Monday, December 28, 2015

A Men's Victorian Coat

With my sweetheart accompanying me to more and more events, I've had to focus a lot more on period menswear. Let me tell you, there's not a whole lot out there as far as patterns go. "Men's Vest 1840 - 1900" is hugely vague and not very helpful in creating a correct impression for a specific decade. Even though menswear didn't change a ton, it did change, and just like you can tell the difference between a pair of pants from the 1980s vs. a pair from today, it was the same for the Victorian and Georgian periods. Sure, most people wouldn't be able to tell much of a difference, but those with a trained eye can tell the difference between something from the 1870s and something from 1910.

Anyway, that has almost nothing to do with the coat I made for my sweetheart for our winter outing, but it's a problem I've been running into more and more, and it's becoming increasingly frustrating.

For a bit of backstory, the DFWCG was invited to a local house museum to do a "Dressing for the Holidays" lecture/demonstration for their holiday event, Lantern Light. The house was built in the 1890s, and so was having a late Victorian themed Christmas event, which really excited me.

I wanted to stick to 1890s for my own outfit, and I'm perpetually broke so I needed to do it with Stash fabrics. I decided on a gold taffeta umbrellas skirt with a white blouse. The outfit ended up looking very Crimson Peak-y, so I decided to push my sweetheart's ensemble back a couple of decades and make a Victorian suit for him so he could be my Thomas Sharpe, who wore more old fashioned clothes as compared to Edith's trendy fashions.

Enter the problem with finding patterns. The costumes in Crimson Peak had been very well done and were very accurate for the 1890s and 1870s and '80s (despite being set in 1901), so I tried to follow the lines of Sharpe's clothing as closely as possible. None of the patterns I was finding were looking very close to what was on screen, until I looked at Simplicity.

Yes, Simplicity. The Good Ol' Big 3 to the rescue again. I feel like a terrible costumer when I end up using Big 3 patterns. I've been doing this long enough, I should be drafting everything! Right?

Well, surprisingly, the Simplicity Wild West Gunslinger pattern ended up being really close to what I was looking for. It followed the lines of Sharpe's suit really closely, so I ended up using the pattern as it was and not altering anything.

The only totally weird thing is that the coat was long. I mean...loooong. It was supposed to fall at mid-thigh according to the pattern picture, but it came down to mid-calf, almost ankle length when he tried it on! Thankfully, I hadn't hemmed the thing yet, because I ended up cutting off nearly 10 inches to make it the right length.

The instructions for the welted pocket on the coat were really terrible, too. I had never done a welted pocket before, so I was hoping that, being a Simplicity pattern, the instructions would help walk me through it with minimal fuss, but they were truly confusing. I ended up googling some instructions, and that helped me fix all the things I had done wrong by following the pattern.

I ran out of time before the event so I didn't end up making him the black satin waistcoat to go with it. Since he doesn't have any other Victorian outfits to draw from, he ended up wearing his indigo Georgian waistcoat. No one knew the difference, and it went well with the black coat. I do plan to make up the waistcoat, as well, since I already have all the supplies for it, and he's going to need a waistcoat for future Victorian events.

So, coat pattern is an A+ for a Vaguely Victorian look. It's easy to put together, just watch out for the length and welted pocket!

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