Wednesday, July 20, 2022

1890s Wool Jacket

 This has been a difficult past few months for me... I started out the year with so much optimism, and lost my sweet senior rabbit Coal in January. He was my handsome companion of 10 years, so it left a definitely hole in my daily routine, missing his bright snappy black eyes. Then my sole remaining bun, Charlotte, had months of health struggles until she finally had to be put to sleep in June, and I genuinely feel like I failed her somehow, which makes the grieving process harder.

Sweet babies, barely tolerating each other for a Christmas photo
For now, I am rabbit-less, although we still have a darling sassy cat (found as a tiny kitten in an alley last year) and three needy dogs, so they are a big comfort.

Slow sewing is a comfort too, so I have managed a couple of projects that I really enjoyed. First was an 1890s jacket from the Black Snail pattern #0520.  This was my first attempt at anything resembling traditional tailoring methods, and I found I really enjoyed learning padstitching!

I had found an incredible deal on a hefty wool blend, and backed it with a canvas in all the spots required by the pattern, giving a really great shape to the jacket. 

Soooo much padstitching
While I didn't intend to fully duplicate the raised collar of a coat I had saved from a museum Instagram post, I really embraced the neat swirly design on the back of it and tried to bring a taste of that into the project.

Despite not always being sure of what I was going for or if I was tailoring correctly, I really was pleased with the nice clean lines of the jacket. I chose not to follow the pattern's skirts, as I wanted a tad more pleating around the front.

The sleeves didn't need any internal support, much to my surprise! The pattern had me cut a little half-moon of canvas that gets stitched into the upper armscye, and that was quite enough to keep it standing out from the shoulder.

I got to wear the jacket with a basic wool skirt for a skating party in Forest Park with the StL historical sewing group, and enjoyed the opportunity to put this to the test.

I was PLENTY warm the whole day, that's for sure!! My hubby was a good sport to dress up in black vest, pants, my dad's woolen greatcoat, and a top hat...but I couldn't quite convince him to ditch the sunglasses against the snow glare.

Jean of Fabricating History and Alyssa of The Sewing Goatherd looked marvelous and warm in their beautiful green ensembles!

I absolutely loved my hat, which was whipped up the night before from a black straw 18thc bergere, a lot of black matte taffeta, some ostrich feathers, and dotted net veiling. Initially I thought "Oh I'll just take this apart when I need my black bergere back" ...but it's way too cute to disassemble now.

Forest Park has a lot of picturesque spots, but none more perfect for this era than the wrought-iron Victorian bridge, and iron park benches near the lake. We had a lot of fun trying to get just the right feel.

 The following are my favorites, and it's fascinating how authentic they look with a bit of an old-timey filter applied!

Alyssa and I were all smiles that day

The jacket had just the dramatic flair I was hoping for, and hopefully will get worn for more late Victorian winter outings!



  1. The jacket is a fabulous color and trim is great! I love ice skating adventures, so it's fun to see others enjoying them, too!


    1. Thank you so much, Quinn! I'm not a very graceful ice skater, but it was a delightful treat to be able to do it on a weekend when there was enough snow to take pretty pictures. We actually don't get very much here in St. Louis anymore, maybe just a couple of weekends a year.

    2. I think being a good skater is not the important part of that joyful adventure. :) It's fantastic to be able to hit the weather just right for these specialized types of events.