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").


  1. Omigod Vashti! I kneel at your hem and kiss your ring! This is a freaking gorgeous pattern! AND it's free, to boot! This totally tickles my costume-designer heart and it goes into the queue immediately. I've always shied from tabards - they've always looked like glorified bibs to me, and not in a good way. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Vashti, I think your tabard pattern is VERY special! I also love your sketch of the pink and gray. I just wish I had time to make things for myself! Will you be wearing this to Chain Link or TNNA?

  3. What a beautiful pattern! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Oh man, that's the top I've been waiting for all my life. Thank you Vashti!!

  5. is it possible to get the pattern of heart that you did for your mom on Valentine's day? it's very pretty! I love it!

  6. Vashti, I love the tabard! Very elegant, yet comfortable.

  7. WOW! and OH MY GOSH!

    This is beautiful!


  8. Thank you for your comments everybody!

  9. Anonymous9:31 AM

    I wandered over here from the CLF Blog. (Crochet Liberation Front -we're a group on Ravelry.)

    Thank you for sharing this amazing pattern! I'm still a relative beginner when it comes to crochet but I am definitely going to try making this.

  10. Vashti, thank you!!!!! for creating this beautiful garment and for allowing Caron to offer it for free!


Each comment is like a pretty bead in a necklace. Please add one!