Posts Tagged ‘Men’s Regency costumes’

A man’s linen shirt, c. 1775-1800, from Victoria and Albert Museum.

I have made 18th century and Regency shirts before, for my husband and sons, but for a while I have wanted to make one entirely by hand. When my husband said that his current shirt was too short in length, I took the opportunity to make a new one.

One thing I have noticed as I sew more historical garments is that, whilst sewing with a sewing machine is lovely to do, sometimes you can discover new things by hand sewing those garments that were hand sewn during the era that they were worn.

In particular, men’s shirts, with their triangular and square gussets and the centre frill at the front opening, can be a bit tricky to sew with modern sewing machine methods. I found it much easier to flat fell those gusset seams while hand sewing than I did when I machine sewed them. In addition, roll hemming the front neckline and attaching the (already gathered and hemmed) frill with a whipstitch was a lot easier than figuring out what to do with those gathered raw edges on the inside.


I relied heavily on the 1769 instructions of Garsault, reproduced by La Couturière Parisienne. These instructions contain a very useful “translation” for all of those terms and measurements given in the original version that are not easily adaptable to modern understandings.

I also used the pattern for shirts given in Elizabeth Friendship’s book, Pattern Cutting for Men’s Costume. She had some great tips on how to calculate the sizes of different panel pieces relative to the body measurements, and also things like the placement of sleeves.

I used white linen fabric, that was 150cm wide (selvedge to selvedge).

Construction Steps

Step One: Cut out the body of the shirt. I used a 240 cm (length) of material and cut it to be 80 cm wide. I folded the fabric half widthways (the fold-line being where the shoulders would be) and shifted the fold so it was slightly longer (1-2 inches) at the back. Then I cut a slit along the fold (for the neck) and a slit down the centre front (for the opening).

The shirt has been slit along the top fold (from pin-to-pin, which you can see at the top), and the centre front has been slit and a rolled hem done to the raw edges. (The pins at the side of the shirt indicate where the sleeves will come down to.)

The centre front slit was hemmed using a rolled hem.

Step Two: Cut out the sleeves. I had material left over from the shirt body (70 cm wide and 240 cm long). I cut the sleeves to be 70 cm x 60 cm. (Sleeves are 60 cm long and can be 70 or 80 cm wide.)

The bottom edge of the sleeves (70 cm edge) was gathered with stroke stitches. For some great instructions on stroke gathers, see Sharon Burnston’s article.

The top edge of the sleeve has two rows of running stitch, sewn parallel to the raw edge. This will be pulled up to gather the edge into stroke gathers.

Once the running stitches are completed, they are pulled up to form tiny pleats. I pressed each pleat with the back of my fingernails so they sat nicely, and then sewed them with a whipstitch to the cuffs of the garment. The other end of the cuff is then folded over the raw gathered edges and whipstitched in the same way to the other side of the stroke gathers.

The edge of the cuff is folded over and then whipstitched to the stroke gathers.

In the same way, the top edge of the sleeves (other 70 cm edge) was gathered and then attached to the shoulders of the garment. (The other side of the stroke gathers will be whipstitched to the shoulder binder later on.)

Both ends of the sleeve have been gathered and attached to the cuff and shoulders.

Step Three: The gusset is then sewn in place. I fold my square gusset into a triangle and iron it. Then I place it next to the sleeve so that the two open sides face the sleeve and the body of the garment. (This helps me not to get confused!) Once all the seams are sewn, they are flat-felled.

The gusset is sewn in and the side seam sewn. The seams are then flat-felled.

The shoulder binder is a strip of material that is a few inches wide. The raw edges of the binder are folded under and then it is sewn along the seam line at the head of the sleeve. It is positioned to cover the raw edge on the shoulder and reaches down to the point of the gusset. (When stitching the section of the sleeve with stroke gathers, a small whipstitch is used, in the same way the cuffs were completed.)

The shoulder binder is pinned ready to whipstitch to the other side of the stroke gathers.

Step Four: Along the neckline, the triangular gussets are sewn in. The neckline edge is then gathered with stroke gathers, as before (although these gathers are much looser than those in the sleeves). The collar is then sewn on in the same manner as the cuffs were.

Step Five: The frill for the front opening on the shirt was a straight strip of fabric, hemmed on one long edge (and the two short edges) with a rolled hem. The remaining raw edge was gathered with a rolled-whipstitch-gather and then whipstitched to the finished edge of the front slit.

These are the instructions that I wrote on how to do a rolled whipped gather. Others do it slightly differently, but the end result is the same. If your material is not “gathering” enough, make your stitches further apart.

The front frill has been gathered and is now being whipstitched to the rolled hem of the front slit.

The frill is shown attached to the centre front edge.

Once the frill is attached, it was common to sew a heart-shaped reinforcing patch at the bottom of the centre front slit. This prevents the slit tearing. I folded the raw edges under on a small piece of material and tacked it below the slit.

Step Six: The bottom edge of the shirt was hemmed, and then dorset buttons sewn on the cuffs and neck.

And then the finished product is ready to wear!

The front view of the finished shirt

The shirt, whilst it is hardly seen beneath all of the other clothing, was great in the end.

I am really pleased with how this shirt turned out. It took about 3 weeks to sew, and I did have to work quite solidly to get it done. However, there is something quite therapeutic about hand-sewing garments. It has become one of my more favourite ways to complete sewing projects.

Related Posts

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Shirt

The Making of a Midshipman: Shirt and Stock

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: A man’s linen shirt, c. 1775-1800, from Victoria and Albert Museum.

Making a Men’s Shirt – cutting and sewing instructions from 1760, reproduced by La Couturière Parisienne.

Pattern Cutting for Men’s Costume, by Elizabeth Friendship – buy on Amazon

Stroke Gathers – by Sharon Burnston

How to Sew a Flat-Felled Seam – by Craftsy

How to make Dorset Buttons – by Craftstylish

18th Century Men’s Shirts – a list of online collections and resources, by 18th Century Notebook

A reproduction of a man’s shirt, c. 1780, by Kannik’s Korner

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The day begins with Yard Duty in the carpark!

The day finally arrived! After months of preparation, my husband sallied forth with his hat and his cane, journeying in his “curricle”, to the Book Week Parade!

His first duty of the day was his Customary Morning Yard Supervision in the carriage-parking facilities at the front of the school. He was in a prime position to be admired! I overheard many comments in the carpark about how good he looked!

Admittedly, some students mistook him for Willa Wonka from the Chocolate Factory… hmmm, there is something seriously wrong there… But these are school kids we are talking about! And I am not really sure how many of them have been indoctrinated by their parents from an early age as to the importance of good English literature!

A view from the back

I had decided to accompany him in one of my lovely Regency dresses, as I was taking part in some of the Book Week activities for the day. The benefit of this was that I was able to get some photos of us both dressed up together! Because – really – who knows if this will ever happen again!

Ahhh, how romantic!

Dad and daughter

My little girl

My little girl was also suitably dressed up in her little Edwardian outfit, though she refused to wear the bonnet! I managed to get a few pictures of her with it on before she wouldn’t allow it near her head.

Dressing-up is my cup of tea. Hopefully one day it might become my husband’s cup of tea too!

This concludes my series on the fashions of Regency Gentlemen. To read all of these posts in order, go to My Regency Journey and look under My Mr Knightley.

Related Posts

MY Mr Knightley – the introduction

My Regency Journey: Making an Embroidered Morning Negligee – more about my dress

Dress-ups for a Baby – more about my little girl’s outfit

Relevant Links

An Introduction to Gentleman’s Clothing in the Regency Era

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Whist we often exclaim at the extremities of dress for women over the centuries, men also had their oddities of fashion. Usually these oddities are referred to during discussions of the 18th century, when men wore a variety of weird-looking wigs and splendidly embroidered frock coats. However, the Regency Man also had his own peculiar style.

By George Cruikshank, 1818.

Thank you to Mike Rendell, from Georgian Gentleman, for this picture and a transcript of its contents!

The man seated on the left exclaims: “D__n it! I really believe I must take off my cravat or I shall never get my trowsers on….”

Then, to his right, “Charles” says: “Pon honour Tom you are a charming figure! You’ll captivate the girls to a nicety!!”

The half-dressed Tom, with his corset being laced up and one calf pad in place, replies: “Do you think so Charles? I shall look more the thing when I get my other calf on.”

The man standing on the chair, tying his cravat with both hands, is saying, “Dear me this is hardly stiff enough. I wish I had another sheet of Fools Cap”, to which the man looking at himself in the mirror replies, “You’ll find some to spare in my breeches.”

I can only imagine the hazards of dressing as a Gentleman Of Fashion at this time!

A Regency Man’s Essentials

The Regency man had several items about his person as he strolled about London.

My Regency Gentleman’s accessories

A hat: Men wore a variety of hats during the Regency, depending on their station in life. Top hats were beginning to appear, though they were shaped a little differently to the Victorian top hats. Also used was the bicorn for military men.

A cane: The Regency cane’s were similar to the later Victorian canes, with a round moulded head.

A fob watch: If the gentleman was rich enough, he would wear a watch in his fob pocket at the front of his breeches. A little “tag” or embellishment would hang out of the pocket to advertise its presence, but also to enable the watch to be pulled out of the pocket with ease.

Gloves: Men carried gloves during the day, especially apparent when you examine paintings of the period, where every Regency man seems to be holding a pair of gloves in his hand. Gloves were essentials in the evening for women, so I presume this would also have been the case for men.

Stockings: Men wore long white stockings with their breeches. They would reach up above the knee and were sometimes tied with garters.

Shoes: Men either wore long boots during the day or slipper-type shoes for the evening.

My Regency Gentleman is now ready to be dressed! My last post in this series will be my Mr Knightley all dressed up!

To read all of these posts in order, go to My Regency Journey and look under MY Mr Knightley.

Related Posts

MY Mr Knightley – the introduction to this series of posts

Sources and Relevant Links

Georgian Gentleman – the blog

An Introduction to Gentleman’s Clothing in the Regency Era

Outfitting the Regency Gentleman

Long mens stockings suitable to this era are are hard to source, but I found some at Burnley and Trowbridge. Having them shipped to Australia was fairly reasonable as well!

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A pair of buckskin breeches, c. 1790. Image from http://www.pemberley.com

The next item in my men’s Regency wardrobe is a pair of breeches.

Men had been wearing different forms of breeches since the early sixteenth century. They were made from a wide variety of materials, but leather was used from the beginning of the eighteenth century. In Joe Miller’s Jests, published in 1739, there is one particular comical story concerning this piece of gentleman’s clothing. I have inserted quotations marks (which don’t seem to be always used in the eighteenth century) to help with understanding.

A Gentlewoman, who thought her Servants always cheated her, when they went to Billingsgate to buy Fish, was resolved to go thither one Day herself; and asking the Price of some Fish, which she thought too dear, she bid the Fish-Wife about half what she asked. “Lord, Madam,” said the Woman, “I must have stole it to sell it at that Price, but you shall have it, if you will tell me what you do to make your Hands look so white.” “Nothing, good Woman,” answered the Gentlewoman, “but wear Dog-Skin Gloves.” “D–mn you for a lying Bitch,” replied the other, “my Husband has wore Dog-Skin Breeches these ten Years, and his A–se is as brown as a Nutmeg.”

During the early Regency era, breeches were commonly made from buckskin, which was the skin of deer. They generally all had several common features:

  • They had a front fall, rather than a fly.
  • The seat was baggy, but the legs were tight.
  • The pant legs reached to just below the knees and were done up with buttons, as well as either drawstrings or a buckle strap.
  • There was a V-shaped gusset in the centre back seam which was laced up.
  • There was a small fob pocket, usually up near the waistband, to keep a pocket watch in.

By the later Regency, breeches were going out of fashion for daywear and were replaced by the longer “trowsers”. Breeches still remained fashionable for evening wear, though they were made of more formal materials, like white satin.

Simplicity Pattern 4923


I found that the Simplicity pattern #4923 was a useful pattern for the front fall breeches. It has pretty good historical accuracy overall, and is still quite easy to sew.

The sewing instructions are pretty good, so I won’t bother detailing any construction steps. Instead, I will outline the alterations I made to the pattern to make it a little more historically accurate.


  • V-shaped gusset at back: I inserted a triangular gusset in the centre back seam and hand sewed some eyelets in the waistband. It was then laced up with some cotton cording.

The back gusset

  • Fob pocket: I put a small single welt pocket (big enough to fit a fob watch) in the waistband. The pocket goes straight through the waistband, so the pocket bag is easily visible on the inside. I also had to make a “little decorative bit” to aid the gentleman in fob-watch-extraction!

The small single welt pocket for a fob watch

The watch inside the pocket, with the “decoration” dangling outside. The “decoration” is made from a bent bobby hairpin, a ribbon, some small pieces of chain and some beads.

  • Tighter and shorter pant legs: I made the pant legs a lot tighter than the pattern picture, as this particular pattern is probably more suited to the early eighteenth century. My breeches were made from a yellow-gold cotton broadcloth, so the breeches were never going to be as fitted as buckskin breeches were. However, I made them as comfortably fitted as I could, making sure the wearer could still move. I also made them slightly shorter, to reach just below the kneecap.

Front view

Back view

The final product! I found the front of the crotch to be particularly saggy in this pattern, and so had to do some alterations to make it fit better. I am fairly happy with the result, even though cotton can never really be a good clothing substitute for leather!

The next post in this series will look at the Regency Gentleman’s accessories, which complete his clothing ensemble. To read all of these posts in order, go to My Regency Journey and look under MY Mr Knightley.

Related Posts

MY Mr Knightley: Making an 18th Century Shirt

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Neckcloth

Sources and Relevant Links

A Perfect Pair of Gentleman’s Buckskin Breeches – by Two Nerdy History Girls

Joe Miller’s Jests, or Wit’s Vade-Mecum [This book appears to have been wildly popular judging by the number of editions that were published! And each version seems to be completely different to the one before! This link is for the fourth edition (1769).]

Georgian watch chains – by The Pragmatic Costumer

Instructions for how to sew a single welt pocket

The Regency Gentleman’s outfit – some useful information for making men’s Regency costumes

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Regency Tailcoat, with an M-notch collar

The next item of clothing for my Mr Knightley is a tailcoat.

In the Regency era, tailcoats tended to be made most commonly out of worsted wool (also called superfine), but also linen, and were often unlined. They could be either single or double-breasted.

The shoulder seam reached over the shoulder and sloped into the arm scythe, fitting tightly around the shoulders. Sleeve heads were full, sometimes even puffy, and the sleeve reached past the wrist to the thumb web, usually with cuffs.

Throughout the era the collars were deep and stiffened, usually forming an M-notch with the lapel when turned over. Sometimes the rever on the collar and cuffs were in a plush velvet.

In the early Regency, there was no waist seam to attach the tails, as they were cut in one piece. Coat skirts were narrow and cut away from the front to aid horseback riding. The centre back vent was left open for this reason, and the two side tails were joined.

The Pattern

I have used a pattern of a tailcoat from 1825, drafted from Norah Waugh’s The Cut of Men’s Clothes.

It is made from gabardine and is lined with bemsilk, as my husband would die in a wool coat! As noted above, Regency coats would not normally be lined, but this gabardine was going to fray everywhere, so lining seemed the best option.

Body Measurements to take

  • Chest circumference
  • Waist circumference
  • Width of back across shoulder blades
  • Shoulder length (from neckline to top of arm)
  • Length of garment (shoulder to small of back to back of knees)
  • Arm length (from shoulder to thumb web)
  • Arm circumferences (at underarm, elbow, wrist)

It is a good idea to do a toile, and to make it a size bigger than the waistcoat.

Pattern Pieces

  • Front – cut 2 fabric, cut 2 lining/facing
  • Back – cut 2 fabric, cut 2 lining
  • Sleeve Outside – cut 2 fabric, cut 2 lining
  • Sleeve Inside – cut 2 fabric, cut 2 lining
  • Collar – cut 4 fabric
  • Cuff – cut 4 fabric
  • Pocket flap – cut 2 fabric, cut 2 lining

Once I had drafted the pattern pieces onto paper and measured my husband, I did a toile out of calico. Based on this fitting I made some adjustments to the original pattern, which can be seen in the photo below.

My pattern pieces, all except the pocket flaps

In order for the coat to fit properly, I had to make the garment wider in the body, the sleeves both wider and longer, and the arm-holes and sleeve-heads larger. I also allowed more over the shoulder area, and I made the tails longer so they reached to the back of the knee. Seam allowances were also added.

Construction Steps

Step One: In order to create a rever for the lapel, the front of the coat is faced with the same cloth to the dotted line seen on the pattern piece. The rest of the front panel is lined. To do this, sew the front facing to the front lining in order to form a full front piece. I had also done a similar thing was done for the waistcoat. (According to Norah Waugh, the front facing of the coat was also padded.)

The lining of the coat front, which is made up of half lining and half facing. You can see my pattern piece underneath which helped me ensure the seam was in the correct place.

Step Two: Sew centre back seam, leaving the vent open. Repeat for lining. Sew side seams, also leaving the pleated sides of the tails open. Repeat for lining.

The centre back and side back seams sewn, to the waistline.

Step Three: Sew shoulder seams, and repeat for lining.

Shoulder seams sewn

Step Four: Sew sleeve seams. The sleeves are made up of two parts and so have two seams, one at the front and one at the back (similar to modern suit jackets). Take care not to sew two sleeves the same, for instance, two left sleeves! Repeat for lining.

Step Five: Attach sleeves to garment, easing in the fullness at the head of the sleeve. Make sure your sleeves point the right direction, as these sleeves curve to the front. You don’t want your sleeves curving to the back! Repeat for lining.

The sleeve attached. I ended up easing the fullness in the sleeve head by running a gathering stitch around it, which made it easier. It is still a tiny bit puffy, which was common in later Regency times.

Step Six: Sew side pleats in the tail. Repeat for lining. Press them to the front.

The side tail pleats sewn

Step Seven: At this point you might like to put in some pockets and the horozontal dart or fish, both of which I forgot to do until my garment was finished! I ended up hand sewing some pocket flaps on, for decorative (rather than functional) purposes. Here are some instructions for welt pockets with a pocket flap, also called coat pockets.

Despite spending hours and hours researching and then more hours deliberating how to construct this garment, I managed to miss that little horizontal fissure in the pattern, which houses the pocket! I ended up leaving the fish dart off, and I hope it doesn’t affect the look of the garment too much.

Step Eight: Lay the outer and lining right sides together, matching seams etc… and sew around the lapels, tails and central vent, leaving collar area open. Clip curves and turn the right way. Press the garment well.

The central back vent, with outer and lining right sides together. These two “flaps” will lay flat and overlap, and will be handsewn to lie flat along the top edge.

I left sewing the bottom edge of the tails until last, when I was sure it would all sit right. You could either turn up and handsew the bottom hem of the tails after it has been turned the right way, or machine sew it before it is turned the right way, like I did.

Step Nine: I have heard that there was no standard way of doing the side-back pleats of tailcoats, and I was a bit stuck as to how to manage it with the lining. I have never seen an extant coat close enough to see how it was done. I eventually decided to have an “inverse” pleat in the lining, which would fit next to the outer pleat. This meant that, from the outside, the coat would have a normal-looking pleat, but the inside would have a “poinky” pleat, where the lining had “lined” the outer pleat. This meant that I could iron and then hem the bottom edge of the pleats better.

The inside of the side-back pleat. I pressed the seam allowance back on itself so that the lining pleat could encase it.

I was a bit worried about the side back pleats “sagging”, that is, the lining sagging down and showing at the bottom of the tails. In order to prevent this, I handsewed a line of stitching in the valley of the seam through all thicknesses.

Hand sewing the pleat seam

Step Ten: Norah Waugh mentions that the collar was “heavily stiffened”. I stiffened two collar pieces with interfacing. Then I sewed the collar pieces together and repeated for the collar facing.

The collar outer and lining, stiffened.

Sew the collar and the facing together, making sure to turn up the bottom edge of the outer collar piece, for later handsewing. I drew a sewing line in tailors chalk so I could get the M-notch right.

A sewing line

Clip the curves and trim the corners. I found it a good idea to have the interfacing stop short of the collar points, as it seemed to make it easier to turn the right way.

Corners trimmed, and interfacing trimmed. The bottom edge in the photo has not been sewn, as this is the edge that will attach to the neck of the garment. The line of stitching there is to attach the interfacing to the collar piece.

You can then turn the collar the right way, and press it well. Attach the collar to the neck of the garment. Then turn over the raw edge on the inside and hand sew it to the neck. For more detail on sewing a collar, look at my instructions on sewing a Regency waistcoat, as attaching a collar is pretty much the same no matter what sort of collar it is.

Step Eleven: Cuffs were sometimes left off in favour of longer sleeves. Otherwise cuffs could be attached, with either a slit and buttons or a false button. Sometimes cuffs were also folded up, similar to how they were in the 18th century, as mine are going to be. In order to do this, I sewed the cuffs along three edges (leaving the edge open that will be attached to the sleeve).

Two cuffs, one sewn and clipped, and one pinned. I forgot to turn up one edge to make it easier for handsewing later!

Attach them to the sleeve, making sure to catch the lining in as well.

Cuff pinned to the sleeve, with the edge of the cuff facing turned up that I forgot to do in the step before!

Then turn the cuff facing over and hand sew to the sleeve.

Cuff pinned, ready to handsew. There is a little overlap, which will allow me to sew a cuff button on it at the end.

Step Twelve: Sew button holes and attach buttons. I had a total of 10 buttons up the front, 2 on the back tail pleats, and 1 on each cuff.

And here are the final photos!

The front

The back

Hopefully, the next garment for my Mr Knightley will be soon on its way. It will be a pair of breeches.

To read of these posts in order, go to My Regency Journey and look under MY Mr Knightley.

Related Posts

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Shirt

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Waistcoat

Sources and Relevant Links

The Cut of Men’s Clothes, by Norah Waugh – buy through Amazon. There is a pdf version online as well.

Making a Toile – Burdastyle. Primarily for women, but the principles can be applied to men’s clothing.

Making a Coat Pocket – Burdastyle. A modern coat pocket which can be adjusted to the Regency era.

An Introduction to Gentleman’s Clothing of the Regency

Country Wives Regency Tailcoat pattern – buy through Amazon

An extant Regency lined tailcoat, with a waist seam (c. 1820) – From All the Pretty Dresses

To Cut a Regency Coat – by Suzi Clarke. In this article, the author describes three Regency coats that she was able to closely examine in a museum.

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JJ Feild and Felicity Jones as Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey (2007)

The third item of clothing for my Mr Knightley is a waistcoat.

Regency waistcoats were often the most colourful and patterned item in the entire man’s ensemble. They could be made from silk or sometimes cotton, and were often lined with linen. Sometimes they were embroidered, as they had been in the 18th century, or else they could have patterns woven into the material. Waistcoats were worn with an upright collar and were cut straight across the bottom, with usually two inches of it showing underneath the bottom edge of the tailcoat. They always had self-covered buttons, and could be either double-breasted or single-breasted, with or without a lapel.

The Pattern

I have used a pattern adapted from an 1850’s waistcoat pattern in Norah Waugh’s The Cut of Men’s Clothes. The pattern was very similar to Regency ones, and only needed minor adjustments to fit the era.

My waistcoat is made from curtain brocade, and lined with cotton broadcloth.

Body Measurements to take

  • Chest circumference
  • Waist circumference
  • Width of back across shoulder blades
  • Shoulder length (from neckline to top of arm)
  • Length of garment (shoulder to bottom of garment)

Pattern Pieces

  • Front – cut 2 fabric, cut 2 lining
  • Back – cut 2 fabric, cut 2 lining
  • Collar – cut 2 on fold (outer and facing) of fabric

Once I had drafted the pattern pieces onto paper and measured my husband, I did a toile out of calico. Based on this fitting I made some adjustments to the original pattern, which can be seen in the photo below. I lengthened it slightly and straightened the bottom of the waistcoat. I had to make the armholes a bit deeper underneath the arms and the neckline a bit lower all the way around. Because the neckline was adjusted, I also had to make the collar a little longer. I also added an inch in each side seam.

Pattern pieces cut out, slightly adjusted, with seam allowances added

Construction steps

Step One: In order for the lapel to be reversed, the front lining piece is made up of half lining fabric and half outer fabric. Allow enough for a seam allowance to join the two when cutting them out, and then sew them together.

Front lining piece, with a section of outer material sewn inside to create a rever.

Step Two: Taking the markings from the pattern piece, sew the front lapel section to the front piece using a dart. Repeat for the lining pieces.

A close-up of the dart which forms the top of the lapel

Step Three: Sew the centre back seam. Repeat for the lining. It was common in the Regency to have the back of a waistcoat made and lined in the same material, and in this case I have used the cotton broadcloth as the lining and the outer.

The back outer, with centre back seam sewn

Step Four: Sew the shoulder seams. Repeat for the lining.

The shoulder seams sewn

Step Five: Lay the lining and outer pieces down on top of each other, right sides together. Sew around the arm holes. Sew from the top of the front lapel down to the bottom of garment and across the bottom to the side seam. Turn the right way.

All turned inside out. The un-sewn neckline can be seen pinned. The un-sewn side seams can also be seen.

This creates a nice finish for the armholes.

Step Six: Sew the side seams of both the lining and the outer at once, repeating for the other side. The pinned seams should form a circle to sew around.

The lining side seams are pinned, ready to sew. The outer side seams are not (see below).

Both the lining and the outer side seams are pinned here, forming a circle to sew around.

Step Seven: With right sides together, pin the collar facing and outer together on three sides, turning up the facing on one of the long sides. Sew and then turn the right way.

The collar sewn, with corners clipped, but still inside out. The turned up edge of the lining piece can be seen.

In hindsight, this collar piece should have had the ends cut on more of an angle, which I did not realise at the time. I made this adjustment when I made a Regency waistcoat for a midshipman uniform.

Step Eight: Sew the un-turned edge of the collar to the neckline. Turn the collar facing to the inside, folding under the raw edge, and hand stitch along the inside of the neckline.

The collar has been attached and is pinned ready to hand sew.

At this stage I put small (invisible?) hand stitches all around the edge of the hem, lapel and collar to keep the edge defined and flat, as the brocade would not stay properly flat with just ironing.

Step Nine: I decided to do a pair of welt pockets on each side, using the instructions from Slightly Obsessed. It can be less fiddly (and probably recommended) to do these first, but one of the benefits of doing it later is that you are able to make sure they are even, as the garment is basically finished.

Step Ten: Finishing off! Using some small strips of lining material, make some ties for the back. Sew the buttonholes and cover and attach the buttons. Hem the bottom edge of the back with a hand stitch or machine topstitch.

Here are the finished pictures, and I am really pleased with how it turned out!

The back

The front, all finished!

Next in my Regency man’s wardrobe is a tailcoat. A bit of a challenge for me!

You can read all my posts in order at My Regency Journey, under MY Mr Knightley.

Related Posts

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Shirt

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Neckcloth

Sources and Relevant Links

The Cut of Men’s Clothes, by Norah Waugh – buy through Amazon. There is a pdf version online as well.

Kannik’s Korner: Regency waistcoat pattern for sale online

How to make welt pockets – From Slightly Obsessed, specifically for a Regency waistcoat.

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Once you have made a Regency neckcloth, you might be interested in learning how to tie it!

Neckclothitania was a pamphlet published in 1818 and illustrated some of the popular ways of tying men’s neckwear at this time. According to the author, there were many ways of tying a cravat and he had only intended “to merely give a slight sketch … of a dozen or so most in use.”

The illustration that accompanied his descriptions is reprinted below.

The frontispiece illustration of Neckclothitania (1818)

Way of Folding

Regency cravats were very well starched, so they needed to be folded so they could be placed around the neck without getting unintended creases in them!

After having folded the neck-cloth, and made it of the depth, &c. according to the wearer’s taste, let the two ends be turned over, as in the frontispiece, the right-hand end, to be turned down, the left-hand end, to be turned up. The advantages of following this rule, will soon be discovered. It removes the awkward appearance caused by crossing the ends behind [the neck]; the ends are also by this means brought forward in a smooth and uncrumpled state, and fit to make the knot. It also makes the neck-cloth lay smooth and even behind, a thing which has hitherto been too much neglected – The same care almost should be given to the back as the front part.

The way of folding

This way of folding creates a smoother look at the back of the neck.

Tying a Cravat

The Basic Knot

Step One: After arranging the neckcloth around the neck, cross the right end over the left, forming an X.

Step Two: Pull the right end through the top so it hangs down creaseless. This will form the front of the knot.

Step Three: Holding the left end in a loop to the side…

Step Four: …Turn the right end under and pull through the loop.

Step Five: Tighten

Step Six: Arrange the knot to sit flat, so the front face of the knot is uncreased.

Obviously, a blue shirt is not quite period, but I have used it so the detail of the cravat tying is a bit more apparent! This knot was made with a triangular cloth (see the Mathematical Tie, below) and took an enormous amount of practise to achieve a look that at least resembled the illustration above. I now have the highest respect for fashionable gentleman!

As far as I can discover, the basic manner of construction of both a Barrel Knot and a Gordian Knot are the same as described above. The main difference between them is that they are arranged differently once they are completed. One is thicker and one is thinner, as seen in the illustration in Neckclothitania.

This basic knot is used in the Oriental, Mathematical, Osbaldeston, American, Trone d’Amour, Irish, and Horse Collar Ties. The minor differences between these ties are noted below.

The Oriental Tie: “…is made with a very stiff and rigid cloth… Care should be taken, that not a single indenture or crease should be visible in this tie; it must present a round, smooth, and even surface…”. The cloth is laid creaseless on the front of the neck and wrapped around so the ends come to the front again for tying in a knot.

The Mathematical (or Triangular) Tie: “is far less severe than the former – there are three creases in it.” It appears that the front face of the cravat that is laid against the neck is deliberately creased in particular places, and that these creases form the major differences between these types of ties. This tie has two diagonal creases from under each ear to the knot, and a horizontal crease at the centre front which reaches to each side indenture.

The Mathematical Tie, with my best efforts at collateral and horizontal creases! Made with a triangular cloth measuring 11 inches wide at the centre and 80 inches long, folded in thirds lengthwise. The benefit of using a triangular tie for these knotted Tie styles is that the ends are less bulky and are easier to tie.

The American Tie: “differs little from the Mathematical, except that the collateral indentures do not extend so near to the ear [the diagonal crease between the ear and the knot are not as long], and that there is no horizontal or middle crease in it.”

The Irish Tie: “This one resembles in some degree the Mathematical, with, however, this difference, that the horizontal indenture is placed below the point of junction formed by the collateral creases instead of being above.” You can see in the illustration that the front face of the cravat has the two diagonal creases with a centre front horizontal crease below. [It’s all so complicated!]

The Trone d’Amour Tie: “is the most austere after the Oriental Tie – It must be extremely well stiffened with starch.” There is only “one single horizontal dent in the middle” of the front face of the cravat.

The Osbaldeston Tie: “This neck-cloth is first laid on the back of the neck, the ends brought forward, and tied in a large knot, the breadth of which must be at least four inches, and two inches deep. This tie is very well adapted for summer; because instead of going round the neck twice, it confines itself to once.”

The Horse Collar Tie: “It is certainly the worst and most vulgar… It has the appearance of a great half-moon, or horse-collar”. I presume the author refers to the great horizontal crease that goes right through the middle of front face of the cravat, making it look like the collar of a horse pulling a cart. He gives no instructions for how to achieve such a look!

The Napoleon, Ballroom and Hunting Ties are also similar in design.

The Napoleon Tie: “It is first laid … on the back of the neck, the ends being brought forwards and crossed, without tying, and then fastened to the braces, or carried under the arms and tied on the back. It has a very pretty appearance, giving the wearer a languishingly amorously look.” [Now, don’t we all want that!]

The Ballroom Tie: This is laid on the front of the neck first and so “it unites the qualities of the Mathematical and Irish, having two collateral dents and two horizontal ones… It has no knot, but is fastened as the Napoleon.”

The Hunting Tie: “is formed by two collateral [those diagonal ones again] dents on each side, and meeting in the middle, without any horizontal ones”. It could be fastened with a Gordian knot or be crossed over like the Napoleon and Ballroom Ties (as it has been in the illustration).

The Ballroom Tie, with my attempt at collateral and horizontal dents! Made with a cloth measuring 6″ x 80″, folded in half lengthwise and attached at the back with a safety pin.

The Mailcoach Tie or Waterfall: “is made by tying it with a single knot [what I would call half a knot], and then bringing one of the ends over, so as completely to hide the knot, and spreading it out, and turning it down in the waistcoat. The neck-cloth ought to be very large to make this Tie properly”. When the author says large, he probably means both long and wide, as this looks like it goes several times around the neck and needs to be wide enough to create a nice fall at the front. “A Kushmeer shawl is the best, I may even say, the only thing with which it can be made.”

The Mailcoach Tie, made with a cloth measuring 10″ x 50″. This sized cloth is wide enough to get a nice waterfall, but is way too short. Muslin would be great for this tie.

The Maharatta or Nabob Tie: “is very cool, as it is always made with fine muslin neck-cloths – It is first placed on the back of the neck, the ends are then brought forward, and joined as a chain-link, the remainder is then turned back, and fastened behind.” I presume it is turned back over the shoulder, rather than under the arms.

The Maharatta Tie, made with a cloth measuring 10″ x 50″, folded in half lengthwise and safety-pinned at the back of the neck.

Having Trouble?

Neckclothitania also gave it’s readers some handy hints on a number of topics relevant to the tying of neckcloths.

When a starched neckcloth is brought home from the wash, it will be immediately seen, that one side is smooth and shining, the other more rough: this is occasioned by the one side being ironed, and the other not. I do it myself, and consequently recommend it to others, that the rough side should be worn outside during the day, but, that, on putting on a cloth for the evening, the smooth side should be the visible one.

Does your cravat come loose from your waistcoat and fly about? Do you need a Regency tie clip?

After the knot is made, take a piece of white tape, and tie one end of it tight, to one end of the neckcloth, then carry the tape under your arm, behind your back, under the other arm, and fasten it tightly to the other end of the neckcloth. The tape must not be visible. This way prevents the knot from flying up, which would thereby shorten the length of the cloth, and in short greatly injure its appearance.

Mr Darcy (Colin Firth)

How do you get that very suave “Mr Darcy” appearance?

On putting on the neck-cloth, take that part which is immediately under the ears, with your thumb and finger, and pull it up till it reaches the ear, and continue to make it maintain permanently that position – Nothing displays more mauvais gout [Translation: bad taste], than seeing a cloth forming a straight line from the chin to the ear.

…after the neckcloth is finished, you should pass your finger along the upper ridge, in order to make it lay smooth, and look thin and neat.

Are you struggling to be properly swathed in neckcloth?

Let the front part of the cloth be brought in a line with the extremity of the chin – Nothing gives a person more the appearance of a goose, than to see a long part of the jaw and chin projecting over the neckcloth.

In Elegant Conclusion

Only slightly tongue-in-cheek!

Independently of all these numerous advantages – what an apparent superiority does not a starcher give to a man? It gives him a look of hauteur [height] and greatness, which can scarcely be acquired otherwise – This is produced solely by the austere rigidity of the cravat, which so far, by any means, from yielding to the natural motions of the head, forms a strong support to the cheeks. It pushes them up, and gives a rotundity of appearance to the whole figure [face], thereby unquestionably giving a man the air of being puffed up with pride, vanity, and conceit, (very necessary, nay, indispensable qualifications for a man of fashion) and appearing as quite towering over the rest of mankind, and holding his fellow-creatures covered with the deep disgrace of his disgust.

I need only appeal to any common observer, to prove the veracity of the above assertions – Let any person take a stroll up and down some fashionable street of the metropolis, at the proper time of day, and remark the men who do and who do not wear starchers: What a conscious sense of their own superiority in the former! What a full conviction of their own paltriness and insignificance in the latter!!

What a picture that paints!

The next item in Mr Knightley’s wardrobe is a waistcoat.

To read all of the “MY Mr Knightley” posts in order, go to My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

MY Mr Knightley: Making an 18th Century Shirt

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Neckcloth

Sources and Relevant Links

All quotations from Neckclothitania; or Tietania, being an essay on starchers, by one of the cloth – read it free as an ebook on Google. Whilst the frontispiece illustration is referred to in the text, it is not included in this particular scan.

The Regency Neckcloth – this site has full descriptions of the particular ties from Neckclothitania.

Ways to tie an 18th Century Cravat – Jas Townsend & Son You Tube video

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“Full and half full dress for April” in Le Beau Monde, 1808

The second item of clothing in my men’s Regency wardrobe will be a neckcloth or cravat. In Regency times, a cravat was used for the same purpose as a bow-tie or neck-tie is currently used in today’s society. It was pretty much a “dressing” for the neck of a shirt.

Cravats originated in the early 1600’s when the use of Elizabethan ruffs began to fall out of fashion. The French had copied the fashion of the Middle Eastern men who wore a simple strip of material tied in a knot around the neck.

This new form of neckwear was in use throughout the 18th and 19th century in various forms and were known by several different names, including stocks, neckerchiefs, and scarves. During this time they varied in style, material and colour, but they all consisted of a strip of fabric that went around the neck and was fastened in some manner.

The 18th century lace cravats gave way to plain white linen ones during the Regency era. By 1818, pale coloured cravats were introduced for daywear (according to Neckclothitania, a pamphlet discussing various ways to tie neckcloths). Later in the 19th century, black cravats and then patterned ones appeared. The forerunner of the modern tie was developed in the late 19th century.

Making a Cravat

During the Regency, neckcloths were cut differently depending on the way in which they were tied. The materials they were made out of also differed depending on the manner of tying, as some required a more delicate flowing fabric, and others required a stiffened appearance. My next post in this series will cover the different ways of tying cravats.

There are two basic ways to make a Regency cravat. Either:

  1. Cut a long strip of cotton or linen material about 4 to 8 inches wide and at least 60 to 80 inches long, depending on the types of ties you will make. If you want your cravat to go twice around the neck then 80 inches is best.
  2. Or cut a triangular piece of material, with the base of the triangle 60 to 80 inches long and against the selvedge. The height or point of the triangle should be centred in the middle and measure 10 inches high.

A drawing of how to cut a triangular cravat

The picture above shows the cutting line when a length of material is folded with selvedges aligned. The height of the triangle is 10 inches (remember to allow a little extra for a seam allowance) and the length along the selvedge should be half of the finished length.

You can also cut a second triangular neckcloth (or a rectangular one) out of the other selvedge edges.

Once the material is cut and opened out, you will have an isosceles triangle with two edges to hem. Hem the raw edges and you are ready to begin tying!

My next post in this series is on tying a cravat.

To read all of the “MY Mr Knightley” posts in order, go to My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

MY Mr Knightley: Making an 18th Century Shirt

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source, Le Beau Monde or Literary Fashion Magazine, April 1808.

History of Cravats

Neckclothitania; or Tietania, being an essay on starchers, by one of the cloth – read it free as an ebook on Google.

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An 18th Century shirt, from the Victoria and Albert Museum. The sleeves are finely pleated to enable the tailcoat to fit over the top.

My first item of clothing in my husband’s Regency wardrobe is a white shirt.

Throughout the 18th century, men of all classes wore long white shirts with off-the-shoulder sleeves as a basic undergarment underneath their clothes. The shirts often doubled as nightwear and were usually made from linen or cotton. The only visible part of the shirt during the day was the upper edges of the collar peeking out from underneath the cravat, and maybe the frills on the cuff, which extended below the jacket sleeves in the 18th century. The tails of the shirt were also extremely long, designed to be pulled between the legs as an early type of underwear.

By Regency times, little had changed. The frills on the cuffs were beginning to be dispensed with, and by the end of the Regency the frills on the front opening of the shirt had begun disappearing as well.

The Pattern

The pattern of a man’s shirt was relatively simple. It was made from a series of squares and rectangles sewn together to form an unfitted and comfortable undergarment. Norah Waugh has a pattern in her book, The Cut of Men’s Clothes, and there are also patterns available online (from Kannik’s Korner). All of my pattern measurements below DO NOT include seam allowances.

As the garment is so loose fitting, I found it unnecessary to take oodles of body measurements, but I would suggest taking a few.

Body Measurements to take

  • Neck circumference (to make sure the collar fits)
  • Wrist circumference (to make sure the wrist cuff fits)
  • Armhole measurement around upper arm (I adjusted for this later)

My pattern pieces

The layout of the pattern pieces (not to scale).

  • Shirt front – 18″ (on fold) x 20″ – cut 1 on the fold
  • Shirt back – 18″ (on fold) x 20″ – cut 1 on the fold
  • Sleeve – 22″ (on fold) x 18″ – cut 2 on the fold
  • Sleeve binder – see below
  • Underarm gusset – 4.5″ square – cut 2
  • Shoulder gusset – 3″ square – cut 2
  • Side seam gusset – 1.5″ square – cut 2
  • Collar – 4″ x 17.5″ – cut 2
  • Cuff band – 5″ x 7.5″ – cut 2
  • Optional: Front frill
  • Optional: Cuff and sleeve opening frill
Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of my pieces all cut out before I began sewing, so I did a simple drawing of how I laid it out on the material. Using this layout, you will need 3.5 metres (3.8 yards) of material, either 115cm or 155cm wide.
I used cotton broadcloth, as it was a heavier weight cotton and much cheaper than the linen available in my local fabric store! You can use the leftover long lengths of material to make some cravats, but make sure they are at least 60 inches long or they will be difficult to tie.

Construction Steps

Step One: Sew the front and back shirt pieces together at the shoulder seams, sewing only 6 inches in from the sides. (I flat-felled – unless stated otherwise – all the internal seams to make it neater and more hard-wearing.) Make a cut 10 inches down the centre front.

Step Two: Fold the shoulder gusset in half to form a triangle and sew it in. (I actually cut it in half instead.)

The shirt front and back sewn at shoulder seams, with shoulder gusset. I have not flat-felled the seams here yet. I also made my shirt 32 inches long (rather than 40).

Step Three: Gather the neckline.

The neckline gathered

Step Four: Sew the two collar pieces together, with one edge turned up.

The collar, with corners clipped and one edge turned up 1.5 cms (or seam allowance).

Step Five: Turn the collar right side out and attach the unturned edge of the collar to the neckline, adjusting the gathers to fit. The turned edge can then be folded under on the inside and hand sewn to the neckline.

The collar attached, ready to be hand-sewn.

Step Six: Sew the underarm gusset to the sleeve underarm. (For greater detail on how to sew square gussets, see my post on making a chemise.)

The sleeve, with sleeve seam pinned and square gusset placed at underarm region.

Step Seven: Sew the sleeve seam, leaving a 4 inch opening in the bottom end of the seam for the wrist to fit through. Gather the sleeve head and the sleeve bottom.

The sleeve, with each end gathered

Step Eight: Sew the sleeve to the body. It can be a good idea to try it on at this point to ensure the arm fits nicely. If it is too tight, you can loosen the gathers around the sleeve head which effectively makes the armhole larger.

The sleeve attached, with cuff attached wrong! Oops! I had to unpick it in the next step!

Step Nine: Fold the cuff band in half longways and sew short edges together, with one edge turned up similar to the collar. Turn inside out and attach the unturned edge to the lower sleeve edge. The other edge is folded over and hand sewed to the inside, just like the collar.

The cuff band, pinned for sewing

Step Ten: Sew the side seams down 17.5 inches from the armhole. (Adjust this amount if you made the armhole bigger.) Fold the side gusset in half to form a triangle – or if you cut in half (like me!) hem it – before setting it in the seam.

Setting the gusset

The hemmed gusset

Step Eleven: Hem the rest of the side seams by turning over the seam allowance and sewing. Hem the bottom edge. (Note: I made my tails much shorter than period examples of up to 40 inches.)

Step Twelve: Many period examples have both sleeve binders and shoulder binders, and these served to reinforce and bind the seams. For the sleeve binder, I cut a length of material 3 inches wide and long enough to go right around the sleeve seam and a little below it. It was sewn on the same line as the armhole seam and then turned to the main body of the garment, thereby covering the raw seam edge in the armhole. (This was a great way to avoid flat-felling or zig-zagging a gathered seam!) Then the remaining edge was sewn down through all thicknesses. I have seen sleeve binders reach as far inwards as the collar. I did not do a shoulder binder, choosing to flat-fell those seams instead, but it is effectively a piece of material with raw edges folded under and sewn on the inside to cover the raw shoulder seam.

The sleeve binder attached to the armhole seam, and pinned ready to sew at edge.

Step Thirteen: The raw edges at the centre front slit are turned over and sewn. (Cutting an upside-down V-cut at the bottom of the slit helps when sewing the bottom part, similar to when setting a gusset in a corset or doing a welt pocket). In order to reinforce the base of the cut, hand-sew a heart-shaped piece of material on the inside.

I thought having a heart-shape inset into a garment was so romantic that I couldn’t resist embroidering our initials inside it! Ohhhhh…! You can also see the binding that covers the raw edge of the front frill (instructions below).

Step Fourteen: Attach a frill around the front opening and/or cuff/sleeve opening, depending on the look you would like to achieve. As a general rule, gentlemen had frills and working class men had none, but this does depend on the particular era you are interested in. I only did a front frill.

The front frill, pinned and ready to sew. After sewing, the raw edge was bound with bias-binding. You can also see the heart-shaped piece visible at the bottom of the vertical slit.

Step Fifteen: Attach a button to each cuff and one to the lower edge of the collar. The collar could have as many as three buttons.

All complete! An 18th Century man’s shirt.

The next item in Mr Knightley’s wardrobe will be a cravat.

To read all my posts on MY Mr Knightley, go to My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey – A group of posts about women’s Regency costumes

Sources and Relevant Links

The details of an 18th Century shirt from the picture above, in the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Cut of Men’s Clothes, by Norah Waugh – buy on Amazon

A pattern for a man’s shirt available online (as well as other men’s period clothing patterns), by Kanniks Korner

How to Flat Fell Seams

An 18th Century reproduction of a man’s shirt, by Kanniks Korner

An 18th Century extant example of a man’s shirt – at All The Pretty Dresses

Making an 18th Century shirt – cutting and sewing instructions from 1760

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Now that I have completed a Regency wardrobe for myself, I have been keen to begin a Regency outfit for my husband.

Now I need not call you Mr Knightley, I may call you my Mr Knightley.

Emma Woodhouse, Emma movie (1996)

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam, as Emma Woodhouse and Mr Knightley (1996)

The wardrobe of a Regency gentleman consisted of:

This outfit will be worn for Book Week later in the year, and hopefully my very own Mr Knightley might be persuaded to wear them on some other occasions as well!

The first item in the wardrobe is an 18th Century shirt!

To follow my progress, as well as the progress of my other Regency wardrobe items, go to My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey

Sources and Relevant Links

Emma – the movie (1996)

Emma, by Jane Austen – read online

A thorough overview of Regency menswear

The basic details of a man’s Regency outfit

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