Sewing · Victorian

Trimmed with Tartan, Part I

If you’ve read The Tale of Two Tartans then you’ll know that I once bought 19 metres of tartan silk. Two dresses were made from it and still, I had what could be called a reasonable amount left in my stash. Not enough to make another outfit on its own of course, unless teamed with a secondary fabric. Therefore the plan to make a slightly less in-your-face tartan-y 1880s bustle dress was hatched.

Since my last dress used black I decided to use white this time around and one day after work last month I paid a visit to Morelands to find some white taffeta. Still not sure what exactly I wanted my new dress to look like I turned to my books for inspiration as well as drawing a few different ideas down.

Designs and Frances Grimble’s book

I really liked the idea of using the tartan not only as a simulated vest but I was really liking the idea of having some at the back too. Of course, with no patterns to hand to make the back design I had to try and figure it out myself.

I traced the back pattern piece and then played around with which angle best served for creating a nice triangle of tartan at the back. Once I thought I was happy with that I cut the pattern along the line and retraced the pieces, adding the seam allowance. My first mockup was happily obliging and it seemed like it would work.

I cut the pieces out of broadcloth and chose to sew the two smaller pieces together so that I wouldn’t have to worry about pattern matching the tartan. I then flatlined the tartan and the taffeta, as well as cutting out and flatlining the side back and side pieces of the bodice as well.

Once these were finished, I sewed the seven parts together and put it on my mannequin to see how it looked. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the tartan piece turned out, coming down right to the perfectly positioned point. It was a complete and utter fluke actually.

With that solved, I then had to decide how I wanted the front to look. I considered using the Truly Victorian French Vest Bodice pattern but the would have meant that the tartan wouldn’t reach where I wanted it to. So I turned to my Penguin Bodice frankenpattern and used the combination of the Two Tone Bodice and the French Bodice patterns.
When I made that up I was again pleasantly surprised to see that the tartan from the front and from the back was almost a complete match at the shoulder seams.

So far, so good. Now I had the main part of the bodice constructed I was left with the great Deliberation of the Sleeves. Tartan or taffeta? I pinned the different fabric choices on either side and stood back to decide. Well, that was easier said than done. I couldn’t decide!

Decisions, decisions… this is when the dress got nicknamed the Pick-a-Path dress

As I only had the bodice over the tartan underskirt, which I am planning to use as a part of this outfit I thought that I would have a better idea if I turned my attention to making the overskirt so that I would be able to better decide.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

2 thoughts on “Trimmed with Tartan, Part I

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