Do-It-Yourself Fashion: Sew Happy

Rediscovering the pleasures of needle and thread.

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Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Fast issue 06/25/2009

The German fashion flock is getting crafty, and finding a slew of like-minded hip stitchers across the Continent. Maybe it’s an expression of creativity, or perhaps a response to tight economic times, but sewing parties and the tools for DIY are becoming more prevalent with the cool set. Look past issues of Butterick or Burda on the newsstand and you’ll find the new magazine Cut–Leute machen Kleider (or People Making Clothes). Appearing four times a year, the Munich-based how-to guide combines fashion layouts, shopping tips and designer profiles with DIY tips. With a retail price of 7 euros, or about $9.70 at current exchange, Cut’s spring debut comes with pullout patterns for a double-sided scarf, a pleated messenger bag and a batwing minidress. For the needle averse, there’s also a step-by-step screen-printing guide. Lucie Schmid, 31, started the magazine after learning to sew from a class. She wanted to continue at home and went on the hunt for modern but simple patterns. When she didn’t find any, she decided to create her own—and a magazine to boot. Further, she realized there was a growing culture of hands-on and handmade. “I noticed that young people had a real interest in DIY, and that they were making really great things. I wanted to make a magazine for them.” The first issue of Cut sold out in some of Germany’s and Switzerland’s key book and fashion stores. The trend appears to be catching on at fashion stores, as well.

This story first appeared in the June 25, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


Sewing circles are popping up as a way to spark interest and teach the craft, as well as providing a creative outlet and a social network of a more traditional kind. At Berlin’s Linkle Stitch ‘n’ Bitch Café, for instance, Dutch owner Linda Eilers is ever patient with beginners who come to rent sewing machine time for 5 euros, or about $7, an hour, or more experienced crafters who come to learn pattern design or bustier construction. Classes are taught in German, English and Spanish, with a complementary cup of tea on the side. Eilers says the impetus for her customers is part frugality and part fashion. “The last 10 years, it was so not the thing to do, to make stuff yourself. Now, all of a sudden we want to be unique. Well, how to be unique? Make it yourself!” For those who want to share their creations with the world, there’s Berlin-based online shop DaWanda.com, started in 2006 by Claudia Helming and Michael Pütz. The Web-based craft fair also has outposts in France and England, and sellers and buyers from all over the world. Browsers can check
out silver clogs from Berlin, coiled zipper necklaces from Italy and quilted clutches from Seoul, among the 350,000 items available. To keep things current, DaWanda works with design blogs such as U.K.-based Print and Pattern to curate collections of favorites, and coordinates with Berlin fashion photographer Katja Hentschel’s streetstyle site Glamcanyon.com, matching up DaWanda sellers’ handmade goods with the outfits worn by photogenic folk.

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