I know quite a lot of people have been expecting the account of our French adventures in Versailles – so here it is. I am afraid it will be a rather a disappointing one, as due to the unforeseen … Continue reading
There is a Georgian Festival in Stamford every other year – and this year we were contracted for a couple of jobs there ( thanks to Black Knight Historical).
The festivities lasted 3 full days with lots of lectures, meetings, Georgian market and living history – but our adventure started on Friday night – at the Georgian ball!
We arrived in plenty of time , and were led to a proper theatre style dressing room – and it turned out we were sharing it with Dr. Lucy Worsley, who dropped in for a moment of respite between her talks, book signing and other public duties. We have met before as worked for the Worsley/Starkey documentary in Hampton court the year before, so it wasn’t too awkward. Still, not often do we get to share a dressing room with a celebrity – and I felt a bit overdressed on the occasion 🙂
At the ball we danced, we chatted – and then provided some entertaining background during the buffet break as the folks were queuing for some lovely food – there was chatting, playing cards and some sketching taking place….
After the break ( and after eating rather a lot of left over cake) there was more dancing and frivolities – until it was time to drive back home….
Saturday was a day off, and Sunday we were taking part in the fashion show, so with a day off in between, I decided to make myself a new outfit – just because I have always wanted a jacket, and because i had the fabric for ages!
I made the skirt in a lovely quilted cotton, with a fringe, and then worked the rest of the day on a 1790 pierrot jacket.
I quickly drafted the pattern and then fitted it – mock up first and then playing with the real thing, in silk and linen
Sunday morning saw the jacket finished – but i had a few hours left before we had to make a move. so time to make a new hat! a gigantic one! Not the best of my creations, admittedly, but it did the job.
Then it was packing the gear and setting off.
The fashion show went down a treat – there was a huge variety of costumes, from different decades and different walks of life, and the commentary was super as well… a few behind the scenes shots..
some unspeakable and unmentionable things happened too….
After the show, I could change into my new bits and have a stroll around Stamford – and take a few pictures
But I was not exactly happy – I felt the wig did not work very well with the colours of the walking outfit. So when we got back home, I changed wigs and we went on to snatch some autumnal pictures at the local Nature Reserve…. much happier with these!
we even had a go at some heavy machinery….
all together, a cracking weekend was had!
photography – Lucas from Timelight Photographic
costuming – Prior Attire ( the walking outfit is now available for sale – here)
shoes – American Duchess, naturellment!
Last year we had a lovely time at out first Regency ball, part of the annual Jane Austen celebration in Bath (see post on that here). This year the dates were changed a bit, which meant that the Ball was on the first Saturday of the festival, and there was a market earlier on in the day too. So, two birds with one stone – we could go and trade to earn our living in the day, and in the evening we could go and have a good dance at the ball!
The usual dilemma ocurred – What to wear? I had my old evening gown, but it would be nice to make something new. As I had only 5 days to prepare regency dresses for sale, I decided to get the stock items sorted first and to work on my own frock if I had some time spare.
I already knew what I would be using as an inspiration – this gown from the Met museum
I already had some lovely gold semi-transparent silk in my stash, so all I needed to get was lace, decoration and the silk satin for the base of the dress. I didnt really like the pearl trim on the original, so decided on an alternative, but all of the components were ready and waiting, just in case I managed to make time for it!
In the end I finished all the stock dresses on Friday moring – and we were to leave Friday night. I had about 8 hours. Well, you know that I do like challenges….
One thing has to be said – working on the stock meant that whilst handstitching other frocks I had time to think about the gold gown construction even before I started to work on it. I must admit, it did take me some time – mostly because I simply couldn’t see how it closed! Yes, you can see the sheer overgown ties in front, but what about the satin gown? You can zoom in quite a lot on the Met site so you can see clearly that there are no rows of buttons or ties at the back under the sheer, nothing at the side or front, no button closures, no bib closure, no tie closures… A mystery!
I started zooming in to maximum and checking every detail – and finally I found it! On the back, right of centre-back, you can just about see something on the satin layer that could be called a button and a loop, at the neck egde.
I new that must be it – After thinking a little more, and analysing the cut I arrived at a very simple pattern idea – basically a sack with fitted neckline. I tried the idea on a mock-up first, making the top part of the gown in calic; it worked. I actually didn’t even need the button, the thing just slips ovehead and a simple tie does the rest.
So on the day I cut the gown in silk satin, sewed it, hemmed it, lined the bodice, etc – in other words it was ready for the overgown and the sleeves.
That was the easy part…. the overgown was next – and whereas it is basically a loose robe, it took the most time due to all the finishing – cutting precise facings in flimsy sheer fabric is not my idea of fun! But the facings were cut, sewn, handstitched and metallic lace attached – then they were just awaiting the posh trim I wanted to use in place of the pearls.
Sleeves were next – and they were the most time-consuming…
Cutting up the base and the satin layer first –
Then preparing the space for the gathering and placing the gathers in suitable places so that that they formed ‘pulling-outs’ – just as in Tudor sleeves.
Once the gathers were positioned, I was able to add the overlay with the cut out holes and the gold metallic trim
I was getting excited by this stage… All that now remained was getting the sleeves together, lining them, sewing into the armbands and then into the armhole, (both the satin and the sheer layers of the dress).
And it was almost ready – just a little belt to add, made from the sheer (I tried to attach it to pregathered sheer underneath like in the original, but after speding an hour I decided I didnt like it – so outside it went. Only the posh trim remained, and that could be done before the ball next day.
We packed up, drove to Bath (3 hours), checked into the hotel and collapsed…
Next day saw us setting up the stall at the market in the Guildhall – and we had 4 jolly hours of trading there…
After the market we packed up the remaining goods, drove back to the hotel and collapsed (again). But we had a ball to go to! I was so tired, that honestly, if it hadnt been for the fact that there was food on offer I probably wouldnt have gone… But we knew Searcy’s would deliver a great meal (we were not disappointed as it turned out), so after a power nap I got my act together and sorted out the braid on the dress:-). Then it was time to get dressed…
And so, off to the ball we went – armed with a big camera too! We had an amazing time, despite being so tired (I danced every other dance to conserve my energy), and the meal was superb… pictures below!
The gold dress first – I am rather happy with it – the design worked surprisingly well 🙂 Will probably sell it at some point, as I simply cannot go to the ball next year in the same frock, can I ? 🙂
I admit that we did leave ‘just’ before the ball ended – I was falling asleep! As it turned out, combining a working day with an evening of fun doesnt really work for me 😦
Still, we had a good night’s rest, a good brekkie and were on our way home soon. Once back home we decided to take the opportunity to photograph the remaining dresses – they are now available in the shop – click on the links to see the listing 🙂 I look tired but the gowns looked well, and that is enough for the shop 🙂
We even made a short video about how to put on a regency brassiere: – enjoy!
Many thanks to PItcheresque Imagery for the photos!
Over the years I have been asked about a variety of problems within historical costuming – and how to avoid them. I have already written a few posts on different aspects such as the look, fabrics, etc – but here … Continue reading
It all started innocently enough – I was approached to create a set of Georgian attire for a ball by new customers, a lovely couple.
We discussed the designs, fabrics , fitting schedule etc, and it was all going smoothly – and then I just had to ask: what ball is it anyway?
And hearing it is the one in Bath, organized by the Bath Minuet Company, we just had to go along and buy tickets….. after all we did enjoy the Regency Ball there a lot! And Eleanor, our friend jumped at the opportunity and joined in – and commissioned a frock too. So suddenly I ended up with having 2 big commissions plus trying to get some time to make Lucas; kit – and maybe there would be just enough time to get mine sorted too – I had my pink robe anglaise, just in case I wouldn’t, but since I got some lovely brocade last November, I did hope to be able to knock something out for myself too.
Eleanor’s set was done first, as she was available for fittings early… After much deliberation on which fabrics o use, Eleanor decided on a crispy mat silk in slate – we had quite a lot of and it went very well with pink roses and gold braid, and the design was loosely based on the robe francaise worn by Mme de Pompadour.
the foundations were first – stays, and pocket hoops in silk!
then the petticoat, and draping on the francaise – there was loads of fabric going into it!
The original commission that started the whole Georgian frenzy was interesting too – a suit of black satin for the gentleman, with an embroidered waistcoat, and a robe anglaise, with the cut away front ( zone front) for the lady. Plus set of undergarments for both.
I especially enjoyed working on the embroidery – with silver metallic tread and silk..
The lady’s kit consisted of a chemise, a pair of stays in silk brocade, skirt supports, skirt in silk satin, with a fringe, and a robe anglaise in striped silk…
with just 2 days to spare I was pressed for time to work on Lucas kit – and our initial plan of using gold and red pinstripe silk ( breeches, waistcoat and jacket) were discarded in favour for some lovely silk taffetta I was hoarding for myself – but it meant the colour could go with an original waistcoat Lucas already had, so less work… plus, how could I refuse my husband….
As much as I would like to spend days embroidering his jacket, making fancy buttons etc, we were pressed for time so drastic measures had to be taken – Lucas decided on a posh modern trim instead. Looks correct and although makes the kit more of a theatre costume than re-enactment piece, for the ball it worked just fine..
And then with just 8 hours to spare, I had a go at my robe francaise. I had just enough fabrics to get a francaise and petticoat in it, though not enough for any decoration and I even had to piece one sleeve and the flounces. I do love the fabric, and I was very lucky to get it at a reduced price – I payed £40 a metre instead of the usual £75 or so). The ladies at the Sudbury Silk Mill where I got it from said it was because of a fault running through the length, but since I could barely see it, i did not mind at all.
And it turned out I had just enough some matching taffeta from my stash to work a trim – paired with a chenille braid:-)
With just a few bits left to be stitched later on ( buttons) we were ready – and fortunately our wigs, ordered quite late from the States ( from Historical Hairdresser) arrived with a few days to spare!
The day of the ball was full of mishaps…. first I woke up with laringitis – voice gone completely….. Then, 1 hour into the drive we realised that Lucas’ lovely waistcoat is still at home….. so had to turn back… Then Bath was clogged up with roadworks and traffic jams. Luckily we were just in time to check into the hotel, get dressed and rush to the dance practice…
We had a few hours before the ball, so we finished last minute jobs, had a meal and started getting ready. 90 minutes before our carriage was supposed to arrive – and yes, carriage – we booked proper horsey transportation from Courtyard Carriages– the company called us saying they cannot do it, giving a rather feeble excuse. considering that we booked them with over a month before, that as a bit of a blow – so folks, if you are ever tempted to book a carriage in bath, Do NOT use them!
Still, we though, we will take a cab. WE will need a bigger one, to accommodate all the frockage, and so a suitable vehicle was booked, using a dedicated hotel line to a cab company.
But alas – when we got into the lobby, there was not a car to be found…. finally, after 8 calls from us, the hotel etc, and lots of excused on the side of the cab company, they sent us a car – 50 minutes after the agreed time! needless to say, we were not in the least amused – we basically missed most of the first half of the danceo not remember the name of the company, but if you are in the Travelodge Waterside, do not use the cabs line there – the hotel staff was very helpful, and it was not their fault, it was purely that the company were managed by an incompetent prat.
Still, an hour late, we made it…..
We had a lovely time dancing, chatting, taking photos, doing more dancing and admiring the dance demonstration from the Minuet company – and so the evening went ahead smoothly ( though on my part rather quietly – still no voice – some may argue it was a blessing, especially considering the mishaps – a lot of very bad language would have otherwise occurred…)
Lucas grabbed some photos too – enjoy!
first, the results of all that stitching….
And a few group shots too…
and a few of the dance demo
and some outtakes….
all together, it was a success and we will gladly come back again:-)
The next day saw us at the Assembly Rooms, meeting with Stuart and the caterers and discussing our Victorian ball in May – so looking forward to it too!
We all know that very often it is the fabric that makes The Dress. A wisely chosen set of materials will bring out the beauty of the design, will enhance the tailoring – or even hide some dressmaking mistakes. A less than perfectly sewn dress will look amazing if the fabric is right – and a fantastically well stitched creation can be badly marred by a poor fabric choice.
Naturally what fabrics we chose differs – all depends on the purpose of the garment. If it is a one off frock cobbled together for a friend’s fancy dress party, you may not want to spend a lot on expensive silks; however if you are planning a creation that you are going to wear a lot, or if you strive for authenticity, the correct fabric choice is essential.
In this post I shall mostly concentrate on the historical accuracy and will try to provide a basic reference on which fabrics to use in which period. The list is aimed at providing a very general overview, so I won’t be getting into details like which weight for which garment in which century – would take ages and would make for a very, very long post indeed! I have learnt a lot over the last 20 or so years in the field – but am not omniscient, so if you know of an article or a reference that would be helpful with researching which fabrics were used when, please post in a comment and I will add it onto the article – it would be very much appreciated!
I will also get a list of providers of the fabrics I use most often.
So, there we go!
Linen: for undergarments, shirts, basic tunics, lining, gambesons, etc. Bleached linen for the unmentionables for the wealthy, unbleached, natural one for the less fortunate. Other colours ( reds, blues, browns, pinks etc were used for tunics, kirtles, linings etc. Different weights were used for different garments.
Wool – different weights and types were used – including patterns – herringbone and diamond were apparently quite popular in the dark ages and Viking era for example; fulled wools tend to become popular from 9-10 century, whereas plain weaves were generally available throughout the period. napped and sheared wool start to appear in the 14th century too ( broadcloth, wool satins etc)
Silk – plain weaves and some patterns are used from mid medieval period in the north of Europe, earlier in the south – proximity to Byzantium and the silk route. Available only for the wealthiest, really – and even then was used sparingly considering its great value. Plain weave, early taffetas ( 13-14th century), basic brocades and damasks were used. Silk velvet starts to appear in the end of 13th century, if I remember well, and by 15th has evolved into several styles ( cut, uncut patterns etc).
Raw silk was probably used more by the steppe tribes, and duponi was not used much either, apparently.
Cotton – although there are some references to cotton imported from India, they are very rare – fustian was used however (cotton/linen blend) and there were several fustian manufactures established on the continent. In England cotton as a name is used in the 16th century and most likely refers to woolen cloth!
Great article on the use of cotton in the medieval, Elizabethan and Stuart era – here
Linen – different weights any types ( cambric, lawn, Holland, buckram etc) – for undergarments, linings, ruffs, coifs, interlining, aprons, doublets, waistcoats etc
Wool – lots of varieties by that time, including blends with linen and silk; looks for broadcloth, scarlet, kersey, worsted, stammel, russet, cotton etc ); also, as mocado ( velvet using wool pile instead of silk)
Silk – again, lots of silk types used, in a variety of weights, patterns, blends ( cloth of gold, cloth of silver, tinsel) and grades. Look for satins, damask, velvets,grosgrain, sarcenet, taffets) Different types and patterns were popular in different decades. A good link showing some types- here
Don’t be tempted by duponis ( existed, but very rare as second rate fabrics – contrary to today, slubs were frowned upon apparently), noil, stretch or crushed velvets…. Not period….
(Duponi lovers, do not despair, modern powerwoven duponi has hardly any slubs at all may be used as an alternative to taffeta. just avoid the slubby stuff where it shows…)
Cotton – see medieval note
Linen – underwear, waistcoats, breeches, also dresses in the second half of the century ( especial pattern or printed) – polonaises, jackets etc
Wool – breeches, waistcoats, coats, capes, cloaks, riding habits, travelling outfits, uniforms etc
Cotton – at last! Getting more and more popular – and cheaper (cotton from the West Indies and America) and with the Industral Revolution on its way, the invention of the Spinning Jenny and more advanced mechanical looms meant being ablt to make cotton cloth in Englad too ( 1774 saw the lift of the heavy tas levied on brit produced cotton – it was established in the beginning of the century to protect native textile industry, and its revoking opened the marked for locally made cotton cloth :-); I believe the first cotton velvet is mentioned in 1790 or thereabouts – there is an extant male waistcoat made in cotton velvet in the States.
Silk – taffetas, brocades, damasks, velvets –plain or very specific patterns –famous Spitalfields silks ; used for dresses, petticoats, coats, breeches, waistcoats, frockcoats etc
Linen, as before
Cotton – including muslin, lawn, voile and plain cottons for dresses, pelisses, breeches, linings etc also undergarments including corsetry
Wool – coats, habits, suits, cloaks, dresses, uniforms, – everything goes! A variety of types and weights are used, broadcloth, superfine, shallon, worsted etc
Silks – velvets ( still mostly silks, cotton velvets or plushes used as furnishing fabrics too), tafettas, grosgrain, damasks, brocades, twills, satins etc – a great range of fabrics of different weights, weave and patterns used
A few generic notes –
*avoid man-made, artificial fibres whenever you can. Polyester taffetas may be cheap – and not only do they looks so, but they are a nightmare to work with too.
*Sometimes (well, almost always!) quality will hit your pocket hard – but in the long run, it is worth it. Don’t go for plastic embroidered duponis etc – save up for a month or two and get plain silk taffeta; if you cannot afford a dress in silk velvet, use a cheaper silk, or blend – or wool – a very period thing to do, plus it is easier to clean.
*Hunt for bargains – I have searches set up on ebay looking for different silk fabrics and sending me reports every week – some of the listings are useless, but sometimes you can stumble upon real treasures! Go to sales at silk mills, fabric stores etc.
*If possible, do not skimp on fabric. True, sometimes you get a fantastic end of roll silk – and there is only so much of it – then piece the panels up and of course use it – but if you are at liberty to get the proper amount of the fabric for the project, do so.
Trims and embellishment.
More or less similar things apply – avoid artificial stuff! Elastic plastic lace will spoil any Victorian outfit, rayon guipure lace will clash with proper Elizabethan fabrics. Also mark that different type of lace or braids were used in different periods – putting a cluny lace onto a 12th century bliaud instead of tablet woven braid will not do you any favours.
Again, please mark all those notes are for historical attire – if you are making fantasy, bridal, steampunk, etc garments, you have much more freedom with the fabrics and embellishment choice – I love experimenting with the alternative bridal styles or Steampunk looks as my imagination can run wild and I can go for the trims and interesting fabrics that I cannot use for historical gear!
Suppliers, in no particular order
Historical textiles – great quality broadcloth, superfine and other
Hainsworths – wool
Whaleys – cotton, linen, silk
Bernie the Bolt – wool, linen, cotton – frequents UK and Europen markets – no website:-(
Herts Fabrics – wool, linen –
Renaissance fabrics – wool, linen, silks – lovely stuff!
Sew curvy – corsetry fabrics ( coutil, broche, drill)
James Hare – lovely silks, great lace,- you will need a trader’s account
Silk Baron – silk velvet ( 80/20%), taffetas, duponi
Quartermasterie – lovely silks, also stunning silk velvet on cotton backing – no website though! frequents UK markets
Harrington Fabrics – lace, silks, lovely brocades – trader’s account needed
Watts&Co – church fabrics, absolutely gorgeous but very pricey ( looking at £100 – £250 per metre, many fabrics made to order only)
Sartor – – historical textiles – – great fabrics, do check the fibre composition information, as many of the stunning historical patterns are made in blends – half silk, half viscose:-(! some are 100% silk though and are a great find.
MacCulloch and Wallis – cloth, lace, haberdashery
Duran textiles AB – lovely silks and cotton prints, suitable for 18th and 19th century
Tudor Tailor – lovely wools suitable for Tudor and later costuming, plus linen and calico
Wm.Booth Draper – great fabrics especially for 18th and 19th century
I do not do men’s garments after 1800. But some people are very persuasive ( or simply very stubborn)…
In this case one of my existing customers ( I made a whole set of Regency wardrobe for his lovely lady last winter) managed to persuade me that I wanted nothing more than to make his new gear. A consensus was made, I gave under pressure and agreed to making shirts, waistcoats and the blingy coat, but drew a line at pantaloons. I shouldn’t have bothered at that line as it later turned out that since another tailor was a bit behind and wouldn’t be able to do the pantaloons – and so I ended up making 2 pairs of the trousers. And a nice redingote for the lady…
The inspiration was the dress jacket from the National Army Museum
Over July measurements were made, toiles were fitted and all the ingredients were assembled – and there was a lot to assemble!
The cloth ( broadcloth) came from Historical Textiles, silly amount of military lace and braid from Hand&Lock, and some more braid and buttons were provided by the customer.
I started with the waistcoat….
Time for the jacket….
the pantaloons were next – and they worked surprisingly well! 2 pairs were maid, one on navy broadcloth, one in white one…
The whole set was worn at Bath during the Jane Austen festival – and as we were there for the Ball, Lucas took some pictures of it all being worn together:-)
and chatting with the ladies….
and if you are wondering about the prices…
well, the blingy bits ( lace, braids, buttons) were well over £200,
fabric – broadcloth is at around £50 a metre ( and worth every penny!) – 6m were used.
1m of shallon for jacket lining, – £21
shirts, lining and neckclothes – linen – 3m – £26
calico for toiles and interlining – £10
altogether the materials cost more or less around £400
Labour for it all – roughly £1000….. it took altogether about 60 hours to complete….more or less.
Not a cheap set – and obviously the accessories were of fantastic quality and also , I imagine, rather dear. But gosh, doesn’t it all look fantastic! 🙂
And surprisingly – I really enjoyed making it, so watch this space, I don’t think it is the end of military bling for me!
May 2015 update – and indeed it wasn’t….. since then I have made a corsetted waistcoat and another set of a waistcoat and dolman, even blingier than this one:-)
Cloth and help with patterning – Sean Phillips from Historical Textiles
braid and buttons and the barrel sash:Stitch in Time
leatherwork – Peter Stroud – Menagerie Leatherwork
Photography – Pitcheresque Imagery
and all of this has been brought together by Prior Attire
Well, if your hubby is an eager photography enthusiast, I suppose one has to suffer for it… So when Lucas was in need of a model to practice new lighting/exposure/new gadget/ ( insert a suitable photography magic jargon word here) and take photos of the spring fields, what can I girl do? I rummaged through my frocks and the bridal samples to see what would fit me and look good with the back=ground we had in mind, and finally settled on a frock from our Summer Bridal collection – Jeanette. It is an 18th century inspired dress in lovely silk taffeta – the look, and styling is based on the 18th century aesthetics, the finish, construction and the cut is modern.
In the Summer Bride photoshoot it was worn over a big hoop and net petticoat suitable to the bridal theme, but for the field version we decided to make it more historical than bridal. And so, proper stays, pocket hoops, stockings and shoes are worn underneath to render the silhouette a bit closer to the historical ideal. Minimal make up, a re-styled straw hat on braided hair and a basket with freshly cut lilac ( my favourite flowers!) completed the look. a nearby field was picked and Lucas set to playing with the light…
I spent most of that time first in the car, then standing in the field, huddled in a jumper and wellies…
Once everything was ready, tested, set, re-set etc, i could ditch my jumper and wellies and start doing my job – try to look pretty and graceful while trying to avoid standing on dog turds, puddles, mud etc. The results – below – enjoy!
Photography: Pitcheresque Imagery
Dress: Prior Engagement
Shoes and stockings – American Duchess
I have always admired the simple elegance of 18th and 19th century riding habits. They were practical, sturdy garments but with undeniable air of sophistication and grandeur. Especially the 18th century ones- How can a girl resist one of these?
More habit pictures across the ages on the Pinterest board…
So when I stared learning how to ride side-saddle, I thought that would be a perfect opportunity to make one. My heart was set on the later 18th century one, found in Victoria and Albert museum.
It was made in glazed red wool, lined with glazed linen and faced with wool.
Since I intend to use my habit for hunting, red wasn’t the best option – too similar to the pink coats of the hunt service folks! Dark green was the second best choice.
The materials I used were:
Thick wool for the jacket – 2 m- I chose to make the jacket thicker than the skirt mostly because of the temperatures one faces during winter hunting
2 metres of left over wool for toile
4 metres of regular wool for the skirt and waistcoat
6 metres of silk taffeta
0.5 metre of linen for the waistcoat
16 buttons for the waistcoat
35 buttons for the jacket
Gold metallic braid for the decoration ( I used up about 6 metres)
Gold metallic thread and some embroidery silks
Silk and linen threads for stitching.
The whole outfit was hand stitched – but obviously if you prefer modern techniques, machine can be used to save up on time!
That was the easiest part. . I made mine out of a big rectangle of fabric, lined with silk and cartridge pleated to a narrow waistband. You can fins detailed instructions in my article on the 17th cent banqueting gown – I used the very same techniques – though I made the hem folded deeper and lining is shorter. (http://yourwardrobeunlockd.com/historicalperiods/medievalrenaissance/417-a-banqueting-gown
I could not actually see much of the waistcoat worn with the original habit, but I found images of a very similar one and used them as my inspiration. Apart from the collar, both waistcoats seem to be double breasted and the cut wouldn’t be that different.
It was relatively easy to work out the pattern from the pictures I cut toile first, experimented with it and amended it till I was satisfied with the fit. I wanted mine to fit me with or without stays, which was a bit tricky. I decided to line the front layer with wool as well – as it can get quite cold on longer rides! The back is made of two layers as well, though this time of linen .
I started work on the back first – stitched the top and lining layer together at centre back ( leaving about 4 inches undone – that’s when the two parts will be joined later) and bottom hem, turned over and pressed. Repeat on the other half of the back. Once ready, stitch them together at the top and worked the eyelets in linen thread. Lace them together – it is easier to work with the bits being laced instead of flapping around.
Next, add the two fronts on each side – only the top layer first, on both sides. Try it on and make sure the front is flat and the lapels are even.
Add the collar – I interlined mine with buckram to make sure it looks and is as still as the original seems to be, and lined it with wool. Once the collar is in place, you can line the front with another wool layer. Finish off the inside seams and the hem, put it on and mark the position of the buttons and buttonholes.
Buttons are a story into itself.
I couldn’t find any decent metal buttons that would be correct for the period, so decided to cover and embroider my buttons for both the waistcoat and the jacket. In the hindsight, I should probably have allowed for a more time – they do take quite some time!
I used the same cloth I made the waistcoat and skirts from. I divided it into small squares, each big enough to cover the button plus some extra, and stretched it on a tapestry frame
I worked in stages
- Make a loop using a thick gold thread – make several in one go. My loop was long enough to go around the button twice.
- Couch the loop down with silk thread – took me ages!
- Embroider the stems with green silk thread
- Embroider the flower in yellow silk thread
I worked on several buttons at the same time – I would make around 6 or 7 and then start the process all again.
When the embroidery is finished, detach the fabric from the frame and cut the fabric along the lines. You now have lots of squares with embroidered bit on it. Put your button (I used flat wooden ones) on the left side of the square, covering the embroidered bit. Trim the rest of the fabric so that there is enough left to cover the button. Now you have a circle of fabric – use it on other square pieces so that you do not need to measure things up every time. To cover the button, sew a running stitch near the edge, place the button inside and pull on the thread. Stitch the edges together. More detailed instructions can be found here:
Work the buttonholes and sew the buttons, and the waistcoat is ready.
I had to be bit creative with the pattern. I did not have access to a detailed pattern for a habit from that period, so decided to adapt the slightly earlier one from Janet Arnold. I simply changed the front by adding lapels and adapting the shape of the skirt.
I must add that originally, working strictly from the picture, I couldn’t see any waist seam – so I cut my jacket without one. However, 400 Years of Fashion, presenting the V&A collection states that there is a waist seam… which means I will have to remodel the jacket. Oh well…. If you want to make skirts separate, just follow the pattern from Janet Arnold!
As always, cut out the toile first. – I this instance it was even more important than usual, as I wasn’t using a pattern I was familiar with or a commercial pattern – I had to check if the fabric hung and fitted correctly. That was why I decided to use a thicker fabric for the toile – calico toile would no doubt make it easy to see the fit, however it could not mimic the behaviour of heavy and stiff wool. To achieve that, I used bits of older, low quality wool I had. And it worked! I basted the pieces together – I included the sleeves since I wanted them to fit closely but somehow allow me quite a lot of freedom of movement – and checked the fit. It needed some adjustments, so I undid the relevant seams, corrected the cut and basted the seams again. I had to repeat the procedure twice before I was satisfied, and then I simply undid the basting and used it as a template for cutting out the top layer and the lining.
I started with top layer, stitching first the back and then the sides and the shoulder seams. I left the skirts un-pleated – I will do the pleating once the lining is in place.
Lapels- you have a choice how you want your lapels and buttons done: you can either have real buttonholes on them and sew the buttons to the jacket, so that they do button back – or have a fake buttonhole/button arrangement and secure the lapels with hooks and eyes. Mine are the former.
I market the buttonholes and the line for the braid decoration. I cut the line – just enough to allow for the button – and worked around it to prevent fraying. Then I added the gold braid decoration. Having finished with the lapels, you can now sew on the buttons.
The next step was to make and add the sleeves I stitched the two part sleeve together, right sides together, leaving the cuff part unstitched at that point. I turned the sleeve out, with right sides up, and then finished the cuff – so that when it is turned back, the good side of the seam shows. Proceed to add the buttonholes/button decoration – again, you can have either false ones or the functional option and I opted for the functional way – real buttonholes and buttons on the main sleeve. Repeat on the other sleeve and when finished, set it into the armhole.
The pockets were next. Start with the pocket itself – mines are from silk. Cut out and stitch the two layers together. (pic.26) Mark the position of the pocket on the skirts, and cut the opening matching the opening of the pocket. Turn the pocket out, so that the left side is out, and set it into the slit, carefully securing the silk to the wool
Pocket flaps – cut them out, making sure they are a bit longer than the actual pocket slit, line them, it you want to, and add the buttonhole/ decoration. Pin it in place and stitch them to the skirts with a strong linen thread.
Lining – stitch all the lining together – back first, then front and sleeves and set into the jacket. Pin carefully and let it hang together for a while. Adjust the pining at the hem if necessary and sew it in – at the front, neck hem, the cuffs (or rather before the turn back cuffs start).
Collar was next – again, I made a mock up collar first and experimented with it until i was satisfied with the way it looked together with the lapels. I stitched it to the jacket, lined with another layer of wool and worked the buttonholes so that it buttons down to the jacket.
All that remains now is pleating the vents – I did it precisely as shown in Janet Arnold, and secured them with the buttons and then added buttons at the top, purely for decoration.
Your habit is now ready – all you need it the undergarments, boots, gloves and a tricorn – and a –hunting you can go!
Here pictured at End Audley Hall – it was rather frosty on the day, with minus temperatures, and yet the wool kept me warm and snug.
This article was originally published in Your Wardrobe Unlock’d over a two years ago – and looking back at it from the time perspective I think i need to make another one, updated…. maybe the earlier version? still have enough of the green wool to make a 1760 jacket…. 🙂
Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion, Macmillan, New York, 1984
400 Years of Fashion, V&A Publishing, London, 2010
Craftpudding, http://www.craftpudding.com/2007/06/covered-button-tutorial.html [accessed 28/01/11]
V&A museum online: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/ [accessed 28/01/11]
Well, we have done the Francaise and l’anglaise style, time for a little polonaise… The idea for this one sprouted as soon as I saw the fabric at the market – a lovely silk brocade in ivory, yellow and green, in a fitting 18th century pattern. the fabric was bought and put aside for the project. The project itself was kick-started by an offer to participate in a bridal photo shoot organized by Lavinia from Events in a Box. The venue, Harrowen Hall, was an 18th century mansion, so apart from the modern dresses, they wanted something ‘more period’ . A perfect occasion to showcase the 18th century collection – and the polonaise was scheduled.
There was a complication ( there always is something, isn’t there?). The shoot was to be on the 18th April ( my birthday!) and on the 13th I was having a surgery on my shoulder…. the other gowns were to be worn by models provided, but this one had to be modeled by me. still possible, if I sewed most of it before the op, and finished the neckline after the op – I needed to make the bodice a bit bigger than usually, to accommodate the dressing – I gathered a size bigger would be ok, I would simply lace my stays loosely.
The making of the frock was surprisingly easy – and pleasant. The pleated back looks complicated, but it was rather straightforward pleats, and stitching them down was relaxing. I used the pattern from Janet Arnold and bodice pattern from the l’anglaise.
Once the pleats were done, it was time to get the front of the sleeves and the front part of the bodice sorted.
Finishing the bodice was next. the silk parts were hemmed and mounted onto the linen lining.
sSeeves were next on the agenda
And that was more or less it – the skirt were polonaised using inside tapes, as indicated on the pattern – and most importantly, the dress, though as planned just tad too big for me, worked perfectly with my shoulder dressing:-) fortunately the big dressing ( pictured below) was removed the day before the shoot…. no way I would be able to fit anything over that! well, maybe a Robocop costume… 🙂
Petticoat was made as well – in ivory taffeta, with a flounce. For skirt supports I used a big bumroll/ false hips, and the gown is of course worn over the stays.
Alas, the models provided for the other dresses were about 2-3 sizes too small so it was a challenge to get the frocks looking good,but the photographers worked wonders and we did get a few great pictures – please excuse the modern bridal headgear – showcasing work of another company too! 🙂
Photography, Shears and Mockford – and indeed that was our first shoot together – little did we know we would end up working regularly on a variety of projects!