A Large Coat

image1Fresh from the workroom, this is a large cavalry or dragoon trooper’s coat made to the specifications contained within a set of papers that have come to light for a Royalist cavalry regiment under Sir Thomas Aston. The troopers were all given a ‘large’ coat to go over their doublets and short jump coats and the accounts list the materials purchased for their construction in the early part of 1643. This is the first large coat for Aston’s Dragooners and will go over the blue jump coats we have already made.

For instance, Robert Baker received a coat made from 2 1/2 yds of grey broadcloth, a piece of silk, 3 yds of looplace, 24 buttons, one long button and some thread.  John Mason’s took 3yds qt of cloth, 2 doz buttons at 16d, silk 3d, thrid (sic) 2d 1 long button 10d. Henry Pierey; 3yds 3 qts of cloth, 2 doz bigg buttons 16d, 3 yds loop lace 9d, 1 long button 10d a qtr Poldavivie 3d and silk 4d , thrid 2d.

There are some interesting things in the list, first that the coats were not lined with linen or canvas as were the New Model Army issue coats in 1645. It was unnecessary as the troopers all had at least two other layers of issue clothing. The looplace was probably for decoration, though we decided in this case to leave this feature and the silk possibly for facing the buttonholes on the inside. The long button remains a mystery. As far as I can tell, there are no extant garments with long buttons. The best theories that we came up with are that it might have been something to keep the coat closed around the neck whilst the rest of the coat lay open like a cloak, or possibly a regimental icon or badge.

The pattern I used was based on two coats I have examined, one in Colchester Museum and another in the V&A collection, both of which I’ve discussed in previous posts. It’s a basic coat block that flares from the hip with skirts that are the maximum width of a bolt of broadcloth. Once the pieces were laid out, it was obvious that the pattern would use best part of 2 1/2 yards of the cloth which matched the cloth allotted to Trooper Baker in the 1640s. The buttons were made for the tailor and based on the pattern of those used in the Colchester coat. It’s a turk’s head wrap and produces a serviceable button with a nice detail.

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The buttonholes are also based on the Colchester coat, the simple open-worked linen ones. We went for undyed silk thread.

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You’ll notice too that the edged of the coat are left raw. This was a standard feature of 17th century tailoring and was certainly used on the Colchester coat.

With an unlined wool coat, the hems need to be sewn down to avoid fraying every time it is worn. I used a prick stitch so that the external stitches were minimised. In the next photo you can see this together with the internal seams, plus the seam attaching the collar. This seam I have seen on several original coats and doublets.

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The sleeve ends in a turnback cuff. The construction is a little conjectural. The V&A coat is lined and the Colchester one has later cuffs added so I decided to make these by snipping the seams and turning them inside at the point of the cuff so that the allowances were always inside and hidden.

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