How to Sew a Finnish National Costume

Written by tallulah roberto
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How to Sew a Finnish National Costume
Brightly coloured striped skirts are part of the Finnish national dress. (folk dancers image by Mats Tooming from

The Finnish national costume is similar to the brightly coloured, cheerful folk costumes of northern Europe. The ladies' version comprises a shirt, vest and skirt with an apron, a silk scarf worn around the shoulders (rather than on the head) and a lace cap. The skirt is striped in bright colours.

The man's version includes black knickerbockers and knee-high red socks or regular black trousers, as well as a shirt and waistcoat. Both sexes wear black laced or buckled low-heeled shoes.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Striped woollen material
  • White cotton material
  • Contrasting colour cotton material
  • Black material
  • Long red socks
  • Lace
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Threads
  • Sewing patters
  • Tissue paper
  • Pins

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  1. 1

    Find a picture of the costume you wish to create and make a note of the colours of the material. Researching the region will help you find the correct details for your costume.

    Choose a sewing pattern that best resembles the style for the skirt, blouse or shirt and knickerbockers. Simplicity 5582 is a good basic pattern.

  2. 2

    Choose your material in colours appropriate to the region. In the Kaukloa region, for example, the ladies skirt will be blue.

    Use good-quality wool for the shirt and waistcoat.

    Pin your paper pattern onto the materials and cut out, adding tailor's markings where required.

    Sew the skirt and blouse/ knickerbockers and shirt according to the pattern instructions.

  3. 3

    Make the apron. This is a simple pattern that you can cut yourself from tissue paper. Cut the material so that the apron hangs to a length that will still show the skirt underneath.

    Choose a thick cotton for the apron as this will be the part of the costume most likely to be dirtied and therefore will be washed more often.

  4. 4

    Make the bonnet. Finding a pattern for the bonnet will not be easy. It is similar in style to a pioneer bonnet, so you will need to adapt from an American pattern like the Simplicity 3725, adding lace around the face. Find traditional lace or make your own to make the piece special.

  5. 5

    Add the accessories. Add fringing to the bottom of the apron. Choose fringing in black or in a matching colour to the skirt or waistcoat.

    Optional extras for ladies include a black or dark-coloured sleeveless bolero and for men a striped waistcoat. This can be made from the same material as the skirt.

    Add low-heeled, black, buckled shoes for ladies or black buckled boots for men to complete the outfit

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