Introducing: The Isabella MacTavish Fraser Wedding Gown Project

The famous Isabella MacTavish Fraser wedding gown c. 1785. Photo by Ewen Weatherspoon. Reproduced with permission of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery

Big news! We’ve been hinting at it for awhile now, but it’s officially time to announce.

This June, Abby and I are traveling to Scotland to participate in the recreation of the Isabella MacTavish Fraser wedding gown with Timesmith Dressmaking and in association with National Museum Scotland, Edinburgh…….and we are *stoked* !

A team of historical mantua-makers will be making a close recreation of this famous dress. The two-day long project will include cutting on the body (draping the lining), assembling and fitting the pleated-back gown from reproduction tartan made by Prickly Thistle, and dressing our model Georgia in her authentic c. 1784-85 ensemble.

The back of the Isabella MacTavish Fraser wedding gown has some rather odd construction. We’re going to work out the how’s and why’s of it during this project and share with you. Photo by Ewen Weatherspoon. Reproduced with permission of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery

We will be working with project lead Rebecca Olds (Timesmith Dressmaking), along with a crack team of stitchers – Peryn Westerhof Nyman (Isabel Northwode Costumes), Katy Stockwell (Regency Regalia) , Alexandra Bruce (Alexandra Bruce Costumes), Georgia Gough, and Flora Macleod Swietlicki.

The original dress will be on display nearby as part of the NMS’s Summer 2019 Exhibition Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland.

The public project takes place live Saturday and Sunday, June 29 – 30, 2019 at National Museum Scotland, Edinburgh. It is a FREE event – come and watch! You can learn more about the event on Facebook or bookmark it on the National Museum Scotland’s website. If you can’t make it to Scotland, we are also creating a mini documentary about the project and the reproduction gown will be going on tour all over the world.

The members of our team in the UK have been granted special access to the original gown to record every detail of its construction, inside and out. The original gown will be on display in the “Wild & Majestic” exhibition while we are demonstrating the reconstruction.

To help raise the funds for this project*, we have an Indiegogo campaign going with some pretty lovely perks – enamel pins, scarves and shawls made from the reproduction wool tartan (my personal fave), cards and PDF patterns of the gown and assembly, and more.

The extant gown has a few quirks and fiddly bits that are curious and fascinating. To work out the atypical construction, Abby and I will be making a test dress in wool flannel, which we will share with you here (of course!). Stay tuned!


*Despite National Museums Scotland supplying the venue and programming for the Isabella Project, they are not funding it in any way. Real costs include reproducing the tartan, travel expenses for the team, and the photography and videography expenses that cannot be donated.

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