Wednesday, February 19, 2020

18th Century Cotton Print Jacket

I was charmed by the ease and versatility of 18th century separates, and felt that for my first foray into building a historically accurate, handsewn 18th century wardrobe, a jacket was a fine place to start. In the 18th century, jackets were made in a variety of fabrics, from sedate wools to elaborate silk brocades, to suit the station, season, and occasion of the wearer. I'd be wearing my jacket to a picnic in July, so decided on a fashionable cotton chintz style.

This led me to examine what were the common stylistic elements of cotton chintz jackets. I found many examples of Dutch origin (I tried to collect as many examples as possible on my Pinterest board), which drew my interest as the event I was attending was at the Dutch Van Cortland House Museum and Park. I noticed that many of these Dutch chintz jackets had tabbed stomachers, and I wanted to incorporate that into my design.

Dutch, c. 1750 - 1775
Dutch, c. 1770 - 1780
The jacket fabric is a vibrant floral print from Colonial Williamsburg, Palace Bloom. It's lined in white linen from Fabric Mart Fabrics, which has become my go-to for affordable, quality fabrics -- look out for one of their sales!

I used the JP Ryan jacket pattern, View B. I shaped the fronts of the jacket to eliminate the corners where the neckline meets the front of the jacket, per the Dutch jackets I studied. I drafted a stomacher made of three sets of tabs, held together with twill tape along the outside edges.
Adjusting the front edges

The jacket was sewn entirely by hand, which ended up being a very relaxing and manageable process! I used the construction techniques in the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking and Costume Close-Up. I highly recommend in investing in these two books to develop a greater understanding of the techniques used to create 18th century garments!

Using the prick stitch to sew the shoulder pieces to the jacket

Whip stitching the lining

Using the edge stitch / edge hem stitch to join the outer and lining fabrics

A back-stitched lining seam
In my mock-up, I shortened the waist of the jacket by 0.5", but after the jacket was complete, I found the jacket too short, so I should've left it alone. To help "snug" the jacket to my waist, I stitched a length of narrow twill tape to the each seam -- when I put the jacket on, I tie this tape around my waist and then pin the stomacher and front edges of the jacket down.

Overall, I'm very pleased with this project. I've worn it a few times since I've made it, which is testament to a successful project in my opinion! It's colorful, fun, and flattering, and I can easily dress myself. 

My hair styling is horrendous here (it was a hot and windy day!) but the back seams of my jacket look great


  1. Inspirational! I had started the same pattern, then put it down to move household goods. Time to get back to work...thanx for the jump start! Anna

    1. Arrgh...finished the jacket and much to my chagrin, it's too big. Alterations are now in order...lots of slashing and muttering...

  2. I've been wanting to make a jacket and your's turned out so beautiful! You look fabulous, thank you for the inspiration! Blessings, Loni

    1. Thank you so much! I'm so glad this has been helpful and inspirational!