My friend Ida had an acute need for a black 18th century jacket for a LARP game where her character would be a housemaid in a manor house filled with dark and scandalous secrets. Black and white servant's uniform is actually more of a Victorian thing, but we must make allowances for the game leaders imagination.
Ida however thought that she wouldnt like to dress in black in re-enacting events, so she wanted two-sided jacket with something lighter. She found a beautiful light grey wool for it. For the black side she bought black linen, of which her Grandmother made a skirt for the maid costume.
We decided to copy the lovely tailed skirts of the jacket in
Linda Baumgarten's "Costume Close-Up", but with a little
less flaring, and a center front closure with hooks instead
of stomacher. We also decided to make the sleeves full
length for warmth, though they can be turned up for
I had to com up with the pattern quickly as Ida needed the jacket for next weekend, and luckily it turned out quite okay. For the sleeve I used the two piece pattern from my riding habit jacket with small alterations.
Due to the tight schedule I also machine sewed everything I possibly could, and bag lined the whole thing. As the gray side was to be the mainly worn side I turned the edges slightly on the black linings side. I stitched the seam allowances on the black side, where the stitch is more inauspicious but still helps to keep the skirt edges from bagging to some extent.
I sewed the seam allowances of the top layer and lining together on armholes and on the side seam waist where the skirts begin to flare. I also clipped the seam allowances on the armhole very meticulously and ironed them open so that they wouldn't show strain on either side of the jacket.
The jacket front neckline settles higher that the stays top
egde, so I gathered it a bit for better fit and sewed narrow
tapes on the seam to secure the gathering. As you can see in
the picture, it ended up just a bit too gathered. Later I
have begun to use the more period method of tie casings on
the neckline, which gives more room for adjustment.
I had turned the bag lining from the openings on front edges, so the last thing was to finish them. I sewed a ready-made hook and eye tape on the edge and sewed the lining on by hand. That was the only piece of hand sewing I did for this project.
The finished jacket has small fitting issues, mainly the front waist being too long and small. I think we did the mistake of trying it on with just stays and no bulky skirts. Considering the time I spend with it it's okay, though, and Ida has worn it a lot.
admit I was a bit sceptical at first about how a two-sided
jacket would work, but it was good to have an opportunity to
try and make one. If I had made this more carefully and
attached the lining by hand from the outside it would no
doubt have been neater still, while now there remains some
bagging at places. A two-sided garment is of course a very
convenient way to get more variety to your wardrobe while
saving money and storing space.
Originally Ida had planned to use the black side only once, but when she put it on for the photoshoot we both thought that it actully looks kinda nice too. The linen is very even, tightly wowen and a little shiny. Without the cruder apron a black outfit is actually a neat thing on 18th century when the black materials were still more costly.
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