1740s Scottish Tartan Outfit – Done!

1740s Scottish working woman’s tartan wool ensemble

(Here’s another I’m posting about from *the future* – ah, how remiss in never finishing up these projects! But here goes…)

There wasn’t much for previous posts about this costume. I did a bit of planning and researched embroidered stomachers, then jumped straight into making the pieces.

Simplicity 8161 – I designed this pattern for Simplicity, but due to tissue size restrictions, I wasn’t able to include the skirtings for jackets.

I used Simplicity 8161 to make this jacket. I wanted to show an example of what could be done with the basic pattern. The bodice has a front, side back, and back piece.  I then draped the “swallow tail” peplum, which I found quite challenging but worked out and was able to include in the Simplicity 8161 Pattern Hacks document, which you can download here.

A very simple 3-piece bodice with an arced peplum for skirting, split at the center back.

Fitting the side-back seams on the body.

Flatlining the bodice – it’s easy to see where the seams are here. 

the side back fitting seam pinned, ready for top stitching.

The construction was quick, lining with cotton muslin. I made little scalloped pocket flaps (even though I didn’t have pockets in the skirting), and discovered that it is indeed a *lot* easier to get the sharp, accurate points by turning under the edges and then top stitching, rather that doing it right sides together.

Cute lil’ pocket flap, for funsies.

One of the finished pocket flaps – this is the one that I tried right-sides-together. You can see how the white lining shows. When doing it the period correct way, that lining does not show, and the points are much sharper.

With the bodice assembled, I left the shoulder straps free for the sleeve fitting. The lesson here was in giving yourself plenty of extra sleeve head to work with, for when you fit over your shoulder. Any excess just get pleated up and then cut away before the shoulder strap is applied over the top, so it’s better to err on the side of caution. Mine were a bit short, giving my poor mother not nearly enough to work with to get the sleeves set. It was tricky and not very secure. (I may need to go back in the future and piece in just a bit more on the top of the sleeves to make this more comfortable).

See how the top of the sleeve is quite short. It just barely folded over the shoulder enough to reach the shoulder strap lining.

Ready to fit the sleeves over the shoulders. The sleeves are already stitched on at the underarms.

My poor mother trying to get those too-short sleeve heads to meet the lining.

A few more tidbits – this was the year of winged cuffs, and I’ve fallen in love. I think they are so interesting and love the look..structured and sharp, ingeniously constructed, and rather unique to the 1740s.

And so begins my love affair with winged cuffs…

I did end up embroidering the stomacher by hand with the classic thistle motif and vermicular stitch for “fill.” I love the way it looks with the jacket, though I will probably switch out the bodice lacing for something less distracting, or possible even just pin it, so the stomacher shows more (I’m proud of it!).

The thistle stomacher. I’m very proud of this.

To finish the whole look, I made a blue wool petticoat. This is a very daywear look, so I have the kerchief in the neckline, the mutton-chop cap tied under the chin (it’s silly, I know, but it’s spot on!), and a simple straw bergere style hat. (Oh, and red Kensingtons!)

Huzzah! The whole outfit together!

A view of the swallow-tailed back. I think this is so pretty.

Side view

All done – now just need somewhere to wear this, somewhere suitably…Scottish 😉

From The Future (2020) – Regrettably, I’ve only worn this costume once in the 5 years since I made it. My measurements have changed since then, but there are almost always some options for alterations with 18th century clothes – it’s a good start being a stomacher front jacket, and I may also be able to access a tiny bit of extra seam allowance, and piece in with the little bit of extra tartan I’ve stashed (always save your scraps, remember!).


  • Samantha Benton

    February 23, 2021 at 6:48 PM

    I'm so glad you posted this!!!!!! (And "better late than never" is my personal mantra XD) It's great to see the finished jacket in context–it's one of the projects you were working on when I first found your blog. I'll second the request for stand-alone close-ups of the stomacher so we can see all your lovely embroidery. Great outfit!

  • Kerry

    October 6, 2021 at 12:33 PM

    Thank you so much for this!!! I was trying to follow some modifications I found on another website and sat down with a much wiser clothing designer and she made all these changes and I couldn’t figure out how it went together and then I saw your post and it all *fits* together now! Thank you again!!!!

  • Rachel

    April 27, 2023 at 3:06 AM

    Hi Lauren, I know this comment is years after your posting, but hopefully will still be relevant. Re the lining showing in “modern” sewing on pocket flaps, collars etc: I was taught to trim the lining/underside piece very slightly (1/8-1/4″) and then sew right side to right side with the usual seam allowance, gently easing and stretching to accommodate the slight difference in size. When turned right side out, the smaller lining/underlayer will pull the top layer in and the seam line (and hence the transition between fabrics/colours) will be concealed underneath. It works best where there are curved edges. On the other hand these parts of a garment are often fiddly anyway and just as easy to hand sew as you have described.

Leave a Reply

Discover more from American Duchess Blog

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading