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Walking Dress, 1901, from De Gracious, Netherlands.

Walking Dress, 1901, from “De Gracieuse: Geillustreerde Aglaja”, The Netherlands.

After finishing my 1902 skirt and realising that I had an imminent Steampunk event to attend, I decided to make a jacket to match the skirt using the left over material.

Zouave and bolero jackets had become very popular through the 1850s and 60s and continued to be popular through the last half of the 19th century. They seemed to be consistently used as a fashion accessory rather than a warm jacket to protect against the cold, judging by the contemporary fashion plates. There was a tremendous variation in the styles and decoration of these types of jackets, and even different names to confuse you some more! The Eton jacket for women, for instance, was similar but tended to be always buttoned up at the front.

The zouave and bolero were generally short jackets, going only to the waistline. They could be decorated with any manner of trims, some imitating a military look, others more feminine with embroidery, or even decorated with ribbon and braid. They could have long sleeves, short sleeves, or no sleeves, and – whilst they were often left open – some did have front fastenings.

A picture of a Zouave Jacket and its pattern, in Period Stage and Screen, by Jean Hunnisett.

A picture of a Zouave Jacket and its pattern, in Period Costumes for Stage and Screen, by Jean Hunnisett.

Pattern

The pattern I used was found – again – in Jean Hunnisett’s book, Period Costumes for Stage and Screen. It is not a pattern that she had drawn up herself in her pattern sheets, but a pattern that had been reproduced in a picture as a “Pattern for a Zouave jacket.” This jacket is very similar to many fashion plates of the period.

There were a total of four pattern pieces included: front panel, back panel, collar, and cuff. I drafted these up onto 1 inch grid paper.

In order to enlarge these types of old-style patterns up to full-size, first find the starting point of the pattern piece – often indicated with a circle or the letter A. Then use the horizontal numbers (indicating width measures) and the vertical numbers (indicating height measures) to measure out the pattern piece onto grid paper.

The part of the pattern that was the most tricky was the right side of the front panel, as the sudden use of large quantities of letters (instead of numbers) was hard to interpret. I eventually made the presumption that the jacket picture was drawn to scale and sketched it as closely as I could.

The pattern pieces, in which the seam allowance was added.

The finished pattern pieces, in which the seam allowance was added when cutting out.

This jacket was made from a cotton with a woven stripe, lined with a black broadcloth and trimmed with black polyester braid. Interfacing was used in the front lapel facing. As usual, I did a mock up in calico before I started. The size of this pattern seemed to be pretty perfect for me and needed hardly any adjustment.

Construction Steps

Step One: First I added facing to front lining piece, trimming off any excess material. The seam allowance was pressed to the front and top-stitched down.

The lapel facing is sewn to the lining to make one front-panel-lining piece.

The lapel facing is sewn to the lining to make one front-panel-lining piece.

Then add interfacing to the wrong side of the front lapel area.

Step Two: The front and back pieces were then all sewn together; first the centre back seam, then the side seams, and then the shoulder seams. This was done for the lining pieces and then the outer pieces, resulting in “two” jackets.

The centre back seam of the lining is sewn together.

The centre back seam of the lining is sewn together.

The outer layer of the jacket is sewn together, except for the shoulder seams.

The outer layer of the jacket is sewn together, with the shoulder seams pinned ready to sew. You can see the front darts already sewn in.

Step Three: At this point the front darts of the jacket can be taken in. This is also a great time for a fitting!

Step Four: The two layers of the jacket are sewn, right sides together, along the bottom edge – matching all seams and darts. Continue to sew up the centre front and around the lapels until you reach the neckline. Leave the collar area open. (You may need to pin your collar on at this point to check where it will sit.)

The two layers of the jacket are put together and sewn.

The two layers of the jacket are put together and sewn around the bottom and centre front edges.

Clip any seam allowances and turn the jacket right sides out. Press well. You could top stitch the edges at this point, however I intended to add braid which would hold the edges in place.

Step Five: The collar pattern is a fold-down collar, and has a centre back seam. This means that the pattern piece needs to be cut out four times in the outer material, and four times in the lining/interfacing (I have used the black cotton broadcloth as a stiffener).

At first I was a little baffled about how to sew it. First, I flatlined the collar with the lining material, which meant it did not require interfacing. (You could always use interfacing instead though.) Both layers were then treated as one.

The centre back seam of the collar was sewn next. This has to be done a second time with the other collar pieces. (This second collar will form the collar facing.)

The centre back seam for the collar is sewn.

The centre back seam for the collar is sewn. (The pattern piece is there for comparison, but I didn’t sew a centre front seam, even though it looks like I did!) In this picture the collar is already folded in half for the next step.

Then the top edge of the collar was sewn according to the pattern line, to form a “curved dart”. This needs to be done to each side of the collar and for the collar facing pieces as well.

The top edge of the collar is pinned right sides together to sew.

The top edge of the collar is pinned right sides together, ready to sew as per the pattern line.

I could have cut the top and bottom halves of the collar separately but then I would have had a thick seam on this top edge, so instead I have sewn it as a dart. Press the centre back seams open at this point.

Then the collar is opened out and sewn, right-sides together, to the collar facing around the sides and top of the collar. The bottom edge of the collar is left open, with the seam allowance of the facing folded up.

zouave jacket collar 3

The collar is pinned ready to sew around the outer edges. Make sure it is sewn on the “top” or “fold-down” edge. The bottom edge is left open, with the seam allowance of the facing folded up.

The seam allowances of the collar should be clipped and then turned the right way and ironed well.

The collar is then sewn to the jacket, matching the centre back seams. The seam allowance of the neck/collar can then be turned inside the collar and hand-sewn down.

The collar is attached to the jacket, with the raw edges turned under and hand-sewn.

The collar is attached to the jacket, with the raw edges turned under. The inside edge of the collar will then be hand-sewn down.

Step Six: The sleeves were flatlined first and then the sleeve seam was sewn.

The sleeve seams are sewn.

The sleeve seams are sewn.

The head of the sleeve was then gathered to fit the armhole, and sewn in – right sides together. The raw edges of the sleeve were trimmed and bound with black bias binding. The bottom edge of the sleeve was gathered to fit the cuff.

Step Seven: The cuffs – like the collar – were also in two pieces, so had to be cut four times for each sleeve. I did not use interfacing for these either, but instead used one layer of broadcloth as a stiffener (which meant there were two cut from the lining material for each sleeve).

The cuffs were then sewn, right sides together, around the lower edge of the cuff (with the seam allowance of the cuff facing turned over in the same way as the collar). Seam allowances were clipped and then the cuffs were turned right side out and pressed well.

The cuffs were then sewn to the bottom of the sleeve, with the cuff facing being turned under and handsewn down to hide the raw edges.

zouave jacket cuffs

The cuffs sewn, turned right side out, and sewn to the bottom of the sleeve. The inside raw edge will be turned under and handsewn down.

Step Eight: The last step involved the hand sewing of the braid and the addition of two buttons and buttonholes.

The braid and buttons attached

The braid and buttons attached

I am really pleased with the finished result!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

The collar does not sit quite like it should (from in the picture, anyway), so I think I will use a few tacking stitches to keep it in place.

It does look a tiny bit short at the back, but I am planning on making myself an Edwardian belt to go with this ensemble which should disguise that.

But there it is, my new dancing and (quite historical) steampunk outfit! It is lovely to dance in, too!

Related Posts

Making a 1902 Walking Skirt

Making a Bolero Jacket

Sources and Relevant Links

Image source: Walking Outfits, published in “De Gracieuse: Geïllustreerde Aglaja” (1901) from The Netherlands.

Bolero and Zouave jackets of the mid-19th century – by The Quintessential Clothes Pen

Bolero jackets of the 20th century: 1900-1909 – by The Quintessential Clothes Pen

Period Costumes for Stage and Screen, by Jean Hunnisett – buy on Amazon

McCalls Dressmaking 1901 – by Dressmaking Research

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Ladies' Street Costume, Summer 1893, from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns.

Ladies’ Street Costume, Summer 1893, from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns.

Quite a while ago I made a Victorian Fan Skirt, which I generally wear dancing with just a T-shirt. However, I began to feel that it would be nice to make a matching jacket using the left over material. It could then be used as more of a complete costume, instead of just a dancing skirt.

I did not have very much material left, so I thought a bolero jacket would be the easiest option, as it used the least fabric.

Bolero jackets had been quite popular since the 1850’s and 60’s, and continued to be so through to early Edwardian times. They differ from the warm winter jacket and coats, that clearly were designed for warmth. Instead they seem to be more of a decorative fashion.

Pattern

I used a pattern from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns, edited by Kristina Harris. This pattern book is a reproduction of patterns that were published in the popular dressmaker’s journal, The Voice of Fashion. The patterns are all authentic 1890’s patterns and cover a wide range of women’s clothing.

I graded the original pattern up and then made the necessary adjustments according to my measurements.

The pattern drafted and then cut out enlarged to fit my measurements.

The original pattern is drafted onto grid paper and then cut out enlarged to fit my measurements.

This jacket was made from the same materials as my Victorian Fan Skirt, with blue cotton outer and white cotton broadcloth lining.

Construction Steps

The construction of this bolero jacket was very simple, as there was no sleeves, no collar and no fastenings. It was also fairly simple to fit without doing a mock-up.

Step One: I began by sewing the side seams together in the outer fabric. Then I sewed the side seams of the lining together.

Step Two: Then the outer and the lining were placed right sides together and sewn around the outer edges. In the picture below you can see that the only part left unsewn is the shoulder seams.

The side seams have been sewn and now the outer is attached to the lining.

The side seams have been sewn and now the outer is attached to the lining.

The curves are clipped and then the jacket is turned the right way and pressed well.

Step Three: The shoulder seams can now be sewn. The outer layer is sewn first with the sewing machine, and then the raw edges of the lining are folded in and handsewn down.

Step Four: Embroidery is one embellishment that I love to do on my clothes, and this jacket was no exception. I drew a design on the edges and embroidered it with one strand of white DMC cotton in chain stitch.

The embroidery, which is a more mid-19th-century design.

The embroidery, which is a more mid-19th-century design.

And here is the finished garment!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

Stay tuned for the next post on making a shirtwaist blouse to complete this ensemble!

Related Posts

Making a Victorian Fan Skirt

Making a Gored Petticoat

Sources and Relevant Links

Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns: A Complete Lady’s Wardrobe, edited by Kristina Harris – buy on Amazon

Pattern for a Bodice with Bolero Front (c. 1896) – at Ladies Treasury

How to make a simple bolero jacket – Youtube tutorial

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