Making A Start: The 1780-81 Glasgow Polo-Sacque Jacket Progress

A quick mockup – feeling excited!

At last, and for the first time in 2019, I am sitting down to sew something!

The first four months of this year have been taken up entirely with buying a house and then moving into it. The bummer-ish part of the move has been that we did/are still doing some major renovation work to le house (I still don’t have a kitchen), but the squee! part of the move is that there is quite a lot more space in my new sewing room…which, of course, lead to an Ikea trip to get new sewing room furniture, which I’ve been building for, uhhhhh, a month…and am still building.

Speaking of Ikea, and setting the 15 shelves I have yet to build aside, I’m finally starting on my new 18th century sewing project. I have a deadline – end of June – so I couldn’t wait too much longer!

Ikea “Stenort” duvet cover – I don’t believe this available from Ikea anymore but you can still find it on Amazon and eBay.

The project is the 1780 – 1781 polo-sacque jacket with Scottish provenance. I’m making this jacket for two reasons: one, because it’s a polonaise-sacque-cuffed-jacket-weirdo; two, because Abby and I are going to Scotland at the end of June to participate in the Isabella MacTavish Fraser wedding dress recreation at National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh and I need something to wear!

I doodled some speculative construction based on the three views published on the internet, but I am eternally grateful to Brooke Welborn for sharing with me the photos she took of this jacket, and her sketch of the construction. It’s really helped illuminate how deceptively simple this garment it.

So….the back of a sacque, the cut-and-pleated back skirts of an English gown, the false waistcoat and flyaway front of a polonaise, and the giant turnback cuffs of a mantua. It’s the chimaera of 18th century garments!

I’m using the Ikea “Stenort” duvet cover. I got the twin size, which has only one side in the print (the other is stripes) and one pillow case, one side of which has an embroidered stripe on it. It works out to about 3-ish yards and 30″ wide when folded double, which is plenty of fabric for this project. The major drawback of this fabric, though, or at least my piece of it, is that it’s terribly, terribly off-grain. I’ve been clipping and tugging and crying a little trying to straighten it up enough to be passable. My hem may still come out a little wibbly….don’t look too close…….

So far I’ve cut the right and left side as two 60″ long x 25″ wide pieces, which makeup the entirety of the back *and* the front flyaway. Instead of cutting 20″ wide pieces and re-attaching them with mantua-maker’s seams, I’m just doing falsies, taking a tiny 1/4″ tuck at each 20″ mark.

I’ve also cut out the linen lining, hemmed the center back opening, and attached the ties. The original gown does not have a cut open back like this, but I wanted to adjustability.

The lining back piece with the center cut and ties. 

My plan is to fit the side seams of the lining, stitch them, and then pleat each side of the fashion fabric starting at the center back and working my way around to the center front. I’ll then cut out the excess around the armscye and shoulder strap, leaving a refreshingly nearly-complete garment.

That’s the *plan* anyway. There are some tricky bits coming up, particularly the slice in the waistline at the side back and the pleating of the skirts back in there. The large pleat on each side that pull the flyaway back will also likely need to happen on the dress form. Then there’s those sleeves and cuffs….eegads!

a quick pinned mockup with the front piece. In general this whole length was too long so I’ve shortened it up by about 5 inches. Long pet en l’air styles were popular earlier in the century, but by the 1780s the sacque jackets were pretty short.

Wish me luck! More progress soon. <3

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