Yellow Waistcoat (HSM #7)

I’m already thinking about Halloween.

Correction: I’m already sewing for Halloween.

And, considering the number of garments on my list to get done in just four short months, I should probably be farther than I am. *Gulp*

At least I can check the first thing off my list: a 1690’s waistcoat for my brother. He will be portraying a villager in New England, of an as-of-yet undetermined status. Wealthy? Poor? Judge? Clergyman? We’ll pinpoint it later.

Doing research for this project was really hard. I found hardly any sources on 1690’s New England American fashion and even fewer pieces of artwork from the period to study. What I did find showed hardly any details of the clothing, too. Mostly just basic cut and color for formal-wear.

Self-Portrait by Thomas Smith; American c. 1680

A couple of the best sources I found were “17th Century Links” at Isis’ Wardrobe and the “Getting Dressed for Men’s Guide” 1680s-1720s from Reconstructing History. Piecing some things together, I decided to base the waistcoat on Simplicity 4923 and go from there.

I used the same adjustments I made to the pattern for him last year in addition to extending it down a few inches to reach mid-thigh and making the front straight instead of curved. Here’s my reasoning behind it:

“…waistcoat at first extending below hip, thigh-length and collarless, c. 1670, and to the knee or below, 1670-1720…with or without sleeves…” – Western World Costume: An Outline History by Carolyn G. Bradley p. 198

sourcesourcesourcesource – sourcesource

I tried to tone down the illustrations and make the waistcoat suitable for a Puritan setting.

For the buttons, I found “Buttons” by The 1642 Tailor particularly informative and I followed the “How to Make Wool Buttons” tutorial by the Goodwyfe to make them.

 They were really fun to make; I’ve never done ones quite like it before. As for the pocket flaps, I kept them relatively simple (at least compared to last year’s) and I made them functional this time! There are actually pockets under them.

I sewed the whole thing by hand and did it all in less than 24 hours. I began about 7pm Saturday night and we were outside taking pictures of the final product by 5pm Sunday.

We took the photos just as the sun was starting to go down, so there’s a bit of color variation in the fabric depending on what area of the yard we were standing in. The second and last photos are most true to color; it’s a rich, buttery yellow in real life.

I’d pay more attention to the buttonholes next time, although I’m not too displeased with how they came out. They just could be better. The stitches aren’t close enough together and the floss I used to do them matched the color of the fabric in the house. As soon as we took it outside, the buttonholes stood out, white, against the waistcoat. Sigh.

At the same time as I was sewing the waistcoat, I took a few minutes to update his Renaissance shirt and bring it into the 17th century (and beyond) by adding buttons.

As for the inside, it’s not as pretty as the outside. I didn’t line it because the fabric is so thick and warm…plus I didn’t have any linen lying around. So…unlined it will remain! I pinked the edges to prevent unraveling and save myself some time. I’m not sure that’s it a period finishing technique but I know that pinking has been around for a few centuries before  the waistcoat, so it’s not too outside the realm of possibilities. At least that’s what I like to tell myself. Anyone know the real answer?

The Challenge: Monochrome (HSM #7)
Fabric: Yellow wool
Pattern: Simplicity 4923 as a base
Year: 1690’s
Notions: Cream thread, pale yellow embroidery floss. Fabric buttons.
How historically accurate is it? Eh…there was a lot of conjecture on this piece. I’d estimate around 60-70%.
Hours to complete: One day.
First worn: Sunday for pictures!
Total cost: Everything from my stash. I didn’t pay more than $5 for the whole length of fabric from Goodwill and I used about 2/3 of it total.