On Spring of 2021, Estonian Cultural Society of Chicago (ECSC) in partnership with NGO Rahvarõivas started to facilitate two-year Lecture series of Estonian Folk Costumes history and craftsmanship “Rahvarõivaste valmistamise kursus”. NGO Rahvarõivas has been teaching the craft of creating traditional Estonian folk costumes since 2009. NGO Rahvarõivas was founded in 2008 with a purpose of making, wearing, and preserving Estonian Folk Costumes and its handcraft traditions. 

Eesti Rahvaroivad Logo

They combine thinking and practical skills of cultural historians, ethnographers, craftsmen, and heritage technologists to teach. They are the best in their field of work. The courses are intended for people who are interested in folk costumes and who also want to learn more about the costumes’ history, traditions as well as how to make one of their own. Nineteen participants started the program in spring of 2021 from Illinois, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Maryland, Washington, California, New York, Ireland, and Estonia.

The course will cover

– an overview of the history and traditions of Estonian folk costumes
– the fashion changes that folk costumes have gone through over time
– heritage technologies and historic craftsmanship methods
– how fabrics and yarns were made and colored
– regional differences between folk costumes
– opportunities to learn more about the roots and heritage of participants
– how to rediscover and create a historically correct national costume

Students participating in class via Zoom

The course directly contributes to the preservation and development of the Estonian language, traditions, culture and history. The folk costumes that will be made during the course will allow for several Estonian communities in the U.S. to display their heritage at gatherings as well as in local international festivals.

Example of Kärla Costumes Mood Board by Merli Mänd

The graduation ceremony for students, who will complete the full program is planned for June 2023 along with EKSC Midsummer Solstice “Jaanipäev” celebrations, where graduates have an opportunity to share their stories and showcase the completed costumes.

Meet our teachers

Anu Randmaa on MTÜ Rahvarõivas tegevjuht ja rahvarõivameister. Anu on kõigi MTÜ Rahvarõivas rahvarõivakoolide koordinaator. Samuti õpetab Anu erinevaid traditsioonilisi käsitöötehnikaid ning helmekeede valmistamist.
Liis Luhamaa on lõngade värvimisega tegelenud üle 15 aasta. Viimased neli aastat on ta pühendanud Eesti rahvarõivastes kasutatud värvide uurimisele. Ta on Pärnumaa rahvarõivakooli vilistlane ja pärandtehnoloogia magister.
Merli Mänd õpetab rahvarõivakoolides õmblemist. 2016. aastal asus Merli õppima TÜ Viljandi Kultuuriakadeemia pärandtehnoloogia erialal. Esimesed koolitused viis Merli läbi Muhu sitsjakkide teemal.
Silja Nõu on rahvarõiva tikandeid tikkinud ja õpetanud nüüdseks juba aastakümneid. Temalt on palju õppida igasuguseid meistrinippe.
Maret Lehis õpetab rahvarõivakoolides kanga- ja kirivöökudumist ning pappalusel peakatete valmistamist.

Our sponsors

A heartfelt thank to all or our sponsors for their generosity. We would not be in this position without their help.

Cultural Endowment of Estonia (Eesti Kultuurikapital)

The Estonian American National Council (Eesti Rahvuskomitee Ühendriikides)

Estonian Relief Committee (Eesti Abistamiskomitee USA’s)

The Estonian American National Council (EANC) / Eesti Rahvuskomitee Ühendriikides (ERKÜ)

Email eestlasedchicagos@gmail.com, if you have any questions or would like to get in touch.