Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Waistcoat Inspiration

Well, life has been getting in the way a bit around here lately, with wee ones getting sick and causing accidents (who knew a 4 year old screaming in your ear could burst an eardrum?) and so the hobby sewing and reenacting has been a bit slower lately. We are quite alright with that because it is now the lazy days of summer!

I'm finishing up the details on the boys linen dress suits for this weekend and hubby is working on a barter deal for a new camera to better the photos in this little spot on the web. In the meantime, I am doing some research for my next project, a mid-19th century Men's Summer Waistcoat.

Here are some fine examples from various museums as inspiration:

This is an early 19th century example of a waistcoat from the Museum of Fine Arts. It is a wool twill weave, but because it is light-colored, I'm including it as an example of potential summer wear. This stand-up collar is not appropriate for my period of 1840-1860, but I like to see the evolution in men's styles. This vest is also identified as early 19th century due to the presence of only 2 welt pockets on the fronts.
Another fine example from the MFA, this waistcoat is definitely mid 19th-century as evidenced by the 3 welt pockets and the fold down shawl collar. This waistcoat is made of a white silk daisy brocade and was probably a dress vest. The buttons are covered silk.

This is a blue and white dotted cotton waistcoat dated 1850s from the Tasha Tudor Auction and is probably the closest example stylistically to what I want to make. Poor, accommodating hubby will never go for polka-dots, however, so I am going to go with a less-threatening all-white :).

Here is the white cotton backing of the dotted waistcoat. I am so intrigued by the variety of textiles used in men's summer wear. Lightweight wool, silk, cotton and linen all appear in extant examples. I also like looking at the various backs. This example appears to be a buckle, which is what I also plan on using, but lacing is another common form of ties on waistcoat backings. Waistcoats have been called the "men's corset" and were often quite fitted in the 19th century. Some were even padded in the chest area to make the chest appear broader!

This last example, also from the MFA, is a white linen dress vest. I will also be using white linen, so it was nice to see an existing garment, although this waistcoat is probably post-1875, due to the 4 welt pockets on the fronts. It is also double-breasted. I'm still working on research, so I don't know how common double-breasted waistcoats were in comparison to single-breasted during the mid-19th century, but if anyone has an opinion and more info on this I would love to hear it! I have seen a few double-breasted examples (including the polka-dotted vest above) dated to mid-19th century, so I know it was at least an option, if not common.

That is a glimpse of my upcoming project, once I get motivated to return to sewing more white fabric! Why are all dress items white? Is there a history there? The boy's dress shirts made from an original pattern arrived last week from the seamstress and the pintucks are exquisite, so as soon as I finish altering the cuffs, I will post pictures. Have a lovely start to the week!


Mrs. G said...

The second one from the top looks like the pattern that I used except I didn't do any welt pockets (I was too chicken) It made up very nicely, I'm sure yours will too.


Lauren said...

I like all of them... Mmmm... so many choices. I guess you'll just have to sew them all :-D

Barbara said...

All of them look nice :)

Actually, I believe even a baby screaming into your ear can burst your eardrum. It is incredible how much power is stored in these little bodies!

Emilee said...

Whose eardrum?

Robin's Egg Bleu said...

Dealing with a 3 year old everyday who has discovered the wineglass shattering pitch in her voice, using it to convey disapproval of any sort of authority, oh yeah...I can relate.

My eardrum hasn't yet been punctured...but I fear it's only a matter of time, especially now that I know it CAN be done.

Hope you're doing better!

And those are fabulous waistcoats!

lissawi said...

It was poor hubby's eardrum that was burst. He was dizzy for a few days, but seems to be doing much better now!

Sarah Jane said...

Oh dear! I'm sorry about the burst eardrum! My oldest has a very high pitched sream that he commonly employs to vocalize his disapproval of the word "no".

The waistcoats are exquisite! I have one original glass plate photo of a gentleman. At the back of the photo was a scrap of brown paper with his name and the date (1863) and he is wearing a double breasted waistcoat.

I'll be following along with your progress since David has requested a white silk civilian style vest for dressy occasions. He says civilian vests are under represented in the military reenacting community so one is in our near future!