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German uniform stitchery


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Gents,

 

I thought I would start a thread on German uniform stitchery.  That is to say, how uniforms were typically made by clothing factories, private military tailors, company tailors, and by individual soldiers.  Let me say up front that I am not a "stitch counter" uniform collector but there are certain types of stitching that I am most comfortable with because I have seen this or that style over and over.  I suppose I should start out with one of the most common forms of German military stitching, the medal loop.  

 

How do we know when that award was worn by looking at the loops?  Soldiers did not always sew loops on their uniforms to wear their pin back awards so sometimes you will find a pin back badge affixed by simply sticking the pin through the cloth.  More often you will find a stitched on loop however.  You won't always find tailor style medal loops because the soldier sewed the loop on himself but personally I have more confidence in tailor made style loops.  It is often possible to tell, with fairly high confidence, what award was worn on that loop.  A re-enforced hole for a screw back award in the center of the left breast pocket is most likely an Iron Cross 1st Class.  The same holes above the same pocket would likely indicate a Close Combat Clasp.  

 

Here are a couple of examples of "textbook" loops and holes IMHO.

 

 

Deutschland pocket.JPG

Deutschland loops.JPG

Stahlhelm buttons.JPG

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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The three loops seen on the Stahlhelmbund Veteran tunic shown above are a bit odd but they look original to the tunic.  I have no idea what badges were worn on this tunic.  I would also mention that the holes for the Close Combat Clasp on the other tunic shown above do not go through the lining.  This is also typical of original style German stitching IMHO.

 

Below are a few more pix of medal loops as well as a couple of examples of what I believe to be original medal ribbons sewn into / onto the second buttonhole of the tunic.  Also notice the SS membership runes are properly hand sewn on the tunic below the left breast pocket.  These runes were almost always hand sewn.

 

 

loop 3.JPG

loop 2.JPG

loop 4.JPG

loop SS 1.JPG

ribbon 1.JPG

ribbon 2.JPG

ribbon 3.JPG

ribbon 4.JPG

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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Cloth insignia sewn onto uniforms can be either machine sewn or hand sewn.  Generally speaking I would expect to see machine sewn insignia on item of issue clothing such as Enlisted tunics of most types.  This is because, in a factory setting, it was easier/quicker to sew insignia on the uniforms as they were being assembled with sewing machines.  So, typically I would expect to see collar tabs sewn on with the same machine and thread used to sew the collar.  This applies to the backs of the collar where often the thread holding the back of the collar tab is the same as the zig-zag reinforcement stitching normally seen on the back underside of the collar.  The same applies to eagles that are applied during the construction and assembly of the tunic.  

 

Here are some examples of machine sewn insignia.  Sometimes it is difficult to see the careful machine stitching on the top of the collar tabs.  Notice that if the Litzen is sewn directly to the collar it is machine sewn around all four edges.  If the Litzen is sewn onto a collar tab it is done so with a combination of machine and hand sewing.  The LItzen is machine sewn to the tab along the top and bottom edges while the ends are tucked under and hand sewn concealing the stitches.  The completed collar tab is often machine sewn to the collar close to the edges to conceal the stitching for a better appearance.  

 

 

 

Pol collar.JPG

Pol collar reverse.JPG

SCHUPO collar & tabs.JPG

Schupo collar and tab.JPG

Schupo collar & tobacco tabs.JPG

Schupo collar & tobacco tab.JPG

Bayern Ortspolizei collar tabs.JPG

Gend Wm collar tab.JPG

Edited by SARGE

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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Here are some shots of Officer collar tabs.  These are often hand sewn for a neater appearance but many are machine sewn as well.  

 

 

Baden Capt collar tab.JPG

Bavarian LAPO off collar.JPG

Gend Off tab.JPG

Prussian Off collar tabs.JPG

Werkfeuerwehr Lt collar tabs.JPG

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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Thanks for the reply and questions jeeplover.  I was not certain this topic had much interest.  

 

As to removable insignia this most often applies to bullion officer insignia.  You will find some collar tabs with screw backs and some eagles with metal snaps for easy removal.  This is not often seen but insignia collectors run across these "patches" from time to time.  Some insignia was certainly tacked on but it is hard to say what the purpose was and when such insignia was applied. 

 

For instance, German Police uniforms are often found with poorly stitched sleeve eagles.  This is because German Policemen continued to wear their wartime uniforms but they removed the sleeve eagles and wore a "Military Government Police" armband after 1945 instead.  So, in this instance we can determine that these sleeve eagles have often been replaced postwar.  It might be inferred that many Wehrmacht tunics were also de-Nazified by removing the NS Zeit eagles but the line between poorly applied wartime and postwar application is blurred.  I have found uniforms with the removed eagle insignia tucked in a tunic pocket.  Sewing the original insignia back on is certainly restoration but I would argue one step above buying the correct insignia and replacing the missing one with an original.  You be the judge.

 

I will follow up with some sewn on eagles and shoulder boards.

 

 

MG Pol.jpg

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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On 10/17/2020 at 1:49 PM, jeeplover said:

i hope you expand this topic. this is always one of the harder things to determine. i was also told at one time that some insignia are barely on the uniforms so they could be removed for dry cleaning. i would like to see breast eagles and shoulder boards discussed. 

+1

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thank you very much . i have seen people dismiss uniforms because the shoulder boards are sewn in. the few tunics i own are that way. when i look at the major retail sites there is no mention of that being a post war thing it is always mentioned eagle could be war application but most likely post war. what is the popular opinion on this? i feel some things make it hard to tell i have a pioneer officer uniform with a nice bullion eagle. some people have said they think post war applied i think you never know because wouldn't a bullion eagle be hand applied either way so who is to say when it was put on?

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The Heer Medical Doctor (Stabsarzt) tunic is a good example.  I would expect this tailor made tunic to have hand sewn insignia.  I would also expect it to have sewn-in shoulder boards.  Since it was a bring-back by the current owner's relative it has provenance so the owner knows the breast eagle was not replaced.  The only thing odd I see about the uniform is dual long service in the Army and the Police but this is entirely possible.  

 

Here is a named Schutzpolizei Medical Doctor (Oberarzt) tunic.  Notice that the blue backed Police style collar tabs are machine sewn on.  Not surprising as the collars were made as a separate piece and then sewn on.  The shoulder boards are neatly sewn in just like the Heer Stabzarzt tunic.  These are the standard green backed regulation Lt-Capt style boards with a Caduceus and rank pips.  The end of the shoulder boards do not protrude through the lining.  The standard bullion sleeve eagle is hand sewn and the stitching does not go through the lining as one would expect.  The key to identifying period hand sewn bullion Officer insignia is that it normally does not protrude through the tunic lining IMHO.  

 

 

Pol Med tunic.JPG

Pol Med tunic collar tabs.JPG

Pol Med tunic collar.JPG

Pol Med tunic shoudlderboards.JPG

Pol Med tunic eagle.JPG

Pol Med tunic name.JPG

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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I look forward to seeing your pix.

 

Let's discuss some more information on this particular tunic.  We know this is a pre-war Model 1936 Police tunic made on 20 April 1938 expressly for the Medical Doctor.  It is per the then new 1936 Polizei regulations with this distinctive blue backed collar tabs made without colored Waffenfarbe in the middle of the bright Litzen.  Also notice that the high closed collar is the earlier style made with three hooks instead of two as normally seen on wartime collars.  The cuffs are also made in the Officer style with operational flaps but they do not button or un-button to keep them neat.  So, we know this tunic was not tailored as a NCO tunic with false cuffs.  Also notice that the Braunschweig tailor tag is machine sewn in the pocket but the stitching does not protrude through the lining either.  

 

Looking at the sleeve eagle we can see it too is not sewn through the lining so seemingly tailor applied before sewing in the lining.  The tiny evenly spaced stitches look like tailor made to me.  The one thing I notice is the heavy wear on the high spots of the eagle.  It looks like original period wear to me.  This pattern of wear could be from a doctor's white coat that was often worn according to period photographs or perhaps he habitually leaned against something?  

 

The shoulder boards are more problematic.  These standard 1st Lt. style boards are made in subdued bullion which does not match the other bright aluminum insignia.  These boards also show heavy wear... maybe a lab coat maybe not but certainly a red flag.  Also notice that there are some tacking stitches on the top of the sleeve securing the boards.  So, these boards have been replaced IMHO but we don't know by whom or when.  It is possible that there were blue backed Heer style boards on it at one time but who knows?  I have Police Officer Oberarzt greatcoat with blue Heer style shoulder boards but of course there are no collar tabs.  There is some backing for this being a Medical Doctor greatcoat as there were the remains of a handful of sulfa pills in the pockets but who knows?  

 

 

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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i guess another thing is did they have stores where you could buy used clothing? base store\ army surplus\ thrift i only ask because in Sioux falls there is a air force base and the guys buy stuff from the army surplus store in town. i know some military gave the officers a allowance for clothes and the like. save some money buy nice but used? just a thought.

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21 hours ago, jeeplover said:

i guess another thing is did they have stores where you could buy used clothing? base store\ army surplus\ thrift i only ask because in Sioux falls there is a air force base and the guys buy stuff from the army surplus store in town. i know some military gave the officers a allowance for clothes and the like. save some money buy nice but used? just a thought.

 

Yes, German Officers had a variety of places to obtain their uniforms.  Sometimes, like officers in many other countries, new officers were given an initial issue and a yearly clothing allowance thereafter.  The money amount was figured on a wear out period, say one year for socks and three for breeches.  If officers had their own separate income they could buy what they wanted so really what they wore depended upon the size of their purse.  Officers could go to a high end tailor or to a clothing depot to shop.  There were a variety of Officer Associations that sold uniforms and effects cheaply and officers often availed themselves of these Verein groups.  The first Artillery uniform you show is a tailor made example while the second Pioneer uniform is an item of issue example.

 

 

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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OK, here is what I see on your Artillery 1st Lt. tunic.   First, it is a tailor made private purchase tunic with the proper matching insignia for an Oberleutnant of Artillerie.  The collar tabs, shoulder boards, and breast eagle are all uniformly hand sewn on the tunic.  The stitching is not that precise with widely spaced angular stitches that can be seen from the front.  It looks to me like the same hand may have sewn on all of the insignia.  I am ambivalent about the quality of this stitching and when it might have been done.  Sticking three pin back badges on the pocket by thrusting them through the uniform cloth also seems careless to me.  Again, none of these things shout tailor done to me.  Could be wartime applied could be postwar IMHO.  I would not buy this tunic as having wartime sewn insignia.  

 

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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Here is what I see on your Engineer 1st Lt. tunic.  First, it is a factory made item of issue tunic with the proper matching insignia for an Oberleutnant of Pioneer.  The collar tabs, shoulder boards, and breast eagle all appear to be made of uniformly dull aluminum subdued bullion as might be expected for a field tunic.   From the stamped markings this tunic was manufactured/contracted and issued/purchased through the Hamburg Clothing Depot.  From the style of the tunic it was made as an Officer tunic with fasteners for a white celluloid inner collar and a sword/dagger hanger and hanger slot all properly applied.  The collar tabs are carefully machine sewn as expected.  The shoulder boards are nicely sewn in the seam and the ends do not protrude through the lining welt inside the shoulders.  The eagle is carefully hand sewn and the stitch spaces are fairly small and uniform.  I have not seen the buttonhole ribbons sewn without going through the buttonhole but they are neatly sewn and I like the application along with loops for one pin back award.  

 

All in all this tunic appears to be a nice example of a field grade item of issue Officer tunic with wartime sewn insignia to me.  I see no real red flags on this uniform. 

 

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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1 hour ago, SARGE said:

Here is what I see on your Engineer 1st Lt. tunic.  First, it is a factory made item of issue tunic with the proper matching insignia for an Oberleutnant of Pioneer.  The collar tabs, shoulder boards, and breast eagle all appear to be made of uniformly dull aluminum subdued bullion as might be expected for a field tunic.   From the stamped markings this tunic was manufactured/contracted and issued/purchased through the Hamburg Clothing Depot.  From the style of the tunic it was made as an Officer tunic with fasteners for a white celluloid inner collar and a sword/dagger hanger and hanger slot all properly applied.  The collar tabs are carefully machine sewn as expected.  The shoulder boards are nicely sewn in the seam and the ends do not protrude through the lining welt inside the shoulders.  The eagle is carefully hand sewn and the stitch spaces are fairly small and uniform.  I have not seen the buttonhole ribbons sewn without going through the buttonhole but they are neatly sewn and I like the application along with loops for one pin back award.  

 

All in all this tunic appears to be a nice example of a field grade item of issue Officer tunic with wartime sewn insignia to me.  I see no real red flags on this uniform. 

 

when i got this tunic i felt it was a honest unmolested bring back. i will get pictures of the visor and the pay book.

 

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19 hours ago, Proud Kraut said:

Sarge, thanks very much for your info on the Artillerie uniform. I at least noticed the rather unprofessional stiching on the eagle as well when taking the close-ups. Thanks!

 

You are certainly welcome.  Bear in mind that it is hard to judge stitching from a photograph while you have it in hand for a better view.  As I said, I am rather ambivalent about the quality of the insignia stitching on your tunic.  The tunic is obviously original but the quality of the sewing of the insignia does not say tailor applied to me.  Perhaps others will chime in.  

 

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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