Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Baroque Tabard" (Free Pattern); About Tabards

I really enjoyed designing this. I’ve always wondered if I could make a tabard that is more flattering and stylish than the knitted and crocheted tabards of the 1970’s. (Can't find a good pic on the 'net.) The word "tabard" brings to my mind medieval pages and troubadours, so I went for my impression of an "Eleanor of Aquitaine" look. As you can see from the original sketch, I pictured a soft gray and pink. The finished design is lovely in shades of heathery green, which adds a hint of the Irish to me. Photo on the right courtesy of Caron International Yarns.

If you google "tabard" you'll see that I've thoroughly romanticized them! Tabards used to be a humble men's outer garment, not for troubadours but for foot soldiers, peasants, monks.

It's easy to see why the tabard idea took off for women in the 1970's--it's sporty, folky-eclectic, and an easy make-it-yourself vest/pullover/tunic. Even in the medieval wiki-pics it looks like a simple drop-shoulder construction. Leaving the sides unseamed is a distinguishing feature of the tabard, dating all the way to 1300 AD.

Below is a short list of my favorite features of this "Baroque Tabard" free pattern, available here. I personally like to hear what designers think about their own designs and what the backstory is. If this is a "tooting one's horn" that you, dear reader, find annoying, then you can stop reading now and you won't miss anything, and I appreciate your visit today.
  • the tunic is worked in vertical rows of hdc so that the subtle color-striping built in to the yarn looks the same for any size including plus-sizes (when a self-striping yarn is worked in horizontal rows, the effect is not the same for plus-sizes.) The vertical lines also make the tabard style more flattering.

  • I totally invented the lace tie stitch pattern and significantly changed the classic “picot fans” stitch pattern of the sleeves. I love the super-lacy sleeves (that's where the "baroque" part comes in even though Queen Eleanor lived about 400 years prior to the Baroque period).
  • The hdc bodice works up quickly and includes simple shoulder and neck shaping. This keeps the traditional drop-shoulder tabard from looking boxy or clunky.

  • I liked being able to make the seams decorative. It is surface-crocheted reverse single crochet (aka "crab stitch").