Friday, November 23, 2012

the 1790 Redingote

So my original plan for the Georgian Picnic was to make my curtain-along jacket, but as you can see, that didn't happen.  I am a hopeless sheep when it comes to costumes, so when my wonderful friend from Before the Automobile decided that she was going to make a redingote for our event, I decided that I HAD to have one too!   I've been wanting a redingote for years and years, but I've always been intimidated by the tailoring involved.  Luckily several of my online friends who have made redingotes in the past helped me out and shared patterns, construction tips, and fabric sources to get me started.  I am SO grateful for their help!

I think one of the hardest parts of this project was trying to decide on a style.  I obsessed over the images on my redingote and riding habit pinterest board for months before finally settling on these two  portraits featuring redingotes from around 1790.   I love the extremely low pigeon-breasted look of the bodice on the left - especially when combined with the sash.  Once again, it's a perfect example of that late 18th c. transitional style that I love so much.

But instead of doing an exact copy of this first dress, I decided to combine it with elements of this second portrait that is undated, but has many similar elements in the overall style.  I loved the fringe, figured buttons, and the shape of the cuffs, so this gave me ways to dress up my redingote a little and make it more unique.

My dress is constructed from wool twill and lined with heavy linen, and it is 100% hand-sewn.  Because the color would have been impossible to match exactly, I made my own fringe from strips of the wool that I unraveled.  It is really easy to make your own fringe, and it actually goes faster than you would think.  My buttons are the large feather style pewter buttons from Quartermaster General.  They were shiny silver when I got them, but I added some black enamel paint in the recesses to make the design stand out better.  My neckerchief is made from silk organza, the petticoat is cotton voile, and my sash is satin.  The hat is a cheap straw gardening hat that I found at an estate sale.  I covered it with wool and decorated it with a vintage moire ribbon and a few feathers in a manner somewhat similar to the all-black hat shown at the bottom of this fashion plate.

I didn't take construction photos because I'm still a total novice when it comes to proper 18th c. dressmaking techniques, so I don't want to lead anybody astray or draw attention to all of my mistakes.  But I will tell you that I the lower lapels are interlined with heavy linen, and the capes are interlined with medium weight hair canvas.  Although the lapels worked just fine without the hair canvas, I wish I had interlined the front of the bodice with hair canvas.  Because the bodice is so extremely low cut there isn't much there to support the weight of the lapels, so it tends to droop a little and make wrinkles on the lower bodice.  I might try to retro-fit the bodice with some more interlining to see if that helps a little, but that was my only major complaint about the way it fits.  The capes were crazy looking at first because they were so stiff and perky, but after lots and lots of steaming and shaping over a tailor's ham, they decided to cooperate and lay nicely. I will also need to go back and re-hem my skirt at some point.  It's about an inch longer than it should be in the front, and the method that I used for the hem was a complete disaster.  I used the le point a rabattre sous la main stitch described in Costume Close Up, but the way the thread wraps around the edge of the hem makes it snag easily on just about anything, and my skirt was a puckered mess before the end of the picnic.  Oh well, lesson learned.  

One of the scariest parts about this project for me was figuring out the pattern for the bodice, so I thought I'd show you what my pattern pieces looked like.  Sometimes it's just nice to know what shapes you should be shooting for.  My pattern was made from a combination of draping and looking at the redingote pattern diagram from the book Die Kostümsammlung der Familie von Bassermann-Jordan als Beispiel für die zeitgenössische bürgerliche Mode von 1760-1870 by Heidede Biegler-Sander.  Although the huge lapels and capes look really fancy when they are done, they were very straight-forward to pattern.  I had to do a bit of alterations in the final fitting, but this still pretty close to what I used for my dress.


So that's about it.  I didn't get a lot of formal pictures of my dress last weekend, but maybe I'll get a chance to do some more this winter.  Thanks again to Cynthia and Christopher for letting me borrow a few of theirs, and once again, you can find more candid pics in my flickr.

BTW, this is my "OMG I'm at the GEORGIAN PICNIC" happy face!  :)


Cathy Raymond said...

Wow. Simply gorgeous. Thanks for all the photographs, and the write-up.

Mistress of Disguise said...

Your Redingote was soooo gorgeous! I love the colour you chose. :D

Emily Kate said...

Ohhh my word. I can't even. This is just... AHH! Wonderful job on the construction and design, it turned out incredibly! And thanks for showing the patterned pieces, too--it's always interesting to see how these things go together.

Lindsey said...

Where can I get a copy of the book that you mentioned? I never heard of that one before but it sounds really interesting! I love your redingote - the color is just stunning!

saraquill said...

I like how well your wig and accessories coordinate with the color of your redingote.

Gabriela Salvador said...

the fringe trim is gorgeous!!

Kleidung um 1800 said...

The redingote/riding habit suits you so amazingly! The blue is so well chosen and the details are beautifully created and constructed. It makes me happy that you've not only taken the challenge to do proper tailoring, but also decided to hand-sew the complete garment!
Isn't it a pity that all the labour & layers & stitches (and not to forget the endlessly basting) between the outer fabric and lining are hidden...but yet they do show in a perfect fitting redingote! Stunning!


Caroline said...

Beautiful! I love the wool fringe! Excellent idea.

Breanne said...

Gorgeous! You look like you stepped out of a painting, I always love how complete and well proportioned your work looks. Great work!

Augustintytär said...

You looked PERFECT!

(You always do.)

Anonymous said...

Love the attention to detail, and the collar design is simply outstanding!

elisa.b said...

Gorgeous! Also, where did you get the fabulous wig? It looks perfect.

elisa.b said...

Oh! And the hat? I must know about the hat. :)

Jen Thompson said...

Thanks elisa.b! The wig is the Lioness style by Wig America. Do a google search for it or look on ebay to find the best prices. I got the light blond one (I think it was color #102) and sprayed it with white temporary hair color to make it look more powdered. I really love this wig - there is so much hair to work with and the price is very reasonable!

And the hat is just a vintage straw garden hat that I covered with wool and decorated with a wide ribbon and a few feathers. I got lucky and found the hat base at an estate sale a few years ago. I think the shape works great for this period.

Unknown said...

Any chance you would be willing to share your pattern? I cant find anythibg that suits the style i want either!!

Unknown said...

Any chance you would be willing to share your pattern? I cant find anything that suits the style i want either!!

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