Daisies and Bluebells: A New 18th Century Jacket

Since I started building 18th century wigs using period techniques at work, I’ve been doing more and more 18th century events. And you know what that means: I need more 18th century clothes! 

In preparation for 18th Century Market Fair at Locust Grove this year, I set other projects aside to give myself time to build a new jacket and petticoat so that I wouldn’t have to wear the same outfit both days. When I bought this jacket fabric, I had hoped to get enough for a gown, but sadly by the time I bought it there were only two yards left, so I could only make a jacket. But I do love a smart 18th century jacket, so no real harm done! 

This was a quick project, and I didn’t take as many photos as usual, so this will be a bit of a short post for me, but I love the way my new outfit turned out!

I was loosely inspired by this plate from Galerie des Modes 1778.

I started with the petticoat while at a cabin getaway with some friends. It is made from a lovely dark red wool from 96 District Fabrics.

Making an 18th century petticoat is incredibly simple: just sew the side seams, leaving them open at the top for pocket slits. Hem the bottom (which I didn’t take a photo of).

Pleat the top so that both the front and the back measure a few inches longer than half your waist measurement. Pleat the front away from the middle, the back towards the middle.
Bind the pleats at front and back with tape long enough to tie around your waist. You put the petticoat on by tying the back waistband in front, and the front waistband in back. You can also wrap the back waistband all the way around and tie it in back as well if your tape is long enough.

And now, the fun bit: my new jacket! This is made from white linen with a woven yellow stripe from Renaissance Fabrics.

I was a dingus, and completely forgot to take photos of cutting and putting the main pieces together. Luckily, the body is basically the same as this jacket, except that I modified the back to a swallowtail, and sewed it all by hand.

My first photo is of the sleeves, all sewn together with their lining, and ready to be set. Since my other striped jacket has vertical stripes on the sleeves, I went with horizontal on these ones just to shake things up.

Setting 18th century sleeves is a fascinating process, in which you sew the bottom of the sleeve to the body, and then sandwich the top of the sleeve between the fabric and lining of the shoulder straps. This lets you really play with the pleats on the shoulder until you get a look you really like.

Brandon helped me drape the shoulder straps for this, and you can see his sense of humor in the notes to tell me which strap is for which side.

The edges are finished by pressing the fabric and lining towards each other and topstitching.

I pleated some lovely blue ribbon from Wm. Booth Draper to trim the neckline and sleeves, accented with bows.

And here’s the finished product in action at Market Fair! 

Wig by Custom Wig Company. Photo by Wayne Tuckson.

Wig by Custom Wig Company.

Wig by Custom Wig Company.

Wig by Custom Wig Company.

4 thoughts on “Daisies and Bluebells: A New 18th Century Jacket

  1. Lovely result! I’m unclear about this part: “The edges are finished by pressing the fabric and lining towards each other and topstitching.” Do the edges get turned under? Or will this become clear when I do the actual sewing?

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    1. The edge of the fabric is turned towards the inside, and the edge of the lining is turned to the outside, so that the raw edges are sandwiched between the fabric and lining, and the top stitching holds it all in place.

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