What’s All This About Casaquins?

Half a casaquin, the lovely and somewhat strange pleats in back.

You may have noticed I’ve been talking a lot about 18th c. jackets, particularly the casaquin, lately.  There’s a good reason why!  I’ve been looking into this style of jacket in order to create one for my very own.

Those of you on Facebook already know all about this, have seen the in-progress photos, but I’ll do a proper blog post about it.

The petticoat in progress, and the jacket fabric just draped on,
to see how it would all look together.

You see, there is this fabric I’ve had since I started costuming back in 2003.  I remember buying it, where I bought it, how much I paid for it, and that I intended to make it into a Robe a la Francaise.  Back then, there was plenty of it for that purpose, but over the years this fabric has been made into The Worst Victorian Dress of All Time, then re-made into The Ill-fitting Robe a l’Anglaise, and now it’s been cannibalized again in order to make this little jacket.

The former Robe a l’Anglaise wasn’t an ugly dress, but i was unwearable.
The bodice was made to go over a Victorian corset
(because I did not have stays at the time) and the neckline
was too wide and too low.

Originally I intended a pet en l’air, with the watteau pleats at back, to be worn over the green petticoat, but a little mathy-math showed that I did not have enough fabric, so I changed the design to Janet Arnold’s short jacket, from Patterns of Fashion 1: 1660-1860:

I drafted the pattern on 1″ square grid paper, expanded the waist a bit, shrunk the bust a smidge, then cut the stuff out.  The bodice pieces are interlined with canvas, the skirts are just lined with muslin.  I’ve gone with 3/4 sleeves instead of the full length.

The completed walking-length petticoat, in changeable taffeta,
dusky blue shot with pale gold.  I love this length of skirt but
have never made one – and the shoes sticking out the
bottom, love that!

The plan is for massive trimmings in the same fabric as the petticoat.  I’m going to gather long strips of green, with pinked edges, and carry it around the edges of the jacket, and add it to the sleeve cuffs as well.  There are also large ties across the front, for nice fatty bows down the stomacher, which will also feature bows in the yellow fabric.  The cool thing about the ties across the front is that this jacket will be adjustable for several sizes larger, although not so good for sizes smaller, as the bottom front edges meet at the waist.

I’ll update you all again as the casaquin ensemble completes.  This will be worn to a Women In The Arts presentation and fundraiser, on November 6th, and will be part of a tableaux on drawing and painting in the past.


  • Rowenna

    October 21, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    I love the walking-length petticoat! Nearly all mine are that length because I have to be practical with my skirts in camp 🙂

    Anonymous–I have no idea what you're talking about, Duchess has had some really insightful posts on eighteenth-century clothing and construction. If you have a specific complaint, I'd love to hear it so it can be discussed.

  • Isis

    October 21, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    Personally I think that if I don't completely agree with someone or thing tehy are wrong, I try to start a dialogue. It may very well be that the person I think are in the wrong has sources I know nothing about. Or would be very happy to know what I know and learn more. An anonymous comment that is just generally derisive, mean and doesn't provide anything that justifies the criticism, are just to be completely ignored.

    I think the casaquin will be lovely!

  • American Duchess

    October 21, 2010 at 7:41 PM

    Bwahahaha. I'm not entirely sure why "Anonymous" thinks I know nothing of 18th c. clothing, but yes I am a seamstress. Am I a museum professional? No. Am I a costume historian with a Ph.D, or any sort of costume-related degree? No. The reason I started this blog was because I had questions about 18th century clothing, specifically how to make some of these things, and I couldn't find the answers, so I set about to discover them myself by trial and error, and then to share what I found with you guys, in the hopes of saving you the time and frustrations of sorting it out yourselves!

    This particular posting is about the construction of a costume I am creating, but I do a lot of posts about extant garments, using primary sources, so please tell me, Anonymous, what exactly is it I've gotten wrong? Please correct me specifically if I've erred.

  • Anonymous

    October 21, 2010 at 9:25 PM

    Yet again I've drooled on my keyboard reading your blog. You have been inspiration to me for some time, and now that I've finally given in to my need for 18th century gowns, I look to American Duchess for hope and help. You've taught my to make lovely cockades, a fabulous mobcap straw hat, and now I am beginning the corset for a chemise a la reine.
    But damn you, your adorable walking length petticoat and talk of redingotes is going to make my hands withered claws as I sew my little heart out!

  • Sarah

    October 22, 2010 at 1:13 AM

    lovely, duchess! the petticoat is so positively droolworthy.
    anonymus needs to grow up and get a life, or find something better to do besides slam other (very talented!) people. 😀

  • Lauren Stowell

    October 22, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    I'm happy to be of help and inspiration to you guys (although I draw my help and inspiration from your blogs, y'know!).

    Beaux – maaaaaybe. I don't have a redingote on the docket right now, but the riding habit is indeed the next project. I love redingotes and have wanted one for aaaaages, so maybe I'll put that on the list of to-sew for this winter 🙂

  • Dorothea's Closet Vintage

    October 23, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    Just found your blog via Garmz (a friend posted a link to something pretty unimpressive there so I kept looking, found your work and was mesmerized!). Voted for you a slew of times. Anyway, wanted to say I love your blog! I deal in vintage and handle rather a decent amount of 1800s to early 1900s but have never had the time to dig in to learn the kind of detail that seems to come easily to you and your commenters…I plan to visit often and learn from you all! Gorgeous blog, just beautiful! Adding you to my links, of course. Thanks for sharing your gift and knowledge!

  • marijke

    November 2, 2010 at 8:11 AM

    its a long time that i have a dream to make an pet en lair..but my sewing skills are not that good at the moment…boehoe snif snif..
    so i started first a blog.. to write down al my ideas,inspirations so i can use them later..
    i love your blog!!!..and maybe someday i make such beautifull costumes like you!!

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