Thursday, 25 January 2018

Grey wool breeches

I now have four pairs of breeches!
Having done my previous 3 in the style where the fall is narrow and made with plackets, I wanted to try the kind where the fall covers the entire front, like in this pair from c. 1760.
It's mostly the same pattern as before, with some alterations.
Some years ago I was given a stack of unpicked wool garments by my grandmother.  (Thank you Mamoo!) They were ones she'd gotten for rughooking, but found that the material wasn't right for it. I've been meaning to make something out of those wool bits for ages, and the January challenge for the HSM 2018 finally prompted me to do it!
One of the back pieces traced out, before the top part was filled in with piecing.
I made these breeches out of the wool from a pair of grey pants, and part of a skirt. The fabrics are the same weight, and the skirt is a noticeably darker grey, but close enough that it's not jarring.

I was just barely able to cut everything but the kneebands and waistband out of the lighter pants wool, and arranged it so only the two back panels needed piecing. The left back side is in 7 pieces, and the right is in 4 or 5 (I forget which).

View of the back showing the piecing.
It's all on the top and sides, since I just needed to enlarge the
 pants panel I was cutting it from.
The waistband is interfaced with heavy cotton canvas and hair canvas, sewed together all over to form one stiffer piece.
You can't see it, but there's a buttonhole at the top of the CF seam.

I used a plain blue cotton for the lining, which came from the fabric stash of my other grandmother.
It's mostly machine sewn, with hand finishing on the inside of the waistband and at the knees. The buttonholes and eyelets are all by hand too.
I found a tiny white shoelace in with my cords and tapes that was just the right size for the back! And there are 3 more of them! (Not very historical, but it's easy enough to replace. And who's going to see it anyways?)
I had originally covered 11 of the 13 button molds with the light wool, but with the darker coloured kneeband the light buttons just didn't look right. So I did 11 replacements in the dark wool, and they look much better.

(The lighter buttons were not covered in vain though! There is just enough dark wool left for a coordinating waistcoat, and the buttons have been set aside for that.)
The knee band before I shortened the long flappy bit.
The knees gave me some trouble. Having determined that the pattern I used for my noisy synthetic taffeta breeches was a bit too long, I shortened them a bit when I did up this pattern. However, I failed to consider that this meant they no longer tapered down to the right amount, and after I had attached the kneebands I had to pick them both off and take the bottom of the inseam in by 3 cm.
I did that by hand, and ended up doing the kneebands all by hand as well.

I also discovered upon trying them on that the end of the knee band was ridiculously long and flappy, so I shortened it by about an inch.
I then found that the front was pulling and making an unreasonable amount of wrinkles because I had put the buttons for the fall corners too far back, and that the CF seam buttonhole was not as high up as it should be. I moved the buttons, and moved the CF seam buttonhole up almost 1cm. Now, finally, they're done!
My poor monster slippers! They're worn so much my toes are sticking out!
I still need to adjust the fullness in the back. The top came out a bit too puffy compared to the seat, which looks a tad tight in this photo.
The gathering should thin out a bit more towards the side seam, I think.
But still, overall these fit better than any of my previous breeches!
The knee looks SO much better with the buckle strap shortened.
The Facts

What the item is: A pair of fall front breeches
The Challenge: #1- Mend, Reshape, Refashion
Fabric/Materials: Grey wool, slightly darker grey wool, plain blue cotton.
Pattern: Drafted by me
Year: Second half of 18th century
Notions: Canvas interfacing, thread, 13 wooden button blanks, one small shoelace.
How historically accurate is it? Maybe about 70%? I did keyholes on some of the buttonholes, machine stitched a lot of the seams, and used blue cotton for the lining, but other than that it's mostly good.
Hours to complete: 43
First worn: January 21st, 2018
Total cost: Definitly less than $10 (Canadian) Most of the materials are stash things that were given to me.


  1. Your work is a joy to behold! The piecing is perfect and streamlined perfectly! You look so dapper and handsome in these! Love it!!

  2. Wow, I'm impressed by your work Vince. I'm so glad you could use some of that wool fabric from the pants and skirt for your project. You're very thrifty and creative.
    Hugs, Mamoo

    1. Thank you, I'm glad I could use the wool for something too! There's still some more grey bits, and some nice browns too, and hopefully I will make more things with them this year.