Introducing The KCI Jacket & Gilet (J&G) Project

There is an ensemble it seems all lady costumers smitten with the 18th c truly covet. It is a work of art in textile, construction, and design, and also an enigma. It taunts us from the pages of both the Big and Lil’ Kyoto Costume Institute “FASHION” books, mocking us, saying “draft me if you dare, drape me if you can!” It has appeared in numerous period movies, each time reincarnated a little differently from the last, and yet this mysterious garment remains nebulous in description and form.

It is none other than the smokey aqua blue, delicately embroidered 1790 Jacket and Gilet, a fatally fabulous two-piece combination of late 18th century glory. Ladies, I have undertaken to pattern this beast, but not merely for my own amusement: I will be patterning and grading the jacket and gilet for small, medium, and large sizes, for both modern and costume wear, and with at least two options for the back of the jacket, as this seems to be a point of contention as to its actual make-up.

I have minor experience with grading, typically sizing up teeny-tiny vintage and historic patterns, but I welcome the practice in properly grading a pattern both up and down in size, and making each set a properly fitted garment, not just using the computer to scale the measurements. Understandably, this will take quite a long time, as the pattern sets must all be perfect, easily constructed, and understandable.

By the end of this project, I will have the 1790 Jacket and Gilet pattern completed, a costume sample as well as a modern wear one.

It all begins with a scrap of old muslin, however, and my dress forms. I will be recording my progress, trials, tribulations, pitfalls and epiphanies throughout this perilous quest, so be sure to check back in every now and then for highly dramatic tales of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of THAT PATTERN!


  • Jenny

    September 1, 2009 at 9:07 AM

    How absolutely gorgeous! Lauren, it's your fault I am falling in love with the 18th Century……. I hope you're happy lol. Silver embroidery, wide collar and lapels, and those buttons! *Love* Good luck with your endeavor!

  • Lithia Black

    September 1, 2009 at 12:24 PM

    Oh, my that's quite an challange you brought upon yourself, kudos to you! I will definitely stay tuned for this one!
    This jacket is absolutely stunning. If I ever get good enough on embroidery I would love to make it.


  • Lauren Stowell

    September 1, 2009 at 4:33 PM

    Frecklehead – I only have a maniacal laugh for you. Mwahahahahaha!

    Have I gotten myself in too deep!? I'm determined, though I wonder why more of us ladies haven't tried to make this jacket – in my research I've only found one or two examples done by costumers (not movies).

    I was interested to read that the Reine des C reproduction (the one shown in the post) dyed its own silk and was sent to India to be embroidered. I think I will work on the pattern and getting a proper fit before I drive myself to the Sanitarium trying to embroidery!

  • Anonymous

    September 2, 2009 at 1:50 AM

    I love it, I want, I will make it. I am currently working on my version of the red and white striped 1790's jacket you introduced us to. Couldn't find the red and white material, so my version will be blue. It will be for an upcoming costuming event in Oct. I am stuck making stays at the moment, lace up the front, to help provide me with the proper profile with the jacket. Not that anyone else will care at the party but me. But, there you have it. So, stays first. However, I have started on the mock up for the jacket.

    Good luck with your project. Oh, by the way, you are such an inspiration to new stitchers/ costumers like myself.

  • Lauren R

    September 2, 2009 at 2:02 AM

    Wow, thank you "Anonymous!" I hope you drop by again and leave a link to photos of your striped jacket when it's done. I think it's going to look awesome in blue!!

    Comtesse, I think I will need the luck indeed, hahaha!

  • Angela

    September 3, 2009 at 1:25 AM

    You are sooooo right. Each time I open my Kyoto fashion history book I go straight to that page. One day, one day. If you do figure it out let us know. Good luck. Angela

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