My projects,  Sewing

A Karelian dress for my daughter

After making my own Karelian sarafan dress, I wanted to make a similar Karelian dress for my daughter for the holidays. I had quite a lot of fabric left and this was a good way to use it. This time I didn’t sew the whole dress by hand but used my machine.

This post contains affiliate links.

I didn’t need a pattern as, like I said with my previous sarafan dress, this is just a pleated rectangle that is slightly higher at the front (5 cm to be exact). I used the same amount of fabric for the circumference but made the back pleats deeper to fit my daughter.

To leave some room for growth, I added two deep pleats at the centre back that can be let out at some point. Furthermore, I added two horizontal tucks to the hem of the dress that are not only pretty but can used to add lenght.

The hem ruffle and my new ruffler foot

I had some long strips of fabric left after I shortened the hem of my dress, so I used those and some extra fabric to make a pleated ruffle. This was easy now that I just bought this ruffler for my sewing machine.

Ruffler is something that I have been wanting for ages but Bernina ones are pricey, £84.50 at I decided to try whether I could do with a generic unbranded ruffler instead that cost only £16.28. The listing said it was compatible with my Bernina Activa 210 and the price difference was huge.

It took a few weeks to arrive but when it did I immediately tried it. I have no experience with any other rufflers, so I can’t really compare but this ruffler does its job. It does rattle and it feels a bit weird as it grabs the fabric and does its thing when I usually keep the fabric firmly in my grasp while sewing. You can select different tuck amounts and the spacing between the tucks (1, 6 or 12 stitches). It’s quite entertaining to see how this completely mechanical thing works.

For the ruffle in the red dress I pleated 5,6 metres of fabric. In that length, there were perhaps three spots where the pleat didn’t form properly. However, those were easy to fix afterwards. The ruffler settings I used shortened the fabric length to about 60 %. I purposefully made my ruffle a bit too long and I only shortened it after I had attached it to the hem of the dress. It should be possible to sew the ruffle onto the hem at the same time while making the pleats but that was a bit too scary for me, so I did the ruffle attachment separately.

I sewed the ruffle so that the seam allowances went to the outside. Then I pressed the seam and covered the seam allowance with a pretty ribbon.

The finished Karelian dress

I haven’t had time to make a rätsinä shirt for S, yet. However, S has a national costume that has a similar linen blouse that works pretty well. S designed her own pirtanauha belt with the Pirtanauha Generator but I haven’t yet woven it. I hope I will have time over the holidays to add the belt to the outfit. Luckily I have two belts for my own dress, so S can borrow mine.

I love how the Karelian dress turned out! I think this is one of the prettiest things I’ve made for S! Especially I like the ruffle and the decorative band at the hem.

My daughter's Karelian dress from the back.

S wanted to pose with the violin although her instrument is piano. She has been trying to figure out how to get simple tunes out of this little violin, too. None of us plays the violin, though, so we can’t really teach her properly.

The Karelian dress from the front.

I mentioned making the initial hem ruffle too long. Well, the leftovers were more than enough to make S’s old teddy bear a dress, too!

A side view.

This year, we aren’t going to travel anywhere because of covid-19. Instead, I have done my best to make our house festive. Yesterday, I and the kids selected a beautiful Christmas tree from the local salesman and then I and my son K carried it home by hand. It was much heavier than what it looked but we somehow managed! Meanwhile, S had her hands full of spruce branches that the salesman gave us and that we took to make wreaths and other decorations.

Wating for the presents...

We have also started holiday baking early. Two gingerbread houses are waiting in pieces in the kitchen and in the freezer, there are homemade Karelian pies that we made together as a family. I haven’t made them for years at home since they are a bit too troublesome to make alone. However, now my kids are old enough to help and S especially loves everything cooking and baking related. I think she will be in charge of keeping our bins full of gingerbread and plum tarts!

S baking gingerbread.

Now we can both dress in our Karelian dresses together! The red colour is very festive and suits well for Christmas.

I wish all my readers Happy Yuletide, Hyvää Joulua and safe end-of-December! Let’s keep the virus in check until we all can get vaccinated! Happy sewing!


I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.


  • Pauline

    Merry Christmas to you from the UK and many thanks for all your very interesting blog posts. I hope you and your family have a safe and happy holiday.

  • hopflower

    What a wonderful thought to make your daughter a version of your national dress. The fabric is gorgeous and looks traditional. I love to see folk clothes. And your daughter is a little doll; have a Happy Christmas, stay safe and well. I love all of your posts; you are such a talented sewist!

  • Jan

    Thank you for such a joyous Christmas post. The dress looks wonderful on your daughter. I do enjoy watching you making all the historical garments. Happy Christmas and a better 2021.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: