Saturday, December 5, 2015

Velvet Basque or Jacket, late 1850s

Inspired by this image, courtesy of Jessamyn:

19th century photo of woman in velvet jacket with deep lace trim

This very long basque--or highly fitted jacket--appears to be made of velvet, based on the way the light hits it.  The color photographed dark (making white and blue unlikely candidates) and the lace is almost certainly black.

The waist-to-floor distance in the image is approximately 1/3 basque material, 1/3 lace and 1/3 plain skirt; with the 18" lace I had, preserving these proportions would give a dress almost 10" longer than I can wear.  To compensate, I decreased the top "tier" (ie, shortened the basque's below-the-waist length), which should give a visually balanced look while allowing me to walk.

I made mine up in black Manchester (cotton) velvet from Wm. Booth, Draper. After consulting with the lovely denizens of the Sewing Academy, I opted to flat-line the black velvet, and bind the edges with black silk; for now I skipped the front buttons, but may add covered buttons of black-silk in the future. Black silk was also used to line the open sleeves. I opted to not include the lace on the sleeve ends, as I didn't want to cut my piece of lace.

To start, I took a fitted bodice toile, and lengthened it to the desired basque distance.  Darts were let out below the waist, and the extended seams were curved outward, to accommodate skirt volume. The excellent Mrs. Repp fit this rough mock-up to me, making the pattern.  Sleeve was self-draped, cut with minimal fullness through the upper arm, but curving out toward the wrist into a large "pagoda" shape.

Following Miss Leslie's advice, the piping is done in the black silk rather than the velvet:
"Never use satin to cover cord. It ravels too much. Velvet and satin should be corded with substantial silk. If you cannot match the exact shade, let it be darker rather than lighter." -The Behavior Book, page 82
And voila:
Black velvet basque/jacket with silk binding and lace edge.

After the Nisqually and Steilacoom Christmas events, I'll probably re-cut the center front to straighten the line below the waist (got wonky when I took in the waist). and will experiment with decorative button placement.


Thanks for commenting!