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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.

Pattern:

A matching caraco jacket and petticoat (c.1770-1780), from The Victoria and Albert Museum.

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.

Construction:

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.

The front

The back

And for some of the trimming detail…

The trim 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.

Related Posts

Making a Stomacher

An 18th Century Robe a l’anglaise

Panniers: An 18th Century Reproduction of a Sacque-backed dress

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

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