Diary Started 8 October, 2007 - Item finished June 2008
Beige suiting wool (1.3m @ 46,50) 60,50 kr
Salmon pink linen (1.5 m @ 50) 75 kr
Sewing silk (~10 @ 10kr) ~1 kr
Gold cord for frogs (9.3m @ 11,50) 106,95 kr
Pewter buttons (box of 10 @ £5) ~63 kr
Total: 306,50 kr
The idea to begin a Laton jacket, or waistcoat, for my very own started with the first sewing cirle after summer, where Viscountess Helwig cut out one for herself, following the Reconstructing History pattern which she had purchased. As she put hers together I could see the brilliance that is "undress". When you must get up in the morning for breakfast, or a run to the bathroom, you are grateful if you can put on as little as possible, and it seemed to me that a smock, a petticote skirt and a waistcoat would fit this description admirably.
The Laton jacket, of course, is one of the extant items of clothing from the late 16th century that the Victoria and Albert Museum has in their collections. I used a number of references to gather my inspiration.
For images of the original:
- V&A website, search for 'laton'.
- Elizabethan Costuming Page.
- Patterns of Fashion. The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560 - 1620. Janet Arnold. Page 121.
As the above list hints at, this jacket is most famous for the wonderful embroidery that covers it and makes it a jacket you would wear in public. For my first attempt at this pattern I chose not to do embroidery, and instead make it out of a suiting weight wool that I had recently acquired, thus making waistcoat a more appropriate term for this item. It is a dream to one day recreate the embroidery as well, but before that I need a pattern that I know will work.
The basis for my pattern is the RH Layton jacket pattern, with a number of changes. First of all, I went straight to the source for the sleeves, enlarging the pattern sketch from Arnold onto an inch grid paper and found I could use the original sized sleeves lengthened at the cuffs by two inches. For the wings, I also decided on using the more period shape of a circle segment (straight on one side, curved on the other, yellow in the graphic) rather than a crescent shape (red in the graphic) as the RH pattern provided. The cuffs that were included did not turn out fantastic on Helwig's jacket, they were a bit large, so I decided to again look at the extant item and chose the other form of cuff which is not a rectangle (purple in the graphic), but rather a triangle (aqua in the graphic). Both are period shapes, but I wanted to try the triangle. I also wanted a collar similar to the one in Mikhaila, which is basically a circle segment, but fatter than the wing shapes (green in the graphic). Who knew geometry would be so useful? Finally, I lengthened the body pieces by two inches, as I am quite tall, and the jacket Helwig ended up with was a little short. The last bit of configuration for the shape deals with the number of gores. I chose to use five gores, two in the front pieces and one in the centre back.
8 October, 2007: Shaping up
- It was finally time to start assembling the pieces into a waistcoat. The period way was to make two jackets, one in the shell fabric, one in the lining and put them wrong sides together, turn in the edges and topstitch all around. I am going to use this method as well, so I started by assembling the sleeves individually using a reinforced running stitch where I take one back stitch, then continue with three or four running stitches, another back stitch and then running stitches, etc. The lining is stitched with linen thread, while the shell is stitched with silk sewing thread throughout. For the assembly I will be using the silk sewing thread to match the shell fabric.
After the sleeves were together I tackled the insertion of the gores. Cutting 18 cm long slits into the front body panels 14 cm apart, and one in the centre of the back panel, I folded in a small seam allowance, about 5 - 6 mm, tapering off to nothing at the very tip of the slit and top stitched the gores in place from the outside. The method was the same for both shell and lining and worked much better than I had anticipated. Since the raw edges will be incapsulated inside the waistcoat, I followed period practice and left them raw.
The photos here show the two waistcoats, minus sleeves, pinned together as they will be in the end. Everything matched up nicely, and at assembly I will top stitch the side-back seams through all layers, to keep them together, and for the nice crisp finish it will give the seams.
17 October, 2007: Sleeves and cuffs - At the latest sewing circle I had the opportunity to finish up the sleeves entirely and mark out the armscye on the waistcoat itself. It turned out the pattern is much too wide over the shoulders, and when I pinned the line where I will attach the sleeves, it looked like the waistcoat comes with built in shoulder wings. However, they are not the right shape so I shall cut off the excess and finish the armscye by turning the seam allowances in toward each other and inserting the wings between the two layers. As can be seen in the photo I also mounted the cuffs on the sleeves. I did that by marking out the middle of the cuff, and then finding the spot on the sleeves where the back of my hand goes, and aligning those two points. I folded the seam allowance of the sleeves in toward each other and inserted the cuff between the two layers, and then folded it up to form the finished cuff.
9 January, 2008: The Home Stretch - Quite some time has passed since my last update, and the simple explanation is that there has been intent, but not much action. However, I have at this point closed up all the raw edges of the waistcoat. It looked like a daunting task when I tried to insert the collar in the neckline at the same time as top stitching it closed. Skipping that part meant all I had to do was fold a small seam allowance inwards on shell and lining all around and stitch it down and the waistcoat was ready for sleeves. All around, in this case, means around the neckline, down the front, along the hem all the way around and up the other front side as well. I used a shortened back stitch and black silk sewing thread for this. It makes for a very nice finish.
I have also stitched in the sleeves, doing a shortened backstitch from the outside all around, easing the sleeves into the armscye. There is a bit of wierdness happening there, but they are at least attached. As for closing, I have decided to go with buttons and button-loops. The buttons are the "Herzog" model from The Tudor Tailor web shop, and they are quite magnificent. At this point there are only three of them attached to the waistcoat, and the corresponding three loops are of a very temporary nature. What I will do is attach the remaining seven buttons and purchase some gimp or similar to make frogs for the button-loops. The project now hinges on getting the supplies and working out how to make the frogs.
25 August, 2008: Of frogs and finishing - I did in fact find a cording that seemed suitable for making frogs for the front closing. However, I found the cord so uncooperative and myself so uninspired and uneducated that I opted for the simplest possible frog. That being a loop, a twist, parallell cords, a twist and the ends left to fray of their own. I cut off twenty bits of cord, with the ends sealed by ordinary sticky tape, stitched the frogs together before applying them to the waistcoat. After they were attached I simply cut off the ends that were taped down and let the cord fray to their heart's content. And thus, the waistcoat was finished.
For images I may not have linked in the diary, close-ups and overviews et cetera please have a look at the photo gallery