Hardanger, 6/12/09

Among the beautiful and creative hand embroidery work is a pattern called Hardanger.  When looking for the history, I found several differing versions of how and where Hardanger got its start, but there is an agreement that Norway was prominent in its place of history for the work. 

Since Norway has a city named Hardanger, that spot must have played an important role in the embroidery's history.  The many facets of the design are often woven into the beautiful Norwegian long aprons called bunads.  It is frequently seen, worldwide, in home linens as well.


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

 Maiden   Midnight Sun

Maiden in bunad                   Midnight Sun

(Photos courtesy of Fjord Travel Norway.)

The fabric in Hardanger is as important as the actual stitching.  It must be an ‘even weave' and typically a '22-count' weave.  Hardanger is also considered to be ‘white work' which essentially means that it is accomplished ‘white on white' making it very subtly elegant.  The sculptural nature makes it wonderful for pattern creation. 

Hardanger embroidery uses Satin stitch blocks known as Kloster blocks, consisting of 5 parallel satin stitches, worked over a group of 4 x 4 ground threads. These blocks enclose areas of fabric where a number of warp and weft threads are cut and withdrawn, leaving a network of loose threads and large holes within the shape defined by the Kloster blocks. Various decorative filling stitches are then worked over the remaining loose threads and holes to create a lacy effect.

 Hardanger 1

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Hardanger 2

photo courtesy of https://www.caron-net.com/

This authentic hand Hardanger demonstrates where the interior threads will occur.  The count and placement of each stitch must be accurate for this to work.  My eyes won't do this anymore, but if some of can you do, or have examples, please show us your samples.  Place them in the Forum or Galleries for us all to view and enjoy.

 Hardanger 3

Photo courtesy of Nordic Needle

Digitizers are always trying to replicate special effects created by our early sisters in embroidery.  This design is no exception.  When I found the Hardanger motif, I thought of all the places I could use it.  Those places included a tote bag pocket, linen selections and a pinafore for my granddaughter among other things.  I did this project as a guest towel as available from All About Blanks.  If you are not familiar with All About Blanks, they have the finest items of linen available on the net.  These guest towels are only $39.99 for a dozen.  I keep them around for a quick, easy and memorable last minute gift.

While I did not achieve an exact replica of Hardanger, I feel it is a great representation of the amazing world of embroidery of years gone by.  Additionally, the digitizer for this pattern did replicate the inside twist called "dove eyes" as shown in the last diagram above.

The cross stitching of the design will now allow for definition of the flowers, and the digitizer does call for this to be done in floral colors.  So, this is not following the Hardanger rules - but then again, who follows rules. . . .Additionally, this particular design can be done as a hanging ornament, and not just for Christmas.  Imagine it as part of a wall decoration or placed in a foliage plant.  What a find this one is!  The design is courtesy of Laura's Sewing Studio.


Photo courtesy of Laura's Sewing Studio.

There is an element of ‘cutwork' in Hardanger.  As you are sewing, you will see the outline that will need to be removed.  See my blog posting on "Cutwork" for further instructions.  Don't forget that when you remove the fabric for the cutwork, leave your water soluble stabilizer (wss) in place.  The remainder of the design will be placed there.

  Heart 2

After I completed the design, for better visibility, I kept the wss in place.  Naturally, I will remove it before giving it as a gift.  Here is my interpretation of that design, and I am delighted with the results.  Using quality fabric and design always pays off!

 Heart 3

 Try it, you will love the heirloom quality of it.

Comments (10) -

How does one get this design?  It is beautiful, yet I cannot find where to download it.



Once again, you found something unique & interesting to tell us about. I've been intrigued by hardanger for a long time but never tried to do it by hand. Just like the rest of us in the over 50 crowd, I'm having problems with the close work.....the eyes just aren't what they used to be!

I'll have to check out Laura's Sewing Studio! Thanks for sparking my imagination once again!!!


I have been doing hardanger embroidery for years, and the past four years by machine.  Laura's Sewing Studio has an array of motifs and in numbers and alphabet.  The end result is most satisfying and very pretty, almost too pretty to use.

Thanks for offering this opportunity to see these designs again.


These designs are at Laura's Sewing Studio, see the link in the posting.

I just thought that Hardanger was so lovely that I just had to share it.  There are so many great machine embroidery digitizers out there and they are doing a great job of replicating the old and lovely patterns.

Glad you like it!  Pat

sixcatsterry 6/13/2009 8:01:44 PM

Hardanger on my embroidery machine!!! This is great thank you for telling us about it. I have loved doing this type of embroidery by hand and always thought of it as elegant.  I looked at Laura's designs and this is going to cost me but it is worth it. My imagination is really working on gifts for Christmas.


I checked out the website and she has some lovely designs.  I love the hardanger especially.  Having tried to do this by hand and having a lot of problems, I am excited to be able to do this by machine.  Thanks for sharing the project.  Am planning on getting some of the designs.


Terry - You are right on the mark on this one!  Don't wait until December 20 to start thinking of Christmas and other holiday projects.

Let us know what you are up to, we love to see other embroiderer's work.


Very nice, thank you for sharing this.

I enjoy the pictures too.  I never heard of hardanger.  


Just a little 'heads up,' I am about to unveil my latest 'minibook' entitled "PC's for Embroiderers (and we are not dummies!).

Watch for it, it is so full of great information, tips and tricks, and you will want your copy right away.


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