In the summer, my boyfriend’s sister approached me with a lovely proposition – she is getting married in December and has been hunting and hunting for a coat to go over her wedding dress on her special day but with little success. Therefore, she kindly asked me to help and make her one to fit her wishes. And of course, I jumped at the idea – I have not created a commission for a while and wanted to be involved, even in a very small way, in the wedding we are all looking forward to.
I began by researching a few coats which I thought might fit the bill and showed them to Pippa – she was looking for something like a riding coat which she could wear again after the wedding and I found this coat made1730-50 and documented in Janet Arnold’s book ‘Patterns of Fashion 1’.
I took Pippa’s measurements so that I could alter the pattern which was given to fit her, as the original outfit was made to fit an individual lady in the 18th century. It was a bit tricky to alter at first but I feel my construction sessions have taught me well enough.
I bought a few metres of calico and started cutting out toile pieces – it did not take long to construct, which gives me hope for when it comes to creating the really thing, and made me realise a few details in the order which need to be change so the process runs a lot smoother. For example, that the skirt of the jacket needs to be attached before the jacket itself is constructed.
Next came the first fitting with the bride to be…
It went very well in my opinion, the jacket fitted but did not quite meet at centre front so I was going to have to make the pattern larger and recut the calico but that should not take long.
The sleeves were fine apart from the curve which the original sleeve was cut like for comfort when horse riding, but since Pippa wishes to wear this jacket at her wedding I will need to alter that in order that it is comfortable for her. However, she liked the flare and the length, so that was a plus to the strange sleeves!
The skirt of the jacket, I feel, needs more pleats, so when I cut it out of the main fabric I will make the pattern pieces a little longer to facilitate this. So, overall, I was satisfied with my work and Pippa was really happy with it – and on we go…!
I assembled the jacket out of the tweed which Pippa had bought – a gorgeous dark tweed, flecked with blues, reds, greens, yellows and creams; very subtle and very traditional. The second fitting with the beautiful bride to be went very well and it was lovely to see her so happy about the garment!
I confirmed the length of the sleeves and where the buttons needed to go at centre front and also where she wanted the pockets and at what angle. She also then decided she wanted a collar just to add a bit of height which wouldn’t be too tricky to add in and indeed it has added a bit of detail which has made all the difference.
I had to construct the pockets from memory as I did not have my Uni notes with me, therefore I may not have followed precisely the correct method but I think they look quite professional anyway and the addition of the lining fabric has added a dash of colour.
The lining Pippa chose was a gold satin which sits against the tweed nicely brightening the garment. I constructed a second jacket out of the lining, pressed all the seams thoroughly, I began pinning the lining to the tweed jacket starting with the neckline and the arm holes. I decided to hand sew the lining in because I did not want stitching showing on the outside which might ruin the traditional look. I always find the lining tricky because they are often slippery and stretchy so I made sure I did not pull the lining too tight and run the risk of distorting the outer jacket. I have to say the bottom hem of the jacket was the hardest and most time consuming because the pleats made it tricky lining everything up. Nevertheless, now it is all in place it looks lovely, bright and cheerful!
I found some nice metal buttons; I went with faded silver so it was not too eye catching or shining to take away attention from the jacket itself. I stitched 6 down the centre front and 2 on each pocket to help keep them neat and as a safety fastening especially when riding.
The wedding was beautiful and perfect; and Pippa, naturally, looked gorgeous – she kindly got her new husband to take this photo where they spent their first honeymoon night as I did not get a chance to grab her before she left after the party. Overall, I am really pleased with what I have created – it was an utter pleasure to make something to fit and make someone really happy! I hope to have many more opportunities to do so in the coming year.