Chris Gerrib is an author I met a few years back at a convention. He contacted me in February of 2015 about a commission for a writing cruise he was going on. There was going to be a Regency ball one night and he wanted to go in costume. He was looking for a naval frock coat with epaulets.
Chris is the kind of client I love. He provided me with pictures, research and was clear on what he wanted. After some back and forth we had a plan. For the frock coat I used the 1795-1820 Men’s Tailcoat Pattern from Rocking Horse Farms. For the pants, Chris picked up a pair of painter’s pants. And for the cravat I used a Burda Style pattern I already had on hand.
As with any costuming project there were alterations and changes that had to be made for fit and personal preference.
The painter’s pants were a cheap alternative to making trouser’s from scratch. All they required was removing the tool loop on the outside and hemming. However, going with them meant forgoing the high waist that is period appropriate. With the lower waist line, a good portion of the his shirt would be visible. We discussed a couple of options to cover the gap, like making a waist sash, a solution that was used by some at the time. Eventually we settled on lowering the front of the frock coat. This required extra time and fiddling with the pattern, but it kept his costume pieces to a minimum and kept the lines clean.
I used a suiting blend for the coat. Wool would have been the historically appropriate, but as the cruise was going to be in the Caribbean we nixed the wool for the sake of avoiding heatstroke. Going with a suiting also reduced material costs, and gave us more options to work with. It took a couple of fittings to get the redrafted front right. It wasn’t just a matter of lengthening the entire pattern, only the front needed adjustment. But getting it to align with the side pieces and the tail at the back required some work.
I used this tutorial for the epaulets. The base was chipboard cut from a notebook. I covered the chipboard with white cotton, and then used gold fabric paint to cover the entire thing before adding the trim. At first, I used snaps and hooks and eyes to attach them to the coat. This proved problematic in real world conditions, however. It was hard to attach them by oneself, and they would come loose when Chris walked around. He brought them back later for me to replace the fastenings with Velcro.
I used plain white cotton for the cravat.
All in all Chris was pleased with the final costume. It hit all the points he wanted: appropriate for the event, comfortable, and flexible enough that he could use it for other events (there was talk about altering the buttons and epaulets for a steampunk look). He received many compliments on the outfit. What do you think?
Looking to fill your Kindle with science fiction? Check out Chris’ novels on Amazon.com.*
*These aren’t affiliate links. I just like to support friends’ work.