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Saturday, 9 February 2019

Black & Silver waistcoat

A few weeks ago I finished a waistcoat for the 1730's suit. Near the end of January I finally got around to taking fancy photos of me wearing it. Since I submitted it for the "Dressed to the Nines" HSM challenge I wanted to be as dressed up as possible for the photo.
There are a couple of early 18th century waistcoat patterns in The cut of Men's Clothes, which were helpful, but I mostly based the shape of my pattern on these extant ones:
Waistcoat c.1720
(Though one can never be certain with the Met's dating.)
Laid out flat like this it's easy to see the exact shape of the fronts!
Waistcoat,c. 1730
Mine has pretty much the same curve on the front, though I suppose I could have flared out the side a bit more.
My waistcoat.
Images from the 1730's indicate that men's waistcoats ended about mid thigh, or a bit below, so that's how long I made mine. I cut it shorter in the back, like you see on some extant waistcoats.
Portrait of William Browne by John Smibert, c. 1734
In my search for images I found that the cut of suits appears to have changed very slowly during the 1720's and 30's, so my waistcoat will be good for a fairly big chunk of time.
Detail from The Garter by Jean Francois de Troy, 1724

Detail from The Declaration of Love by Jean Francois de Troy, 1731
This is one of my favorite suits in the entire history of suits.
I have a piece of very nice vintage silk brocade that I intend to make a 1730's waistcoat out of, but since I want to be absolutely sure of my pattern before cutting into it I made this waistcoat out of a cheaper brocade as a sort of test run. (I did mock my pattern up, but not in a very stiff fabric.)
It's a good thing I did, because I do need to adjust the shape slightly. It is a bit too curved in the front, which causes it to ride up and gape at the top a bit more than I'd like it to. I had to keep pulling it down when I was taking the photos. Letting out the bottom of the back seam did help a bit though.
The front interfacing tacked on, and the pocket opening cut and pressed back.
My fabric is a poly/cotton blend that I bought at my local fabric store years ago. I didn't know what I wanted to make out of it at the time, but it turns out to be fairly decent for a 30's waistcoat.

The lining is a silk I bought secondhand, and which was originally one of those drapery fabrics that are covered in a lattice of little pintucks. I picked them all out but you can still see the lines. The back of the waistcoat is unbleached linen.
I interfaced the fronts with cotton muslin I stiffened, and the pocket flaps with stiffened linen. (The same linen as the back of the waistcoat.)
Half a pocket bag hand stitched on and awaiting the other half.
I originally planned to do more machine sewing on this waistcoat, but I ended up only doing 3 small lines of it. Two on pieced corner bits, and one to join the two halves of a pocket bag.
I would have done the other pocket bag and the back seams by machine, but then I went to stay with my uncle for a few weeks so I just brought it with me and did all the rest by hand.
I did a nice triangular pocket opening like the one I saw in this book.
I hand sewed the pocket flaps because the edges just look so much nicer that way.
Paperclips are good friends when doing le point a rabattre sous la main.
I stitched the lining into the fronts by hand too, and in my excitement about the nice edges I forgot to do the buttonholes first. This is only my third time constructing a waistcoat in an accurate way, so I must not be completely used to the order of things yet. Front interfacing, then pockets and pocket flaps and buttonholes & buttons, and then front lining!
I had to cut the buttonholes, turn back the lining and stitch it down, and then do the buttonhole stitch. A bit annoying, but at least I realized my mistake before I had lined the other front, and so was able to put the buttons on before the lining.
They look a bit hairier than they would have if I'd done it in the right order, but it's fine.

The buttonholes from the right side.
I only used the brown linen for the upper portion of the back, and the silk lining for the bottom portion. (There are at least a few extant waistcoats with two different fabrics used for the back.)
I sewed these linen and silk pieces together with a combination of backstitch & running stitch, and I sewed the centre back seams of the outside and the lining in the same way.
I basted the back of the waistcoat to the front to check the fit, and decided I needed to let out the bottom of the back seam a bit. (See patterning troubles mentioned above)
Wax marks from when I ironed open my first seam.
Once I had adjusted the back seam I stitched the back to the front, popped in the back lining, and it was done.
Well, mostly done. I originally had only put 13 buttons on the front, and none underneath the pockets, but later I decided that was not fancy enough so I added more buttons. I put them all the way down the front edge (which appears to have been more fashionable anyways) and added 3 underneath each pocket flap.
Even with buttons under the edge I feel like the pocket flaps are too well camouflaged.
The buttons are made with 5/8" wooden moulds, and I used the back side of the fabric for them so they'd be a bit more silver than rest of the waistcoat.
Now, with a grand total of 27 buttons, it was finished!

For the first time ever I actually put some effort into the background of my photos. I leaned a wooden door against the wall and hung some stripey fabric from the ceiling so it'd look more like a fancy room and less like a terrible basement.
I made a fairly successful attempt at 1730's hair, and finally got to wear my queue bag. I'm still not very good at hair, as it takes me a long time and I have to re-do bits a lot, but I am improving.
I meant to use some candles but couldn't find a single taper candle in the house, so the photos are lit only by a trouble light hanging from the ceiling.
I took all these with a self timer, and ended up with quite a few good ones!
I still need to make a good stock.
The one I'm wearing here is a bad one I made ages ago and it's pinned shut in the back.

The hair looks better on this side.

What the item is: A waistcoat
Challenge: January - Dressed To The Nines
Material: Poly/cotton brocade, unbleached linen, blue-grey silk taffeta.
Pattern: My own.
Year: c. 1730's (though it's fine for at least the late 20's too)
Notions: Silk thread, linen thread, buckram, 27 wooden button molds.
How historically accurate is it? Not too bad! It's hand sewn except for 3 small seams, and the cut and construction are pretty accurate. The main flaw (besides the poly/cotton-ness of the brocade) is that the design repeats are too small and too symmetrical compared to fashionable brocades of the time.
Hours to complete: 28
First worn: January 8th, 2019
Total cost: I'm very bad about keeping track of fabric I've bought, but I'm guessing around $40 (Canadian)



This is the photo I submitted to the HSM group, and multiple people mistook me for a painting!

5 comments:

  1. Wow, the photo does indeed looks like a painting. It's like you are stepping in time.
    Well done.
    Hugs Mamoo

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  2. The pictures are great. They really do justice to the excellent work on the waistcoat.

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  3. Stunning waistcoat and picture, and I must say that I am taken by your shirt as well, it is just beautiful. Well done!

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  4. The pictures are great! I never even attempt indoor pictures, so I'm very impressed with the effort you put into yours! Great Job! And the waistcoat too of course, is very nice! I love all the buttons marching down the front!

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  5. This is all awesome. Especially for a test run! I can't wait to see the final version, especially now that you're found a way to take such super-impressive photos ;-)
    (Also, thank you for being one of the people who do very detailed making-of posts!)

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