The finished caraco jacket and petticoat

This is the finished project. (Not featured: the hat) Also not part of the original design was the rose. Alas. Things happen.

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I didn’t make the fichu or embroidered the white engageantes. I just bought something that looked period. The fabric of engageantes look period exactly the 2 inches you see in the photo and then it begins to look very 1920s. The fichu has no such issues.

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Status update

I finished the petticoat (in only two days – I was surprised myself) and that gave me the necessary boost to attempt finishing the jacket. I used a combination of tutorials for the petticoat – American Duchess’ ended up being the main one. I fudged on some stuff, I completely forewent any basting of the pleats and just backstitched the whole thing from the get-go. I also used 4 yard of fabric in width for the petticoat which is a tad excessive but looks good. 

The bottom hem turned out to be less of a nightmare than previously thought – the four yards took me only two movies! (The Princess of Montpensier and something I’ve already forgotten. The Princess was disappointing) I used an invisible hem stitch I picked up on Youtube. (Not actually invisible but as close you could get.) The same fabric waistband, however… that hurt both my fingers and took five hours at least. Also annoying: ironing the petticoat. Twice. The fabric doesn’t take well to being handled. 

The result however made me feel quite accomplished, especially since I had no experience at all with pleating.

 

I also made a pleated sleeve trim later on, based more on instinct than on helpful advice – and more to the point, under the preconception that if it’s completely made by hand, with stitching “invisible” on the outside, looks like something seen on an extent garment, and stays on the sleeve even under stress, it must be period. (If the sleeve trim fits, you must acquit…)

 

The only thing that ruins the whole experience, is the jacket. It’s boldly heading into one problem zone after another. I don’t know if I addressed this part before but that isn’t actually my jacket, it has to fit on someone else. Now it has been Christmas that someone else is actually available for trying it on (Occasionally, always pre-faced with an eyeroll toward the stays). But that someone just has a really wide shoulder area. So it’s tighter than expected around the chest, the sleeves, the armholes, and the position of the shoulder straps. So I pin and pin, then baste, then try again… Currently I have fixed the chest area. But the shoulder straps are so problematic that I considering cutting them and re-sewing them on in the correct position. There are extent gowns where something similar has been done, but the prospect is kind of horrifying. 

Especially since in the extant garments the cut is above the position where I would need the cut. I could dart it there but that’s not period at all as far as I know. I could dart it and put a trim over it (a dart that can’t be seen is a tree falling in the forest that nobody sees, isn’t it?) but the idea doesn’t appeal. I don’t like the idea of a trim around the neck for this dress, since the inspirational dress doesn’t have one, and I have a beautiful fichu that goes with that jacket. 

Maybe I should do a fake seam there, make it look like I cut it but actually just hiding the “cut” fabric.

Slight change of plans

It’s not gonna be a longer caraco but rather a short jacket and a skirt from the same fabric. So far I cut the fabric (lining and fashion fabric) of the jacket, sewed the bodice together using a combination of running stitches and am currently working on the hems.

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The fabric is discontinued Ikea Alvine. I don’t like much the feel of it (although it’s 100 percent cotton), but the colors and pattern just fit so well.

But here’s the thing… is hemming supposed to take this long? I wasn’t surprised that the seams took me long. But yesterday I hemmed the bottom hem of the jacket (admittedly more than a yard) and it took seven-and-a-half episodes of Orphan Black*. (7 hours.) Am I just exceptionally slow? Should my stitching be more generously spaced? (It’s the same stitch width as my seams.) Should I stop using le point a rabattre sous la main even though it’s totally period and fun to namedrop?

The thing about the hems isn’t so much the jacket. I’ll finish them in time. The thing is the skirt/petticoat where I’m looking at 4 yards of hemming. With my currents speed that would take me… some time.

*Orphan Black is pretty good by the way. It lives and dies with its lead actress who is in the fortunate position of playing 8 different characters. While at first that seems gimmicky and you kind of dismiss it, it’s interesting how after a while you start to run with it and stop paying attention to the gimmick. You start to believe in them as different characters. Which either means that my threshold for suspension of disbelief is low or that the actress is just that good. Or I should have just paid more attention to the hem.