Archive for June, 2014

June 30, 2014

A Jump Coat

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This is the kind of project we really like, experimental, but combined with tailoring and designing clothes. It all started as an enquiry about what a “jump coat” might be. We were foxed, but on doing some research we realised it just might be a short coat. OED gave a few references to the later part of the century and some references on Early English Books Online suggested the same. Charles II is described as being disguised in a jump coat on his escape from the Battle of Worcester in 1651. I went back to the questioner and wondered why he was asking. It turned out he had some accounts that detailed the issue of kit to a regiment of cavalry throughout the war and in 1643, several of the associated dragoons were issued jump coats. Was there anything that might help decide what form this coat may take? I asked. There was! The tailors receipt listed per jump:

One and a quarter yards of broadcloth

Eighteen (or twenty) buttons

Tuppence of silk

Tuppence of thrid

 

Something to work with here. The silk we guessed was for buttonholes and thread obviously for construction. We also noticed that there was no mention of linen in any form to line the coats, but as several of the troopers (they are named in the accounts) also had doublets made, we thought that it would have been unnecessary to line the coat, though this would bring in additional difficulties, as the internal seams would need some form of binding to prevent the edges rubbing and the internal button fixings would be visible, though this was not a major problem.

 

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What we did next was to cut a basic coat pattern to an average size and by placing the paper on a representatively sized piece of cloth, work out exactly how long you could make a coat given the quantity of wool used. This is what we came up with. The inner sleeve is pieced and the front body part is laid on the opposite grain, something that was generally not popular with 17th century tailors, but the experiment showed the maximum length possible using the cloth. if several coats are cut, it becomes possible to align all the body pieces along the grain and probably also to cut the sleeve pieces without piecing, though this isn’t strictly necessary.

 

A mock up was made in some spare wool and we found that the coat was well proportioned, but only reaching to the upper thigh. There was also enough to allow turn back cuffs on the sleeves and a collar, though interestingly very little left over to make cloth buttons should you want to.

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So full steam ahead to make up some jump coats. Our client had become so enamoured of the idea that he decided to equip a small dragoon unit with the clothes in his accounts. Doublets had already been purchased, so it fell to us to make the coats. The wool was purchased, a blue broadcloth which it was believed had originally been the colour of the issue in 1643. As the purchased cloth was well fulled and easily able to hold a cut edge, the hems of the coat and the front edges were left raw. Inside, it was felt that the edges needed a tiny bit of help to prevent rubbing, so all the internal seam allowances were basted down, the stitches being visible on the outside. Eighteen flat pewter button were pushed through the wool down the front and secured with strong thread on the inside and worked thread bars sewn at the beginnings of the side and back vents, just to add strength and protection. The collar was folded and sewn with running stitches, the bottom edge also left as it was cut. There’s no need to fold it into a hem as it won’t fray.

 

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The first coat had its first outing last weekend. The rest of the issue are nearly ready to ride, as are (hopefully) the dragooners!

 

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June 8, 2014

A Ladies’ Neckerchief

 

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This linen kerchief is based on one in the Platt Galleries on the Manchester City Galleries. Luckily for us the pattern is reproduced in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 4 (page 102 to be exact) with a description of the construction of the neckerchief. In the book it is dated 1640-1650, so bang in period for the 1642 Tailor. The idea to make this came as a germ when discussing fine linen fabric and having secured a lovely piece of almost see-through cloth we decided that we ought to have a go at making something really nice.

 

Image 1The original kerchief is made in an approximate circle and edged around with buttonhole stitches that pick out a scalloped edge. It looked pretty simple, though probably a lot of work to finish as the seam edge was thick with sewing. The linen we were given was top quality, but as it turned out it was far too fine to take the kind of buttonhole stitches needed without disintegrating, so we decided to use a different linen for the edging, rather like added lace. We should have looked more closely at Janet Arnold’s pattern, because as it turns out, the maker of the original had used the same technique! The close up shows the pattern of the scalloping we used and the flat fell seam joining the edge.

 

 

 

 

So, just to crunch through the sewing of the edge. It took best part of twelve hours to finish the 110 inches needed in two Image 2sections. This is also detailed in the pattern of the original, which has two breaks in the edge. This makes it easier to fold the kerchief double for wearing without creasing the edge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ImageOnce the edge was finished, it was sewn to the main body of the linen using a run and fell seam. As Janet Arnold says, a few tiny tucks are necessary around the piece to help the straight strip fit the curve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kerchief is then folded double and placed around the neck, pinned in place and you are ready to go, like Hester Tradescant in this image from the time.

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