The very first thought I had after seeing my husband in his new frock coat was “Damn… I want one too.”
I feel like I need to say this very clearly – I was not going for historical accuracy with this outfit. I don’t think it’s possible to make an HA frock coat, breeches, waistcoat set FOR WOMEN. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one, but I would LOVE TO. (If anyone knows of a suit for women, with breeches from this era, please link me STAT.)
So for this, I elected to do a 1740’s frock coat, since 1. I haven’t done that pattern yet so it would be fun and 2. I LOVE that heavily pleated back.
Step 1: Drafting the Pattern
Personal philosophy: I don’t draft a pattern I can just as easily buy. I suppose I could spend time drafting patterns from books, but if there is a ready made pattern that fits me perfectly right away, I’d rather just buy it. It might seem silly, but time is money, and muslin is money, and if buying a frock coat pattern will save me 6 hours? I’ll do it!
I did buy JP Ryan’s frock coat pattern but after making the muslin up, I can’t say that I loved it. It was a fit problem, and I deep down, I wanted the fuller back that’s from the 1740s. At this point, I bought a pattern from reconstructing history. Again, their pattern was definitely not suited for someone of my size, so I ended up using some of their design ideas, but ended up using it as reference to use the draping method to cut my own pattern. So there goes my idea to save time and money.
I usually start by making a set of lines on my dummy then stretching the muslin across to make forms. I then make a blockier form bilaterally, in order to make sure that I can put it on. I then star tweaking one side more than the other. In this case, I started editing the left side of the jacket. You’ll notice that the right side of the coat is sleeveless, collar-less, and dart-less.
I did make the decision to put in a horizontal dart along the bustline. I did this as 18th century women’s riding habits tend to have that horizontal dart, and I wanted to follow that trend. Also, darts do a lot to make this coat better fitting.
After all this, I came out with several pattern pieces. Note that some pieces have seam allowances and some don’t. I tend to label and mark everything as much as I can so that there are never any questions afterwards. I also highly recommend putting in a horizontal as well as a vertical ruler with marks on the inch or the cm. I’ll discuss this more next time when I talk about how I put in the embroidery to attach to the curve.
Overall, I ended up cutting about 3 coats out of muslin before I came up with my final design. I am pretty sure this just shows how amateurish I am, but on the plus side, I hope this is encouraging for all those people who’s first muslins suck.
I did end up cutting my own waistcoat as well using the draping method. In full disclosure, I did decide to use the pocket from a riding habit waistcoat pattern I had bought previously from Mill Farms, but otherwise the coat was entirely drafted by me. Also decided to put in front darts.
You’ll notice from the scans that I only scan in the part that I plan on covering with embroidery. Obviously that’s for a very good reason. 🙂
Drop sleeve shirt:
I LOVE me some delicate hand sewing here and there. There’s no way I’d want to do everything by hand for everything I sew, but every now and then, I love cuddling up on the couch with my husband and my dogs, with an awesome epic or video game speed run, and sew myself something. In this case, I chose to do the shirt entirely by hand.
If you too decide to do this, I can’t recommend At the Sign of the Golden Scissors more. Their shirt kits are not only cheaper than buying linen, but it comes with thread, wax, instructions and sometimes even buttons! I went ahead and got a kid and started sewing.
I confess I’ve never made pants for a woman. Well, I’ve made pajama pants, but that hardly counts since nothing is made to fit. I had used JP Ryan’s breeches pattern for my husband’s frock coat and loved it, so I went ahead and decided to use it again. I bought it, made a muslin, fitted it to me (I ended up taking a few inches off the back bum area and 1/2″ on each of the legs, but otherwise, no major changes), and sewed it. I would show pictures, but honestly, the muslin was unremarkable and just terribly immodest so I’ll refrain.
Anyways, after getting all these patterns done, I went ahead and started to scan them in and re-piece them together on my adobe Photoshop. The ruler that I put on it was incredibly useful there. I guess I could go into how I put it together, but I’m fairly sure I do it the most inefficient way possible.
Next time: Step 2: Preparing the Embroidery