Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | May 21, 2010

Irish bog dress update

Okay…here are my progress photos.  I wanted to share my project because I hate the fact that there are so few photos of bog dresses on the internet for those of us trying to see how they have been made.


bodice with interlining (left) and lining (right)



The bodice pieces put together



Handstitched armholes



Boning placement (a little blurry)


Suffice it to say that I am doing a lot more good sewing than the bad sewing I did for the play costumes project.  Let it also be known that I am not doing a completely “authentic” kirtle.  But, it’s coming out pretty good for working without a pattern, being made out of mostly stash and my unwillingness to hand sew every bit.


First attempt at cartridge pleating on overdress



First knife pleating for petticoat



Final pleating before it was tacked down



Final petticoat pleats with waistband attached



  • So tired of the same 2 or 3 illustrations of bog dresses, Shinrone gown, drawings.  But I did find Vicki McDonnell and her Irish townswoman outfit,
  • Learning about garment construction from the internet instead of a pattern.
  • Didn’t have enough lacing rings in stash.  Then couldn’t find them (I let my fingers do the driving)  at any of the local sewing supply stores.  They have them at Laci’s in Berkeley but I wasn’t convinced it was worth it.   (Yeah, I know, not so far away…I’m whining because the parking sucks.)
  • Pleating.  By hand.  Cartridge pleating didn’t work for the fabric and yardage I had to work with.  Ripped it out.  Switched to knife pleating.  Twice.  Much cursing.
  • Hand sewing is tedious.  Look is great, but so slow.  Now preparing to take out the other visible topstitching on bodice. (Gods and Little Fishies help me.)


Pleats stitched down. Hooks on interior to supplement the rings.



  • The pleating is looking pretty nifty.
  • The fabric is nice and I reduced my stash!
  • Learning about garment construction from the internet instead of a pattern.
  • I got some great lacing rings from my guildmate/friend Dee.  In cast iron!
  • Gotten addicted to the benefits of hand sewing in selected applications. Armholes are great!


Bodice, skirt, lacing rings are attached


My goal is to have this outfit ready for Valhalla Ren Faire.  Realistically, I’ll probably need a warmer (more layered outfit) for Valhalla because it may snow or slush.  But it’ll be nice for Ardenwood and Folsom Faires when we’ll have warmer weather.


Brigit assesses the project so far


Gotta get moving.  June and Valhalla are right around the corner.

Aunt Magaidh

Update 5/22/10 – So…in a fit of indecision about how to deal with the sleeves, I contacted Vicki McDonnell of the Guild of St. Patrick.  She is THE local specialist in Irish/Gael reenactment clothing according to my sources.  I innocently (– well not so, after all my intuition was telling me that there was something wrong with the way the dress looked) emailed her and asked about some of her faire clothes I found on her FB photos.  She called me within about an hour…FROM IRELAND.   She was calling while on a trip to visit her in-laws.  After she reassured me that she really could talk, we did.   We talked about my dress, her dresses, and how I was really mixing styles that shouldn’t be mixed and all sorts of things.

Suffice it to say that I am modifying the dress.

Off came the cast iron lacing rings.    I am installing brass lacing rings on the inside of the bodice.  I’ve got to measure them out to accommodate spiral lacing (which I had planned on anyway with the external rings.)

The bodice should be straight waisted.  This is a problem for me.  I’m still struggling with the decision to undo the front 10 inches of pleating, cut the bodice bottom straight, rebind it, and then reattach the pleating.  In the long run it may happen.  But then I’ve got the problem of the piecing of the front of the bodice with a seam that is on the diagonal, English style.  That I can’t fix.  No more fabric.   So I’m considering leaving the dipped bodice as is.  Well, except not installing the boning.  Vicki said that Irish bog dresses weren’t boned.  That I can deal with because it is more comfortable while spinning.   I won’t miss the worry of keeping The Girls modestly tucked in.  I’m just wondering about the flattened bosom effect,  which is not a particular favorite look of mine.

I’ll also charge in and make the Irish sleeves.  I had done a quickie mock up, but was bothered by the wrinkle that happens when they hang untied.  Apparently, according to Vicki, that wrinkle is normal.  I had figured out the right way to do it.  Yeay me!

And I’ll play with making a veiled headdress in the manner shown in the Dunlevy book.  But that will happen later, maybe by the end of the season.

But in the meantime, I’ll make the adjustments I can by Valhalla.  And I’m now looking forward to meeting Vicki at Valhalla to get acquainted and pick up tips.

I’ve got lots of alterations to get to.  Talk to you later.




  1. I’m so glad you made contact with Vicki (aka Flufffy) she is wonderful and REALLY knows her stuff. Congrats on taking the time and energy to do this right…and remember, don’t make yourself crazy…or make an outfit you will hate when it’s all done. If it ain’t fun…don’t do it. Love and hugs!

  2. I Am Going To have to return again whenever my course load lets up – nonetheless I am taking your Rss feed so i could read your site offline. Thanks.

    • Thanks for your kind words!

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