My Blog » 1790-92 Blue Figured Jacket and Petticoat

1790-92 Blue Figured Jacket and Petticoat

This jacket started its life in the Burnley & Trowbridge workshop I attended last year. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I had a hard time conceptualizing the design for my jacket on the fly, and while I liked the finished jacket, I didn’t love it. It didn’t match the image in by brain, even if I couldn’t quite articulate what that image was. So I let it sit half-finished for a couple of months before I attempted to rework the jacket using the existing base. I managed to get something a little closer to the picture in my mind; still it wasn’t quite right. Back to the UFO pile, where it marinated for a good 6 months before I was ready to tackle it again.

This time I decided to start my process completely from scratch. I browsed paintings, fashion plates, and extant garments until I had a solid idea of what I wanted – a jacket with short, fluffy skirt, cut-away front, long sleeves, and a matching petticoat. Then I focused on extant garments and pattern diagrams to help me alter my 18th century base pattern. My main inspiration was this gorgeous striped jacket from Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris. I loved the skirt trimming, as well as the double buttons on the front. To pattern, I referenced the jacket diagrams in The Cut of Women’s Clothes by Norah Waugh and The History of Costume by Blanche Payne (which happens to be a pattern of the same jacket from Les Arts Décoratifs).
You can see the rest of my inspiration images here on the project’s Pinterest board.

The jacket was entirely hand sewn and constructed using a myriad of 18th century seaming techniques. Since it seemed like most extant jackets I was referencing for this project were constructed with some sort of whip stitching technique, I decided to use the “Stitch with No Name” we learned in the workshop. Of course, it had been a year since I learned it and I definitely needed a refresher. Thankfully, Burnley & Trowbridge have put some great tutorials on YouTube, including one with this technique.

While I love the look of this stitch, its unfortunately very taxing on my wrist and hand, so after the center back seam, I switched to my standard lapped seam technique, illustrated on page 39 of Costume Close-Up, for the side back seams. The jacket skirt seams are sewn with a mantua-maker’s seam, and all the edges of the jacket are finished with the Le Point a Rabattre Sous La Main stitch, also illustrated in Costume Close-Up, page 8. All three back seams are boned with narrow artificial whale bone (left over from my most recent stays and my new favorite type of boning to use).

The skirt of the jacket was hemmed and then trimmed with scalloped pinked self-fabric strips, arranged in box pleats spaced about a half inch apart. I copied the trimming from the Les Arts Décoratifs jacket, but I also noticed similar trimming on other extant jackets, as well as in portraits.

Since I had very limited fabric, and was reusing as much of the old jacket as possible, I didn’t have enough to cut a full underbodice section for the front of the jacket. My solution was cut a separate piece for the bottom front, finish the edges of the piece together with the lining, and then stitched it to the rest of the fronts. It’s not ideal, but works. The center fronts are left separate for about two inches to help it appear more like two layers, rather than one. I finished it with decorative buttons, but didn’t add buttonholes to keep the fit flexible in the future.

Everything about the construction when smoothly until the time came for sleevils. Because of the limited fabric, I had to reuse the sleeves that were draped and patterned originally at the workshop. I neglected to take this into account when I patterned the new jacket and ended up with a lot of heartache trying to make the old sleeves fit nicely into the new armscye.  Learn from my mistakes! Always pattern your sleeves in the mock up stage. I was finally able to get something passable, but there is still some wonkiness under the arm, and I’ll admit it bugs me.
I have plans to wear the jacket and petticoat at the end of the month in Colonial Williamsburg, so now I need to make some fun accessories to finish the look. I’m currently working on a giant silly tall hat like you see so often in portraits and fashion plates of the early 1790s, and a giant faux fur muff to keep my hands warm.
Posted: 12/19/2017 1:21:05 PM by Aubry | with comments
Filed under: 1790s
blog comments powered by Disqus

Project Details

1790-92 Blue Figured Jacket