Posts Tagged ‘Regency waistcoat instructions’

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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