Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Regimental Revisited



The mid-eighteenth century British regimental is a strange beast: voluminous, not sleek like those from thirty years later. It can be worn any number of ways. Rich officer types would often unbutton the lapels and shove their hands between the coat and the waistcoat for portraits. The shape is unmistakable: short sleeves, big cuffs, long with full tails, hint of a collar. Even the buttons are unique and stupidly expensive to reproduce. It's the convertible aspect that gives the greatest pains when fitting.

Our specimen is five years old, and was last converted for a full-figure Provincial two years ago. The waist has three-button closure, but the top hangs open. It can be worn double-breasted, buttoned at the waist, or open as seen in the painting above. The collar geometry suffers as a result.

Slowly removing material from the back panel at the shoulder draws the neck hole up and closer. Compare at right, the collar is off the right side and the excess pinned up. Fortunately, the top of the coat is unlined. Unfortunately, adjusting the shoulder seams adds volume to the center back, so the collar needs to be removed even further to correct the center back seam.

The pleats are unacceptable. Not only do they stick out too much when the coat is buttoned, but there is an embarrassing amount of material in the back panels here. The hip buttons might as well be under the arms. All this needs to be cut apart, side seams reshaped, and the pleats refolded.

Adjustments to the shoulder seam make fiddling with the top of the side seam unwise. The sleeves are slightly baggy at the top for a reason. Luckily, the coat's bell shape and three waist buttons make that unnecessary. The comfy X-Acto handle with a #11 blade is your best friend at this point.

  What the hell. Unsightly bulges like this are a good problem to have. Next time, re-pleating and the faux cuff flaps get some attention.

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