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Decisions, decisions...

Updated: Mar 6, 2022

Having already made a mock up of the Truly Victorian 1880 jacket to check for fit issues, it was time to begin cutting out my fancy fabric...

The only modification I will need to make to this pattern is to sharpen the angle of the revere collar lapel section to make it wider, and the collar to allow it to stand up rather than roll over. I will go into the collar modification on a later blog post.

I will be using all of the pattern pieces for this, with the exception of the cuff pattern piece, as the original has a plain finished sleeve, trimmed with fur.

The fabric I have chosen for this project is a gorgeous pure wool coating fabric from Abraham Moon & Sons, in a shade aptly named "Forest Green" that I was able to acquire through the Bay of E. It is absolutely joyful to work with - no fraying, takes my tailors wax a dream, thick enough to not need monumental amounts of internal structuring.

The wool is going to be flat-lined with a heavier weight pure cotton, and each seam allowance then whip stitched down, in the time-honoured technique used in extant

bodices in my personal collection.

Internal construction of Edwardian bodice showing lining, boning channels and waist stay tape
Early 1900's Edwardian mourning bodice by Barnes Bros tailors of Shaftesbury in my personal collection

The Barnes Bros. of Shaftesbury 1900s black wool mourning jacket (left) is in my personal collection. Despite my best efforts, I have been unable to find any reference to this company online.

As you can see, the seam allowances are pretty generous, much more so than in modern clothing and have scallops cut into them. These serve as both a means to ensure the tailor could match their notches and as a hidden decorative flourish. The generous seam allowances are there because, historically, fabric was the most expensive component of garment making, and leaving generous seam allowances meant that a garment could be let out and worn by another, thus extending its potential lifespan. Even with the cut out parts of the seam allowances, an extra 1/2" is still available on that seam which adds up to a pretty substantial potential for adjustment.

If you look really closely at the picture, you will see that the striped cotton silesia is delicately whip-stitched to the black wool fashion fabric, although the seam allowances themselves are not whip-stitched down.

The wool is quite fine, so the tailor would not have needed to secure them down (thick wool seam allowances have a tendency to stick up and not lay nice and flat, even when pressed). The whalebone is stitched down into channels created by brown twill tape - a task made easier with the super generous seam allowances.

I plan to then line the whole garment in white or cream cotton silesia from William Gee.

The vest part of the original jacket will be made using a cream silk noil from Minerva fabrics, and cut using the front half of the 1885 Cuirass bodice pattern from Truly Victorian. I will only be using the collar and bodice front from this pattern. The bodice front will be modified at the lower end to recreate the faux waistcoat shape of the original vest.

Historically, a cuirass was a piece of very fitted upper body armour. Given the heavy influence of menswear and tailoring on women's couture, and dressmaking in general, during the 1870's and 1880's, it is perhaps not surprising, that a piece of women's clothing acquired such a name. The close, form fitting shape of this bodice will work well as the basis of the vest portion of my 1890's walking jacket. I love the idea of it being a feminine kind of armour...

As at the time of writing this, I have yet to decide if I am going to "go big, or go home".... do I just do the jacket and vest, or do I go the whole hog and create a whole outfit - a skirt, overskirt and hat - to go with it?

Lastly, before I disappear in search of a cup of coffee - a date for your diaries (if you are so inclined!) my YouTube channel goes live next Saturday afternoon, 12 February 2022. In my first ever blog post, I said I wanted to properly start my channel this year, and it was very much a case of #ifnotnowwhen.

I have finally finished the filming and there is only a little bit of editing left to do. I confess that "some" difficulties were encountered - including the accidental deletion of some footage because "what do you mean??? my editing thingy doesn't save my footage somewhere in a save-y thingy?!?!? where did they go then?!?!?" (direct transcript of conversation with my husband after all my screens went red and a klaxon went off!!!).

I will be posting the link to the video in my next blog post, but this is my channel link should you wish to subscribe before it goes live :

Woman in black leather riding Suzuki TL1000S motorcycle
My beloved BumbleBug

And going off on a total tangent, for anyone who is curious about my rather strange username, it is a #ifyouknowyouknow kind of reference to my other passion in life : motorbikes. My Suzuki TL1000S, BumbleBug, is the second love of my life. Well, when she is behaving nicely, that is, and I can't wait for some slightly warmer weather to get back out on her.

In the meantime, send help, decisions, some good weather and sandwiches!

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