Monday, 29 July 2013

KCI Drawstring Jacket Construction, Part 1

There are a lot of construction details in this jacket, and I don't want to leave any out, so it will take several posts to cover them all.
Here is a sketch I made a few months ago.
I was trying to copy the style of contemporary fashion plates.
The tail, cuffs, and belt are different in this sketch, but the version I'm actually making will be much closer to the original garment. Mine will be brown and I am leaving out the lacing on the front of the belt.

The lining is plain white linen. There are two zip ties in the centre back, which are slightly thinner and more flexible than the zip ties I used for my stays. I sewed them in with a backstitch.
There wasn't quite enough of the thin twill tape, so there is a tiny patch of different twill tape at the end of both channels.
The channels are sewn onto the right side. I sewed the right channel on a bit too high and had to move the piece of boning down, which is why the bottom of that casing is patched.
The lining laces in the front like this caraco jacket. Hidden lacing seemed to be the only logical way to close this jacket.
I tried hand sewn eyelets and they turned out too big. I cut small holes but the eyelets were quite large and uneven. I think this is because I sewed them with the stiffest, most uncooperative linen cord I had. I covered the worst 3 with another layer of cord, which made them really sturdy, but it also made them quite bulky.

The eyelet on the left is covered in another layer of cord, the one on the right isn't.
It doesn't matter that much because they will be hidden under a gathered panel, but the unevenness still bothers me a bit.

The bottom corners of the front edge were too low, which meant that they might have poked out beneath the belt. I couldn't tuck the seam allowances in any further because the eyelets were in the way. I shaved the extra bit off the ends and covered it with a whipstitch.
It looks rough and messy, just like the eyelets.
 I folded the seam allowances in on the top and bottom edges of the lining and secured them with a running stitch.
The facings are stabstitched on and somewhat wonky because the linen is soft and shifty. All this roughness would normally drive me crazy, but rough interior finishing is accurate for 18th century, so I'm okay with it.
 I found some stuff in my stash that I think is actually meant for lacing, so I will be using it to lace the front closed. It's much nicer than the rough cord I've been using for my stays.
The label said "lacet superfin", which I'm guessing is French for "super fine lacing". I cut a length off and wrapped the ends in thread.
The lining pieces are sewn together with a running stitch. I used to despise running stitches, but I am getting over that. I can still go over them again with another stitch if I decide they aren't sturdy enough.
Here is the whole lining.
 My outer fabric is a light brown, horribly thin and slightly slubby silk. I think it might be "flea coloured". I would like to make this pattern up in taffeta someday, but at the moment I have neither taffeta nor the means to acquire taffeta, so this will have to do.
This sample shows how terribly thin it is.
 These pieces are sewn together with the tiniest running stitch I could manage. The thread I'm using is synthetic, but it was the only thread I had that was the right colour.
The two centre back pieces each had half a tail piece. I sewed the tail halves together and sewed the tail lining piece onto that.

I put a row of stabsitching as close to he edge as I could. The tail is sort of floppy but it holds it's shape reasonably well when it's folded up.
 There was a problem with the tail pattern pieces. The gap in between the back pieces went too far down and the tail would not attach to the point on the back of the lining correctly.
I filled in the the gaps on both sides with scraps. Luckily the pleats on the tail will hide the patch.
Crisis averted.
I corrected the pattern pieces.

Sewing up the back pieces took a long time because I kept messing up the seam allowances and having to pick them out and sew them again. I got very frustrated and marked the seam allowance on my thumb. The seams turned out alright after that.
Why didn't I think of this earlier?
All sewn together.
The jacket is about half done now. The front panel is finished but not attached.

Construction was delayed slightly by the arrival of two enormous filing cabinets. The University was getting rid of them and my father brought them home. They hold all of my fabric, garments that are going to be cannibalized, and unfinished projects. I had previously been storing half of my fabric on a bookshelf and the other half in a stack of cardboard boxes, so these cabinets are a great improvement.
My room is still quite crowded, but more organized.
 I am done rearranging and cleaning things now and back to working on the jacket. I am currently trying to get the two layers to lie smoothly.
The edges are not lining up very nicely.


  1. I am so looking forward to watching more of your progress, and of course the finished piece. Thank you for sharing the details with us. :-D

    1. Thank you! I will be extra careful to not leave any details out.

  2. This is going to be fabulous! I've always been very keen on that particular jacket in the KCI book - I wonder if it would help my lack of bust ;-)

    For doing hand-sewn eyelets, you don't want to cut holes, as cutting the threads weakens the fabric. Instead, use an awl to bore/stretch holes in the weave. You end up with much stronger, smaller, tidier holes.

    1. Thank you! I have read tutorials that say to poke the holes rather than cut them, but when I tried it on a scrap the eyelet had barely any hole. It probably had something to do with the fact that I poked the hole with a sharpened bicycle spoke. I must find a proper awl and try again.

      The gathered front does sort of help with lack of bust, but I think it's mostly the extreme shape of the Cheap Easter Candy Stays.

    2. I think I have an awl somewhere in my tool collection, so you can try it. In order to get the hole to "stay put", you might try the following trick. Cook a tiny amount of corn starch until it's a thick paste. While the fabric is still on the awl, just brush a bit of the starch on the fabric around the hole. When it dries it will stiffen, making the hole retain its size and making the sewing easier, and it washes out with warm water. Old tricks with sizing.