Vena Cava Design

Historical Sewing Patterns (Men)



Full size paper patterns for Men's Waistcoats for the 1770s.

Fits chests 34-54 inch. All sizes included in one envelope. Embellishment suggestions included.

Suggested Fabrics:
silk, wool or linen
lightweight silk or linen for lining
heavy linen or canvas for interlining and back

Yardage Requirements:
2 yds at least 45 inch wide
(1 yard if making plain linen back)

Up to 20 1/2 inch buttons for front, cuffs, and vents
buttonhole floss

Below is an excerpt from the historical notes you will receive as part of this pattern:
1770s Waistcoats

By the third quarter of the 18th century, the skirts of the frock coat were slender indeed. Cuffs were only slightly bigger than the sleeves, collars stood tall, and the fronts of coats were cut not to close but rather to hook over the breast. The long, shapeless waistcoats of earlier in the century were gone for good. The waistcoats of the third quarter of the 18th century were short and elaborately decorated because they always showed at the opening of the non-closing frock coats.
Extant Garments
A strangely similar bunch of heavily decorated frock coats from the 1770s and 80s survive in museums around the world. A light brown satin-striped silk suit from around 1775 in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is embroidered all along its front opening, side and back vents, cuffs, and pocket flaps with multicolour flowers. The waistcoat displayed with this suit is also elaborately embroidered, but constrasts with the coat in colour. The waistcoat is white or ivory while the rest of the suit is brown.

A number of heavily decorated frock coats survive from the 1760s. A floral and lozenge-patterned silk suit trimmed with silver gimp is in the clothing collection at Colonial Williamsburg. The suit was likely made in England in the 1760s and was either commissioned by a Colonist or travelled there with an emigrant. All three items of the suit (coat, waistcoat, and breeches) are made from the same silk. The small repeat patterned silk was very popular and especially woven for suits at this time. The silver gimp buttonholes and buttons are its only further decoration.

At right is a striped silk suit housed at Colonial Williamsburg. It is decorated with the same kind of floral embroidery as the previous two examples and the waistcoat matches both the coat and the breeches in colour and decoration.
Pictorial Evidence
The shape and decoration of the extant examples is echoed in this picture, at right, by Moreau le Jeune entitled La Grande Toilette. The painting shows the elaborate act of dressing. The central figure is attended by his wife seated near the left edge of the painting. Two dressers arrange his wig and administer to his dressing needs. His waistcoat (and coat and breeches) is embroidered with a floral motif along its front edge, cuffs and pockets.

By the 1770s, the waistcoat could either be a third element of a matching suit, or a contrasting garment worn to focus interest. Suits of coats, waistcoat and breeches that are entirely different colours and materials also exist. None of these combinations should be thought more or less sophisticated that the other two.

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