Thursday, 6 February 2020

18th c. Riding Habit - Red Velvet

Patterns: JP Ryan riding habit, with alterations.
Fabrics: 100% cotton velvet, red. 100% silk, white. 100% linen, plaid.

Measurements: *Pattern size 8
Chest: 34"
Waist: 26.5"
Back Width: 13"
Armhole, waistcoat: 19"
Upper Arm: 12.5" max
Hem: 39" at front, 41.5" at back.

An 18th century ladies' riding habit done in cotton velvet and fully lined in oatmeal & green plaid linen. Functional pockets and full length sleeves with fitted cuffs. The waistcoat is white silk jacquard with tiny raised diamonds. All top stitching is done by hand, including buttonholes. The buttons are hand worked over wood molds in the HA manner with tissue weight silk taffeta, deep red. The jacket is shown open in all the pictures, but hooks and eyes allow it to be fully closed as well.

Though I started with the JP Ryan pattern as my base, my real inspiration for this was the 1770-1780 British Riding Habit at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.  Since the velvet is already heavy, I decided to lighten up things with making the waistcoat from a contrasting silk. I liked the Ontario riding habit right off because the buttons are made matching rather than a gold metal. It softens the looks and lessens the military inspiration that is common in these riding habits. 

The Cotton Velvet
In choosing to make this riding habit of red cotton velvet, I was going off of several extant garments I've found from the 18th century that were also made of cotton velvet. While not as common as silk, it was definitely around.

This men's waistcoat from the 1770s is a good example:

Another good feature of cotton velvet (not to be confused with velveteen!) is that it's easier to work with than silk velvet. Real silk velvet tends to have a very strict one way nap. Cotton, while still having a nap, is more forgiving.

The Waistcoat
The JP Ryan pattern includes a waistcoat with a peculiar, though definitely accurate, belt that attaches to the front of the waistcoat with buttons. I'll admit, the first time I saw it I wasn't much of a fan, but having seen the paintings and originals from which it's based, the look has grown on me. 

The front sections of the waistcoat are fully interlined in white cotton and fully lined with white silk taffeta. The leading edges have an additional layer of linen horsehair interlining.

I used silk floss for the buttonholes, and the buttons are hand wrapped with warm-white 100% silk satin.

On the form, the waistcoat is shown a bit loose around the waist. With the back lacing, it can be adjusted to a tighter fit if needed (though it's already tiny enough! 26"! lol). The neck tie is just a simple tube of white cotton gauze, 2.5" wide and 41" long, wrapped around the neck twice.

The Coat
Generally speaking, the fit of the JP Ryan riding habit is proportioned very well and is true to the pattern size guide. It's one of the reasons I so often use it as a starting off base. The front lapels, which appear to be wholly decorative, do serve a purpose is making the front edges of the coat stiffer and better to hold shape, especially when the coat is left open to expose the waistcoat. 

The lapels are fully lined in black light weight linen, and also interlined in medium weight linen. In construction, I made sure to cut the interlining so it was free of the seam allowance. One of the down sides of this style is that the front leading edges can start to get very thick with all those layers going into the same seam, and removing the interlined from that seam allowance will help there a lot.

(Above) When it came time to apply the buttons to the front lapels, I stitched all the way through all layers. You can see the red marks of the button stitching on this inside. This is necessary not just to hold the lapels in place, but also to keep the lining in place so it doesn't show on the narrow edge of the front openings. If you are lining in something of a matching color, this is less a concern, but you'll end up doing it anyway.

(Note!) In the above imagine you see there are no hooks and eyes on the inside of the coat, because I took pictures before I applied them! Woops. 

(Above) The pockets are functional, though the flaps do not button closed. They rarely did on garments such as these, or on men's coats for that matter. 

Now, here we see the inside of the coat in full, showing the narrow strips of black linen facing the openings of the skirt. You can also see the inside of the side pleats and the red marks showing the stitching from the 3 vent buttons.

If you look closely, you can see that the inside of the center back vent is not stitched down to the lining, but is instead attached with a small floss cord. This allow it to have some "swing" in movement without flipping around or to the outside.

As for the armholes, I applied the sleeve lining by hand, doing a slip stitch to the armhole seam allowance. While raw edges and exposed seams are perfectly accurate to the 18th century (you should see the inside of some of those fancy court gown. Haphazard train wrecks!) I personally cannot stand them. I like everything to be fully and professionally finished.

The Skirt
One of my favorite things about the 18th century is the simplicity of the petticoats. The vast majority of the time it was just two rectangular panels, a little scoop shaping at the top, and pleating it to a dual waistband. Much the same is going on here. 

The back and front waistbands are rust red linen, light weight, with cotton tapes allowing the front and back to be secured around the waist separately. The side openings and hem are all hand stitched.

Because I wanted to avoid the bulk of doing a double fold velvet hem, I decided to face the hem with something lightweight so the velvet would only have the one turn at the bottom. I chose a green silk organdy. It's just my fanciful thinking, but I can imagine an 18th century seamstress taking the left-overs from another gown and sewing it into strips to make a facing, which is exactly what I did here. The bulk of that green organdy was a regency gown I made a few months back 


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