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My Sewing Story – Constanze

Every sewist has a unique story. Constanze, who co-founded a retro hiking apparel brand 18nulleins, shared hers with us! We discuss everything from her early beginnings with sewing and upcycling to upcoming new projects for her brand.

The first time we checked out Constanze’s website,, we were immediately captured!
Our eyes were met with a label for retro mountain hiking apparel made exclusively from traditional, natural Alpine fibres inspired by climbing gear from the 1930s and ‘40s. We wanted to know more, so we organised an interview with Constanze to talk about her sewing story.

One: What was your first experience of sewing? Do you come from a family of tailors?

My first attempt at sewing started with a set of white bedsheets, but it wasn’t until many years later that I found out one of my grandmothers was a seamstress.

Two: When did you start sewing? Did you teach yourself to sew, or did you attend a course

I think I was somewhere between 12 and 15 when I sat myself down at my mother’s sewing machine and just tried it out.  When I did my apprenticeship out in the industry in Garment Making, I could already sew pretty much anything. That was where I learned about industrial production. 

After the Garment Making apprenticeship, I went abroad for a few years as a production support worker. When I returned to Germany, I went self-employed to pursue my passion for sewing. In 2014, my husband and I started a retro label: 18nulleins. 18nulleins is the altitude (1801 metres) of our local mountain where we live here in Bavaria. That was the inspiration for the retro mounting climbing gear.

Three: What was the reason, what made you start sewing? 

I’ve always looked for that bit of something extra in the clothes that I wear because didn’t want to look like everyone else. I had no choice but to sew things or change them to bring my ideas to life. “Upcycling” is the word. I’d already been doing this for about 45 years, long before there was even a word for it. I changed and altered everything that came my way, even dyeing some.  

Four: What was the first piece that you made yourself? 

A long-sleeved overall made from bedsheets with silver press studs. I started using Prym press studs very early on, probably around the beginning of the ‘80s.

Five: What’s the next sewing project on your to do list?  

I want to expand my vintage style ladies clothing line, 18nulleins Ladies. So, what’s next is getting the Autumn-Winter 22/23 samples ready and then developing new ideas for next spring. 

Six: Where do you find inspiration for your sewing projects?

For me, it’s a real mixture. I’m interested in a lot of different things: old books, everyday life, and a lot of vintage and retro Instagrammers as well.  

Seven: Which are your favourite social media channels for sewing?

At 53, I still like to flick through “old school”, “analogue” books and magazines, but I do use Instagram. It just makes sense, as a label, to be active on there.

Eight: What is your favourite fabric or material?

Having tried a lot of things out now, these last few years I’ve become more and more fond of natural materials     like 100% wool, linen, and cotton. Especially here in the Alpine region, wool has a part to play in the typical cardigan. In our retro mountain hiking gear, we also only use materials that were available at the time (in the 1930s and ‘40s), such as natural fabrics, even though viscose fabrics were actually around back then. For the women’s line, it’s a little different; some of the fabrics also have an elastic element to them. 

You would like to tell us your story and how you started your handicraft? Write us an email at !

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