Claire Fraser from Outlander--using Screen Used fabrics!

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kristen jones

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Since having discovered Outlander a few years back, i fell head over heels with the costumes and in particularly EVERYTHING that Claire Fraser wears! I've made several replicas of her costumes over the years, but this one in particular is the one I'm the most proud of, as I found the screen used fabric for the tartan skirt, and found the same fabrics used for the bodice as well as the yarn for the shawl. this is the closest replica of a screen used costume that i think I've ever managed to create!

It started with making the underpinnings... a shift (nightgown), stays (like a corset) and a bum pad. I constructed all of these using historically accurate 18th century patterns from J.P. Ryan patterns.

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The entire look of this sort of clothing depends on wearing these, and getting the shape right. I constructed this pair from 4 layers of cotton twill and an outer layer of heavy linen. I used industrial strength zip ties for the boning. I have since made a second pair, out of leather... which I'm currently breaking in.

After this foundation is in place, one can tie on a petticoat (skirt) and a complimentary bodice. The gap in front is filled with something called a stomacher. I've made several of these, to compliment different outfits.

Here's a look at the costume i'm referring to, alongside a screenshot from the show to illustrate how close I've come to nailing this look.

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Here's another of her iconic looks that I've been working on. I have sourced fabric for the skirt that was reproduced by the designer of the original tartans used in the show, but he and I are now in the midst of working on a tweed version of it, which i think will be MUCH closer to the original.

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It is SO rare in costuming that one is able to find a person who actually worked on the production that your costume comes from, let alone the one who designed the fabrics that were used for it... and even rarer still that you become friends with them, and can work on replicas together! Very exciting!
 

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PotionMistress

Sr Member
Wow, you've done some fabulous costuming work there...amazing! Are you a seamstress pro? You must have had as much fun researching everything as you did sewing it all. Are you a re-enactor or historian or something like that? Very cool! Love Outlander!
 

kristen jones

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Awww! Thank you <3

Definitely not a pro sempstress! I muddle through and remake things several times till i've perfected them :p

Really it's the love of the costumes that drives me to try to perfect them.
 

Dr Jones Sr

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
That's way cool. You nailed those plaid skirts!

I saw a big exhibit of Outlander costumes here in Hollywood a few years ago, it was Season 2. I'm bummed that I missed the Season 1 exhibit.

I'm really into Highland Dress history, and I'm a huge Outlander fan, and one thing I point out to Outlander fans who aren't aware of it is that the Outlander tartans are based on MacKay. Specifically MacKay in "weathered" or "reproduction" colours.

All they did to create the Outlander tartans was to remove three fine brown lines from the wide grey band.

Setting aside the anachronism- the UK weaver D C Dalgleish invented the "reproduction" colour-scheme in 1949- it means that real UK-woven kilt fabric can be had for Outlander costumes.

Here on top is Claire's arasaid compared to a length of Weathered MacKay, and on the bottom swatches of the basic Outlander tartan and Weathered MacKay.

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kristen jones

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
That's way cool. You nailed those plaid skirts!

I saw a big exhibit of Outlander costumes here in Hollywood a few years ago, it was Season 2. I'm bummed that I missed the Season 1 exhibit.

I'm really into Highland Dress history, and I'm a huge Outlander fan, and one thing I point out to Outlander fans who aren't aware of it is that the Outlander tartans are based on MacKay. Specifically MacKay in "weathered" or "reproduction" colours.

All they did to create the Outlander tartans was to remove three fine brown lines from the wide grey band.

Setting aside the anachronism- the UK weaver D C Dalgleish invented the "reproduction" colour-scheme in 1949- it means that real UK-woven kilt fabric can be had for Outlander costumes.

Here on top is Claire's arasaid compared to a length of Weathered MacKay, and on the bottom swatches of the basic Outlander tartan and Weathered MacKay.

View attachment 1375622
It's obviously quite similar, but really only in the respect that it's a block pattern and therefore will be very similar to others as well. Looking at your two swatches above it's clear that there are more differences than just having removed three fine brown lines. Yes, those lines are gone, but also the width of the thinnest lines are even thinner on the Outlander pattern at left, the width of the widest lines are wider, and the colours are completely different. It was a custom weave (not replicated from an existing tartan) and I know this for a fact because I am friends with the man who owns the company that designed the Outlander tartan-- GK Textiles.
 

kristen jones

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
As a followup, I reached out to the tartan designer and shared your thoughts with him re: your assessment of where his design was taken from. He had this to say in reply:


"Hello Kristen, I read , with interest, your conversation with "Dr. Jones Sr" regarding the origin of the outlander tartans. Dr Jones may have expertise and knowledge of Highland dress, but he raises a falacious argument in stating that my design was a copy of MacKay. There are only 4 or 5 basic tartan 'templates' and all tartans are in some way derivatives of those, thus Outlander, MacKay, Black Watch, Cambell etc can all be said and seen to be similar, with a stripe added or deducted. Contrary to his claim , my starting point for this (and the other tartans for the TV show) was, in fact, a handwoven , homespun look tartan that I had developed for a local Vancouver Shakespeare festival in 2010....scan attached. Both this "Bard" tartan and the subsequent "Outlander" are woven with 6 different yarn components, as opposed to the simple 3 color scheme of MacKay, to give added depth and texture. What is being implied by his remark of "real UK woven kilt fabric can be had"? Of course such fabric is available; from my company as well as a host of mills in Scotland. I hope this clarifies the matter. regards Gordon Kirkbright"
 

Tom

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Great research and attention to detail, Kristen; you've done amazing work. I am also a fan of Outlander; the incredible attention to detail in every aspect of the production along with the almost perfect casting (not a huge fan of Sophie Skelton as Brianna) create a synergy that completely transports me into their world. It's a wonderfully-crafted show!
 

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Dr Jones Sr

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Well sorry about derailing your thread, I'll let the matter drop. I do need to point out that in fact Black Watch and Campbell are the same tartan, and that a specific "sett" of tartan is reckoned as the design itself, which isn't impacted by proportional adjustments or what specific fibres it's woven from. Yes I knew that the Outlander tartan was originally developed for a stage play.
 

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