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