Isabella Fraser’s Marriage ceremony Gown c1785
Among the reflects on the Inverness Museum & Paintings Gallery is a superb instance of a tartan
wedding ceremony clothe from the latter 1/2 the 18th century. The clothe used to be worn at, and possibly
made for, the marriage of Isabella MacTavish to Malcolm Fraser, each from Stratherrick,
in 1785. The tartan is similar to multiple antique portions amassed in Strathspey and
Badenoch which increases the interesting chance of a well-liked local type or topic.
This paper examines the tartan and brings to faded proof that makes this dress a
designated instance of a practice that will have to as soon as were time-honored, particularly after the
advent of the Disarming Act (The Act of Proscription) in 1747 yet for which there's
nearly no extant proof.
The fashion and production of the costume (Discern 1)
had been mentioned some place else. It isn't my enviornment
of craftsmanship and that i shall now not remark additional past
noting that the tartan changed into now not well suited within the
building and has your entire look of being
abode-made in preference to made by means of a professionally
seamstress. The plaid has one became finish, the
different is an unwoven or unpicked und accomplished with a
sections with a straightforward overhand knot (Determine 2).
What has been ignored by using people that in the past
studied the dress is that proven fact that that it used to be
made of and vintage plaid or plaiding material1
that the fabric itself is perhaps greatly older
than the clothe and doubtless dates to c1740-60. As
such, here's the simplest standard surviving instance of
this type of reuse and provides us an perception into the thrift
and relative poverty of the common Highlander
when compared with the gentry in 18th century rural
Fig 2. Plaid appearing knotted and grew to become ends.
Snapshot courtesy of the Inverness Museum.
Fig 1. Isabella MacTavish’s Marriage ceremony Costume c1785.
Image courtesy of the Inverness Museum
1 Plaiding is a time period that refers to textile, usually of a giant sample, woven off-set and regularly with a selvedge sample or
selvedge mark, the latter customarily herringboned, and supposed for becoming a member of to make double width material rather then used for adapted simple plus size wedding dresses
Seeing that this outfit is considered one of only a few pre-1800 examples to outlive it kind of feels bizarre that noone
has checked out the tartan intimately and that every one references in reality consult with the gown being
of ‘a crimson tartan’. In addition to being ‘red’, first thing that moves one is the enormous sett measurement.
Nearer exam shows that the trend is uneven or non-reversing. Isabella
MacTavish become from Ruthven in Dores, Stratherrick and this tartan is remarkably comparable to a
variety of mid-18th century plaids from the Rothiemurchus/Kingussie aspect in adjoining
Badenoch because the shade stripes underneath prove.
Isabella Fraser’s Wedding ceremony Get dressed
Plaid from Rothiemurchus
Plaid from Nethybridge
Plaid in Am Fasgadh, Kingussie
The primary two plaids are uneven, the latter two symmetric. They're all ‘red’ tartans;
technically they are often defined as alternating crimson grounds enclosed through alternating big
efficient and blue bars separated by means of a pink stripe/bar, the pink grounds having eco-friendly and/or blue
stripes concentrated on them. The survival of a plaid belonging to MacDonald of Glenaladale
demonstrates that any such placing used to be no longer specified to the Badenoch aspect however the similarity
of those designs lends make stronger to the concept that this kind of surroundings might have been widely used in
the world or even to a distinctive weaver.
Judging from the surviving 18th century
specimens, uneven tartans had been a long way
much less known that normal ‘balanced’
setts which isn't awesome as a nonrepeating
development is far tougher to
event adequately whilst the fabric is joined.
Becoming a member of an uneven sett additionally leads to
the twill, the diagonal constitution of the
weave, walking in reverse guidelines in
each and every half the plaid as this case in an
antique Glenorchy (Parent three). As there are a
variety surviving examples of joined
plaids created from uneven tartans our
progressive selection for balanced styles
changed into it appears less significant 250 years
in the past and fabric of vibrant or steeply-priced
shades a extra major factor in possibility.
The usage of a huge are quantity of purple
marks those out as highly-priced portions that
could had been the reserve of the gentry
and the time they have been woven. Fig three. Take part an uneven plaid exhibiting reversed twill.
© The writer
For the reason that dress is in a show cupboard it has now not been doubtless to check the fabric in
element; to illustrate, the width of the fabric is unknown. The plaid has been defined as
loom-width roughly twenty to thirty inches which isn't somewhat enlightening keep
for the indisputable fact that it means that the fabric is unmarried width and never joined. No matter if it turned into a
joined plaid that has been separated and reused or turned into without problems a period of plaiding will
most certainly in simple terms be located via shut exam of the cloth. The yarn is flippantly spun
and expertly dyes, almost definitely riding cochineal and indigo for the purple and blue
respectively, and indigo plus an unknown yellow for the golf green.
The material is finely woven with little proof of error or inconsistencies. Assuming a 36 epi
which became general for the sort of rural material then the sett will be roughly 15.seventy five
inches consistent with block - lower than.
Graphics show that one selvedge finishes blue/pink, the opposite inexperienced/purple and in both
case the general threads are two pairs of eco-friendly threads. Thirty inch textile became distinctive in
18th century rural weaving, the typical width turned into 24-26 inches nonetheless it is unimaginable to
reconcile the scale of the sett and the several selvedges until the material is ready 30 inches
during which case the entire placing of the warp could appear as if this.
Assuming this warp putting is right then if the fabric had be joined it is going to have resulted
in a double width plaid of 60 inches shopping like this.
The usage of a considerable amount of pink implies that this could had been a dear and tremendously
prize piece of material at any factor within the 18th century. Assuming that the clothe turned into made for
Isabella’s wedding ceremony then it became made presently after the top of Proscription2
; but it, the material
is according to having been an historic plaid or size of plaiding drapery that's older
more than likely courting to c1740-60 besides the fact that children there may be proof that the ancient of rural tartan
weaving persisted to a point during the 18th century and this material may very well be later.
We are going to ordinarily not ever realize precisely while, the place or by using whom it became woven yet at any time when
that was, the cloth was not intended for this dress or similar outfits.
While the tartan of the gown has at all times been labeled as a Fraser one it sort of feels greater
logical that it can be regarded a MacTavish one and as such is far older than the
tartan now by means of the extended family.
It truly is the single surviving instance of what should have been a typical apply of
incorporating tartan as component of women’s apparel within the latter half the 18th and early nineteenth
centuries. As such, the ancient significance of this gown has by and large been ignored in
favour of male gown and it really is worthwhile of additional examine.
© Peter Eslea MacDonald June 2014
The Act of Proscription banned the sporting of Highland Get dressed however now not ta