Monday, March 27, 2017

Regency Tail Coats: The Back

I have just finished the seventh and last coat and thought I'd share some pictures of how some of them ended up; specifically, what I ended up doing with the back of them.
First, the finished coat I showed in the first post.
John Dashwood's coat was rather big on him. In the process of my research, I stumbled across this picture.
To me it looked kind of like there was just darts in the back, so to get it to fit better I added curved darts.

Mrs. Jennings' footman's coat was also too big for him, so I added darts to that as well. To both coats I added buttons. In the green livery I cut and hemmed a slit, but didn't bother to do so on Dashwood's.

Adding the gold cord to this coat was my final sewing project. I am quite pleased with the effect of the trim and the double breasted gold buttons.

The man playing Willoughby is of a large stature and I was afraid a normal suit jacket would look wrong on him. (Since tail coats were longer than our usual suit coat.) His jacket being one of the ones I cut straight across, I attached the two pieces cut off the front, onto the back, as shown.

It doesn't look good close up, but from the stage I hope it will look fine. I added two buttons to the back of this coat as well, but left the jackets belonging to Mr. Palmer, Edward, and Brandon plain.
I must say, I'm rather nervous about the costumes right now. If these coats look terrible it will be entirely my fault. If people don't understand the script, that'll be my fault too. I feel a great deal of pressure as the performance date approaches (a week from Thursday...!).

A Note on Cravats:
As I knew I would be making cravats for six gentlemen, I originally thought to write a post on the subject. However, once I had done a bit of research, the making and tying of a cravat was so easy that an entire separate post would be inane. I will just mention a few quick points:
  • To make my cravats, I simply cut a 10x80 piece of white cotton, hemmed it, and starched it. (Some cravats were triangular, I believe, but I decided to go with a rectangle.) The starch is very important.
  • This post was extremely helpful. Not only is it cool to see a modern guy who appreciates history and enjoys wearing cravats, at the bottom of the post you will find instructions for two knots.
  • Cravats in the Regency period were always white, to the best of my knowledge (at least, at evening events). In the late 1820s on, other colors began to be used as well. 
  • In addition to cravats and stocks, there was a thing called a jabot, which is basically a frill on a string (see here), which we so often admire on the amazing Sir Percy.

Although technically, I believe jabots were going out of fashion in the Regency era, I have decided to attach a lace ruffle to Robert Ferrar's cravat, as he is a fop and I hope it will emphasize this. As his actor also plays Mr. Palmer, to differentiate, I deviate from history again by making a black cravat for Mr. P. And, what pains me most, I believe he will be wearing a mustache as Robert. Sigh.

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Regency Bonnets (In Which I Announced My Current Career)

Well, it ends up I am not sewing a Regency dress after all, but I have acquired some more projects for various ladies in Sense. In short, I have become a milliner. Apparently my great-great grandmother owned a hat shop, which makes me feel curiously connected to her.
Lady Middleton shall be wearing a Regency turban for the ball, which I shall certainly post pictures of!
I am making two lace morning caps. I have made some mock ups, and will soon be sharing a step-by-step post on the making of the real one. For this post, however, I am sharing my most exciting project:

Straw hat
Double bias tape
88"-90" of two inch ribbon, OR four-inch-wide strip of fabric 88-90 inches long.
White cotton fabric, about 19.25 inches by 20.5 inches
Decorative trim, fake flowers, more ribbons, etc. if desired

1. The Base. Cut the hat, as shown.

Next, open the bias tape and cover the edges of the hat. Sew on.

2. For Lack of Ribbon.
If you're using ribbon for your ties, skip this step. If using a strip of fabric, turn both of the long edges over about 1/4 inch and iron. Fold the strip in half lengthwise and iron. Sew along the edge so that the strip is closed. N.B. I bought 1/4 yard of 44" wide fabric and cut out two four inch wide strips, followed these steps and then sewed their ends together.
Hem the short edges of the fabric. You should now have a strip of fabric about two inches wide by 88 inches long, with no raw edges showing.

3. The Ties. 
Pin the strip of fabric onto the hat as shown. Sew to the hat. I just sewed along one long edge and both short edges and that was sturdy enough.

4. The Lining. 
Take the white cotton fabric and pin it along the top of the bonnet (from just below one point to just past the other point), folding the raw edge under. Of course, you're attaching a square edge to a round edge, so closer to the points, a lot is folded under. (My fabric was thin enough to be slightly sheer, so you can notice in the second picture below how much is folded under.) Sew along that edge.

Run a gathering stitch along the fabric at the edge of the crown of the hat, as shown above. This just helps it sit more nicely inside the hat. (Your line of stitches should be a semicircle from edge to edge.)
As you can see in the picture above, this leaves rather a lot of excess material at the bottom of the hat. In the picture below, I pushed the fabric inside the hat so that it was basically flat against the inside of the crown. Then, I snipped off the piece that I am holding in the picture below.

After snipping that bit off, I turned the edge under, kind of in pleats, as you can see in the next two pictures.

Sew along this edge. The lining should now be fully attached.

5. The Fun Stuff.
To cover up any not-so-straight lining or bias tape stitches, I added a decorative trim all along the inside of the hat.
From this point, what you do with the bonnet is up to you! I chose to go with a simple bow made of the same material as my ties, as seen in the first picture, but you could add flowers, more ribbons, etc.

A note on hat shape:
My straw hat was off the very stiff, flat variety. When I first put it on, I could tie it into proper shape but the ties then choked me. ; ) If you have a head form, you can steam it and reshape it, but alas I have no such thing. Since I just wanted the sides to curl in more, at some point it occurred to me that a clothes pin would do. I had it pinned like this for just over a week. Twice throughout that time I dampened the brim lightly with hot water. I found this to be quite successful.

Clothes pin: creative modern hat shaping technique!

The effect of the clothes pin after a week or so. Before this the hat was completely flat, now it curves on its own.

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