Some months ago I was informed by Brann of Matsukaze Workshops that one of his friends was selling 8 yards of very pale greenish-blue ribbed silk, and at such a good price I found it impossible to resist (especially since I've never seen ribbed silk for sale anywhere online).
|Suit, Italy, circa 1785-1790, LACMA|
I did some samples with Avocado & Lime Green at 3.5% instead. Neither one was right, but I cut two tiny pieces that I put in one bucket for half the dyeing time and then switched them, and they were just right. I settled on Avocado at 2% plus Lime Green at 1.5%.
|I just realized that this photo is upside down, |
but I doubt anyone's going to read the measurements there so I think it's fine.
grass green samples n the big sheet in back, lime green & avocado on the smaller parers in front.
|I haven't typed out all the particulars of the dye process because it's a lot.|
|Original colour on the left, dyed fabric on the right.|
I've never been satisfied with the interfacing of any waistcoat I've made, so for this one I finally tried making buckram. (Burnley and Trowbridge has a video on how to do it.) I used Stiffy fabric stiffener instead of gum tragacanth because we had a bottle of it already.
I cut out pieces of coarse brown linen for the pocket flaps and front edges (slightly bigger than needed) and brushed them with watered down fabric stiffener. I let them dry on a flat surface and trimmed the coarse edges off.
I think next time I'll just trace all the pieces on and stiffen them before cutting them out.
|The buckram drying on a mirror, because it's very flat and just big enough to hold all the bits.|
The entire waistcoat is hand sewn. I started with the pocket flaps. It took a while to figure out how to get the fabric to behave, but eventually I realized that paperclips were perfect for holding the folded edges to the buckram while I whipstitched them down.
I used pale blue-green silk thread for all this, because Fabricville has a sadly limited selection of silk threads.
I followed the waistcoat construction methods described in Costume Close Up, which is a book I only bought recently but wish I'd bought years ago. 18th century clothing construction make so much more sense after reading it.
I marked out all the buttonholes (after covering the buttons, so I knew how long to make them) and cut through the silk and buckram with a buttonhole chisel. I overcast them with cotton thread because the fine silk thread just didn't match well enough.
|They don't completely match because the warp and weft are slightly different colours.|
I found it very easy to work with the fronts this way, and I now understand why the lining was added last. When I assembled my embroidered waistcoat I did most of that after lining the fronts, and it was annoying.
|Finally ready to add the lining!|
|I pressed the seam allowances back on the yellow taffeta and whipstitched them down,|
because it gave me a crisper edge than backstitching and pressing the seam open would have.
When I folded the edges in and did a running stitch around them I ironed the cover flat before putting it around the dime, which helped keep it a bit neater.
|Buttons in progress.|
that delightful jacket from The Met.
As I mentioned I have very little silk taffeta in my stash, but I do have several drapery sample books of patterned taffeta that were given to me years ago, so I pieced some of them together to form the back portion of my lining. I also used a few bits of blue/pink shot silk, which are from a small piece that was given to me.
|I used a running stitch with occasional backstitches.|
All the photos of me wearing it were taken by my mother.
#8 - Extant Originals
What the item is: A green ribbed silk waistcoat
Which extant original did you copy: The waistcoat from LACMA's green ribbed silk ditto suit.
Material: Ribbed silk for the front, plain unbleached linen for the back.
Pattern: My own
Year: c. 1785-90
Notions: 16 dimes, fine silk thread from a spool, heavy silk thread pulled from the ribs of the fabric, a teeny bit of cotton thread (just to overcast the buttonholes), buckram made of the same linen as the waistcoat back, striped silk taffeta for the facings, cotton twill from an old pillow for the rest of the front linings, silk taffeta squares from drapery sample books (plus 3 other taffeta bits) for the back lining.
How historically accurate is it? Definitely the most accurate waistcoat I've ever made, maybe 90%? It's all hand sewn, with construction methods from Costume Close Up.
Hours to complete: Exactly 42, not counting patterning and dyeing.
First worn: August 31st, 2018
Total cost: I think about $20 or 25 Canadian? The ribbed silk and the taffeta facing were fabrics I bought, but it didn't take a huge amount. I was lucky to get the ribbed silk for a very good price as I bought it secondhand. All the other fabrics (as far as I can remember) were given to me.
I had to piece the shoulders too, but it's not noticeable when I'm wearing it.
I also think the original has one more button up the front, but I can't be certain because the lace is in the way. Either way, the spacing looked better with 10 on mine.
And then there's the tiny inconsequential smidge of cotton thread I overcast the buttons with, the modern chemical dye I used on the silk, and the commercial fabric stiffener I used to make the buckram, but they're what I had on hand and they worked well so I have no problem with using them. Especially the dye, since getting bright, even colours with natural dyes is a whole other profession that I have next to no experience in.
I also think it's highly unlikely that the original has a patchwork lining, since most waistcoats were lined in plain cotton or linen, but LACMA has posted no pictures of the lining so I can pretend that it is.
My one real complaint about this waistcoat is how much the fabric softened up when I dyed it. It's not noticeably sagging anywhere because the ribs are so thick, but the buttons under the pocket flaps are sitting a tiny bit lower than where I positioned them when I sewed them on.
Edit: Hmm, it could also stand to be about an inch longer.
|I really need to get a pair of buckle shoes with low heels.|
These ones just aren't right for late 18th century.