After recovering from the disappointment of my robe a l’anglaise being too small, I busied myself with making a caraco jacket.
Like my robe a l’anglaise, this jacket was also made from a curtain I had found at a second-hand shop. It had been in my stash for a while and, whilst I loved the grey stripes, I was unsure of how to use it because there was not enough material to make a full gown. That is when I had the idea of making a shorter 18th century jacket, commonly used for daywear.
After doing a bit of research, I found several useful patterns in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion, which gave me a good idea of how much material I would need and how jackets like these were constructed during the eighteenth century.
Caraco jackets were styled in the same way as a gown but the skirts were trimmed shorter, usually about mid-thigh length. Other types of jackets were trimmed even shorter than this. The jacket was then worn over stays, panniers or a false rump, and usually a matching petticoat.
Janet Arnold gives some basic directions for assembling a caraco jacket (c. 1775-1785) in her book.
First, I completely unpicked the curtain and measured it before cutting it. I knew that I had to take into account that the pattern would need to be made bigger to fit me, and that I needed to match the obvious stripes in the material.
Then I basically sewed together the centre back and side seams of the fabric and lining separately, and then sewed the two layers together around the neckline. Then I attached the sleeves, which I ended up deciding not to line. I deliberated on how to adjust the front so that I could include a stomacher, and all that was left to do was to sew a bar across the top of the back and side pleats, hem the bottom, and attach any trims.
The Finished Result:
Here is the finished result, shown with the petticoat that was made to match my robe a l’anglaise, and the embroidered stomacher that I have just completed.
And for some of the trimming detail…
For a remake of second-hand curtains, I think this outfit has turned out very nicely! Now, I just need to finish embroidering a pair of lawn ruffles to go around the sleeves.
Sources and Relevant Links
Caraco jacket with matching petticoat (c.1770-1780), from Victoria and Albert Museum
Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s Dresses and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy through Amazon