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Do-It-Yourself Oktoberfest Dirndl


This coming weekend, I'm attending a nearby Oktoberfest event in the Amanas with my boyfriend G and some friends. I've been looking forward to the German food, music, and beer for months. And I've been thinking about my costume for just as long. Nothing will do me than to dress up in some traditional Bavarian garb and get my bier-drinking on.

However, it turns out: dirndls (especially nice ones) are pricey. If I ever make it to the real Oktoberfest in Munich, I will definitely invest in a real dirndl in all its glory. But for a local festival, I decided to take on the challenge of DIY'ing my own.

It all started with a strapless gingham dress that I've had for years. I wore it at my high school graduation ceremony (under my gown) and party. And while it's definitely a bit more snug than it was five years ago, I'm totally amazed that the frock still fits. I wasn't sure how I'd turn the simple dress into a dirndl, but I was determined.

Gingham dress, soon-to-be dirndl

G and I hit up Goodwill last weekend to find pants, a gingham shirt, and suspenders. You guessed it! We're DIY'ing his lederhosen, too. ;)  Lo and behold! There on the Halloween costume rack was a German beer wench costume. In my size. But it wasn't quite what I was looking for...

There's no way I was wearing this to Oktoberfest.

The super short skirt was perfectly suited for a weekend of Halloween bar-hopping in a college town and not at all suited for the traditional Bavarian look I was going for, but the top was pretty (and not too revealing) and I knew I could work with it. So I nabbed it for a mere $12 compared to the $30+ it goes for online or in a costume shop.

Beer wench costume + gingham dress, waiting to be transformed!

Tonight, I settled in with a little sewing kit and glass of Riesling. I cut the top off of the strapless dress and sewed together the cut pieces to make it into a skirt. (Can you tell by my lack of sewing jargon that I'm a very inexperienced seamstress?) When the gingham dress-turned-skirt was finished, I turned my attention to the Halloween beer wench costume. I didn't want to cut the top away from the bottom because 1) I might want to wear it as-is one day, 2) I wasn't confident enough in my sewing skills to attach the costume top to my gingham skirt in a nice way, and 3) the Riesling had me feeling pretty lazy.

Wine while you DIY is always a fabulous idea. ;)

So instead of cutting the costume apart, I tried it on and pulled the gingham skirt over it. Much to my amazement, it was actually starting to look like a dirndl! I could wear the skirt over top of the costume... and the costume skirt underneath helped to poof out the gingham skirt in a nice way. I still need to add some pretty ribbon for detail and track down a long apron. It also wouldn't hurt if I could find a nice stein, but I'm very happy with how the dirndl is coming along.

Starting to look like a dirndl for Oktoberfest!

Oh! And since my main goal was to create a pretty dirndl on the cheap... let's talk about cost. The gingham dress was free since I already owned it. The costume was a Goodwill find for $12. I also got a yard of ribbon for $5. So while I still have an apron to make/buy, I'm sitting pretty at under $20. :) 

Comfy. Pretty. And totally inexpensive. :)

I'll be sure to take photos of G in his diy-lederhosen and me in my finished dirndl this weekend at the Oktoberfest event and then post them sometime next week.  Prost!


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