Thursday, November 10, 2011

A 1790 Redingote

I started on a new project a couple days ago and I'm very excited about it, because it's the first gown I will completely hand sew. I put away the machine and to tell the truth, I am loving it. It's a lot faster than I though it would be, it's prettier than by machine, and I can go anywhere with it, so I'm not relegated to the sewing room! Yay!

Let me start by showing my inspiration. Im basing this 1780-90's style redingote on the following examples. Especially the one from the LACMA.

Louis Carrogis Carmontelle, 1780's.

LACMA, 1790. I loooooove this one!!!

Mrs. William Mosely, by Ralph Earl. 1791.

So far, I've pieced together the bodice pieces and finished up one sleeve. It is pinned on below, not set in yet. The lapels were cut with the bodice front. The collar will be attached separately. I don't know how 100% correct this is, as I have never seen a real redingote up close, but looking at any suit jacket, you can see the lapels are cut as part of the front and the collar is sewn in after. I'm putting two and two together here...

As for the fabric, the color I have seen in garments from the period, however the dupioni silk I have never, ever, ever seen. I am using it, however, because I had it in the stash and I'm really trying not to buy more fabric before the new year. I am so running out of room! And this is kind of a test run anyway, authenticity wise. Other than the silk, I am using linen for the lining and I am stitching with silk thread, waxed.

For draping the pattern I used this awesome
pattern paper that feels more like fabric than
paper. No crinkling. I know it's modern, but I'm more
comfortable with it than draping with my lining.
One thing at a time. Added bonus: at the end
you have a pattern to keep for future use!

This is assembled as a quarter back and will be single breasted, with self-fabric covered buttons like the LACMA redingote. Im also planning on adding nice crisp cuffs and a big fab collar to go with those dramatic lapels. Yum. 

One of the stitches I have been using, that I absolutely love, I don't even know the name of. But if you want to check it out, go here for an excellent tutorial. This seaming technique is awesome for piecing the bodice together. It's quite fast and looks very clean on the outside. If anyone knows what it's called, please do share!

Outside view using this seam.
Inside view. Up close.
Inside. Not so close :)

I also used an over hand stitch along the center front. I don't know how accurate this is, but because the lapels fold over I chose to use a stitch that would look uniform on both sides, unlike a slip stitch. I suppose I could have used a running stitch too, but the over hand worked very nicely (as long as the stitches are kept fine).

When assembling the bodice pieces initially, I left the bottom seam open, since I wasn't 100% sure how the skirt gets attached. I will be closing it up though, since after pouring over my books for the thousandth time, I think I finally get how to execute and attach cartridge pleating. I've always found it very frustrating trying to figure out sewing techniques from print descriptions. When we were in Williamsburg last, I asked the ladies (and gentleman) in the millinery shop about a thousand questions. This really helped. Many, many thanks to them! Especially since I got explanations and was able to see the inside of their reproduction garments at the same time. Now when I read, the descriptions make a lot more sense. Yay! 

The Lady's Guide to Plain Sewing, volumes one and two, are especially helpful, as is Costume Close Up, by Linda Baumgarten.

Check out some pictures of a couple of reproduction pieces - riding habits - from the Millinery shop. The red and green is from later in the century, the blue from earlier.


  1. From what I've read, slubbed silk like dupioni is not accurate for the 18th century. They used smoother silks, and I think taffeta is the one most costumers use now. But your redingote looks fabulous!

  2. Yes. As I understand it, dupioni is more of a twentieth century thing. I do love taffeta, but don't you wish we had access to fabrics like lustring! I have seen silk faille for sale and next time I do up a redingote I want to order some. They have it at ny fashion center fabrics. I've ordered swatches and they were very nice :)

  3. I'm so excited about this coat! Any chance of selling it? I'd be interested!

  4. No but you can borrow it if you want. Actually I'll give you the pattern and you should make one too! You need a project :D

  5. That riding habit was on display at my sewing class this past weekend with the CW tailors!

  6. Absolutely gorgeous! I'm planning one before Christmas and wondered if you can remember how much fabric you used?

    1. Thanks! Actually I put this one on hold because of the fabric - dupioni isn't exact appropriate for 18th c. Oh well. Maybe someday I'll recut the draped pieces out of something else.

      As for yardage, it used about a half yard-ish more on the dress than an Anglaise (extra for long sleeves and collar). I guess it would depend on your size. Also, if you have stripes of a pattern to match it would take more of course.

      Hope that helps :)

  7. "Dupion as we know it now was invented in the mid-nineteenth century, when it was considered a cheap and slightly naff alternative to grown-up, un-slubbed silks like taffeta. There is, however, evidence that weaves similar to dupion were in use by the sixteenth century." A source to keep in mind: "Luca MolĂ  published an excellent book entitled "The Silk Industry in Renaissance Venice". Small sections of this were summarised by an American costumer as The Use of Lower Grade Silks in the Renaissance."

  8. I love this! And... that stitch? Nameless no longer! Abby herself and Lauren Stowell have christened it "the English Stitch" in the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking, their book released late last year. :)