Wednesday 22 May 2019

1895 Belle Epoque Bicycle Jacket, a race against time

Cyclists around 1895

Sometimes I forget that making historical costumes is my hobby because it really starts to feel like work. Only far less enjoyable because I actually love my job! This has been the case since the start of the year.

I started off with the Porpentina Goldstein's Grey Coat from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. After that came a pair of Belle Epoque Linen summer pants for my son. I made a black velvet medici belt for fun.

Picture from: Ik kan kostuumnaaien ca. 1911

Made with a pattern part from McCalls M7732

 When that was finished  I found out that I hated the fit of my (previous) Belle Epoque Jacket and really needed a new one before the 30th of May. I know that a lot of people in the costuming community, seem to, enjoy sewing until the night before the event. I am not one of those people! I really hate the frustration and stress and that effects te quality of my work. I can't remember cursing, messing up or bleeding on a project this much in ages.

After not being happy with the jacket I made with Past Patterns #113, 1899 - 1910 Spectator Jacket. I decided to give Black Snail Patterns #0715 Bicycle Jacket about 1895 a try.

Black Snail #0715, Bicycle Jacket about 1895

The pattern from Black Snail looks an awful lot like an original from c. 1896-1898 in the MET.

Brown Wool Cycling Costume with Divided Skirt, c. 1896-1898, American, 2009.300.532a-d, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Mr. and Mrs. Morton Sultzer, 1979

And even more like this original brown woollen cycling suit from 1896 also in the Met.

Brown Wool Cycling Costume with Divided Skirt, c. 1896-1898, American, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; In memory of Mrs. Arthur Rideway Ryan (née Katherine Browne) from her children, Katherine B. Ryan, and Marcella Burnell and Arthur Martin Ryan, 1983

 Althought I loved the strap details on the front and back of the jacket. I decided to leave them of the simplify the jacket and speed the whole process up.

While doing the research for this blog I came across a fascinating woman called Annie Londonderry,
the woman who cycled around the world in 1894. I won't go in to detail, just follow the link above if you want to know more or google her a bit, but I will share some pictures of her.

Here is a side by side comparison of both the jacket.
With on the left the jacket made with Past Patterns #113 
and on the right  Black Snail Patterns # 0715

After having worked with both patterns I think I can compare them a little. The Past Patterns Jacket was finished not too long ago but I started the project years ago and made a lot of modifications. I guess the main issue with the Past Patterns jacket is that I chose a fabric, heavy canvas,  which is too stiff for this project. It ended up very uncomfortable to wear, which probably means that I won't be wearing it, ever. The other problem was that I had a lot of problems with getting in the sleeves properly and that is why it ended up on the UFO pile in the first place.

The Black Snail pattern description was didn't have much pictures, which is for me a big handicap, as I am a very visual person. I find translating words to actions in general quite hard and it gets worse if it's in a foreign language. English is not native language which means that my brain has two types of translations to do at once. So pictures are very helpful for me. The description clearly has been written by someone with a lot of sewing experience because I sometimes felt I missed a step or two. On the other hand I did learn some great sewing techniques and gained some sewing knowledge.

I liked the sleeves from from the Black Snails pattern the best. The fullness of the sleeve is pleated instead of gathered.

The Past Patterns jacket has box pleats in the back which I like a little bit better than the V shaped pleats of the Black Snails Pattern.

If I had to choose between the patterns, I would choose the Black Snails pattern but that is mainly because it has the look I was trying to achieve in the first place. In the end both patterns have their pro's and cons. A combination of both would be great but I am not going to make one anytime soon.

And this cute little soutache braid decoration...

Is there because I accidently damaged the fabric after the whole jacket had been sewn. "Sigh!"

With only the buttons left to be sewn on this project is nearly done. Time to start sewing and costuming for fun again! Oh but son still needs a vest (gilet) to go with his new Belle Epoque linen summer suit and a jacket and  they need to be finished before the 13th of July. I am not allowed by my husband and son to try and make the jacket before the deadline. Probably has something to do with my unlady like behavior when I was working on my own jacket.

And because I am this corny and this big of a Queen fan: