Wednesday, 3 June 2015

1894 Double-Breasted Suit - Brown Serge Cotton

1894 Double-Breasted Walking Suit
Brown serge cotton
featuring antique cloth chemisette*

*See bottom of post for information on chemisette

Jacket: Combination of Truly Victorian #496 "1896 Ripple Bodice", and Truly Victorian #464 "1883 Riding Habit Bodice"
Skirt: Butterick 3418.

On ebay HERE

~~~I ran across an amazing cotton serge fabric at a Wal-mart for only $2 a yard. I took the whole 19 yards, so I have plenty left still =D.  Wal-mart is hardly the go-to place for quality fabrics, but once in while you score something unexpected on their clearance pile, usually because those fabrics are manufacturer surplus that Wal-mart buys for almost nothing. I actually got 100% heavy weight linen from a Wal-mart once for only $3.50 a yard! 

An excellent shot of the chemisette (see bottom of post for details)

 Combining Patterns:
This is something I have been doing for a while, but it's the first time I've done this particular combination. Usually (but definitely not always) you can get away with combining various parts of different patterns if they come from the same manufacturer and are in the same "family" (such as the Butterick History patterns, etc.).

Here, I took the front pieces, collar, lapels, etc.) from the riding habit pattern, then used the Ripple Bodice pattern for everything else. I had to alter the sides so the shorter riding habit fronts would meet up with the side pieces of the Ripple Bodice, but that was easy.

I made a few other alterations, such as narrowing the cuffs and adding a button placket. I also faced all of the lining pieces.

Below you can see the box pleat I used for the sleeves. I LOVE box pleats for big sleeves, because it naturally causes them to bounce out. =)

Below you can see the machine button-holes. The little threads you can see hanging out are the result of machine button-holes (slicing up the center after they are stitched). I just need to go in and snip them off.

As much as I wanted the buttons on the front of the jacket to match those on the sleeves, I just didn't like how much the tiny leather ball buttons stuck out. Too bulky for cuffs. I liked these much better, and having different buttons on cuffs was done, so I'm not worried about accuracy here.

The Puff Sleeve Netting:

As I was sewing the buttons onto the cuffs, I realized that I had completely forgotten to line the sleeves with netting. At that point, I would have had to basically tear the sleeves apart and start again from scratch, so I sort of rigged up something else.

Here is the inside of the jacket, and you can see netting in the sleeves. The netting is four layers, staggered in length, heavily gathered and bound to an 8" strip of the brown serge. I then sewed little snaps on the strips and the upper seam allowance of the sleeves. The puffs of netting can be easily remove just by pulling the snaps.

~Antique Cloth Chemisette~

Now, first let me say that this chemisette is NOT an antique. I made it, but I made it using very old, hand embroidered linens that I found at an antique store. The only new parts of the chemisette are the neck lace and the silk ribbons tying it around the torso. 

Here are two of the linen pieces, pictures with my managing supervisor. He's keeping me to the grind stone.

~The fabric~ 
I'm not actually sure what these pieces of cloth were in their original life. They are a fine, tightly woven cotton with hand embroidery and edging. They were clearly cut away from something larger at some point in the past. At first, I assumed they were parts of table clothes or runners of some kind, but all of them are stitched back around to themselves, end to end, as if they had once been the hem to a skirt. Perhaps they were.

In any case, they are rather small, and so I was at pains to figure out how to cut my chemisette pieces when the fabric was narrow and embroidered only on one side. I also couldn't get a mirror image cut for both sides of the chemisette front. That's why I was forced to piece the front sections. The scalloped embroidery you see going down each side of the front pieces is laid over another piece and hand stitched down.
As you can see, I was not even able to get the scallops to line up sharply for a mirror image. The clothes were definitely a home creation in their first life, because much of the embroidery fails to repeat accurately, and the scallop edging varies in depth and width. 

The tiny buttons are antique shell, about 3/8" wide.
As far as mirror images go, I was able to get it damn near spot on for the collar pieces =D

Side view, showing the ties. The bra underneath is what I sue to give my dress form a little more...ahem...reality. ;)

 Ugh! How I wish I had been able to get that flower cutout to sit center, but I just wasn't able to make it happen with what I had to work with.


  1. As much as I love what you did with the suit, I would steal that chemisette off you in a heartbeat. I've thought about doing something similar with some antique linens I've come across and now I know it works.

  2. Awwww. The threat of thievery is the best compliment there is ;) LOL

  3. I want that whole suit in my size one day!!!

  4. Beautiful and well put together. This is the style I prefer to wear the most. Easy to move in and looks well on many body shapes.

  5. Wow! Thank you for this very detailed breakdown of how you created this gorgeous suit!