Tuesday, 5 May 2015

1795 Men's Suit Project - Coat

Pattern: Margot Hill, The Evolution of Fashion.
The coat pattern is very simple. The pieces are only half front, half back, upper sleeve, lower sleeve, and collar. The cuffs are made up of two rectangles.
     While the waistcoat and the breeches associated with this suit came out quite well "as is", the coat required some big alterations to the lapels and collar. With the pattern as is, the lapels simply do not hang in the manner shown in the illustration. You will see what I mean further down when I discuss the lapels. Still, highly recommended with the alterations I will mention.

Fabric: Wool/linen blend. Gray, shot with subtle black and blue.
*This wool is modern suiting and somewhat thinner than what would have typically been used at the time.

Lining: In my readings I saw that men's coats at this time were often unlined. Since I planned to interface this coat, I decided a lining was best. Also, I am not a fan of facings without linings in most any application.

Here is the front lining with the wool facings being pinned in place.

Since I used a modern wool suiting that is thinner than the period accurate wool, I decided to interface the upper portions in linen. I think the weight I chose was a bit heavy, but it turned out well all the same.

Below you see the front and back assembles, with the interfacing showing on the lapels. Now, at this point I should have realized that the lapels were not going to fall in the way shown on the illustration. The outside edges of the lapel should hang almost straight down, but the shaping just doesn't allow it. 


As you can see below, the lapels are beyond ridiculous. The only way to make them fold and hang in any kind of appropriate way was to pull the whole coat toward the middle, which forced to the collar to meet and basically ruined the entire hand of the garment. I ended up having to take it apart at the neckline to reshape the lapel and the collar placement (something I should have realized BEFORE putting the lining in).

And here we have the lapels after my alteration. They do not, alas, resemble the large downward hanging lapels of the illustration, but they are a vast improvement. I could not alter it to fit the illustration because it would have required destroying everything and cutting entirely new front pieces. The fix was simple, though. See the diagram after the next picture.

The diagram below shows the pattern piece for the front. The red line represents the alteration I ended up making. I basically had to remove a triangular piece at the top of the lapel and shift the collar down to follow the new line.

The blue represents the cut I will make in the future to better achieve the look in the illustration.

Buttons & Cuffs

I decided to make my own covered buttons for this one, as I did not like any of the metal one's I had at the time. I use plain wood blanks from the craft section of the hobby store, and just cinched a circle of fabric around it (using wide a wide gathering stitch with strong thread). The shanks you see on these were made using button-craft thread, which I knotted repeatedly to make a strong loop.

 Here you see the mariner's cuff. Unfortunately, a mistake on my part forced me to make these cuffs nonfunctional (they are whip-stitched closed). I messed up the buttonhole placement and would have had to redo everything to keep the cuffs closed without gaping. But, there are plenty of historic examples of nonfunctional cuffs, so I'm not too worried.

Above is part of my process of doing the false buttonholes on the front of the coat. I used waxed cotton cord as a base to do my buttonhole stitches over. I am new to hand buttonholes, so they definitely could have come out better. Still, I think they lack of perfection kind of gives the suit an authentic feel. (at least, that's what I'm telling myself.).

To see the completed suit, continue to the next post =)

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