Monday, 20 June 2011

A new bunad for the 17th May

The 17th May is the Norwegian national holyday, when everybody dress up and walk in the parade. Bunads are traditional folk costume. They are copies of old dresses (from the 18th and 19th century), and varies across the country. I made my own bunad from Telemark, where my fathers ancestors comes from. It took me almost 8 months, but I managed to finish before the 17th May.

I encountered several problems making this bunad. First, the shirt was too small, and I had to get it re-cut. Second, I had no instructions of how to put the jacket together. But with help from the instructor at my bunad course, these problems were overcome.

I have to admit the new shirt is still a bit tight over the shoulders, but I can manage. I do not want to make the shirt all over again. And, I have to admit that I was rather pleased with it. In particluar, I like the zigzag embroidery on the shoulders and along the neck-line. I also like the red wavy embrodery along the collar. I chose to make a "flee ladder" (directly translated from Norwegian) at the bottom the collar opening in the frot (see picture to the left), even if it was not specified in the instruction.

The jacket was much easier to put together than I had feared. It was actually quit strait forward, even without instructions. The only thing I was unsure of was how to attach the embroidered bindings on the sleeves, as they were apparanty too long. But the instructor at my course suggested that I also attached the binding down the split in the sleeve, which seemed to fit the embroidery perfectly (see picture to the right).

This bunad is probably the largest project I have ever taken on, but I loved every minute of it, and I would love to do it again. The next bunad is for my daughter. The fabric is ordered, and the plan is to finish before the next 17th of May.

 Here I am in my new bunad.


  1. How lovely and festive!


  2. Oh my gosh! I'm extremely impressed with the Telemark bunad you made yourself. It's absolutely fabulous!!! Five stars! You are truly a gifted and accomplished seamstress and artist to make this incredible project. I had materials for a Sykkylven bunad for over 10 years and tried to find someone in Seattle to help me make it but I had no luck. My aunt, living in Sykkylven, told me to send her the materials and she would embroider the dress for me. They found a seamstress in town, certified to sew bunads and the rest is history. I traveled to Norway last September and flew to Sykkylven to have my fitting. I am now the proud owner of a bunad from my dad's home town. I only wish I had the talents to have made the dress myself as I had planned but in the end I have a very special dress embroidered by my wonderful aunt! Thank you for posting your story and wonderful photos of your lovely bunad.

  3. Your bunad is wonderful. I live in the U.S., but my family is from Skein in the Telemark area. I would love to sew and embroider my own bunad. Do you know where I can get a pattern? I'll be traveling in Norway in June -- maybe someplace along the coast (I'll be on a cruise) that would have patterns in English? Thanks so much for an inspiring and beautiful post.