Monday, December 28, 2015

My first 18th Century men's suit!

I am a lucky girl. My fella is into costuming with me. After we visited New Orleans in January, he started really enjoying going to events and dressing up. He's even started picking out his fabrics and looking up styles he likes. I've hooked him!

For the Georgian Picnic this year, we had planned to make him a British naval uniform, but alas, the correct fabrics are cripplingly expensive and wanting to do it right, I didn't feel ready to dive in and make him an accurate uniform without more research.

So, we headed to Joann's, and he picked out a few fabrics for a backup suit. He chose a really lovely burgundy wool for his coat and an indigo floral for his waistcoat. We also picked up a buff twill for his breeches.

I had never done 18th Century menswear before. We were going for 1760s (he's really my soulmate, he even likes the same decades I do), and all the patterns out there were for 1780 or later. (Whyyyyyy?) I didn't want to spend a ton of money on a pattern I was going to need to alter anyway, so I opted for the Butterick colonial menswear pattern.

This was a surprisingly good pattern. The shapes are mostly correct for the period, and needed only a little bit of adjustment to make the 1760s, like adding skirtings to the back of the coat. As they were, they would have been perfect for a 1780s or 1790s look. The only mildly wonky thing was that the coat and waistcoat turned out huge. There is a metric boatload of ease in this pattern. I took almost four inches out of the center back of each piece. Yikes. They also want you to sew the front facing on wrong sides together and turn it to the outside to create a decorative band. This seemed a bit weird to me, so I just sewed it like a normal facing. I also left off the cuffs and pocket flaps because...well...I forgot.

I ran out of time before I could make the breeches, so he just wore his wool Regency ones, which worked in a pinch. I also, for some reason, bought about half as many buttons as I actually needed, so we ended up having to use some vintage square buttons I had in my stash to finish up his waistcoat. They'll eventually be replaced by something more period, because they are really annoying to fasten and they tend to get caught on everything. I'm also going to make him a new shirt, since he complains about the fit of the shoulders on the one he wears now.

So, I definitely recommend this pattern. It was really easy to put together and needed minimal alterations. It creates a really nice impression for the period, too, and the shapes are pretty accurate.

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