Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Riding Habit Day 1

I've been needing something warm to wear for my reenactment outfit (it gets cold where we go). For the last long time I've been layering lightweight jackets/shortgowns/shawls/blankets/etc. and keeping pretty warm, but I want something like a COAT that I can just put on when I get cold. Cloaks were amazingly popular for ladies during the Revolutionary and Colonial era and I even purchased a pattern for one. Then I wore my sister's cloak for a couple of days and decided that the sleeveless cloak with all its bulk was not practical for a mom who had to be cooking, cleaning, etc. at camp. So my other popular rendezvous attire option was a capote. These are coats made from blankets that are fantastically warm, bulky, and primarily worn by mountain man types or Native Americans, neither of which fit with my upper middle class city girl persona. So after years of hunting and research, I think I know what I want. It is a Riding Habit, also called a riding coat or a redingote. I don't like the true colonial style all that much (of course there's a pattern for that one), and am not wanting the empire waist 1800-1820 style either (also a pattern available). No, my favorite period is LATE Colonial 1780-90ish, and all I can find for riding habits in that period are these drawings:
Almost historically accurate as it appears the drawing is of a double breasted jacket which would not have been "in" for another 50 years or so.Not sure if I'm digging all the buttons down the front. I'll probably just make mine open/overlap front.
Again, double breasted look. Tsk tsk. But the basic cut and silhouette is correct.
So of course there's no pattern for this particular style of riding habit, so I'm going to attempt to make my own. To do this I'm starting with a pattern that has most of the components I want for the bodice piece--the JP Ryan Ladies Jacket pattern. I want my riding habit to fit a bit more loosely so it can go over my hundred layers of clothes, plus the neckline needs adjusted and I'll need to add for button overlap. I put the jacket on and measured approximate changes I'd need to make to the pieces.I made a sketch and made note of all the measurements I wanted to change.
Then I got all my pattern pieces from the jacket pattern and laid them out on my pattern paper (aka butcher paper) and adjusted where I wanted to add.
Voila! New pattern pieces!I cut it out of nappy scrappy fabric that I don't know what else to do with and the back worked fine, but the front lapel shape was way off, so I re-measured, drew and cut a new front pattern piece, took the old front pieces off my mock up and put the new ones on. It's closer. The final jacket will have seam allowances taken off all the edges because it will be lined and will also have a collar and capes and sleeves, but no more time to work on it yet, so here's what I ended up with at the end of the sewing session:
A vest with lapels.

I might mess with the lapel shape again--it's not bad though, especially since it will be a bit smaller due to the lining being stitched to it. I also can't change it too drastically because I'm secretly going to put a button loop on one side and a button under my collar so I can close the neck area when it gets real cold so the lapel shape has to be functional (not exactly period correct--they just stuffed the open neck with frou frou, but I'd rather be warm than fashionable). Then on to the mock up sleeves.

Happy sewing!