|Gallerie des Modes, 1780. Dames a la Mode on Tumblr|
I've finally settled on a design for one of my Colonial Williamsburg pieces - a polonaise jacket, inspired by a couple of the fabulous jackets in the Imatex collection.
What is a polonaise jacket?
We're familiar with the term "polonaise" as a dress with the skirts draped up in three "sections," but 18th century polonaises had a more specific design. While you could wear your robe a l'anglaise a la polonaise, a robe a la polonaise was something different, a gown or a jacket cut like man's frock coat, with the front edges falling back and away from the chest, and the back bodice and skirt pieces cut in one, again, like man's coat.
A polonaise jacket is a short version of the gown. They were open in front, meeting only at the top of the neckline, and appear to be worn over a separate bodice, stomacher, or gilet sort of garment underneath. Here are two 1770s polonaise jackets from the Imatex collection, both of which informed my design:
|Imatex - polonaise jacket, 1770s or early 80s. This one does not meet at the center front at the top, but still falls away from the chest.|
|Imatex - polonaise jacket, 1770s. This one is much more fitted and complex than the example above|
The yellow jacket is more complex than the floral, in the number of seams and pleats. The floral is surprisingly simple, with only a center back and two side back seams, and no side seam at all. When worn, this jacket would have fallen open rather wide over the full skirts, whereas the yellow jacket is far more fitted through the waist.
|Imatex - polonaise jacket, 1770s or early 80s. You can see the back is quite simple, with a center back seam, and two side back seams that flare into inverted pleats.|
|Imatex - polonaise jacket, 1770s. Much more complex, with multiple pleats in the side back seams, and side seams that also end in a large, single pleat.|
I thought I'd have a go at the simpler version, though I soon found out, in draping, that with the flare of skirts and how I preferred the jacket to fit through the waist, I needed to add that side seam in there. It was a hard pattern to drape, I won't lie - many nips and tucks were taken, then flattened out on the paper, when tracing out the pieces. I reserve judgement until I've made up a toile, to test my handiwork.
|My front drape. You can see at the waist where the fabric is tucked up - my hope is to keep that kind of tuck out of the finished garment, so it is all in one and smooth.|
|The front piece laid out on the grid paper. The arrows drawn on the muslin, while draped on the form, are the grain lines. The tucks have been pressed as flatly as possible, before tracing around the pattern piece.|
|The pattern pieces all traced on the grid paper, minus the sleeves. Now time for a toile to see if this is going to work at all...|
|My material, just draped up on the form to get an idea how it might look.|
|Gorgeous an interested trim on the original jacket from Imatex|