Friday, 25 September 2015

Reproducing the Kyoto Institute's 1790 Pink Taffeta Gathered Jacket

Patterns used: Norah Waugh's "1775 Robe a l'Anglaise", diagram XXII from The Cut of Women's Clothes (altered) 
   Also the sleeves from diagram XXVI of the same book.
Fabrics: 100% Silk Satin, mulberry color. The skirt is very lightweight striped weave, polyester (it's amazing how real some polyesters can look).
Chest: 38-42" (gathered top allows for quite a wide adjustment
Waist: 34-36 (Due to nature of belt tabs, the adjustment range on the waist is not as high as the chest)
Bicep Circumference: 14"
Write Circumference, buttoned: 8"
Hem: 40"
Available on etsy HERE
Available on ebay HERE

Foundation Garments:
On the dress form I used a rump pad that curves around the hips half way, as well as an additional pad for the back and small pads to fill out the sides. The one rump pad alone would probably suffice for an actual wearer, but as we all know dress forms don't come with much..*ahem*...bass. ;)

First, I'll start with my impressions of the original garment featured in the Kyoto Costume Institute book from Taschen:

My favorite feature of the 1790s is how you can see the transition from the rococo silhouette to the regency. This jacket is a perfect example of the 'half and half'. The back looks purely 18th century, just like any l'Anglaise robe. So that is where I started with my pattern. I decided that altering an l'Anglaise bodice would be the best way to go, so I used one of the Waugh patterns from a dress I just finished a few weeks ago. Below you can see the bodice piece and the red lines indicate the cut alterations I made.

Now, as you can see in the extant image, the jacket has ruching around the neckline and a "tail" at the back. I omitted the tail simply because I don't really care for how it looks. I omitted the ruching purely for utilitarian reasons; I was out of silk =(

At first, I wasn't quite sure how far to extend the front, and I wasn't willing to just wing it with the silk because I had precious little and no room for error. So I cut out the piece as closely as I thought they would go just in the linen lining and used that to make my further adjustments

 I gathered the fronts a little just to get an idea of how full I wanted it to be

 As you can see it was too long in the front for what I would eventually need. I had to make sure the gathered portion wasn't so long (tall) that it would show under the belt I would eventually make. I cut it off where you can see the pin in the above photo.

I also had to shorten the waist, as with this jacket it's rather important that the jacket end precisely at waist level.

I then took the lining apart and used the pieces to cut out the silk. Below you can see the final pieces for the jacket outer fabric

And here you can see my lining set into the jacket. Notice how the jacket fronts extend much further out than the lining, obviously to be fathered up later. I did a simple sack lining at the center back and the neckline as far as possible...basically until the lining has to separate from the jacket at the center fronts. (I know that's a horribly confusing description, but I'm sure how else to term it. Anyone who has made 18th century garments with laced/tied lining inside will know what I mean.).

The next steps were A LOT of hand sewing. when it comes to 18th century garb, I prefer to do all top stitching by hand, and this jacket necessitates a lot of top stitching.
*The narrow roll hem at the top and bottom of the fronts that would eventually be gathered.
*The drawstring channels, comprised of a strip of bias tape on the inside.
*The center back boning, which I chose to set in with top stitching straight through.
*Buttonholes for the cuffs
*Narrow hem of the sleeve cuffs (which are unlined)
*Everything to do with the belt (more on that further down)
*Making buttons by hand.

The Sleeves
The Waugh l'Anglaise pattern I used for the bodice had elbow length, one piece sleeves, so they were not appropriate. I decided to use the two piece sleeve from another l'Anglaise pattern in the same book, diagram, XXVI. The armholes on the first l'Anglaise, which I used for the bodice, are rather large, so I had to alter the tops of this sleeves to accommodate. Very simple done, and the final product has a very fine shape, especially after you stuff it with netting for display =) 

The Belt
In the extant image, the belt looks rather thin and delicate. I think that would be fine, since the jacket should be worn over stays that would provide stability, but I decided I wanted something far more substantial, so I chose to make the belt tabs with jute strapping for the interfacing.

 This is the sort of jute strapping sold for repairs on older style furniture. A Wrights product in the home decor section.

I flat lined them with linen, then did a whip-stitched wrap with the silk. Both ends are finished, as the belt is eventually attached with top stitching.

The extant description has the belt as being laced closed, as you can clearly see a ribbon bow in the image. But I don't really care for visible laces on garments. I know they are history accurate, but something about it has the ability to just instantly make a beauty, accurate gown into a "costume", at least in my eyes.

So, I chose to do hidden laces, so the belt would still have a slight range of fit. I used small brass rings, whip-stitched in. The lacing could be tucked behind the belt and then eventually covered with the belt medallion I made (see further down).

The "buckle" Medallion.

I stood back and looked at the belt with just the hidden lacing. Even with the edges pulled right together, it just didn't look right. It was missing something, so I decided to make a "cover" for the front closure. This medallion is made with
*one oval piece of cardboard
*one over piece of foam, 1/2" thick
*one tight, circular ruffle of silk
*one small oval piece of felt
*one repurposed brooch with a money-clip style clap. The clasp sets the medallion right over the top of the secured belt. Entirely hidden =)

 The clasp is glued to the back of the medallion.

Bodice Dress Down - In Steps


The skirt is very full, made up of 4 panels at 58" wide.


  1. This is a wonderful adaption idea for the pattern, Lydia. Love how the jacket came out! And, oh my, the color of the taffeta is just lovely. =)

    1. Thanks, Nessa! I didn't have much silk on hand, so it was either the mulberry satin there, or a salmon-orange taffeta. I think I made the right choice =)

    2. You so did! But I can't wait to see what you will make of the taffeta, either. :)

  2. Lydia, beautiful work. I was hoping to see information about the hat. I have never seen one like it. Barb