The May 17th Dress

May 17th is the Norwegian National Day, the day when Norway got its constitution in 1814. The amazing thing about the Norwegian National Day is that it’s celebrated so differently from many other National Days. There aren’t any military parades, but the day is all about the children.

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (2)

They parade through their towns and they get to eat as many sausages and ice cream and drink as many soda as they want. There are flags everywhere and everything is decorated in blue, red and white. You can see some photos of the day in our local newspaper. Here is our breakfast table this morning – our dog loved it, too:

Norway has a national costume, a “Bunad”, and if there is one day in the year people wear it, it’s May 17th. Each region has its own costume and many young women (and men!) get their own for their confirmation. They are absolutely beautiful and really expensive – like 6,000 USD and above for the costume itself and the corresponding jewelry. Since I didn’t grow up in Norway, I don’t own a Bunad, but I’d love to have one! My grandmother was from Norway and I’d love to have a Bunad from the region she came from, although I don’t live there today. I borrowed a pic from Bunadrosen to show you what it would look like:


But since I don’t own a Bunad (yet), I had to make something else to wear. I ended up hacking the Charleston Dress by Hey June Patterns – and I love the result! I was inspired by this dress from SewVee and ordered the same fabric from Fabric Godmother, although in another colour. It’s a really thick viscose scuba, more like a neoprene than normal scuba, actually. I loved the idea of a circle skirt with raw edges, but I wanted a different bodice. Luckily I had just tested the Charleston and knew the fit was spot on. So the decision to hack the Charleston was pretty easy!

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (15)

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (13)

As you can see on some pictures, I am pairing the dress with a Norwegian flag pin – like most people not wearing a Bunad.

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (6)

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (7)

And it was a really quick sew – the fabric is incredibly easy to cut and sew, since it’s so stable. Sewing the bodice, cutting a full circle skirt (hooray for extra wide fabric!) and attaching it to the bodice was done in 2 hours or so. And once again – no hemming!! Heaven!

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (21)

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (5)

I wasn’t really sure how to finish the bodice, though, and tried making a lining of thin viscose jersey, since I didn’t want any seams showing. It worked o.k., although pressing the thick scuba isn’t really easy. And I managed to sew the right shoulder strap of the dress to the left shoulder strap of the lining!! Talk about making yourself some extra work…

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (23)

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (10)

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (8)

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (14)

To get the lining to stay on the inside of the dress, I hand-tacked the lining to the inside of the fabric, something that luckily works really well, since the fabric consists of three layers. On one or two of the pics you can still see that the shoulder straps are a little uneven here and there, because the lining is showing a little bit, but it’s good enough. I absolutely love this dress, but it’s obviously not a dress I’ll be wearing all the time, so I’m fine with the way it is.

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (22)

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (3)

I had the best time taking these pics! (Hence lots of pics – sorry for the overkill!)  It was so much fun twirling and we even found some reindeer! They aren’t really that exotic here, they walk around this area during spring and summertime, sometimes they just stand in the middle of the road, or they eat people’s flowers in the gardens. And I love the fact that I don’t have to freeze anymore while taking pictures. 😉

Sew Mariefleur Reindeer.jpg

And the dress works perfectly with my new Lisbon Cardigan, which I am pairing this dress with today.

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (24)

Anyway – Gratulerer med dagen!,  as we say in Norway – meaning “Congratulations on the Day!”

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (16)

Sew Mariefleur Charleston Circle Skirt (18)

23 comments on “The May 17th Dress

  1. I love this! I was thinking of trying the Charleston with a fuller skirt, and I’m so glad that you did it first so I could see it. Beautiful!

  2. anya-zoe

    Gorgeous dress!! I love how you combined the fabric with the pattern and I love how full the skirt is because of the stiffer fabric.
    It was really interesting to read about Norwegian National Day celebrations. It is so cool that it is about children and food and fun. So awesome!

    • Thank you, dear Anya! It’s nice having such a full skirt without having a petticoat or many layers! We had a lovely May 17th, although we had some snow! (!!)

  3. Meine Kinder haben dein Twirl-Video eine Million mal angeguckt. So, so schön geworden.

  4. Gratulerer med dagen! 🙂 Den kjolen var kjempe fin, fantastiskt stoff!! Du må jo bare sy deg en bunad selv 😉 Vi har bunad på Island også men før vi flyttet til Norge hadde jeg aldri engang tenkt at det var noe jeg ville ha, men for en del år siden fikk jeg mormor sinn bunad og jeg elsker å bruke den på 17. mai! 🙂

    • Tusen takk, Dagbjört! Ja, har faktisk vurdert det litt, men vet ikke en gang hvor jeg skal begynne? Finnes det kurs? Hvor får man stoffet? Finnes det bøker om hver enkel bunad? Tror jeg må innom Husfliden en gang…

  5. I hope you had a great day! Your dress looks amazing, the neoprene hangs so nicely as a circle skirt, and not having to hem it is a big bonus!

  6. This dress is so perfect! I might have to copy you! Happy syttendai mai!

  7. Lovely reading! So nice to know more about Norway. 🙂
    That dress is wonderful and you look stunning!

  8. Das Kleid ist wunderschön Fleurine. Ich dachte zuerst es ist aus Samt, weil es so super weich und gleichzeitig schwer aussieht.

    • Vielen lieben Dank, Vicky! Ich glaube, dass das Kleid auf den Fotos so weich aussieht, weil ich die dunkelblaue Farbe des Kleides etwas verstärken müsste, damit es nicht so schwarz aussieht. Und da sah es plötzlich noch etwas weicher aus!

  9. Holy moly! You look amazing!! Also, casual reindeer sightings?? Magic.

  10. Beautiful dress and the backdrop scenery.

  11. Hach … so so schön!

    Liebgruß Doreen

  12. […] But I did make two Charleston Dresses before, and I just have to share my favourite pic of my Charleston circle skirt hack with […]

  13. […] Finally I landed on the Sew MaireFleur blog and was thrilled with what I found.   She had made a beautiful scuba knit Charleston Dress from HeyJune Patterns.   I immediately made the purchase and started assembling the pattern.  One […]

  14. […] van de Charleston dress, en kwam deze supermooie versies tegen: met blauwe bloemenprint, eentje van scuba met een cirkelrok,  en deze mouwloze met een fantastische blauwe […]

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