Sunday, November 30, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly #22: Menswear

At the last moment, I decided on a cravat for my entry.  Something nice and simple that I needed to wear with my frock coats. 

A cravat--the predecessor of the necktie, is a simple piece of fabric--often a fine linen--which was wrapped around your neck in a number of ways, and tied (usually in the front).  Earlier in the century, it was more or less exclusively white, and eventually other colours worked their way in.  Mine is made of piece of fairly fine white linen (I believe it is a blend--I'm really not sure where the fabric came from) 5.75 by 91 inches, which I hemmed with a rolled hem.  That's it!  The exact dimensions are personal preference, and depending on the knot to be used.

It should be starched for wearing--the amount of starch depends on the how you tie it; my favourite--the waterfall (or Mailcoach)--requires little to no starch.  The oriental requires a very stiff cloth.

Sewing a rolled hem.  A brief tutorial of the technique.  This was the first time I tried to do it.

Making a Regency Neckcloth.  Nice and simple--briefly discusses the history, and two varieties (rectangular and triangular).

Tying a Regency Neckcloth.  A page which describes a variety of ways to wear the cravat, from the instructions in the period text Neckclothitania.

Another one on tying, similar to the above, and giving a few more specifics.

The Challenge: #22, Menswear

Fabric: Fine linen, probably a blend.

Pattern: None needed.

Year: Early to mid-1800s.

Notions: None.

How historically accurate is it?: Maybe 85%.  The pattern and construction are correct, but the linen is a blend.

Hours to complete: 4-5.  Stitching took four.

First worn: Just for testing and photos.

Total cost:  Stash materials.  Cost zero.

I tried three different knots; the basic (or mathematical), the mailcoach (waterfall), and the ballroom.

I believe, other than the lack of starch, the issue is that I actually tied the knot too tightly (and it creased while I was tying).

For the Mailcoach--which I believe is a informal style--it requires a long and wide neck cloth.  Mine is both too narrow and short.  I would recommend around a 3 yard by 10inch wide cloth (perhaps even longer)...that way you can actually start it in the front rather than the back as I did (four times around, rather than my three).  I would wear for any outdoor event (I.e. one where I would wear this coat...).  I plan to keep an eye out for a cashmere shawl or scarf in a nice colour/pattern to wear in this style.
Again, it should have been starched.  I found that the top edge had to be folded under slightly (since the fabric is wider than my neck is tall).  It is then wrapped around, goes under the arms, and gets pinned in back.  Make sure there is tension on the top edges of the cloth.  I would definitely wear this one for a more formal occasion.
In the photographs, I am wearing my Wanderer Frock (blue), and Huntsman's frock coat (brown).

© John Frey, 2014. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.  Photographs of my work may not be duplicated.


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