Tuesday, 12 October 2010

To make a Bunad



The Norwegian national holiday is on the 17th May. On that day, many (in particular) females wear a national costume called a bunad. They are copies of old galla dresses from the 16th to the 18th century, and was constructed during the Norwegian liberation from its union with Sweden, intended to boost the national sentiment in the population. Most of these patterns were constructed during the period 1850 - 1930. After 17th May this year, I decided that it was finally time for me to sew my own bunad.


There are many hundred different bunads, all depending on where in the country your ancestors originate from. I was bit a unsure about which bunad to choose, but landed on the Vest-Telemark bunad, which originates from the place where my father’s family comes from (see pictures).



I wanted to make my own bunad from scratch, so I ordered fabric, pattern, silver and thread from Husfliden, which is an organisation aiming to preserve old Norwegian craft traditions. They have several stores, where they, among other things, sell bunads. They also arrange craft courses to teach people to weave, make bunads, make traditional silverware and many other traditional handicrafts.

It took some time to get all the different pieces that makes up a bunad, and I had to wait for both the red cloth to the jacket and for them to make the pattern for my shirt again. But finally, in the beginning of September, all the materials arrived and I could pick them up at Husfliden. The box was so full that the lid would not fit on top. 

 I had never sewn the kind of stitches which were acquired for the embroidery on the bunad, but I knew how to do them and the pattern was printed on the fabric, so how hard could it be. It turned out to be harder than I expected, as the wool fabric was very coarse, which meant that I could not only use the natural holes in the weave to place the stitches because this would make the edges of the embroidery uneven. The angle of the stitches is also very important. So I started on the purse, so it would not be so expensive if I made a mistake. In that way, I could get some practice before starting on the more expensive parts of the bunad.


Now, I have finished the purse (it is only half done on the pictures), and I am almost finished with the embroidery on the edges of the skirt. I am going on a bunad course in the middle of November, and hope to have finished all the embroidery on the dress before this time so that I can use the time on the course to sew the bunad together.

Hopefully, I will have a bran new bunad to wear next 17th May.

14 comments:

  1. Hello! Do you know if it is possible to order from Husfliden to the United States? Also, how do you contact them? I was reading their website and couldn't find any contact information. I would be very grateful if you might be willing to email me! (emerald.griffin@gmail.com)

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  2. I don't know whether it is possible to order from Husfliden to the US, but you can contact them and ask. I would not think it is a problem to ship things. The biggest problem is probably that most of their information is in Norwegian (but I do not know that for certain).

    There are actually several different stores which are called Husfliden, and they all sell bunads. I bought mine at Den Norske Husflid (the Norwegian domestic crafts). They have several different bunads from different parts of Norway (see http://www.norskflid.no/bunad/bunader/).

    There are also other domestic crafts shops where you may buy bunads. The largest one is called Heimen Husflid. They actually handle all of the practical "stuff" for the bunads purchased from Den Norske Husflid, in addition to having many bunads of their own. A good way to look at their bunads, is to look at the bunad map: http://www.heimen.net/Bunadskart. Just click on the place of origin (green dots), and pictures of the bunads pop up. Unfortunately the website is in Norwegian.

    There are also several smaller crafts shops, focusing their attention on a few bunads only. They are often (but not allways) situated across the country, often in the place of region where the particular bunad pattern is from. There are too many of them to give you an overview here, but here is one of my favorites with many different bunads from all over the country: http://www.norskebunader.no/Damebunader/VestTelemark.html. There is a lot of clicking before coming to the bunads, but they are very pretty. They also have the possibility to purchase over the internet (Netthandel). Again unfortunately, the page is in Norwegian, but all the contact information is at the bottom of each page. Since they are not the biggest store out there, they will probably be very obliging.

    Sincerely,
    Bente Halvorsen

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  3. I am 18 years old. 19 on November 2nd 2012. And I was just wondering if anybody can make a bunad for you. I live in the United States. Washington State. I have never had a mother figure try to teach me how to sew, or anything about my Norwegian culture. I am engaged and would like to learn how to make things for my future family and to keep Norwegian traditions alive. Do you know how I can have someone make me a bunad?

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    1. I'm not sure where you are located in Washington, but check out the Sons of Norway website and see if there is a Lodge near you. That would be a great place to meet others interested in keeping or passing on Norwegian traditions.

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    2. Depending on where you live, there are several people in Washington State who can make you a bunad. It will NOT be cheap, however. If you are not already a member of the Sons (or Daughters) of Norway, I highly recommend you consider joining. It's a great way to dive into Norwegian culture, here so far from Norway. I live in the Portland area.

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  4. To make a bunad is a lot of work. For some bunads, a lot is sewn by hand. For others, most is sewn on a mashine. It varies a lot. Also, there is much more tailored work in making the male bunads, which makes them more difficult to make. Thus, if you do not know how to fit a pocket or a collar on a west and things like this, it may prove difficult do without professional guidance. However, if you know this, or you attend a course learning how to make a suite, you should be able to do most of the tailored work for a male bunad. There may still be some special old techniques used on the bunad you choose, but then you may ask someone who specialize in bunads for help with this special case.

    One option is to combine buying the most difficult parts and make the most fun or easy stuff yourself. In that way you may be able to make you bunad project manageable even if you do not have much experience or help close to home.

    In Norway, it is relatively easy to find someone to make a bunad for you, as it a business. The most famous provider of bunads is "Den Norske Husflid/Heimen Husflid". They also sell materials for different bunads, if you like to make them yourself. You can find some of their products at this address: (http://www.heimen.net/Produkter/Bunad;Mann).

    There is some contact information on the pages. The page is in Norwegian, but with Google translator it should be possible to find the information you need if you do not know any Norwegian yourself. The instructions they provide when you buy the material packages (to make the bunad yourself) are also in Norwegian, but if you contact them, they may have translated some of the patterns to English.

    Having someone to make (parts of) a bunad is relatively expensive. You may also find some used bunads online. They are the least expensive alternative, but finding one that fits you perfectly may be more difficult. However, if you like to do some tailoring yourself, you may buy a used bunad that is a bit too big and then refit it. As most people get bigger as they grow older, it is custom to make the bunads large enough to sew them out later in life. Try for instance this web-page to find used bunads for sale: http://www.finn.no/finn/torget/tilsalgs/resultat#?keyword=herrebunad&SEGMENT=0&ITEM_CONDITION=0&sort=5&periode=.

    I hope this may be of some use to you.
    Good luck!

    Bente

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    1. It's a great link! Thanks so much. I am looking for my 4.5 month old daughter a vestlands bunad or sunnmore bunad.

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  5. Where did you attend a bunad course?

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  6. "Den Norske Husflid" is an organization which aims to preserve old Norwegian craft traditions, including making bunads. They have both stores and local societies with craft circles. These local societies also run several craft courses, among which bunad courses are very popular. Here is a link to the local branch (Oslo Husflidslag) where I attended my courses: http://www.husflid.no/husflid/husflidsnett/fylkeslag/oslo_fylkeshusflidslag/lokale_kurs/(offset)/20. Unfortunately it is in Norwegian and the courses changes all the time, but you may find some contact information there.

    There is also some local enthusiast that teaches how to make a bunad. The teacher at my course has her own blog called “Fru Storlien”: http://frustorlien.blogspot.no/. If you are interested in how to make a bunad, she know all there is to know.

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  7. WONDERFUL! Do you have information on bunad from other areas? My family is from pre1620 Marstrand, then Denmark - now Sweden. I would LOVE to have a formal festdrakter for formal events! Can you point me in the right direction?

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    1. Hi

      I suggest you contact Husfliden (http://www.norskflid.no/bunad/bunader/). They know about the Norwegian bunads. They may also assist you with respect to your question about Danish and Swedish bunads as well.

      Bente

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    2. Hi, Thank you for this site that you have and the information of sites. I make porcelain dolls and want to create them in the bunads of my heritage. What do you know of patterns etc that would help me in that effort. Also patterns for children and more information on designs and such . Esp. for the area of Hol Hallingdahl. My daughter lives in Petersburg AK and I understand they are the only area outside of Norway that has been granted their offical bunad design. Judy

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  8. Hi

    I am afraid that I do not know much about bunad patterns for dolls. I have never tried. When it comes to childrens bunads, try contacting Husfliden (http://www.norskflid.no/bunad/bunader). If they cannot help you, they probably know someone who can.

    Betne

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