Saturday, April 3, 2021

Making an 18th Century Wool & Velvet Riding Habit Jacket

In October 2020, I committed to making my first ever 18th century riding habit ensemble. I've long dreamed of having a few riding habits in my historical clothing wardrobe, including a blingy velvet one and tailored wool one with a contrasting waistcoat. Since this kind of garment is new territory for me, I decided to start by making a wearable mockup with the Mill Farm Riding Habit sewing pattern.

Fabrics & Design

For this project, I decided to use this pink wool that I've had in my stash for years...It was one of the first fabrics I purchased when I started sewing historic clothes. In my naivety, I thought that all wools were...appropriate for every historical sewing project. The wool I bought was rough, scratchy, and a bit loosely woven. I think it will live its best life as a coat! 

To contrast with the dusty rose color of the wool fabric, I'm made the color and cuffs from scraps of black cotton velvet in my stash. It feels like no matter how much of this black velvet I use up, scraps keep spawning!

I also made buttons by covering up old plastic buttons with gathered circles of black silk crepe, which was leftover from my Edwardian shirtwaist project. I showed how to make these buttons in my Youtube video, linked below.

The jacket is decorated with black velvet ribbons on the bodice, with the topmost row of trim covering the bust dart.

Fit Issues

To be honest, I really struggled with this pattern. The instructions were rudimentary and assumed the maker had previous riding habit construction knowledge. The way the cuffs and sleeves went together was particularly puzzling and I had to make a few tacking stitches to keep the cuffs in place.

The Mill Farm Riding Habit pattern is available with 2 sizes per pattern pack. I bought the smallest size pack, sizes 8-10, with my measurements matching the size 10 measurements. Yet the mockup was quite large on me! I took out almost 3 inches from the bodice, raised the waist by nearly two inches, and narrowed the sleeves by about 2 inches.

The Finished Riding Habit

I'm wearing my wool riding habit jacket over my Simplicity 8162 stays and a handsewn cotton (yes, cotton!) men's 18th century style shirt. To mimic the look of wearing a cravat, I overlapped and pinned the collar. I'm wearing the shirt in place of a shift because wearing both at the same time seemed redundant. I'm also wearing my handsewn linen pocket hoops and handsewn silk petticoat.

Video Diary

You can follow my trials and triumphs of making my 18th century riding habit jacket on my YouTube channel:

I'd like to make a coordinating waistcoat to go with this ensemble! Let me know in the comments below what color you'd make the waistcoat for this outfit!

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