lauantai 30. kesäkuuta 2012

Late 1770's riding habit in the style of Lady Wosley

"Her Grace the Duchess of Devonshire appears every day at the head of the beauteous Amazons on Coxheath, who are all dressed en militaire; in the regimentals that distinguish the several regiments in which their Lords, etc. serve, and charms every beholder with their beauty and affability."
   Morning Post July 1778, Hallie Rubenhold, Lady Worsley's Whim

 "The only tonish undress at present among the ladies of all ranks is a scarlet riding habit, faced of the colour that distinguishes the regiment of militia in which their husbands, their lovers, or their keepers now serve, at the different encampments."
   General Evening Post June 13 1778, Diary of a Mantua Maker

I have adored the portrait of Lady Worsley painted by Reynolds ever since I first saw it. This spring was the perfect time to make it. I didn't want the pressure of making an exact copy, but I tried to get a close resemblance. It is made of red and black worsted wool, silk taffeta and duchess silk satin. Horsehair interlining was used in the jacket and the waistcoat. Waistcoat has linen back and lining. It is hand sewn with linen and silk thread and decorated with metallic military lace, metal buttons and silver bullion and purl. It is worn over a shiftstays, a very small rump, two linen petticoats, a riding habit shirt, neck cloth and the stockings and shoes I made last year. The hat is a wide brimmed wool felt hat that I decorated with ostrich feathers after I reshaped the brim. I made a pair of kidskin gloves to complete the outfit but I'm not sure I like the buff color with the outfit, so I tried wearing it with cream vintage gloves I had with me as well.

The habit shirt:

I powdered my hair lightly.

The hairdo without the hat.


 I used my first riding habit pattern (which was pretty much the Janet Arnold pattern unaltered) as a base and made some necessary changes to bring it up to date. As it's supposed to be a tailor made jacket, I followed the construction of a man's coat in Costume Close-Up as well as the Janet Arnold jacket. First I sewed together the bodice and sleeves and did the same thing to the lining, that was made, in true 18th century spirit, using two different kinds of scrap silks. I faced the jacket skirts with third silk, the leftovers of the waistcoat. Then I attached the jacket skirts.

Then I made the collar, lapels and cuffs. Because I wanted to avoid any droopiness, I pad stitched a layer of horsehair interlining to all 5 pieces. I'm so glad I did that. The stiffness of the lapels keeps the cut away front in perfect shape and all the jacket needs to close is one hook and eye. No pinning the fronts to keep the jacket close fitting and in shape.

Then I edge stitched the black wool on top, made holes for buttons and added the metallic lace. And I have to say I'm so happy I bought the little more expensive metallic wire lace and not the synthetic stuff. Years ago I sewed a military jacket for a re-enactor using the synthetic lace and I was afraid it would be the same agony and hurting fingers all over again, but compared to that, this real metallic lace was a dream to work with.

Finished lapels and collar:

The underside of collar:

Then I attached the cuffs, collar and lapels and whip stitched the lining around all edges. Then it was just sewing on the buttons and a hook in the front.

I tried zooming on the Lady Worsley portrait to see what kind of epaulettes she is wearing and to me they looked like dainty and simple, so I made a simple design and stuck with that. I know nothing of 18th century epaulettes, but I looked at what pictures I could find and gathered what ever little information I could find on the internet, so I'm happy with them. I used the black wool as a base on which I made about a two inch fringe of silver bullion. Then I made the top with two different kinds of metallic lace. 

Then I turned under the edges of the wool and edge stitched them together. I added a piece of silver purl at the fringe edge and they were done.

When I first got interested in 18th century riding habits in the beginning of 2006, I just assumed they wore a boy sized man's shirt under their waistcoats. Not long after Katherine made her fabulous turn of the century riding habit and a light bulb turned on on the top of my head. What a fabulous thing, the riding habit shirt for women. I googled the thing and found a few images of surviving examples (that I can't find anymore) and made a version of my own to be worn under my black riding habit. The habit and the habit shirt are lost in the turmoils of life, so for this project I had to start over. My riding habit shirt is a slimmed down and cropped version of man's shirt. I used the Costume Close-Up -shirt for construction reference, and since the few extant 18th century riding habit shirts I had seen seemed also to be made short, I left mine short too like Katherine's. A great way to reduce waist bulk, and, what's the point in the whole tie around the body -system, if the shirt is long enough to reach waist and could be tied in place with petticoat tapes. 

Since constructing a shirt is such a basic thing that many are already familiar with, I didn't bother to take many pictures. It's made of light weight linen, hand sewn with linen. The first picture shows the shirt base with the neckline gussets and the collar attached.

Then I sewed on the sleeves and the sleeve gussets and closed the side seams and gathered the back in to a tape. In this picture the basic construction is done and the only things missing are the neck and sleeve ruffles. The dark dress form shows the shoulder reinforcements as well. They are quite wide and reach the neck gussets. 
The neck cloth is just a piece of cotton voile roll hemmed all around.

The skirt is made in the usual way, sewing together rectangular skirt panels, leaving pocket slits, pleating front and back separately and binding top edge with linen tape that is long enough to tie around the waist.

In waistcoat construction I followed the 1790's man's waistcoat from Costume Close-Up with the exception of back lacing and bust darts. I didn't use any pattern for the waistcoat back, and the fronts were vaguely based on the Janet Arnold riding habit pattern with a lot of extra around the pieces to be pinned in shape on me. After I pinned the silk satin fronts of the waistcoat to shape I sewed the bust darts and trimmed the edges accordingly. Then I cut small interlining pieces of horsehair fabric and pad stitched them to the linen layer to stiffen the fronts a little. Then I made facings of the same silk. I whip stitched it to the linen lining on the inside edge and finished the front edges with running stitches through all the layers. I usually hate making hand sewn buttonholes but these were a dream to make in the stiffened fronts.