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Vintage Swiss: Monroe man transforms old dirndls into new
Trupke, shown in his sewing room at his Monroe home, began quilting about eight years ago and says he uses sewing as a way to relax.
MONROE - Everything old is new again, as the song goes. And that's literally the case with the Swiss dresses Scott Trupke fashions from vintage materials.

Trupke, Monroe, repairs and repurposes vintage Swiss dresses, called dirndls, for women and girls - just in time for residents who want to capture the Swiss look for Cheese Days.

He completes the dirndls, in blues, greens, browns and black, with white or cream-colored blouses and aprons. The ensembles are available through Wildflower Collectibles Etc. on 11th Street in downtown Monroe. (Sorry, gentlemen, perhaps 2014 will be the year for milking shirts and lederhosen.)

Trupke finds the authentic vintage dirndls for sale on websites, preferring ones made of linen. He said he searches for and uses only "top quality" real Venetian lace on his aprons and shies away from cheaper cotton laces.

"I remember what it looks like," he said of the quality lace that was locally-made in New Glarus. "We went each year to Swiss Miss to watch them make lace." Swiss Miss Textile Mart and Lace Factory in New Glarus closed in 1998.

Trupke has also begun to fashion another line of dirndls for a more modern look, making them from vintage skirts and dresses. He is currently working on a bodice to pair with an embroidered and beaded vintage skirt. The beads, he said, are not traditional, but they give this particular chocolate brown dirndl skirt some sparkle and flare.

Trupke's interest in sewing began at the elbow of his mother, Susan Trupke, who was an avid seamstress. His mother and father Walter farmed near Blanchardville, where Scott was born and graduated high school.

His tradition of watching and learning continued at the foot of his grandmother's treadle sewing machine and in his grandfather's cobbler shop near Mukwonago.

About eight years ago, Trupke said he saw quilting being done and thought "I can do that." Five years ago, at the request of Eleanor Morstad, owner of Wildflower Collectibles, he began making purses out of vintage and recycled clothes, and then mittens out of recycled wool sweaters and then hats. Dirndls for Cheese Days were finally planned.

Trupke has been a pharmacy technician by profession for 15 years. But sewing has become "my relaxation," he said.

Trupke admits he's not Swiss, but quickly adds that his wife, Shelly, is. They dress for Cheese Days as a Swiss family, Scott in an embroidered milking shirt, 4-year-old son Jackson in authentic leather lederhosen and Shelly in - of course - a dirndl.