Monday, December 1, 2014

1785 Swallowtail Jacket

I first fell in love with this jacket two years ago.  I probably found it on Pinterest, and followed it back to the V&A website.

Victoria & Albert Museum
 I zoomed in as far as I could on the front and back images and drew lines along the seam and fold lines:

Black lines are seams, blue lines are folds
This helped me see how the grain lines lay on each piece.  I drafted my own pattern, using the swallowtail jacket pattern I used for my Green Swallowtail Jacket as a guide.  I added a seam to the back to make it two pieces with an extra pleat to the tail.  I also lengthened the center points of the tail.  

On the right is the original back pattern piece, on the left are my newly-drafted back pieces.
The sleeve was the hardest part to draft, but I don't have pictures of that.  The original sleeve was in one piece and elbow-length, with just a dart at the back to give the curve at the elbow.  I used that dart to indicate the direction I needed to extend it in to make it two pieces and wrist-length.  

Once I had all my pieces, I tested the layout on the white cotton muslin I was planning to print to make sure that it would be enough.  I needed enough extra to make the ruffle around the neck (which I have yet to add).  

At this point I printed the fabric.  But before I cut it out, I used more plain cotton muslin to make a mockup:

(So I tried it on Anna the dress form with the stays, and tried it on myself without them - not sure why.  I was probably too lazy to bother with taking them off the dress form and putting them on myself.  :p)

The fit was pretty spot-on, but I did make some minor adjustments to the center front.  I ended up using the mockup as the lining, as well.  Then I cut out my printed fabric!

I adjusted the layout to avoid some of the flaws in the printing, but didn't bother with trying to match up the designs at the seams.  I knew my printing was not nearly accurate enough to make that work, and I would just drive myself crazy trying.

Once I had the lining in the sleeves, I had to adjust the fit a couple times.  First they were too loose and baggy, but then I took in the seams too much and they were too tight.  Finally I had to settle for them looking (to me) a little too big at the elbows in favor of comfort.  After all, my shift sleeves have to fit in there, too.  I kept a 4" slit open at the bottom of both sleeves so my hands could fit through.

I stitched the lining to the fashion fabric all around the bottom and front edges, leaving the neckline open to turn it right side out.  I also hemmed the sleeves by sewing the lining and fashion fabric edges right sides together with the bottom edge of the sleeve linings cut 1/2" shorter.  With a 1/4" seam allowance, this turns up the hem of the fashion fabric 1/4" on the inside, and makes a really neat finished edge.  Then I stitched the edges of the slits at the regular seam allowance.

After I finalized the fit, I stay-stitched the neckline edges together, then added a bias tape channel to the inside for the finished edge.  I threaded a drawstring through this channel so I could tighten up the neckline a little to prevent gappage.  I also put a couple of narrow reed bones in the front.

One of the details I loved about this jacket was the little buttons at the wrists:

I made my buttons with wooden button molds from Burnley & Trowbridge, covered with scraps of my printed fabric.

These pictures are from Halloween, after I wore the ensemble to work all day:

And in case you haven't seen the pics of me wearing the jacket at Colonial Williamsburg, they can be found in my previous post and on facebook.