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The Polar Bear Bride
Outline the story …
During the theme announcement I immediately though of mystical Norwegian fairytales, more precisely Kvitebjørn Kong Valemon (White bear King Valemon). It's a fairytale published in 1871 by a famous writer Peter Asbjørnsen.
The fairytale is available online, link below!
In short, it's about a princess who wants a golden wreath she has seen in her dreams. One day she happens upon a white bear wandering in the forest, who has that very wreath. She joins him to his castle, and finds out he is a cursed prince. For 7 years, he is a polar bear except during nighttime, but she must never lay eyes upon him as a man, or else he must marry the witch that cursed him. Her curiosity wins at last and she sneaks a peek at him during the night and he has to go to the witch.
After a long rescue mission with help along the way, she ends up saving the prince from the evil witch!
Norwegian fairytales, like this, often ends in a wedding, but it's rarely described in detail. So I was wondering what a traditional, fairytale wedding dress based on this story look like?
Norwegian brides traditionally wore their finest bunad (Norways national costume), with added silver and gold jewellery. An opulent crown was also common.
I've taken some elements from the story into the outfit, like the princess' golden wreath around the skirt hem, as well as taking massive inspiration from traditional bunad bridal design, techniques and materials.
Outline the construction…
This was SO fun! All garments are machine stitched and hand finished, and all straight lines are thread-pulled before cutting.
Linen shirt with Hardanger embroidery for the collar, front decoration and cuffs. The pattern was roughly drafted, then finessed through mockups and help from the FR-mentors. My mother taught me Hardanger, it was my first time! The design is mine, and took two months to complete.
The striped skirt was a pretty straight forward make! It's a traditional bunad fabric. Knife pleats in front, cartridge pleats in the back. The hem is decorated with a bias cut strip of fabric, and a red wool strip with handstitched golden lace trim! It has pocket slits and skirt hooks in the back. It's also hooked to the bodice to prevent sagging.
The belt wrapped around the waist is made from trim, golden lace and red wool fabric.
Now, the headwear was a new experience! This bridal crown is based on traditional bridal headwear from Voss, Norway. It's stiffened with cardboard, a paint stick and a pair of knitting needles (!) inside, sandwiched between layers of felted wool, and decorated with trims and beading. It ties under the chin, but also in the back. The jewellery is from thriftstores or from my own stash.
Corseted bodice: Lightly boned and front laced, made of two layers in coutil and pure wool. I made the coutil layer first, then draped the wool over it. It's trimmed with bunad trim, and pinned shut in the front.