This may sound like an incredibly odd title for a blog post from a sewing blog about stuffed animals. What in the world do Dutch Costumes have to do with pillows? Well the short answer is ‘they don’t”. The longer answer is really more interesting I think.
As many of you know my love of sewing goes back to my childhood. My childhood also include growing up in the wonderful town of Pella, Iowa. We LOVE our Dutch heritage. Just love it. Our downtown has a feel of being in the Netherlands. In the spring the streets are lined with rows of tulips. We have a wooden shoe shaped pond. There are windmills all over the place. (just come visit - we have a spare bedroom!)
To show how much we love it for three days in May we have a town festival. It’s called Tulip Time. Thousands of people come to see it. There are parades, Dutch Dancing, plays, eating pastries and of course the obligatory craft show.
And to top it off we wear traditional costumes from the Netherlands. One part of the parade is just school children dressed in costume. And who do you suppose makes all those outfits for everyone to wear? Me of course! Well not by myself, I am just one of several in the community who do. Grandmas and moms will occasionally make them for their kids, but sewing is becoming a lost art. Especially when it comes to things like this.
My first “authentic” costume was back in 2001. A friend had just had a baby and wanted a costume for her. It was from the village of Staphorst in the province of Overijssel. The fabric has a dot pattern that is hand stamped by locals. I am afraid that my first attempt at this fell short.
As time has gone on I have branched out to doing many of the villages and provinces of the Netherlands. I have an arrangement with a shop owner for selling the costumes in her store. It is an arrangement that works nicely for me. I do also take orders from her if there is something special a customer might be looking for. This costume is from the Village of Marken. The little girl wanted pink and purple which are not traditional but I was willing to bend a few rules for her.
The costumes for my family are from the village of Best in the province of Noord Brabant. My great grandparents immigrated from there in the early 1900’s. It very common in Pella for a family to choose costumes of their Dutch ancestors. The most striking part of our costume is the hat. It really has 3 pieces. A black underhat, a white fine lace overhat and then a poffer on the top.
The “Dutch Costume Season” is very short. It goes from late February right up to the festival in May. It’s a crazy time. Last year I sewed 83 costumes. Average is anywhere from 40 to 80 so I was definitely on the high side! It’s a completes change from the animal pillows so it makes a nice break for me. But then it’s right back to the fuzzy fabrics and cute patterns of the stuffed animals!