As the Saami people live in the far North of Europe, they need really warm and cozy clothing. Today, that’s not a problem, with all the modern high-tech materials and clothes-making techniques. But hundreds of years ago, people didn’t have that many options. There is one particular winter garment traditional for the Saami that is both comfy and cute-looking, and that’s a luhkka – a hooded cape that protects the top half of a body. Let’s see what it looks like and how to make it.
A luhkka is a hooded cape, similar to a South American poncho. It was the traditional garment of the Saami people inhabiting Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Russia. The hem of a luhkka could reach the elbow or wrist.
A luhkka is made from ordinary wool or felted wool. Historically, it was sewn from wadmal fabric – coarse and dense wool cloth woven in Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe, Orkney, and Shetland Islands from the Middle Ages into the 18th century. This fabric was woven by hand on a loom and was usually a 2/2 twill weave or plain weave.
The Saami wore a luhkka as outerwear, on top of the other garments, like a gákti (Saami folk tunic or kirtle) or a beaska (Saami fur coat).
Here is a video by Kristine Vike that shows how a Saami luhkka is sewn and tells a lot about the local culture and the history of this lovely winter wear. By the way, this is one of the most adorable and nicely created seamstress’s films about folk clothing I’ve seen recently.
How to make a Saami luhkka