Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Riding Habit Jacket/ Spencer That Almost Killed Me!

So, the ladies and I decided we needed to do some sort of riding habit day while we are in Williamsburg. I had started this habit a few years ago, about the time I started getting into horses. Anyway, after a move and buying a business, the habit fell to the sidelines waiting for the perfect event to make its debut.

I had already drafted the pattern and cut the original pieces out when we lived in Portland. I was never quite happy with the fit and decided it was time to readdress those issues this time around.


Angel, aka Mrs. Cartwright, had made these lovely buttons to go with the riding habit as well. The colors are perfect!

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After a few hours of fussing with the fit, I felt I had tackled the major issues…. This, of course, would prove not to be the case as the project progressed. This was one of those sewing projects that caused frustration from day one! The sewing gods were not in my favor and it was annoying.


I decided to line the lapels and the cuffs in blue silk to match the blue in the buttons. The hat I plan to wear with it has the blue and green as well.

20140128_095457 Now take a good look at the shoulders… notice anything strange? Well, I didn’t until AFTER I put the sleeves on. If you said the shoulders look short, you’d be right! I have no clue how I could have missed that very important detail, but I did. Yay me! Anyway, more on that later.

20140129_145000 The time to construct the collar had come. Pad stitching has to be one of my least favorite parts of tailoring. It takes FOREVER and it feels like you haven’t accomplished a whole lot by the end. Yet, it is one of the most important shaping tools in the bag of tricks. I also decided to line the inside of the collar in the blue silk to match the lapels. 20140202_125007 20140202_124949 At this point I had finished the collar and started attaching the sleeves. Then I did a fitting…. Yeah, the sleeves pulled the collar out of alignment and did not fit right.


So, I added a shoulder strap on top of the shoulder. I did a lot of research before I decided to add this crucial piece to extend the shoulder. Since the 18th century was chock full of pieced gowns, spencers, jackets, ect, I decided it would be ok to have this piece. Yes, I am that particular!

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This time it worked! The shoulder straps allowed the sleeves to sit in a correct position at the shoulder seam. Mind you this was after a few dates with the seam ripper and ever mounting frustrations! It’s projects like this that keep me humble, that’s for sure.


Finally it was time to start on the cuffs. This part went surprisingly fast and was fairly easy. I decided to keep the stitches red like I did on the lapels and the collar.

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Finally! Success!

Now it was time to attempt the skirt. I, wrongfully, assumed this part would be a breeze, no issues, ect. Well, as I mentioned before this was one of those projects. I discovered something about my body…. Long peplums and same colored skirts do not work on my body…. AT ALL! So after two days of fighting with the skirt trying to figure out why my already hefty derriere looked like a moose had taken up residence under the skirt, I decided to call it quits.


An Amazonian dress, 1797, Lewis Walpole Library Digital Collection


Costume Parisien, an 8 (1799-1800)

I researched once again and rediscovered these fashion plates/ cartoons that I had forgotten about. Perfect! I can wear it as a spencer over one of my numerous voile gowns!

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And the results…. I know not the greatest picture, but you get the idea. 

So, the riding habit that almost defeated me has been bested and checked off the list of “Items to Make for Williamsburg.”

5 Witty Sentiments:

Rachel said...

Oh, it turned out stunning! Your persistence paid off! What a wonderful experience your VA trip will be!

Unknown said...

It turned out great! You look so pretty in it.

bauhausfrau said...

It's so adorable, wonderful job. The buttons are charming, they look like little mint candies to me!

Seidenweberin said...

It was worth the work, it's a stunning piece!

MrsC (Maryanne) said...

It is gorgeous, after all that! I know the feeling too of having a project fight you all the way. But then it IS red, which is a very willful colour :)