Pattern weights

Last September I visited Scotland, in particular the islands of Mull and Skye. Of course, Scotland is renowned for it’s wool, so when I saw a sign ‘Wool mill’ along the road on Mull, I followed it. Around the corner, along the road, down another turn, way down the road again, but eventually I did indeed find the Ardalanish wool mill.

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Pretty Mull

 

There were two main buildings to visit, one where the weaving happened and one with the shop. I first spend quite some time with the lady working on fabrics. She was checking one of the wool pieces for snapped threads, which were than woven back in by hand. They had tree old weaving looms in the space, and she told me a lot about their process, which was very interesting. This mill is on an estate, using the wool from their own sheep, as well as other wool from the island. They do most of the process in-house (all except spinning I believe), including any dyeing, which is done with home-grown natural dyes.

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I didn’t take any pictures of the mill, so some more pictures of sheep instead. As many Scottish islands, Mull has a lot of sheep.

 

Of course, after that I also had a good browse through their little shop. Aside from the fabrics, they also sold wool yarn and loads of little and bigger things made from their products. Scarfs, blankets, mitts, etc. In the end though, I bought a little package of fabric scraps. These were left-over from the things that ended up in the shop, and this allowed me to buy a range of little fabric scraps from different tweeds.

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I kept them in my closet for a while, but last week I stumbled along a tutorial for pattern weights, and thought this would be a perfect use for them! Something you actually use, for which you need only a very small amount of fabric.

There are loads of tutorials for pattern weights, I followed this one.

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I had to piece some scraps to get them in the right shapes, but that worked out fine. I also kept some of the selvedge markings, as I thought that added a nice touch about the origin of the fabric (and some scraps would’ve been to small without). Two weights are also a little smaller than the others due to fabric size, which works out okay for smaller pattern pieces.

After that, the process was quite simple. I filled mine with rice, and then sewed shut the final opening by hand.

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And then they were done! I’m really happy with my new pattern weights, the fabrics are so beautiful, and they work very well together as a set.

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Inspiration – Tartan

I’m currently in Edinburgh for work, and discovered again how much I love this city. Aside from all the narrow alleys, tea shops, cute jewelry and gruesome tales, there’s also a lot of wool! I visited the (pretty touristic, but still) tartan weaving mill, where you can still see the tartans being woven on weaving mills. And aside from loads of souvenirs and tartan scarfs, they also sell fabric! As I’d been planning something involving plaid wool, I took the opportunity and bought some here. It’s still quite expensive (it’s 100% wool, and tartan), but at least there’s loads of choice and discount options when you’re in Scotland ;).

The project is quite long-term still, so I’ll be mysterious on that a little while longer, but for now some images of tartan & plaid in the 18th and 19th centuries!

 

c. 1745. “Portrait of a Jacobite Lady” by Cosmo Alexander.

Richard Wilson (1714-1782) – Flora Macdonald (Fionnghal Nighean Raghnaill ’ic Aonghais Òig) (1722-1790). Oil on Canvas. Circa 1747.

 

François-Hubert Drouais, 1757

Isabella MacTavish’s Wedding Dress c1785. Fraser clan tartan. Inverness Museum. The cloth itself is probably considerably older than the dress, and possibly dates to 1740 – 1760.

French Silk Sack Back Dress + Petticoat Date: 1770–90, Met museum

Afternoon Dress, February 1801

Plaid Chemisekjole (Empire-Style Dress) of a Young Girl. Danish, c. 1810.

Evening dress ca. 1812 From the Museum at FIT

Cape, ca. 1820, wool and silk, American. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Plaid silk dress, British, ca. 1830.

Plaid dress, 1835. Worn by Princess (later Queen) Victoria.

Evening Dress 1855, American, Made of silk and cotton

Dress Date: ca. 1857 Culture: European Medium: silk

1860s 2-piece plaid dress via Whitaker Auctions

SILK DRESS, c. 1871

Date: 1873–76, Culture: American, Medium: wool

1875 July L’Elegance Parisienne

Dress 1880 The Museum at FIT

1883-1888 afternoon dress made of grey brown taffeta, Canada via Canadian Museum of Civilization

Day dress, 1880’s

Wool Plaid Afternoon Dress, c. 1881

Walking Dress, c.1890s

Wool and silk taffeta Walking suit, circa 1890-1895, American.

Bold plaid cape, circa 1901. Via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.