I’ve always been in love with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art‘s Woman’s Redingote, attributed to Europe, 1790s. It’s just superb. The tailoring is impeccable – I love the high collar and the button tails down the back. The textile is, let’s face it, pretty ugly on it’s own – but made into the redingote, it’s awesome.
Yeah, the link for it is right below. I’m still learning this WordPress stuff; I can’t make it look pretty yet.
About a year and a half ago I bought some lightweight brown wool. It drapes beautifully, and I originally wanted to make a nice, practical 1740s work dress from it. Something with pleated cuffs and a shorter skirt.
But to hell with practicality. I wanted a redingote more.
I didn’t have a pattern; I draped the back and loosely based the front on a caraco in Patterns of Fashion. Years ago, I adapted this pattern to fit me, and since then I’ve been using pretty much the same one, tweaked a little, for every gown and jacket I make. Not the best way to do things, but until I get a dress form and can drape, it’s the status quo.
Looking back, I made some mistakes. I was ‘guesstimating’ most of the construction without ever seeing the original. I cut my collar in one straight piece, which makes it wrinkle awkwardly. If I was going to do it again (which I would love to do) I’d copy a collar from a man’s suit of the time – one with a seam down the back, and the pieces angled.
Also, I only learned after I had finished mine that the original was made with a separate bodice front inside, which laces or buttons (I know this by hearsay, never saw it … 😦 ) which keeps the strain off of the buttons in front. I didn’t make mine with that, but I think I can adapt what I’ve got to accommodate it. I think the under-bodice system would also keep the redingote in place; it tends to pull up in front because of the weight of the skirt at the back. I am also thinking of putting a piece of boning or two down the center back to get that smooth curve.
I copied some details from the original redingote. Others I took from prints of the time: a trained skirt, long sleeves, the straight edge at the bottom front, and the double-breasted front. Because it’s double-breasted, I had some fitting issues around the lapels – they aren’t as wide as the original’s are, and they don’t fold as nicely.
I made the entire redingote from 100% brown wool, and it’s lined with white linen and faced with glazed peach chintz. The buttons are brass. The whole thing is hand sewn with linen thread.
It’s been 90% finished for a year or so. The trained skirt is unlined at the moment, so the wool picks up EVERYTHING I walk over … leaves, sticks, you name it … it’s annoying. I think if I line it it will keep it from picking things up, but I’m not sure exactly how to do it. If I line it halfway up, I’ll get an awkward seam line across the width of the skirt. If I decide to line it all the way up, I have to figure out how to attach the lining at the top. I may just cut the trained part off and level it like the original. That being said, the train is so much fun to wear!
Though it’s not completed, I wore it last year to the Market Fair in Dover, DE. I wore it with my horrible reproduction hat I made from wool and a few quarts of wood glue (I don’t recommend that). Even though the hat sucked, I got something awesome out of it – I had my portrait done with a camera obscura.
Well, as I say in my title, it’s for fall and fall is certainly here. I’m thinking of wearing it again for an upcoming Market Fair. The theme is more colonial at this event, but I don’t have anything warm to wear for a date before 1790. Maybe I will make something – or at least have a nicer hat for the redingote made by then … stay tuned.