Andrea gives us a glimpse of the European sewing scene

on January 19 | in Sewing Inspiration, Sewing Trends | by | with 22 Comments

Andrea Mueller, Australian-German textile/graphic designer based in Berlin, Germany, and author of shares her perspective on the European sewing scene today. Chime in with your thoughts about fabric and sewing in Europe in the comments. Perhaps you have a unique perspective from your country to add?!…

Whereas in the Anglo-Saxon world sewing, or at least quilting, looks back on a long tradition and a large community of crafters, in Europe it has only been in the past 5-6 years that sewing has evolved as a trendy leisure activity. A downright sewing frenzy has swept through the continent inspiring creative minds from all walks of life to dust off their sewing machines and start sewing (again).

However, artists, bloggers, stay-at-home-mums and entrepreneurs from all around the continent aren’t leaving it at that, they are redefining the art of needlecraft and implementing it as a stylish way of self expression. It seems as if people are more than happy to embrace this new craft as an alternative to ready-made department store attire as a way of expressing their individuality-– or their children’s-– in their wardrobe and/or their homes.

Numerous designers and illustrators are broadening their portfolios as they discover textile design as a new field for their creative work. Hamburger Liebe, Mymaki, Luzia Pimpinella, Anja Rieger, Susalabim, Paulapue, to name but a few, are among the most popular designers that have helped push European sewing into a whole new direction. Many of these designers work together with Farbenmix, a German based company, and probably the most popular European manufacturer of out-of-the-ordinary sewing patterns (also available in English), fun trims and cool embellishments. More recently Farbenmix has offered fabric choices, catering to the new era of contemporary hobby sewers throughout the continent– and worldwide. The other special thing about Farbenmix, is Sabine and Janina’s philosophy of sharing the company’s success with the crafting community around them by offering talented women the opportunity to publish their designs and make a name for themselves under their patronage.

While Farbenmix focuses on a handful of limited edition designer fabrics, other textile companies such as Stenzo, Polytex, Hilco, etc. produce a wide range of basic and fun fabric in their semi-annual summer and winter collections. Europe is crazy about Japanese designers like Kokka and Echino and the cheerful graphic prints coming from Scandinavian companies like Stoff&Stil, Ikasyr and Sampsukka, as beautifully shown here by Finnish blogger ruttu-nuttu.

It’s all about the mix though, the crazier and cheekier the better, which is why we love to hunt down rare and hard-to-get fabrics from abroad and combine them with other styles. Gratefully many shops are stocking up on US designer fabric too, so you’ll find lots of Amy Butler, Robert Kaufman, Michael Miller, Free Spirit and many more becoming more prominent in a lot of our sewing. Inspired by our traditional heritage, folkloric compilations with lots of red, whimsical embroidery and checkered cotton continues to be very popular and the designers Gretelies and Smila’s portray this beautifully.

Probably one of the most characteristic elements in European sewing is the popular use of machine embroidery. Shops like Huups!, Kunterbunt, Tinimi and many others are signing up with renowned designers to create whimsical themes people love for their storytelling appeal. Very often these are combined with matching ribbons and iron-ons to create stunning and unique little works of art not only for children but also for grown-ups and home-deco. On shop update Thursdays there is usually quite a hype among embroidery enthusiasts who will wait impatiently with their finger poised on the mouse ready to buy the new designs.

On a final note, I think we’ve only just seen the tip of the iceberg of what to expect from European textile design. I can’t wait to see what fellow designers have in store in the future and I can only assume how much creative potential there is slumbering in yet undiscovered talents.

All images used with permission from the artist.

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22 Responses to Andrea gives us a glimpse of the European sewing scene

  1. Lili says:

    I am from Germany but live in the US now! I miss a couple things from Germany, like specific traditional ribbons and Buttons. Otherwise I am in Sewing Heaven in the US.

    This is my friends page.. unfortunately only in German, but she has cute ideas and fabrics.

    Thanks so much for posting this!

  2. FrolicPatch says:

    I’m relatively new to much of the European styling of sewing, though have been sewing for my entire life. I learn more about creative fabric use, piece, color and pattern matching, and embellishing every single day. This article has given me oodles more to research and add to my idea wall. Thank you so much!

  3. Theresa says:

    oh, how i love it….so colourful, playful, wonderful!
    am a german, living in australia…
    creativity is universal!

  4. Keri says:

    Ohhhmigoodness… I have spent (ahem ahem) time exploring these links and finding new things. I am just *loving* some of these designers and subscribed to several blogs. My high school German is pretty rusty so thank goodness for Google translate. Can’t wait to incorporate some of these looks into things I’m doing.

  5. great to hear a bit about Europe! any chance you can cover Italy or Spain too? thanks

  6. Cat says:

    Such amazing stuff . . . but bad news for me . . . more beautiful stuff to spend my money on!

  7. Lara says:

    I’ve been living in NJ for four years. Now I am back in Germany and I miss my local quilt shop oh so much. Certainly, you can find nice fabrics here, but they are generally more expensive. US fabrics (e.g. Free Spirit) are about 16-18 € / m. But those links are a good start for me to explore the local possibilities. I also have to check out Hilco, it’s not too far away. Thanks for the article!

  8. sophie says:

    Great post! A German fabric institution with mentioning is Westfalenstoffe, I particularly love their Sterntaler motif.

  9. Terri says:

    I discovered these wonderful designers last year. I have many of their ribbons, fabrics and embroidery designs and follow their blogs, which have beautiful photos. I love them all! Thank you for the great post.

  10. Andrea gives us a glimpse of the European sewing scene Sew,Mama,Sew! Blog FYI I tried your rss option and it did not. I will try once more in a couple of hours.

  11. Lea says:

    I will be visiting Berlin in April. Can you recommend some shops or other destinations for a crafty tourist to visit?

  12. Kelly says:

    This is such an exciting post! I’m an American living in Germany and Hilco is RIGHT DOWN THE ROAD FROM ME!!!! It can be considerably more expensive than the US, but the fabrics are nice and I’ve gotten the hang of German patterns. I don’t have any interesting comments to add about German sewing arts, but I know they do a lot with wool felt and have tons of other fun crafts. Thanks for doing all that research about European sewing! It was very interesting!

  13. Lisa says:

    A wonderful article, thankyou! Australian’s are loving the Euro style too 🙂

  14. Allison says:

    As an American now living in Germany, I immediately noticed major differences in sewing and crafting items available. There are many traditional and classic fabrics offered here, and I would liken crocheting and felting in Germany to sewing and patchwork in America. Wool seems to be a favorite medium of choice, but the sewing trend has really taken off. I often read many of the blogs that Andrea mentioned and it is interesting to observe major differences between the way Germans and Americans craft. I have also had to adjust many of the items that I make to fit the German market, but yet still try to hold onto my own style and cultural influences.

    Great post!

  15. Simone says:

    Lisa from Ansbach,
    why don’t you email me. I will be happy to help you finding the right places to shop in Germany! Or at least have a handful of great links that help you find the right store online!

  16. Juliette says:

    As an American permanently residing in Germany, this post is really exciting for me! I am really looking forward to future posts by Andrea and am just so psyched to see this German/American bridge on Sew Mama Sew! Hooray!

    I feel pretty ‘lonely’ learning to sew over here and have a handful of contacts, so this one post just opened so many doors for me; and I can practice my German =)

  17. Terriaw says:

    Wow, this was fascinating! I’ve always wondered what the sewing scene was like in other countries. I love reading about all the embroidery and textile designs in Europe. Fun to see these wonderful hobbies go in so many different directions, as leisure activities and professionally.

  18. Jennifer Barclay says:

    Wow, I didn’t know it had taken off so much. My mom lived in Germany in the seventies and early eighties and had a sewing machine, but I’m sure she was considered out of the norm. I’d love to get my hands on some of this fabric.

  19. This was wonderful information and I can’t wait to check out all the links!

  20. Bel says:

    This article is just…great! 😀

  21. anke says:

    a good source for hand- or maschine embroidery and ribbons too find you at

    her style is sooo wonderful. i love it!

  22. Lisa Harlow says:

    My family recently relocated to Germany as my husband is in the Army and I still haven’t found much in the way of fabric and sewing in the area where we are stationed (Ansbach) so I have been sticking to ordering materials from the U.S. But this article has excited me that there really is a sewing/crafting community here, and I’m going to find it! Thanks so much for bringing this to light:)

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