Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mysterious Folds

Time to study the beast in the wild. This fantastic English suit coat at the Met dates to between 1750 and 1775. You can see more pictures of it here:

One thing has always bothered me about men's coats in this period. Where do those big pleats (on either side of the center back vent) come from? The side pleats are easy--there is a seam there, and a pair of buttons and pocket flaps to hide the train wreck of stitches from which they hang. The only thing that makes sense is a big horizontal seam right across the back.

Not terribly obvious, is it? Except for the six sets of weird stitches, (actually close worked buttonholes from the last post.)  At the start of the 18th century, the entire length of the center back opening of coats could have buttons and buttonholes. This one only has six. It is the top pair of decorative buttonholes that hides the seam. Clever little bastards, those tailors.
 Hard to tell if there is any interfacing in the tails of this mid-century coat. It starts to disappear in this period. Go back in time 30 to 40 years and the horsehair padding becomes pretty apparent:

This one has eight buttonholes. The gentlemen of the 1730s loved their poof. M. de Garsault calls it "pannier," like a dress. I chose the goat hair/wool Hymo for my pleats so I could split the difference on these two styles. Stiff, but not fluffy.

Next time, the mystery pleat's inside.

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