest style with an undershirt or anything like that, so not this or this.

Does anyone know of a pattern available for sale or on eBay that's of a similar style? Failing that, if anyone knows of step-by-step instructions online for making a dress like this, that would be great as well.
posted by permiechickie to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If you are a size 4 in modern sizing then you are probably a size 10-12 in pattern sizing. That pattern on Etsy would be just right for you. (I wear a 6/8 in modern sizes but I have to buy a 14/16 in patterns.) The back of the envelope will tell you what size to make based on your measurements, follow that.

Also, I just made up a skirt using this tutorial for a Dirndl Skirt and it turned out so great that I plan to make a bunch more. I know that doesn't help you with a top, but you could either improvise something or just wear a cute tank top with it.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:42 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Vintage Vogue has a ton of fitted, summer-dress-appropriate patterns that have full or dirndl skirts and various tops, including this one.
posted by pie ninja at 8:44 AM on March 20, 2012

I know the Built By Wendy dress book has a dirndl pattern but Amazon doesn't let you look inside it. From what I recall, though, it's not at all like a Bavarian milkmaid costume and I'm pretty sure she talks about how to alter a bodice pattern so you can make that how you like.

And if you look at the last photo in the Etsy listing it shows the actual measurements - sizes have changed a lot over the years - so that pattern is for a 32" bust, 26.5" waist and 35" hip. Is that close to your measurements?
posted by kyla at 8:45 AM on March 20, 2012

Try just "strapless dress" or "sundress".

It may be casting the net considerably wider, but the problem you may be running into is that people just plain aren't using the word "dirndl" to describe what you're looking for and are simply calling it "sundress" instead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:45 AM on March 20, 2012

There are lots of patterns similar to the dress you linked to on These in particular are the same type of design and are $15.
posted by essexjan at 8:47 AM on March 20, 2012

I was coming in to recommend the Built By Wendy book because it includes a dirndl dress pattern that looks similar to those dresses you've linked and, as noted above, she gives detailed instructions for altering the bodice to suit your style (as well as fitting the pattern to your measurements).
posted by crush-onastick at 9:25 AM on March 20, 2012

generally, dirndl just means that the skirt is a rectangle gathered to the waist, hence all the volume. The Mad Men dress has more gathering (a longer rectangle) and the Etsy one looks like it has less (a shorter rectangle). I would start with a bodice you like and that fits you well, then decide where you want the waist to hit, measure that on your body, and cut two rectangles that are the length from waist to hem you want (plus two inches for seam allowance at the waist and hemming). The widths should be

[waist measurement] / 2 * [2 to 3, depending on how much volume you want in your skirt]

Then just sew the rectangles together, gather at the top edge, and sew into your bodice. You'll probably want your zipper to go down to the high hip, so leave some room in one seam for that.
posted by peachfuzz at 9:42 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Butterick B5748
Butterick B5603
Butterick B4443

McCall's M6504
McCall's M6350
McCall's M6331

Vogue V8725
Vogue V8470
Vogue V2902

Definitely check your measurements before ordering a pattern.
posted by lindseyg at 9:48 AM on March 20, 2012

Burda is a German patternmaker, and they occasionally publish dirndl patterns. There are a couple available for purchase online, with linked photos of finished projects:
Closed-bodice dirndl and apron
Lace-up bodice dirndl and apron

If you can find the Burda Style magazine or a brick-and-mortar store that carries Burda patterns, you might be able to find them there too. The magazine generally publishes a "new" dirndl pattern in the September issue (y'know, in time to make for Oktoberfest :) ).
posted by fraula at 11:14 AM on March 20, 2012

Darn. I'm sorry, reading fail. I just realized you linked to NOT wanting actual dirndl patterns, Burda included.

What you're looking for is a "cupcake" style dress. Linseyg's links are great; browse the retro/vintage sections of Vogue, Mccall and Butterick for many more. Vogue has some gorgeous ones.
posted by fraula at 11:17 AM on March 20, 2012

Burda does have a simplified pattern that might work.

I haven't really taken the plunge into the downloaded/print-at-home pattern thing, because splicing the sheets together sounds like a massive PITA. But hey, instant gratification!

This pattern gives you a bodice, then dimensions for the skirt. Depending on how you are built, waist darts only could be okay and faster to make; but a bigger cup might want to look for a pattern with the bust dart as well or a princess seam, like those retro models.

Do take the time to fit the bodice! I would actually make a muslin and get all the adjustments right, then whip a bunch out based on that template.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 11:41 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about this? It's a wrap dress, not a dirndl, but it's got two neckline variants, pockets, and no gathers in the full skirt, so it's incredibly easy, like bang-it-out-in-an-afternoon simple even if you're a beginner (I could seriously probably make four of these in a day if nobody bothered me).
posted by padraigin at 12:12 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the tips everyone! I had no idea that the sizes would be so different for vintage patterns, and a lot of great patterns to try out this summer...
posted by permiechickie at 12:37 PM on March 20, 2012

"check your MeMail," she said mysteriously...
posted by Corvid at 3:46 PM on March 20, 2012

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