Sunday, 24 May 2020

Period Impressions 424 - "Open Front Jacket 1735-1740"

Pattern: Period Impressions 424, "Open Front Jacket, 1735-1740"
Fabrics: Linen, deep red. Silk, bronze, for the lining. Cotton/linen blend for the petticoat.

Measurements: *Finished measurements from garment, cut size 14. 
Chest: 39/40"
Waist: 33"
Hip: Free (see alteration notes)
Hem: 37" at front
Back Width: 14.5"
Upper Arm: 14" max

Period Impressions is no longer in operation or printing new stock, so the only patterns to be had are what is left in merchant inventories and second hand circulation. Patterns of Time, Amazon Dry Goods, and James Country Mercantile are good sources. This one in particular is getting harder to find, so if you're interested I recommend snatching it up.

This pattern, which is very similar to the 1735 jacket featured in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion, has been around for over 20 years, but I have found precious little about it online. Few people seem to have made it, or if they did they didn't put much about it online. I recently bought it in the pattern set 12-14-16. 
Topics Below Include:
  1. General Changes & Sizing
  2. Pattern Instructions
  3. Skirt Front Alterations & Fit Issues
  4. Historical Accuracy 
  5. Cuffs & Ruffles
  6. Stomacher & Petticoat
General Changes & Sizing
The only aesthetic changes I made from the pattern were adding linen ruffles to the cuffs, lengthening the skirt sections by 1 inch, and changing the the front closure. The pattern calls for buttons, which are then used as lacing pegs. While I like this method as a decorative feature, I don't really like it as a functioning closure method that has to take strain, so I chose to use standard lacing eyelets. 

As for sizing, this pattern runs a bit large, which is always better than running too small. The pattern did not come with a sizing chart (something I've noticed about most Period Impressions pattern), so I cut the pieces for 14 and started making them up just to see what they would fit. 

Size 14, cut straight from the pattern with no other fit adjustments, resulted in the measurements listed at the top of the post: Roughly a 39" chest and 33" waist, with comfortably wide shoulders. 

Pattern Instructions
If you are still new to making 18th century garments or rely on solid instructions, this pattern will be a nightmare for you. The instructions are not comprehensive and seem to assume the sewer already knows about construction methods and finishing. If, however, you're more advanced and used to disregarding instruction I would highly recommend this pattern for the body and sleeves pieces (more on the skirt pieces later).

Skirt Front Alterations & Fit Issues
The only real fit issue with this pattern is from the skirt front piece, which is far too narrow. What I mean by narrow is that it doesn't flare out from the body as it should, but rather rests almost flush against the hip and front belly. This means there is little to no built in accommodation for a bum roll, full skirts, or even a full hip. Luckily this is a problem that is easy to fix on the pattern. 

Above you see the original pattern piece (white paper) beneath my altered piece. I sliced the pattern in two places and spread it, pivoting at the top, to widen the bottom hem and force the piece into a more dramatic curve at the top. The blue sections show what I had to add. The top of the piece, which is stitched to the jacket body, becomes more curved but remains the same length. Only the hem is getting wider. 

This is essentially how flounces work. Think of it like a circle skirt vs. a pencil skirt. 
Now, if you're a damn fool like me and just dove right in before realizing this problem with the front skirt, there is a way to salvage what you've done without starting over *sigh*. I made up the front skirt sections, with lining, before realizing this problem, and the fit was so bad I either had to do something. I was running very low on the lining silk, so I chose to compromise by adding a triangular godet to force the skirt into fullness. Luckily, this is still historically accurate, so I didn't end up ruining the piece. 

Below you can see my construction steps for the skirt before the godet. At this stage I really should have realized something was wrong. The skirt is lying almost flat toward the front as I pin it on, a sure sign that it wasn't going to flare out from the body like it should. Oh well. The godet, I think, adds some rusticity and a little authentic charm to a garment that is supposed to be more casual or working class anyway. 

The back skirt piece works just fine and requires no changes

Historical Accuracy
Going just on the shape of the pieces, this pattern is quite accurate and follows the lines of several extant pieces. The general jacket style seems to fall in with the other "Casaquin" jackets. 

The little pocket flats are purely decorative, and those combined with the hanging cuffs seems to be a nod to men's fashions of the early 18th century. 

The red velvet jacket here----------->
has covered buttons toward the bottom to serve as lacing pegs, though the lacing there would have served as decoration more than anything. The remainder of the stomacher would have been pinned to the jacket sides. Another odd feature is the "pocket" flats on this one, which are such a strange shape that it's clear they weren't even trying to give the illusion of covering functional pockets lol.

Cuffs & Ruffles
I made no changes to the cuff shapes that came with the pattern. They work really well and are almost exactly like those in the Janet Arnold book. I did add some white linen ruffles. 

The ruffles are gathered to their own bound band, and then loosely tack stitched to the inside sleeve cuff. The idea is that they could be easily removed for cleaning or use on another garment. 

The ruffles are hand stitched with a narrow rolled hem.

Stomacher & Petticoat
Because this jacket closed to a narrow V, there's no reason for the stomacher to be very wide at the bottom. In fact, if you're making the jacket any smaller than a size 14, I would recommend narrowing the stomacher toward the bottom point so you don't get a pronounced wrinkle as it tried to go over the curve of the body.

I made my stomacher to be reversible, one side matching the jacket and the other a embroidered fancy silk. 

The jacket is fully lined in bronze silk.

The petticoat is 3 panels of 48" wide linen/cotton blend. The fabric has a particular weave where the red stripes look wrinkled up while the blue parts don't. The hem is done by hand.


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