Wednesday, January 16, 2019

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The Curious Polonaise-Sacque Jacket

1780-81 jacket - Glasgow Museums Collection - 1932.51.o

January is Costume A-D-D time. A whole new year lies ahead and we are all brimming with project ideas. Some I've even started and have abandoned for the time being as the new shiny ideas and events crop up.

Latest on my *grabby-hands* list is this amazing 1780-1781 Scottish jacket. What I love about this piece is that it is a bit weird: it is made like a polonaise in the front with loose open edges and a false waistcoat...but it has a sacque back.

The jacket is made from hand-corded linen, lined in linen. It was worn by Mary McDowall, the wife of George Houston of Johnstone Castle in Renfrewshire, Scotland, and is currently held in the Glasgow Museums Collection.

The fronts of this jacket is made like a polonaise, with the front edges flying open and canted to the back by both a pleat in the front edges and a tuck taken close to the side back seam. 1780-81 Glasgow Museum Collection 1932.51.o
Luckily for me, Abby and Brooke Welborn studied this gown and took excellent photos. I can't share these photos, unfortunately, but they've already helped immensely in understanding the quirks of this jacket.

My drawings and notes trying to work out how this jacket was made. I saw Brooke's photos after these sketches so now know there is a tuck in the front piece near the side back seam that helps shape the front of the bodice, typical of polonaise construction.
For instance, the skirts are cut and pleated peculiarly from the side seam to back underneath the sacque pleats, rather more like an English gown than a sacque. The cuffs are put on very interestingly, and the bodice fronts are shaped entirely by tucks. Some things I expect and understand and others make me scratch my head a little. It's the "wait, but why" that always intrigues me most, and the part I most enjoy, though.

The back of the jacket features narrow loose pleats. Curiously the side skirting is knife pleated back and under quite far and the whole waist edge is secured by a lining inside with no laces or ties at the center back, similar to an English gown. 1780-81 Glasgow Museums Collection 1932.51.o

I plan to make a version of this polo-sacque jacket in printed cotton lined in linen and will likely wear it with the green quilted satin petticoat. We do have an event to which I plan to wear this Scottish jacket, but I can't announce it quite yet. ;-)
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8 comments:

  1. Once again, proof that stitchers did just about everything! Every time I hear or read, "That was not done," pretty soon I see that very thing. Love this jacket!

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    1. Haha, yes, it's one of those "rules of the universe" in historical costuming. There are lots of historic dress X-files, we call them, things that are weird or atypical by the current definitions. But, of course, understanding of dress and how it was made and worn, is an ever evolving field of study. What was considered atypical 10 years ago is considered common now, just with more and more primary sources coming to light. :-)

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  2. Looks like a comfy riding coat to me, but then I always look at clothing as if I'm going to wear it riding; the quilted petticoat wouldn't work well in this case. Anna

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    1. It may have been worn riding - we can't know for certain. The petticoat likely belonged to the same woman but it's conjecture whether these two garments were worn together or not.

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  3. I don't know all the lingo of historical costumers, which I've followed for about 2 years. What is Costume A-D-D time? Is it something to do with Costume College?

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    1. Haha, sorry! Costume Attention Deficit Disorder - or basically, when you are inspired with so many costuming ideas that you can't stick to just one.

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  4. I knew this dress looked familiar - I saw it at the Kelvingrove museum in Glasgow this summer.

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  5. Oh gosh, I would love a pattern for this. Lovely jacket, thanks so much for your deconstruction. I'm excited to see yours made up!

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