I just finished a bit of an assignment that is quite literally the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my entire seamstering life. I undertook to scale the gridded Janet Arnold Riding Habit pattern (Patterns of Fashion 1: 1660-1860, Snowshill Manor riding habit), no biggie, but then to grade that pattern up to measurements many sizes larger than the original historical garment.
This was an exercise in mathematics, or “Lauren sucks at math and forgot everything she learned in high school.” I did not have the convenience of having the client here with me, and so I had to approximate as best I could on my dress form, using batting. My first go was quite wrong:
I marked on the back the size of the gap to the center line, then added this to the back piece.
After marking gaps, extensions, subtractions, and double checking measurements, I have something that’s looking pretty close to rights. The pattern is not an exact replica, of course, and it will most definitely require the client (who commissioned me for the pattern alone and will be sewing the garment herself) to make a toile and tailor this jacket to fit her.
The front. The client’s torso is much longer than the dress form’s, so it appears to not fit.
The back, with the pleats on the side. I put it on over a skirt and skirt supports, but it is designed to be worn with pocket hoops or side skirt supports.
I’m quite proud of this. It took HOURS, but it was something I feel was an excellent exercise in patterning. I have also gained an extreme appreciation for robust ladies and their costuming needs. It’s all good and well when you’re generally the same size as scaled historical patterns, but getting the proper proportion and fit with any size larger than a 27″ waist is truly a challenge, and I commend every lady who does it!