Monday, 8 August 2011

A Hardanger bunad for my daughter

My mother in law made a bunad from Hardanger for my daughter when she was five (see pictures below). It consisted of the west and hat from the bunad she had warned as a child, with a new skirt, shirt, apron, and belt and "chest cloth", which she embroidered with pearls. The bunad was beautiful, and my daughter loved it.

With some alterations, we were able to use the bunad until last year, but this year it was definitely too small. This meant that she could not wear her bunad for the 17. May celebrations (the Norwegian national holiday). This generated much frustration, especially since all but one of her class mates (female) wore their bunads.

Thus, it was time to make her a new bunad, which I actually looked forward to. The problems is that she is only 10 years old, and in-between the children’s and adult sizes. A bunad for children can only be used a couple of years, whereas the adult bunads would require several alterations to fit the first couple of years. Since a bunad is an expensive dress to make, I went for the adult version. We'll have to see if it is humanly possible to make the bunad fit next year. If not, we will have to wait before she receives her new bunad.

I have ordered and received the materials for my daughter’s bunad. She is smaller and more slender than me, so I used my size as an upper measure when I ordered the materials. I did not order the shirt, since it requires exact measures, since it is almost impossible to alter. She'll have to do with a plain bunad shirt until she is fully grown. Then I will make her a beautiful linen shirt with lots of Hardanger embroidery (see the first picture).

I also worried about the possibility to alter the belt and the chest cloth, since pearl embroideries are very stiff. However, Husfliden (which is the craft store where I bought my bunad fabric) only offered cross stitch embroideries for those who wanted to sew their own bunad. These are much softer and will hopefully not make a big bump under the west the first years.

I have almost finished sewing the chest cloth and belt. It has gone smoothly, since it is made of cross stitches.

The challenge comes with the Handanger pattern on the apron. I have never sewn Hardanger embroidery before, but I look forward to try. I have bought some small purses with Hardanger embroidery on (see picture) to put the silver for the bunad. The plan is to practice on these before starting on the more expensive fabrics of the bunad. It is also possible that I need to sew a smaller apron for her for the first years, since the motif on the adult apron is pretty large. In that case, she will receive the adult apron together with her shirt when she is fully grown. I also plan to sew a new chest cloth and belt with pearls (see the picture below for the pearl belt, and the first picture for the pearl chest cloth), that she will receive when she no longer grows.

As you can understand, I have a very complex and long-lasting bunad project for my daughter. I am optimistic, even though I have to be realistic concerning the possibility of being able to alter the bunad to fit her size the first couple of years. If I am not able to, she'll have to do with normal cloths for the 17. May parade in the mean time.


  1. How very wonderful that you can make bunads for yourself and your family. They are so truly beautiful!

  2. thanks the pics helped for my project. i needed a pic of a bunad

  3. I would like to make a Bunad for myself--but where in the world do you get the fabrics/yarns/patterns etc in the US for the Hardanger Bunad? Or do you have to order from Norway companies?

    1. I wish you, with all sincerity good luck. There seems to be a "click" when it comes to making your own bunads with original Norwegian materials. And if you truly want it to be an "authentic" bunad (vs. a costume), beware of the "bunad police" who will criticize and pick your bunad apart to pieces, according to their very specific guidelines. My grandmother, who was born and raised in Stavanger Norway had an authentic Hardanger bunad and it would have failed miserably in the face of the "bunad police". From my experience, it is next to impossible to order from Norway companies. My best advice is to try to sew a bunad based solely on any family photos you have. I know that the cost of having a bunad, (not sure which regions cost the same) can cost upwards to $3,000 in U.S. dollars.

  4. I also would like to make a Bunad, but have no clue as to where to purchase materials needed - especially the ribbon.
    Can you please help a fellow Norsky?

    1. If you are in Norway, they have ribbons at both Husfliden and Heimen Husflid. If you are not situated in a town with any of these stores, you can either try another bunad supplier or try to contact them.


  5. Hei,
    I am also thinking of making my own bunad. The patterns and such I will probably learn from the family monarch (my husband's grandmother) who has been embroidering Hardanger bunads for a very long time.

    I wondered, where did you purchase the purse packs from? I think it is an excellent idea for storing the silver and a good way to practice. Please let me know :)