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A skelelton suit From Victoria and Albert Museum.

A skelelton suit made from nankeen, c. 1800. From Victoria and Albert Museum.

My family and I are heading off to a Regency Picnic held in Melbourne in March, so I am madly doing costumes for some of my children who don’t have anything to wear as yet. My two-year-old boy is one of these, and I decided to make him a Regency skeleton suit.

Skeleton suits became increasingly popular during the 1780’s and 1790’s, and they continued to be used until the 1840’s. The suit most often comprised a long-sleeved jacket, with matching long pants (with a fall-front) that could be buttoned together to form a type of romper suit. Sometimes the jacket could be short-sleeved, and the jacket collar varies from a short, stand-up collar, to one with fold-down lapels, and sometimes even no collar.

The suit set occasionally included a matching waistcoat that could likewise be buttoned to the pants. The pants were sometimes more similar to short breeches (reaching only to the knee), but most often were to the ankle. They also could have a button placket at the bottom of the pant leg to aid in dressing. Buttons were often self-covered to match the suit, but could also be metal.

Skeleton suit From

Skeleton suit of brown satin, worn by Danish King Frederik 7th as a boy, c. 1800. From the Danish National Museum. (Patterned and available online)

Underneath this suit the child generally wore a boy’s shirt, which was a version of the man’s shirt popular in the 18th century. In the previous post in this series I made a little boy’s shirt, and in this post I will share my progress in making the boy’s pants.

Pattern

I used a pattern online, which was taken from an existing skeleton suit in the Danish National Museum. It does need to be scaled up and then – because it is about an 8-year-old size – I had to adjust it significantly so it fitted a small child. Seam allowances need to be added as well.

I took a raft of measurements and used these to roughly alter the pattern. It is a great idea to do a mock up in cheap fabric, just to make sure you have a workable pattern, before doing the real thing.

Measurements to take:

  • Waist circumference (a high waist, that is)
  • Hip circumference
  • Crotch to ankle length
  • Crotch to waist length
  • Various measurements around the leg (to check that the pant legs are wide enough)

The pants were made from burgundy cotton broadcloth, with wooden buttons.

Construction Steps

As this pattern comes with minimal instructions, I have decided to detail my steps here.

Step One: I cut out the pattern in a similar way to the breeches I have made before. It is really the shape of the pattern that you want to replicate, regardless of the size of the person. In particular the back panel piece is shaped to give the pants a “splayed leg” appearance, which allows movement for horse-riding. The baggy seat of the pants is part of this.

Step Two: I sewed the two inside leg seams first (the front piece to the back piece), and then I sewed the crotch seam (which is the centre back seam and the centre front seam, joining in the crotch).

The side seams are sewn and the crotch seam is pinned, ready to sew.

The inside leg seams are sewn and the crotch seam is pinned, ready to sew.

Step Three: Before the side leg seams are sewn, it is a good idea to sew the fall front. I did this a bit differently than I have done before. First I laid the front panels together and made a slash through both layers. This made the slashes both even.

The front panel of the pants sits right sides together, and a slash is made for the fall front.

The front panels of the pants sit right sides together, and a slash is made through both layers for the fall front.

Second, I cut a rectangular piece of material about an inch wide and folded (and ironed) 5mm in from each long edge. I sewed this piece (right sides together) to the side of the slash that is closest to the centre front (the one that actually forms the fall front). I used a 5mm seam allowance, tapering to a smaller allowance at the bottom of the slash. The rectangular portion was then folded to the inside to cover the raw edge, similar to the way bias-binding binds raw edges.

The stitching line was hard to see so I have overlaid it with a red line.

This is the inside of the front panel. The slash is parted and folded back and I have marked the stitching line with a red line to make it easier to see.

Third, I cut two pieces to go under the fall; I call them “under-fall-flaps” for want of a better description! These two pieces will be attached to the waistband and to the outer slashed edge. I hemmed the bottom edge of both pieces and also the edges that are closest to the centre front.

These two pieces are places under the fall front.

These two pieces sit under the fall front. Only the bottom edge is hemmed in this photo.

I then sewed these pieces to the other side of the slashed edge, using a seam allowance of 5mm, tapering to a smaller allowance at the bottom. These “under-fall-flap” pieces can then be folded to the inside to sit under the fall. The raw edges do need to be neatened, which I did with a very tight zig zag.

The underpiece is pinned to the other side of the slash, right sides together.

The “under-fall-flap” is pinned, ready to sew, to the other side of the slash, right sides together.

Lastly, I trimmed the bottom of the rectangular piece to form a neat little point. This covers any raw edges at the bottom of the slash, and is top-stitched for reinforcement. I have never done this type of fall front before, but I think it looks really good!

The reinforcing stitching at the bottom of the fall front.

The reinforcing stitching at the bottom of the fall front.

At this point, the outside leg seams can both be sewn. This is also the point that the side pockets can be assembled. This pattern has two pockets (one in each side seam), plus a third welt pocket through the waistband. I did not put any pockets into my pants though.

Step Four: The waistband can be interfaced, especially since it is generally so wide. I sewed the waistband piece and the waistband facing (seen here with the interfacing ironed on) together on three sides, with one long edge of the facing folded up and left unsewn.

The waistband

The waistband sewn, with one edge of the facing folded up. This folded up section is used to hide the raw edges once the waistband is sewn on.

The pants can then be sewn to the waistband. For this part, the fall front is left free (to be buttoned to the waistband later), but the “under-fall-flaps” are sewn to the waistband instead. The centre back portion of the pants is gathered to fit the waistband, thereby providing the baggy seat.

The pants have been sewn to the waistband, and all raw edges have been tucked under the facing and it is pinned, ready to hand sew down.

The pants have been sewn to the waistband, and all raw edges have been tucked under the facing. It is pinned, ready to hand sew down. The fall front can be seen pulled down in the centre.

Step Five: The buttons and buttonholes can be sewn to the front.

The buttons on the fall front.

The buttons on the fall front.

Note: In the pattern, the fall reaches higher than the top of the pants so it can be buttoned on to the waistband. Unfortunately I trimmed it off by mistake, so I had to sew a wide “binder” piece onto the top of the fall to use for buttoning.

Step Six: The button placket on the pant legs was used to help the foot go through tightly fitted pants. These pants weren’t particular tight, but I thought it might be a nice touch to include them. Firstly I cut a rectangular piece of fabric about 2 inches wide and folded it in half. (It needs to be as long as you want your placket to be.) According to the pattern, this placket is actually cut as part of the leg piece but I forgot to include it. The buttons are put on this flap and it is tucked under the other edge to be buttoned up.

The pant legs, shown with a button placket.

The pant legs, shown with a button placket.

The top edge of the placket can be sewn and turned the right way. Once that is done, the long edge of the placket can be sewn to the back side of the leg seam.

The placket sewn on.

The placket sewn on (the longer red line). The top edge of the placket was sewn first and turned the right way (shown by a short red line).

The placket can be then folded to the inside, the raw edges can be tucked under and then it can be sewn down.

The placket has been folded to the inside and pinned down, ready to be sewn.

The placket has been folded to the inside and pinned down, ready to be hand sewn.

On the other seam (opposite to the placket), I sewed a little rectangular piece of material. This was to reinforce it so that the buttonholes could be put here.

On the other side to the button placket, is a small piece of material used as reinforcement for the buttonholes.

On the other side to the button placket, is a small piece of material used as reinforcement for the buttonholes.

Then the buttons and buttonholes can both be put on. I put extra buttonholes in the placket so that, when I let down the pants, all I have to do is put more buttons on the bottom.

The button placket complete.

The button placket complete.

Step Seven: The pants can be hemmed at the bottom. Three more buttonholes should be put in the waistband, at the centre back and one on each side, for buttoning to the jacket.

All finished!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

Stay tuned for the final post in this series, the jacket. – coming soon!

Related Posts

Making a Skeleton Suit – a boy’s shirt

The Making of a Midshipman: Breeches

MY Mr Knightley: Making Breeches

Sources and Relevant Links

The 2nd Annual Melbourne Regency Picnic – an Event on the Facebook page

Image Source: A nankeen skeleton suit – from Victoria and Albert Museum

Image Source: A skeleton suit – from the Danish National Museum

Skeleton suit pattern – from Regency Society of America forum boards (This particular page has two patterns, one for a girl’s dress and one for a boy’s skeleton suit. Just scroll down for the skeleton suit pattern.)

Costume for a Regency Child – by The Oregon Regency Society

Detail of "The Hulsenbeck Children" painting, by Philipp Otto Runge in 1805-06.

Detail of “The Hulsenbeck Children” painting, by Philipp Otto Runge in 1805-06. One of the children is wearing a short-sleeved skeleton suit, with the frilled collar of the shirt showing.

In less than two months I am attending the 2nd Annual Melbourne Regency Picnic, in Melbourne, Australia. I have been busy making costumes for the remaining members of my family who have yet to be so privileged! I desperately needed to think of a costume for my two-year-old boy and I soon decided on making a skeleton suit.

Skeleton suits were first seen as an item of children’s dress during the 1780’s and continued to be used until the 1840’s. They were really a form of the modern romper suit, used particularly for boys. Skeleton suits were often a jacket and pants combination that were buttoned together at the waist. Sometimes the suit included a waistcoat. Underneath the suit, the child often wore a white collared shirt with a ruffle on the collar and cuffs.

A boy's shirt, with a deep square collar edged with a frill, c. 1770s. From Historic New England.

A boy’s shirt, with a deep square collar edged with a frill, c. 1770’s. From Historic New England.

This first post in this series is about making the little shirt to go underneath the skeleton suit. Boy’s shirts during this era seem very similar to men’s shirts, in that they are largely made from rectangles and squares.

The main difference seems to be the deeper, fold-down collar, often trimmed with a frilled edge, that was turned down over the top of the jacket. The front of the shirt had a large opening that was also edged with a frill, as could be the sleeve cuffs.

Pattern

The pattern I used for the shirt was based largely on what I know of 18th century men’s shirts, and so was very similar to the ones I have made before. The only difference was that I made a wider collar and added the frills.

A boy's shirt, American, late 18th century. From the Museum of Fine Arts.

A boy’s shirt, American, c. 1790’s. From the Museum of Fine Arts.

I found the site, “Making a Men’s Shirt” (by Marquise) to be invaluable for detailing some of the historical aspects of construction.

Construction

As the construction steps are very similar to the previous shirts I have made, I will not detail them extensively here.

Collar: I made the collar in the normal way, except that it was a different shape. It was a lot deeper and the front edges (or corners) of the collar I made curved.

The shirt collar, wide and curved. This has been sewn right sides together and turned the right way, with one raw edge turned up.

The shirt collar, wide and curved. This piece has been sewn right sides together and turned the right way, with one raw edge turned up. The unturned edge is sewn to the garment and the turned-up edge is handsewn down on the inside of the shirt.

Frills: Whilst the rest of the shirt was made by machine, I decided to make the frills by hand. I measured the length of the seam where the frill would be sewn and doubled it to get the length of the frill.

I did a rolled hem on one edge of the frill, and then did a whipped stitch gather on the other edge. Once it was gathered to fit, I whip-stitched the gathered edge to the edge of the collar and centre front edge.

The collar frill, gathered with a "whipped-stitch-gather" stitch and attached to the collar with a whipstitch.

The collar frill, gathered with a “whipped-stitch-gather” stitch and then attached to the collar with a whipstitch.

The same type of frill was also attached to the cuffs in the same way. (These techniques were all used in my post A Regency Day Cap.)

The shirt all finished

The shirt all finished

This is how it looks on the little man! Unfortunately the light was not very good, so hopefully there will be better pictures to come.

The Back View

The Back View

The Front View

The Front View

The next post in this series will be on making the pants for the skeleton suit.

Related Posts

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Shirt

The Making of a Midshipman: Shirt and Stock

Sources and Relevant Links

The 2nd Annual Melbourne Regency Picnic – the Event on the Facebook page

Image Source: “The Hulsenbeck Children” by Phillipp Otto Runge (1805-06).

Image Source: A boy’s shirt, c. 1770’s – Historic New England

Image Source: A boy’s shirt, c. 1790’s – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Historical instructions from 1769 on making an 18th century men’s shirt – by Marquise

A Floral Fervour

Image from Oregon Regency Society

Image from Oregon Regency Society

This March my family and I will be venturing out in public in all our Regency regalia! The 2nd Annual Melbourne Regency Picnic will be held on March 6th and I am very excited to go for the first time. It will be a lovely relaxing day out for our family, but the bit that is not as relaxing is getting all the children “kitted out” before then!

I decided to start with my youngest daughter, a sweet 5-year-old, and make her a quick costume using a pattern I have done before.

Pattern

The pattern for this dress is a free one available online, and it is the one I have used before, in “How to make a Basic Regency Girl’s Dress”. It requires scaling up, but it is fairly easy to put together using modern dressmaking methods.

I made some slight alterations to the pattern for this gown, such as omitting the thin side bodice panel, and bringing the drawstring casing all the way around the waistline (rather than only to the side seams).

Construction

The steps that I used were very similar to that for the basic Regency girl’s dress I have done before, so I will not detail all of the steps again here. Instead I will briefly outline some of the features that I decided on for this outfit.

Features of this dress:

  • Simple bodice, with a centre front panel and two back panels;
  • Slightly flared skirt, with lace around the bottom (and a deep hem for later taking-down);
  • Short sleeves, with the fullness pleated over the sleeve head, the bottom edge ungathered and finished with a lace edging;
  • Drawstring casing around the neckline and the waistline, which fastens with ties at the back.

This was a nice, quick weekend project, and the best part is that little girls need very little fitting!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

A lovely floral fervour for my littlest flower-petal!

Related Posts

How to make a Basic Regency Girl’s Dress

Drafting a Pattern for a Girl’s Regency gown

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Costumes for a Regency Child, from The Oregon Regency Society

Free pattern for a girl’s Regency dress – on Regency Society of America forum board

The 2nd Annual Melbourne Regency Picnic – the Event, from the Facebook page

My current project, the quilt “Jane Austen’s Bonnet” by Brenda Ryan, is coming along nicely!

This quilt is a wall-hanging, and features 20 diamond patches that are embroidered with various stitcheries on a Regency theme. The embroideries are nicely framed within the patchwork structure of the quilt and the result is very pretty.

I began work on some of the pretty pictures this time, and I have included two of them here.

Firstly, a pretty Regency lady!

A pretty Regency lady!

The back of a pretty Regency lady!

The stitches I have used are: split stitch, backstitch, colonial knots, running stitch, stem stitch, blanket stitch, and satin stitch. There is also a little bit of ribbon embroidery in the hair.

Secondly, a lovely parasol.

A lovely beaded parasol

A green beaded parasol

The stitches I have used here are: back stitch, running stitch, stem stitch, colonial knots, and satin stitch. This one is also beaded and has two bows done with ribbon embroidery.

With all of these diamonds, I am stitching a quick running stitch around the outside of the piece to mark the stitching line, which I hope will be useful when I put the quilt together.

Stay tuned for Part Four of this series. – coming soon.

Related Posts

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – Part One

How to make an American Quilt

My English Paper Piecing Project

Sources and Relevant Links

Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – by Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

One of the stitcheries from the "Jane Austen's Bonnet" quilt.

One of the stitcheries from the “Jane Austen’s Bonnet” quilt.

I am so excited about the beginnings of my next project, the quilt “Jane Austen’s Bonnet”, by Brenda Ryan.

This quilt is a wall-hanging, and features 20 diamond patches that are embroidered with various stitcheries on a Regency theme. The embroideries are nicely framed within the patchwork structure of the quilt and the result is very pretty.

I decided to begin with the four “quote” stitcheries, just to get my fingers in the mood!

This post contains the third and fourth embroideries that I have completed, but neither of these two quotes I have chosen are included in the original quilt design. For some reason, the two other quotes did not appeal to me much, so I searched up some more quotes and printed up a design on my computer that could be traced and then embroidered.

A quote from Persuasion.

A quote from “Persuasion”, by Jane Austen.

The above quote is from “Persuasion”, by Jane Austen, at the part where Captain Wentworth declares his undying love to Anne Elliot in a letter.

A quote from one of Jane Austen's letters to her sister, Cassandra.

A quote from one of Jane Austen’s letters.

This quote is from one of Jane Austen’s letters to her sister, Cassandra. It refers to a patchwork they are working on, using the English paper piecing method.

All of the writing has been stitched with 2 strands of DMC embroidery thread in a backstitch. I have also stitched a quick running stitch around the outside of the diamond to mark the stitching line, which I hope will be useful when I put the quilt together.

Stay tuned for Part Three of this series.

Related Posts

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – Part One

How to make an American Quilt

My English Paper Piecing Project

Sources and Relevant Links

Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – by Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

One of the stitcheries from the "Jane Austen's Bonnet" quilt.

One of the stitcheries from the “Jane Austen’s Bonnet” quilt.

For the last two years I have had a quilt on my to-do list, “Jane Austen’s Bonnet”, by Brenda Ryan.

I fell in love with this quilt when I saw one that a friend of mine had completed, and I decided that I would love to do one.

This quilt is a wall-hanging, and features 20 diamond patches that are embroidered with various stitcheries on a Regency theme. The embroideries are nicely framed within the patchwork structure of the quilt and the result is very pretty.

My colour scheme will be purple and green, and I will post my progress as I go. My plan is to post two stitcheries at a time, over 10 posts, with a final post on the finished quilt.

I decided to begin with the four “quote” stitcheries, just to get my fingers in the mood! Here are the first two.

The first two stitcheries for my quilt. The left one is a quote from "Pride and Prejudice", and the right one is taken from one of Jane's letters to her sister.

The first two stitcheries for my quilt.

The left quote is from the first line of “Pride and Prejudice”, by Jane Austen. The right one is taken from one of Jane’s letters to her sister. All of the writing has been stitched with 2 strands of DMC embroidery thread in a backstitch.

I have also stitched a quick running stitch around the outside of the diamond to mark the stitching line, which I hope will be useful when I put the quilt together.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this series.

Related Posts

How to make an American Quilt

My English Paper Piecing Project

Sources and Relevant Links

Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – by Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

A pair of linen pockets, embroidered with wool, from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

A pair of linen pockets, embroidered with wool, from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Recently I decided to make an 18th century pocket, and – after a little deliberation – I thought I should make a second one to match. Although there are many extant examples of a single pocket, I thought a pair might be useful. However, pairs of pockets were often not an exact match, as we generally desire today. They were often stylistically similar, but featured different arrangements of flowers in essentially the same design.

These pockets were not sewn into women’s gowns as they are often sewn into garments these days. Instead women had a pair of pockets – or a single pocket – attached to some ribbon or tape which was tied around their waist. The pockets were rather voluminous and were reached through a hole in the side of the skirts of the dress.

Once fashions changed at the end of the 18th century – with the popularity of the long, clingy dresses of the Regency – these large pockets were dispensed with in favour of the hand-held “Ridicule” or reticule. However, there is evidence to suggest that these larger pockets were still widely used, though possibly more by the older generation. I have even seen Regency “versions” of the tie-on pocket, which were smaller and easy to access through the front seams of a bib-front dress.

A pair of cotton and linen pockets, embroidered with wool, from the Museum of London.

A pair of cotton and linen pockets, embroidered with wool, from the Museum of London.

I have never really considered the necessity of making a pocket for my 18th century costumes before, but there are some great reasons to do it. Firstly, it gives you somewhere to hide your mobile phone and a purse! It is also fantastic for easy access to a fan while you are dancing. Secondly, it can be a really quick and easy project to whip up, especially if you are wanting a plain pocket. But it also gives some creative scope for the embroidery of a smallish project (by historical standards, anyway!).

Pattern and Construction

I used the same pattern and construction process as I had used on my first pocket.

As with my first pocket, this one was made with white cotton broadcloth and bound with printed cotton quilting fabric. The design was embroidered with cotton DMC thread (No. 798). The tie was made from a length of cotton tape (25mm wide), made long enough to tie around the waist. This project was hand embroidered and hand sewn.

Embroidery

Embroidery Stitches used:

The second pocket embroidered and sewn together

The second pocket embroidered and sewn together

The central flower, a carnation, embroidered with...

The central flower, a carnation, embroidered with backstitch, seed stitch and satin stitch.

This flower is embroidered with chain stitch...

This flower is embroidered with chain stitch, backstitch, buttonhole pinwheels and seed stitch.

This flower is embroidered with blanket stitch, chain stitch, ...

This flower is embroidered with blanket stitch, backstitch, running stitch, satin stitch, chain stitch and double feather stitch.

This flower has been embroidered with chain stitch and french knots.

This flower has been embroidered with chain stitch and french knots.

This flower has ben embroidered with chain stitch, long and short stitch, ...

This flower has ben embroidered with chain stitch, long and short stitch, running stitch and a buttonhole pinwheel.

This flower is stitched with buttonhole pinwheel, chain stitch, and ?.

This flower is embroidered with buttonhole pinwheels, chain stitch, and square laid filling stitch.

And here it is all finished!

The pair of pockets completed

The pair of pockets completed

The second pocket took a lot longer to finish than the first, largely because I had less time spare to sit and embroider. But I still managed to get the entire project finished within three months, which is pretty good.

The great thing about these pockets is that, when they are tied around my waist, my hands can reach right to the bottom of them to easily grasp any item that sinks there. Now I just need to make an 18th century dress with some pocket holes!

Related Posts

Making an Embroidered Pocket

An Embroidered Regency Letter Case

Making an Embroidered Stomacher

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: A pair of pockets – at Victoria and Albert Museum

Image Source: A pair of pockets – at Museum of London

Make Your Own Pocket – Victoria and Albert Museum

Pocket Research – by Sew 18th Century

An Embroidered Pocket – by American Duchess

Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy on Amazon

Costume Close-Up: Clothing Construction and Pattern, by Linda Baumgarten – buy on Amazon

Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials – on Rocksea and Sarah

How to bind your project – by HowToSew.com

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