Friday, January 29, 2016

HSM January--Procraftination: Double Breasted Waistcoat

This is a fairly simple project--which turned out to be frought with complications that lead to my procrastinating for a good while.  This project is a men's double breasted waistcoat in a brocade and is my entry into the Historical Sew Monthly: Procrastination.

The Find and Sources
This project was based on one residing in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  This particular example is from New York, 1853, and is no longer on view.  Naturally, the image of the garment on the museum webpage is my primary source.  I used a 1890s cutting system to draft it.

Garment Description
The waistcoat is double breasted, the overlap sewn on, rather than being cut on as in that case of later garments.  There are three single-welt pockets; interestingly, the breast pocket is well off to the side, almost under the arm.  The other unusual feature is the collar with the full stand and fall--it is far more common to only have lapels.

It also appears to be either pieced at the shoulder, or have an extremely unusual shoulder seam.  I chose to not replicate that feature for simplicity's sake.

Original Fabric
Like many men's waistcoats this one is made of silk, woven to appear quilted.  Again, like many waistcoats, the back is of a different, plain fabric--plain brown silk, in this case.  I can say that it rather delights my drab little heart that the original waistcoat is brown.
Silk quilted, cotton and leather lining, needleworked buttons, brass-colored metal buckle
Man’s waistcoat of brown silk woven to imitate quilting. Original buttons; one missing. Inside collar at back is a label handwritten which says: W. G. HUNTER FEBY 22/53. Large hole in plain brown silk of back. Worn at armholes and collar.
Like the original, the lining is a cotton.  I assume the leather referred pulls the back in to better the fit (again, I chose to not include this--the main purpose is to better the fit of a non-custom garment, I feel).  The (20!) buttons are worked in silk thread over a (presumably) wood core.

My Goals
This is not intended to be a completely historical garment, but based on one, modified slightly to my tastes.  Which means, I could do better if I tried.  As for why this one, I fell in love with it when I saw it; double breasted, full buttoning, unusual high collar--what's not to love?

For the pattern, I used a 1890s cutting guide--The Cutter's Practical Guide to the Cutting and Making of All Kinds of Waistcoats to get my basic draft or body block.  It then got modified to the correct features and shape.  I did, however, cut it slightly long.

The pieces are best described as....waistcoat shaped, with the side seam at the side.  In waistcoat drafts, it really doesn't matter exactly where the sideseam is--most drafts say that it can be moved according to the width of the fashion fabric and your measurements.  The front edge angles in towards the waist, while the piece for the double breast is curved on the outside, and straight on the other.  This helps to shape the front-but also made it more difficult to pattern match.

The Majority of the Construction is covered in another post, found HERE.

This was made entirely from stash materials, and my fabric choices are the result of that.  The shell is made entirely (as in, the back as well) of a lovely red and black brocade--synthetic, but attractive.  Lining is a cotton "homespun" I had on hand.  I did decide to use some canvassing, made of a cotton canvas (go figure).

The buttons were the most annoying part--that was the point where I truly needed the correct materials.  For the mold, glass beads of approximately the correct size were used.  I did a separate write-up on making the buttons, which can be found HERE.

The garment is almost entirely machine sewn, since it was not a research project.  Exceptions are the lining and the loose padstitching on the undercollar (and the buttonholes, of course).  The lining was turned under and sewn in with a slip stitch along all edges, after the fashion fabric was also turned under and secured with a cross stitch.

This was an interesting garment--happily, my process for the collar worked well, and came out like it was supposed to and like the original.  In addition to the construction process and learning how to pattern match those stupid pocket welts (it involves making a paper pattern), I learned quite a bit about sewing and working while sitting crosslegged on your table, with the garment on your knees.

What's I'd do Differently:
Well, firstly, it might be a good idea to actually use a cutting system from the 1850s; when I started this, I didn't know there were earlier drafting manuals available online.  Fortunately, waistcoat drafts didn't change all that much.  A lighter silk would help, but isn't as important as the correct materials for the buttons.
Instead of using thread covered buttons, I ended up taking my glass bead molds to make fabric covered buttons, using a linen of similar colour.  I also should have added a layer of canvas in the front, to support the buttons--I specifically chose to leave it out to reduce the number of layers there; I really shouldn't have left it out.

I did learn a few things--how to do the fabric covered buttons, I'm improving on setting in collars, and a decent way of pattern matching single welt pockets (admittedly, that is a continuation from the Franken-frockcoat)

Honestly?  Not very.  Maybe 50% tops.  The pattern is off, but not by too much, the button construction is okay (but more common earlier in the century).  Obviously the synthetic brocade is /not/ correct.  The construction isn't too bad (leaving aside the machine stitching instead of running/backstitching)  The most obvious thing is that the back is not made of a plain silk, but of the same brocade as the front; that choice was made in part because I often wear the waistcoat without a jacket.

The Challenge: Procrastination.  I started this project last May, and decided to put it up because I really, really, did not want to do the pattern matching required for the pocket welts.
Material: Synthetic Brocade, cotton, glass.
Pattern: Drafted from a 1890s manual.
Year: 1853 (theoretically)
Notions: Glass beads, and embroidery floss.
How historically accurate is it?: As I said above, not very.  Maybe 50%
Hours to complete: Completely unknown.  I wasn't keeping track with this project.  Maybe 25?
First worn: Not yet, but can't wait!
Total cost: Again, no idea.  I no longer have the price for the material, and all the materials were from stash.

Really should have taken a look at Hutton's sabre before the photos.  I do pre-1600s fencing...the guards would look off with a waistcoat.

Bibliography (Such as it is):  Brown Brocade Waistcoat.
The Cutter's Practical Guide to the Cutting and Making of All Kinds of Waistcoat, 1894.  (No longer available online, I'm afraid).

Everyone's got a little Captain in them.

© John Frey, 2016. 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.  My photographs may not be duplicated.

No comments:

Post a Comment