The 1785 Pierrot Jacket – Finished!

American Duchess 1785 pierrot jacket outfit

Last week I wore my new 1785 Pierrot jacket in our most recent photo shoot for Dunmore 18th century shoes.

I’m proud of this outfit for several reasons, not least of all because it is the first entirely hand sewn ensemble I’ve ever made! I’m not a big stickler for hand-sewing, but I genuinely found it easier to construct the jacket and petticoat by hand, with the ability to control thread tension on the silk petticoat, and finagle the delicate fiddly bits on the jacket much more easily than if it had been done on the machine. I learned a variety of historic stitches and fine-tuned a few techniques that are actually quicker to do by hand than the modern method!

18th century pierrot jacket
This is the first bodice I’ve made that closes with pins. I’m still getting the hang of it!

The pierrot jacket is made from two yards of Colonial Williamsburg printed cotton. I cut a basic Anglaise pattern into a zone front, which swept back into the “tail” created by the pleated back. The back was free-form pleated to the lining (a basic bodice back) and top stitched using prick stitch. The tail flounce is one long strip of cotton, narrowly hemmed, and then whip-gathered on the top edge. It’s my favorite part of the jacket.

I had the most trouble with the sleeves, of course, which had to be pieced at the top to make a deeper sleeve cap. It was fiddly business, and they’re not perfect, but they’re on there and I can move my arms, so yay!

The petticoat is changeable silk taffeta with a van dyke hem. This petti is meant to replace an earlier one of a similar color that was too short and not quite right in construction. I’m wishing now that I had made it even longer – more ankle length –  but it’s way better than what I had before, so I’m happy.

One of the motifs from the destroyed apron appliqued onto the new one. This was tedious, but covered the gaping hole.

One of the biggest challenges to completing the whole costume was the apron. I had a wonderful antique tamboured net apron, but my dog literally ate it.  Of all the things in my sewing room, she decided to eat that! I’ve since learned to keep things off the floor, and the door closed! Luckily I found another broad panel on Etsy, but it had a huge hole in the middle, so I found myself tediously cutting out and appliqueing a few motifs from the demolished apron onto the new one. I’m glad I kept that scrap Lexi chewed up! I still have a few more motifs to go to make it look more purposeful.

Thrifted straw hat trimmed in taffeta bows, buckle, and feathers. Very easy!

Last but not least, the hat. a basic two-tone straw I found in a thrift shop. I re-trimmed it with a black taffeta band and bows, a rhinestone buckle, and feathers. It’s flexible enough to turn up the brim on one side, for a variety of looks, and while it could certainly be bigger, it’s a great all-purpose 1780s – 90s chapeau.

It feels so good to complete this whole look. The jacket was in the UFO pile for nearly a year, but now it’s done and I can wear it to Williamsburg in June, squee!


  • Mutemouia

    April 20, 2015 at 7:42 PM

    It's truly magnificent ! The pierrot, the petticot, the apron, everything is magnificent ! It's awesome that you've handsewn it, I find it quite interesting to make clothing like they were made at the time, it looks clother to what clothing looked like, in my opinion !

  • The Lady Victoria

    April 20, 2015 at 9:15 PM

    I think this is one of my favourite outfits of yours so far, I love the colours! The delicate details of the apron and the jacket pattern really stand out on a plainer background.

    Your hedgehog hair looks awesome, did you style the wig yourself? (I assume it's a wig)

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 21, 2015 at 2:28 AM

      Thank you! yes, the wig it ones I just teased up and added to. It was an old "Southern Belle" costume wig. Needless to say it doesn't even remotely resemble the original style, haha

  • Lily

    April 21, 2015 at 2:08 AM

    I said this before, but it deserves it again- this is stunning! I love it!!

    I have that print fabric as well, but now I'm having a hard time coming up with an idea for it that I love as much as yours and that wouldn't be a complete copy-cat!! 😉 The pink and gray are a lovely, unexpected choice for accessorizing!

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 21, 2015 at 2:29 AM

      I don't mind being "copied," because I've only copied somebody else from the past. By all means, don't feel inhibited from exploring the construction of this type of jacket. I found it really interesting and fun to put together, although if I were to do it again I might not use a busy print because it kindof obscures the pleats on the back.

  • Bianca Esposito

    April 21, 2015 at 3:04 AM

    Just gorgeous! One day I want to make an entirely hand sewn 18th century ensemble, congrats on completeing such a task. The jacket turned out so pretty, I really need to aquire some of that Williamsburg fabric!

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 21, 2015 at 7:54 PM

      Go for it! I highly recommend Larkin & Smith's English Gown pattern for your first all-handsewn foray into 18th century. It comes with a color printed booklet that walks you through all the techniques and construction by hand. I've found it really useful so far.

  • Anonymous

    April 21, 2015 at 7:05 AM

    you already know I love the hat. but, I truly cannot decide which is my favorite, the jacket or the petticoat. the petticoat is amazing, and the flounce is beautiful. I have just recently tried pinking myself, and to see all the ways you have applied the technique with just this ensemble … the wheels are spinning. now, back to Elizabethan beading …

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 21, 2015 at 7:56 PM

      Pinking is quite fun, plus you don't have to hem it! I have two types of pinking shears – a zig zag, and a scallop, and I'm sure you can buy more designs. I have a pinking leatherworking tool as well but I need to find some way to sharpen it for fabric.

  • PinhousePlaymate

    April 21, 2015 at 10:16 AM

    Gah! It's gorgeous! I am impressed o your hand sewing skills (and determination to actually do it). It's like walking 20 miles to work, when you can take the car! 😀

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 21, 2015 at 7:57 PM

      Thank you! The weird thing about 18th century hand sewing is it's really pretty rough. Thank goodness, because so is my hand sewing – big running stitches, widely spaced prick stitches, things just sortof whipped on, all meant to be disassembled and re-fashioned later. So it really goes more quickly than you might think!

  • Anonymous

    April 21, 2015 at 11:38 AM

    Jealous! We had the immense pleasure of visiting Colonial Williamsburg in March 2012. I bought two yards of a cotton in almost the same print as yours. One yard I turned into a little 18th century inspired gown for my daughter, using a pattern I bought at Williamsburg as well. So I still have one yard left, but I can't bring myself to cut into it! It's probably just nostalgia, but I actually wanted to try making a 'modern' dress for my daughter in that print. Just to see how well these prints work in today's style. Anyway, congrats again for your outfit, I can't keep away from your blog, I'm always so curious about what you'll do next 😉

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 21, 2015 at 7:58 PM

      I think the prints would be wonderful in today's styles. So many quilting cottons get "close but not quite" with the 18th century designs, and are used to make beautiful little sun dresses. The styles come and go – 18th century fabric designs were big in the 1950s, if you can believe it, and are popular for furnishings still today.

  • bauhausfrau

    April 22, 2015 at 1:10 AM

    I love this look. Something about the late 18th Century appeals to me so much. I actually like how short the petticoat is, you do see those short petticoats then and it looks right with the rest of the ensemble. And shoes off your shoes to good advantage!

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