Log in


Here is what happens when you get too comfortable:

I normally use 18th century assembly techniques. To save time, I switched to 20th century midstream. The front opening is curved and obviously I'm not smart enough. The depressing part is the left side looks better, but neither is great. I'm going to put this one aside for awhile.

As punishment, I am going to start a mid-18th century summer coat--using L'Art du Tailleur by M. de Garsault. Published in 1768, it describes, step by step, how to make a coat. I have some hemp drill I got cheap from the fire sale following the production of HBO's John Adams.

Since LiveJournal keeps crapping out on me I am going to switch to Blogger. Come see me at http://drunktailor.blogspot.com/


I went back to my first love--the late 18th century. And I went over to the dark side--I became a Fusilier.

Fusilier is a great word.

Back when flintlocks were new, the 7th Regiment of Foot were raised as "Royal Fuzileers" to escort James II artillery trains. Troops with fusils were less apt to blow shit up then matchlock-armed infantry.

English Fusiliers wore cool bearskins caps, similiar to Grenadiers. The 7th lost their specialized job, but not their swagger. During the Revolution, the Royal Fusiliers defended Canada, fought in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Carolinas.

We'll start with British Army small clothes,  move on to a regimental coat, and other bits.

The weskit has fronts made from glorious Kochan-Phillips white broadcloth. It is thick, stiff, and holds a cut edge perfectly.

The back and linings are made from wool serge--I hate working with this stuff. It unravels like mad, but its warm and period.

The buttons and button holes are backed with hemp canvas buckram. The buttons are strung together with linen tape sewn to the canvas.

The pockets should look familiar, but unlike the 19th century weskit, there are small tails.


Let's see that *&^%$ gravel get in my shoes now:

I only had small pieces of trouser material left so they are short, but considering how short early 19th-century trousers are, they are better than nothing.

The vamps on the Danish pattern are pointed. I messed about with them, gave up and ended up with a rounded toe.

These tedious little things have only one seam--in the back. Makes fitting a bit of a challenge. My 19th century outfit is now complete.  Next time I'm returning to familiar territory. Here's a hint:


Riding to Fort Ticonderoga, twelve hours of dodging floods, gives me some time to catch up on sewing.

I have some scraps of yellow linen left over from the trouser project. Since early 19th century trousers were ankle-high (and my 19th-century shoes are gravel magnets,) gaiters seem like a good idea.

There are plenty of references to matching gaiters with trousers early in the century. Mine are on the short side, but there isn't much yellow left.

Here are six of the eight buttonholes (tedious) on the outside piece. Gaiters in this period have one seam in the back. The toe is visible on the right of the photo.

The toe is lined with scrap broadcloth (a habit I picked up from the 18th century.) I made the instep strap from linen tape. The button stand and buttonholes are lined with canvas.

The inner gaiter piece is oddly short--reaching from the buttons to the back seam. Since the yellow cloth is flimsy, I sewed linen tape into all the edges. Otherwise they are unlined.

Ten more buttonholes and sixteen covered buttons to go--then we fit them.

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.


I'm back

Sorry for the disappearance.

My job decided to eat my head. I didn't get my tailcoat finished in time for the Genesee, but the good news is I saw many good tailcoats and learned much.

The undercollar turned out better than my wildest dreams.

The profile is pretty dramatic. Since this picture was taken I removed the lining from the coat entirely.

The canvas interfacing is in place, ready for miles of pad stitching. I gathered the top of the sleeves initially, but did away with that it in the final version.

The back looks remarkably like every frock coat I've ever made.

The cuffs, on the other hand, are big and bell-shaped--damned odd.

Feels good to be a gangsta. Next time we complete the outfit with gaiters.


In a way I lucked out on the tailcoat.

The only really unfamiliar bit is the collar, and I stumbled on Beth's blog early in the process: fashioningbeaubrummell.blogspot.com/2010/09/getting-started-pattern-for-tailcoat.html
Aside from fantastic pics and links, she found out the hard way that the bloody collar shape isn't anything like it is in the period tailoring books. I ended up with something like this:

It doesn't look right to me either, but I tested it. I am using some very fine broadcloth from William Booth Draper: www.wmboothdraper.com/ Oh look! The new !*&^%$ tailcoat pattern just came out. Figures. Anyway, I can't IMAGINE doing one of these collars and having to turn all those edges.

Since I had a three day weekend, I decided to do some honest-to-god drunken tailoring--I draped the shell over the lining and started work on the tails. I matched all the edges and started smoothing the silk. I put in a few pins and basted like crazy:

First I turned the top and side edges of the pleats and the step vent in the back and running or overhand stitched them. I left a couple inches undone at the bottom. I lost track of how many times I turned the coat on the form (inside out/right side in......) After the edges looked good, I started folding pleats and checking the bottom seams of the shell to make sure all the overlapping bits were the same length.

The best part about this is the lining and shell are worked together, but the lining needs some length to turn later. This interferes with the ability to see where the shell pieces end. Many hours/beers later I had this:

Damned if I know why the left is more than inch longer than the right. I must have been sober when I cut out that part.  Look closely and you will see more adjustments are required:

The under pleat on the right is longer than the step vent flap that covers it. Time to mark it, unpin everything, take it off the form and lay it flat; chalk a new curve, cut, and put it back on the form; repin and start measuring again. Repeat. 

Next time, sleeves for the shell.

what the hell

My sewing form has streamlined my process quite a bit. Our measurements are the same, but our proportions are slightly different, so lots of small clothes dressing and undressing for the Regency coat. Then this happened:

One of my covered buttons on my weskit mysteriously ripped open. Then it happened again. And AGAIN. The linen from 96 is thin. Maybe the wooden button molds are sharp? I'll try some sandpaper and see if that helps.

This abomination is the coat lining:

I'm using some firm cotton for the body and linen for the sleeves. the neck opening is chopped as it will be self-lined.

The tails will be lined with silk. Since I have no pattern for this coat,  I decided to make all my mistakes on the lining. Tail coats had interior pockets like 18th century regimentals--complete with faux pocket flaps.

I cheated and used the seam between the silk and cotton for pocket slits.

My first attempt at a poofy sleeve cap. Not too bad--wool will poof more.

Next time working with wool and more night-time tossing and turning over the collar.

The Belcher

Fort Frederick Market Fair was great. We found some cool stuff and I met dandytailor. Here I am doing my lowbrow Sir Brooke Boothby impression. My leather breeches actually exploded two weekends ago, grounding a firelock. On closer inspection--after several years of wear--I found almost no thread in the nether regions. Not sure what that says about me, but I used the original holes to sew them back together.

On a DIFFERENT subject--here is Jem Belcher: 

Bare-knuckle boxing champ of All England from 1800 to 1805, he lost a rematch in THIRTY-ONE rounds in 1807. More important, he appears to be wearing an Indian resist-dyed cotton neck cloth in this 1800 portrait. These first became popular in the 18th century, and it looks like Jem brought back the fashion for sporting types.

The GOOD news is the Silly Sisters www.sillysisters.com/ now have big (36"x36") cotton hankies in period patterns.

Here is my new sewing form with the 19th century shirt, weskit, and beginnings of a coat. The neck cloth is damned inspiring. More on coat construction this weekend.

Regency coat

Back after a brief diversion to the 1760s. I needed a waistcoat to fight the Cherokee:

After months of waffling I settled on a design for the Regency coat. I knew it would be double-breasted, square front, and slightly shorter than the weskit. The buttons would be few in number, large, and covered. What I couldn't decide was what collar to use. The tall standing collar and giant revers has a certain appeal, but the more I studied  them the more I thought they looked funky. The neck opening is huge.

A later solution joins the collar and lapels:

Better--the collar is flat at the front and high in the back. Tempting to use velvet, but I already have a coat with a velvet collar. If I am going this far, might as well be brave and go all the way:

Iconic of the the eighteen teens--where I am headed. Might as well have a challenge. Time to go cut paper and make the first fitting pattern.

Shirt is done

Sorry for the delay. Many distractions--life withtayloropolis chief among them. I found a great picture of one of Peales and I decided I wanted buttons on my shirt:

Shirt #2 in Thoughs on Men's Shirts In America has small metal self-covered buttons. I ended up using washers (after making sure they wouldn't corrode in the wash.) The front is like an 18th-century shirt, but with a small overlap and gather at the bottom of the neck slit:

The collar is TALL, but then again I have a long neck, so it fits. I might have to starch it to get it to stand at attention:

The sleeves are only gathered at the top, but all the seams are flat-felled (except one whole side is selvage, wooooo!)

I am most proud of the cuffs. I have a bad habit of making cuffs that are too small, and I end up being garrotted by my sleeve links. This time they are perfect. They look great with a pair of silver links from Ward Oles of www.attheeasterndoor.com. His stuff is killer: