In a couple of weeks time, I shall be going to the US for some work-related events, chief among which is delivering a talk in this public lecture series. I don’t mind admitting that I’m the sort of person who thinks about what they will wear some time in advance of such an occasion. My lecture is about the intellectual and material lives of women in revolutionary Philadelphia — and I wanted to combine the material with the intellectual in another way, by delivering it in an outfit I’d made myself. So this is the dress I have made — the first of what I imagine will be many tweedy endeavours this Autumn.


The pattern is Vogue 8469, and I made it with two fabrics: russet coloured tweed I bought on Harris a few weeks ago, and Liberty tana lawn, in a print I’ve always liked — a sort of pleasing paisley rendition of cut apples and pears. I really love the combination of warm tweed and light lawn. I find both fabrics simple but luxurious – and together – very seasonal.


I wanted to make a dress which was made of tweed, but which was not stereotypically tweedy — that is, I did not want it to look the least bit matronly. I think tweed is ideally suited to winter dresses, and can look very feminine — the diagonal weave of the fabric makes it hang so beautifully, and this can also suit womanly curves (not that I have much in the way of curves, mind, but still…) Anyway, I picked a light, feminine pattern and made a few modifications to suit the tweed fabric. The principle change was to replace the recommended gathers on the bodice and skirt with darts. Tweed does not like gathers, but the darts worked out just fine. The waist ties are also folded in the pattern, but this would have produced a very heavy belt, so I lined them instead in the contrasting lighter fabric. My final modification was to accent the neckline and hem. I cut long strips of bias binding from the tana lawn, and bound the seams in exactly the same way you would the edges of a quilt. I love the way this looks. The pattern is a good one, with well-thought out, simple details. I tend to like vogue necklines, and this one is cut very nicely.


Though reasonably simple, the sewing required some focus and concentration to get right. I’ve been working on it a little bit each day.


The end result is a frock that fits well, hangs nicely, which can be worn in a few different ways, and that I will be very pleased to deliver my lecture in. I like it so much, in fact, I am already contemplating making another. Meanwhile, I am knitting a rather foolish hat of russet hue that can be worn with the dress. (Worry not, I’ll remove the hat when I give my talk).

In this final pic, you can see me running to John Lewis to buy a couple of hooks and eyes for the top closure.


71 thoughts on “tweed frock

  1. Love your dress. Beautiful details. Hope your presentation goes well.

    And I plan my outfits in detail when I present at conferences too, usually slipping in something I’ve made. gives me a wee bit more confidence somehow.


  2. Aah, this is lovely! Perfectly Autumnal. It’s reminded me of an exhibition which is on in Aberdeen at the moment – “Crombie: The Story of a Textile Mill” at Provost Skene’s House. Sadly I haven’t had a chance to visit it, but it sounds really interesting and if I’m not mistaken of the same time period as you work in.



  3. More details about the talk, please? I am local and am interested. BTW, since you like Philadelphia and I’ve not seen any of the British Isles, perhaps you’d think about a short-term “house swap?” Just a thought….


  4. the dress is fantastic – have you been watching the documentary on bbc 4 entitled tweed – all about harris tweed – really interesting.


  5. Dear Kate,

    That is a beautiful dress and nicely made. I love the way you’ve edged the neckline and the sash with the wonderful liberty fabric. It has turned a plain dress into something extra special. The colour really suits you too.

    I haven’t made my own clothes for over 20 years and my poor dress form sits sadly in my office whilst my sewing machine is used just for making curtains. But I have to say that your pattern has stirred something within in me and I may need to brush up my sewing skills!

    Have a wonderful time in the US and good luck with the lecture. Btw, did you get my email regarding the link to my blog rather than the 2knits page?



  6. Ok, now you did it. I am now seriously impressed. Not that I was unimpressed with your skills before. But *seriously* impressed is one step beyond.

    Oh great, now I have to go look for my Madness CDs. It’s going to be one of those Fridays….


  7. Oh this is a beautiful piece – I want to be able to make clothes like this for myslef – better get to grips with that sewing machine I bought I guess! Thanks for another hit of inspiration.


  8. What a beautiful dress! The color is stunning. I wish I could attend the lecture, as it sounds terribly interesting, but this is the price I pay for residing on the left coast!


  9. Well you look lovely and it will be perfect! If you find yourself in Chicago (city proper) and would like a “hometown tour”….email me. I wish I lived in Philly so I could come hear your talk. Blessings on the journey.


  10. Looks great. Very elegant. Best of luck on your talk the theme sounds v. interesting. Your last picture took me immediately to “little red riding hood” tale hahaha. great pic.


  11. What a great dress, beautiful job and I, too, love the shoes. Your presentation sounds interesting, I wish I was closer to what I’m assuming is Philadelphia. You will definitely look very smart and I wish you luck with your talk.


  12. How lovely, you are so talented, and the improvements you have made to the dress are really wonderful!
    You have such a artistic flair, I so enjoy looking at your knitting, sewing, growing and photography, thank you for sharing!


  13. I am very envious of your sewing skills! I love the combination of the two fabrics – particularly the use of the tana lawn, because every time that I see it ‘in person’ I wonder what the point of such utterly fine cotton is (it’s certainly not skirt material, and simple skirts are about my level at the moment…)

    Good luck with the lecturing – I’m sure it will go well, I wish I could attend (but its the wrong continent for me), your historical/discursive posts are always so interesting.


  14. Lovely. I agree with the fairy tale aspect, I was thinking Little Red Riding Hood but it didn’t seem quite right. Little Red Running Waz maybe… :) Or Wee Quick Scarlet Kate? Perhaps I’ll let it go and say you look great. I don’t suppose you will be in the midwest at all?


  15. I have a wedding to go to next weekend and cannot find a good dress that I like and is reasonably priced~ How long did it take you to work up that dress? I am thinking this may be a wonderful project for this weekend! Good luck in Philly!


  16. Stunning! And you’re not the only one who prepares what she wears to speak in – I made two skirts for the last conference I went to, and spent an inordinate amount of time working out what outfits would work. Have a great time in the states! Btw, have you seen the bbc documentary about Harris Tweed? I’ve found it interesting (from a point of ignorance), but the punning titles irritate me somewhat :)


  17. You look beautiful in your dress and you should wear the hat when you speak, I reckon. I made a similar vogue dress in an angora suiting fabric I bought off Bury Market. Your tweed looks even better – a great winter dress pattern and absolutely not matronly.


  18. I *love* your dress! If I knew how to sew, I would make the exact one. I’m currently watching HBO’s production “John Adams” which is an interesting view of the revolutionary period surrounding the Declaration of Independence and the colonies turned “states.” I’ve decided I’m a colonialist in my idea of fashion ~ such a cute period.


  19. lovely!

    man. now i really want some tweed…*sigh*
    (and watching pride and prejudice last night and seeing an excellent tweed coat on bingley didn’t help either)


  20. Oooh, lovely! Let’s hope the weather is appropriately brisk so you can wear your hat as well.

    And shoot, I’d come to hear your talk if I wasn’t gone north for work that day. Drat. Best of luck and safe travels!


  21. Your dress is just lovely. Wonderfully crafted and beautifully suited to you.

    And how wonderful that you’re coming to the States! I would have loved to attend the lecture, but I am judging needlework in a local fair on that same day :(


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