Following from my last post about the long coat, I now proceeded to plan what I was going to do with the 3m of dark brown broadcloth I had specially dyed for me to represent the best black that was possible in wool in the 1640s. It was a lovely roll of fabric and I wanted to do it justice. The picture above from A Rich Cabinet With A Variety of Inventions in Several Arts and Science by John White from 1658 shows a couple of guys wearing what look like long coats with flared skirts like the one I saw in the museum.
I had looked at two original coats that are dated more or less in our period. They are both about knee length, made from four pieces in the body with sleeves slightly curved and a standing collar. The lower sections flare out to a greater or lesser extent (the V&A one being wider than the Colchester coat) below the waist and the coat in the V&A has the side seam sewn all the way to the bottom. This intrigued me as all the soldier’s coats I’ve made and seen in illustrations have a side vent. Late seventeenth and eighteenth century coats in museums have a cut out at the side to accommodate a sword being worn beneath. However, there are several illustrations that show swords and belts worn over the coat, so I decided to go with this feature. On the Maldon coat, the side seam is set towards the back whilst the V&A coat’s side seam is level with the middle of the sleeve opening. My choice was to split the difference and move the seam back a little, but not too far. This portrait of Richard Luther from 1639 shows a similar coat. It looks like the side seams are closed all the way down, though this one has a waist seam and shoulder wings.
Both coats are lined, which is different to the trooper’s issue coats from the Aston papers. I decided my coat was a civilian version and would be lined. This would also give me the luxury of using the liner as a try out for the pattern. I made a basic coat block to my size and measured the skirts to knee length. The width of the skirt was decided by the width of the broadcloth. I made sure the front skirts reached across the width of the fabric folded in half and matched the angle on the back pattern piece. This was as wide as a 1640s tailor would have made them without piecing extra bits on. Here’s a photo of the pattern pieces subsequently laid on the wool. All I have to do now is cut the pieces out and sew them together!
In the meantime, another engraving that shows a long coat (on the far right) from 1641, engraved by Hollar in the book entitled All The Memorable Wonderstrikings. Not as wide in the skirts as my pattern, but just as long.