Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Regency Breeches for David - Progress Report #1

After watching "Master and Commander" this weekend and going through three mocks up of breeches, I finally set to work on this interesting garment for David's regency ensemble.

I started out with the 1775 two-piece leg breeches diagram from The Cut of Men's Clothes. Using David's measurements, I drew out the pattern, trying to get the shape as similar to the ones in the book as possible. In the end, we were left with this pattern, taken from the last mock up: (yes, David looked very cute in blue floral breeches but he would die of embarassment if I posted a photo of him wearing these).

So I cut the breeches out on Monday and started sewing them together yesterday. This is definitely a learning process. All the little pattern pieces I had to create as I went (and they were soon after hopelessly scattered everywhere due to the fact little David thought that he could "help" me by drawing letters, staircases and little houses all over them). The more complicated parts are now done since I wanted to get them out of the way first - the pockets, and the fall front. I am so glad I have had so much practice making these kinds of pockets for David's 1860's wardrobe. The fall front scared me, but now I have a much better understanding of how it works and I think that will also help hugely in my understanding of how a regency era apron or bib front dress works.

These practice breeches are made of some heavier weight cotton fabric, in a brownish-yellow color. If they turn out wearable David can use them for informal daywear, I suppose. I have some pretty pale gray heavier weight linen to make a prettier pair and I can change a few things on those that I don't particularly like about these. (for instance, the curve of the crutch seam on the leg front - I think it should fairly straight until it reaches the curve of the crutch rather than gently sloped like it currently is, for a flatter appearance on the body).

I owe a ton of thanks to Suzi Clarke as well as Dawn Luckham (both members of the S&S board) for helping me figure out how to make these. . .I never could have done this without their great advice and tips.

So, this is where I'm at in my construction process! The buttons you see in the pictures are not the ones I will be using as I will be making covered buttons, but I wanted to get an idea of the placement and how it will look. I have a lot of finishing work to do. . .



  1. Beautiful!!!
    You did an amazing job!

  2. Woohoo, I have loved watching you venture into Regency clothing! It is so helpful to see posts like this - I am starting to put together a Regency outfit for my own husband, but the pants are definitely the scariest part. I look forward to seeing how yours finally turn out!

  3. The pants look really nice! I've sewn lots of broadfall trowsers but never narrowfall, from your pictures I bet they aren't that much different. Thanks for sharing!

  4. WOW! You are so talented! They look awesome! :)


  5. Sarah

    Great jog, and you put in all the fiddly bits, which I don't always do! Well done.

  6. Sarah Jane,
    I've followed your blog for some time now, and I'm sorry that I haven't commented before! I've been inspired by your sewing creations and am hoping you can help me with a question I have.

    I'm getting back into Civil War Reenacting after being away from it for four years, and in that time I've acquired a husband and two children :). I must say I'm very excited about the patterns you put on your clothing website for your childrens clothes, and I can't wait to try them out. However, I'm having difficulty deciding on a basic men's pants pattern. Right now I'm considering the Past Pattern's Summer Trousers Pattern.
    However, having no experience sewing pants for a man, I'm a bit nervous about what to choose.
    Also, what easily accessible (and hopefully affordable) fabric should I make them out of? From the research I've done, I'm utterly confused on this subject.

    Meghan Finch

  7. Hi Meghan!

    Thank you for your sweet comment! And congratulations on the husband and children - it is so fun to reenact as a family!

    I have the Past Patterns summer trouser pattern and have used it for several different gentlemen. It was the first 1860's trouser pattern I used and I was able to get through it without any difficulty (if I remember correctly - it's been so long!) The one thing I did have an issue with was the crutch seam tearing open after wear. This was just the seam, so easily repairable, but still inconvenient for the gentlemen. So now I bind the crutch seam with a sturdy cotton fabric, from the fly to about hip-level on the back. This prevents the tearing of the seam and adds a lot of stability there. The other thing I didn't like about this pattern is the pockets. I cannot do side pockets very well, so always do dog ear or "mule ear" pockets, just like the ones I've done for David's breeches in this post. Period Impressions has a bad rep for patterns but I have successfully used their Civilian Trouser pattern for several men (including David) and there are good instructions in this pattern on how to construct the dog ear pocket.

    For fabrics, you can go with wool (always a good, basic choice), cotton twill, linen for summer. I have made this pattern in all three of these and find I liked the cotton twill ones best. The linen trousers I made were lightweight and as I did not finish the inside seams (bad me!) it frayed and didn’t look nice and tidy inside. Now, of course, I remember to finish ALL seams when working with linen! You can find cotton twill at Jo Anns and even Wal Mart fabric departments. With a coupon at Jo Anns you can get nice twill for about $4/yard, and I've purchased some at Wal Mart for $2/yard. The best price for linen in my experience is the stuff from Even with shipping, the prices here are usually lower than what you can find at Jo Anns and the quality is very nice. You can find wool at Jo Anns but it is expensive. If you order wool from online, you can usually get a better price.

    Hope this helps!

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Thank you for your lovely thoughts!