Sunday, January 27, 2013

1860's Civilian Waistcoat & Cravat

 Since I took this on awhile back and didn't finish it right away...I decided to use it as my UFO project for The Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge I'm participating in. It seems to be a common trend for me... as usual this exploit was full of many firsts.

For the front I used cotton velvet from and the back is silk taffeta from Fashion Fabrics Club. (*Note to self* they have great price on it and its perfect. No slubs, crisp, and lightweight.) The lining is white cotton. As far is notions go the only thing I used were the button forms and buckle for the back.
 First time doing welt pockets. Quite the experience. Velvet was an all around pain in the neck to work with. I'm definitely not planning on rushing into another project involving the stuff. I've never really made anything with it before so it was a true learning affair. lol
 The pattern is based on Past Patterns: Single Breasted Shawl Collar Waistcoat. One of the main reasons I went for the shawl collar is so it would perhaps look a tad bit more "formal" (yes, I know different fabrics were the main factor of formality). I'm eager to try one with notched lapels... or whatever the PC term for them is....
Both items were made to be accurate for 1860-64.
 These buttons, arghhhh. I thought they were going to be the end of my sewing career. :p lol It took me hours to get them together...the velvet was just so bulky and obviously frays like bonkers. Not to mention the buttonholes - since I was worried about getting them made without the front turning completely turning to fuzz...I, first, machine sewed where the holes would be. Then cut them and hand sewed regular buttons holes. Wasn't quite the charm I was hoping for. The machine stitching often pulled off the fibers when I was whipping around it. In the end I prevailed and they didn't look half bad. ;)
 Unfortunately I have absolutely no clue how many hours it took for me to complete. I've never kept track of such things. I would say its been one of the smaller, but more time consuming things I've made. Between the welt pockets, covered buttons that wouldn't cooperate, 80% of it being hand sewn and bagging it backwards the first 2 times it probably took over 30 hours... 
The materials cost around $35, I think. My sister ordered everything so it may not be exact on the dollar, but close enough. ;)  Not sure when its going to be first worn as this was for a client and it probably won't be till April or so...
 I would say its about 95% historically accurate. While I did my best to find the most accurate materials - the 5% missing is due to the difference in fabric from the 19th century and today. Otherwise the cut, techniques, etc are period correct. Even the cravat is copied from originals. ;)

 I thought this segment about clothing etiquette was incredibly helpful for knowing when it would be proper to go with/without a waistcoat, etc....
 "Clothing etiquette will depend a great deal on the type of impression, the personality of the gentleman, societal perceptions of the appropriate attire for the situation, and the types of activities the gentleman is engaged in.
 In the most general form... vest, coat, and cravat/neckerchief are needed for situations deemed more formal... going without is accepted in situations deemed less formal. If the gent is seen "about town", he is probably on some business he deems moderately formal, as in.. he'll be seen by persons upon whom he'd like to make a good impression. A vest/waistcoat and coat are important for that occasion. If he is engaged in heavy labor... or at a picnic on a hot day... or in the evening hanging around home... less formal situation and the coat definitely can be and the waistcoat/vest may be left off. He may choose to replace the coat and sometimes a vest with a smock/ work-shirt for heavier or dirtier tasks or sporting events (including hunting, which leads to the number of militia troops and early war uniforms that include them as a key uniform component) and still be deemed "decently" dressed. Remember that the farmer who may wear a work-shirt to tend his fields and animals would don a waistcoat and coat before squiring the Mrs. to shopping in town... or meeting with the bankers concerning his loan for next season's seedlings... or certainly a dance, supper party, or church service. The young dandy might start the lakeside outing in his nice linen dittos, but remove his coat to row the boat or take his afternoon nap in the sun or carry the basket.
 Among the very working-class, one does see pictures of gents with just a shirt, coat, and neckerchief (no vest/waistcoat in sight). One can also find pictures of gents in waistcoats/vests but without coats... but often there are "occasion indicators" in these pictures as well... a camaraderie of men, interrupted work, at work, very hot day, and such, that tell us when they thought this appropriate." Taken from this post.
  Not necessarily part of my UFO, but it went to he same gentleman. Thus I was inclined to include it in this post. It was the first time we'd done a pretied cravat. Pretty much just winged it. So not much to say about it. :p Its made up of 3 seperate peices. The bow, knot, and band. Each peice is sewn up then all are attached to each other...It buttons in the back and is made out a lovely, forest green silk taffeta.


Sarah Jane said...

Brooke, these are both very beautiful items! The waistcoat is stunning. I totally applaud your excellent job working with cotton velvet. I too hate the stuff and it is SO hard to work with. No one really knows how bad it is til they have tried it themselves. . .so I really applaud your job on the waistcoat! The covered buttons are beautiful!

I love the cravat as well! Such a great color and style. I'll have to check out the silk at FFC, I've never got any from them before as their fabrics have been "iffy" in the past for me but now that I've heard your review on it I'm inclined to give it a try!

Bethany Lynn said...

Beautiful job, Brooke!!! Love those buttons and the fabric you chose. I find they are the smaller and more time consuming project of many also...but they sure do finish off an outfit really nicely!


Anonymous said...

Real men don't wear pre-tied cravats.

N. Briggs

Brooke said...

Thanks so much ladies!!!

lol, Noah, I love it. :D