Friday, 16 December 2016

1790s habit waistcoat (HSM #11)

I was originally going to post this project for the Historical Sew Monthly "Pattern" challenge. It's been long enough though now that I figure I might as well post this under the Red challenge (it has some red in it). When I found the fabric I made this up with, it made me think of some of the roller-printed cottons from the turn of the 19th century. There is actually a small leaf scrolling pattern in between the stripes, which may or may not be very evident in the photos here.

Challenge: Red. I was originally going for the Pattern challenge, but that was a fairly long time ago now.

Material: 1/2 metre striped quilting cotton, about 1/2 metre beige drapery cotton, and some canvas for the fronts, lapels and collar.

Pattern: Adapted from plate XIX of The Cut of Men's Clothes, by Norah Waugh (and altered to fit over stays- I cut down the back, took in the waist, shortened the body a lot, and made the lapels slightly smaller). I used the descriptions of contemporary waistcoat construction in Costume Close Up (by Linda Baumgarten).

Period: 1790s.

Notions: Cotton thread, metal washers (bases for the buttons), wax, thin cotton tape.
I'm so happy with this stripe match!

How historically accurate is it?: Maybe 80%. I sewed it entirely by hand. It's completely made of cotton (although cotton thread still wasn't really a thing in this period, so points down for that). To be honest, I don't know that much about how accurate the weight of the striped fabric was for this (it's really thin).

I cut it down from a men's pattern, and the fit works for now, but next time I think I would cut a deeper curve on the front (Lesson learned: don't sew with striped fabric when trying a pattern for the first time!), I would also cut back the armscye some more (I had already cut it fairly substantially back from the original pattern.


I took inspiration for the cut of my waistcoat from these gorgeous examples at the V&A museum:
I love the collar and lapels on the red waistcoat (besides its striking colour), and I thought the embroidery pattern on the striped one was very pretty.

  Left: Wool, 1790-95; Right: Linen with silver-gilt embroidery, 1790s

I didn't end up making it double breasted though, because I was so fed-up with buttonholes after sewing the first line of them!
I also changed the back from a lacing back, like these two examples have, to a back closed with ties (see above). Ties appear to also have been a period way of closing the back, though I don't know how common they were on women's waistcoats (as opposed to men's).

Hours to complete:
It took far longer than I had intended. I fully started this in the middle of the summer. It was all good though, because I learned lots of important things while making this piece.

First worn: For pictures.

Total cost: 0.5 metres striped fabric- $3
0.5 metres beige cotton- $1.50
0.25 yard canvas- $1.5
4 washers-15¢
some silk thread which I used on the buttonholes before realising that not all silk thread is appropriate as buttonhole twist- $4
= $10.15
All my other notions I already had.

A sample of materials and tools I used to make this. Ok, I didn't end up using the hammer- that was just there by coincidence- but all the rest I used! My table was unusually organised when I took this photo. Sadly enough, the table has since descended into pandemonium...

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