Trouble In Curtain Land

A few weeks ago, I was super excited and motivated that I had time to work on my Curtain Along jacket. I made the changes I had deemed necessary from my last fitting and was feeling good about getting it done and how much I liked it… but then I tried it on again to determine center front and decide about trim… and there were new problems, and I was so discouraged!

The problems sum up in the following way:

Problem #1- The sleeves that go with the jacket in Janet Arnold just do not work for me without serious alteration. The crown isn’t large enough for me to be able to move or be comfortable, and the sleeve is at least 4 inches too short. With the sleeves set in the jacket was pulled all over the place and was so unbearably uncomfortable! And the annoying thing is that in the mockup the sleeve worked!

After ripping the sleeves out, and being thankful that, at least, they were what was causing the bodice to do all sorts of wonky things, I bounced back and came up with a solution. I’ll use the sleeve pattern from my 1780s Robe A La Anglaise and recut the sleeves. I’ve got extra Mineral Felicite fabric, so that’s no problem. On the other hand, I have only tiny matching linen scraps left. Of course, it would be totally period correct to use a different linen to line the sleeves than what I used to line the bodice. But piecing is also period correct, and I decided to use all my tiny matching linen scraps to piece together pieces big enough to cut out the new sleeve pattern.

Extreme piecing. I’m amused by it at this point. This sleeve is only partially completed (there is more piecing to be done!) but you can see the original pattern shape.

I haven’t finished piecing, or cut out the new Mineral Felicite sleeve, or sewn the new sleeves in… but I think that my solution will work, so we’ll call that problem solved. Whew!

Problem #2- After my initial fittings, I had to add an extension to my center front pieces to get the jacket to close comfortably and without wrinkles. It barely closed in my mockup and I thought it would be enough, but in the real fabric it just wasn’t. So I pieced on extensions. Piecing is totally period correct, but this piecing is so… obvious and symmetrical.

Center front piecing. The yellow headed pins are my center front line. I haven’t done anything about center front since I put those pins in!

This problem is still unresolved. Plus, I can’t decide how I want the jacket to close, anyway. Pins? Hooks and loops? If you have any thoughts about the piecing problem or the closure indecision, please do share!

Problem #3- Trim! I was going to trim the jacket with box pleated blue silk ribbon around the neck, front, hem, and cuffs. I thought I had enough ribbon (6yds), but in the end I think I have not quite enough to trim all of those edges. AND, the blue didn’t seem to pick up the blue in the print as much as I originally thought it did, and I’m worried that even if I do less pleated trim (say, not the sleeves, or something) the trim will look super costume-y and not 18th century. I also have a gold silk ribbon (5 yds). Not enough to trim the whole jacket, but what if I scrap the idea of trimming the edges and instead do some sort of center front bow trim/something of some sort to hide the piecing using the gold? I think the gold looks nice… but what sort of trim would I do that wouldn’t look made-up and costume-y???

Blue silk ribbon. There’s blue in the flowers, but perhaps not enough blue to make the blue ribbon make sense???
Gold silk ribbon. Too match-y?
Blue and gold together, for comparison.

I  have no idea what I’m going to do about the ribbon issue. Bows at center front seem to be used on stomacher front jackets, and stomacher front jackets seem to be exclusively pet en l’air styles. This jacket is not a pet en l’air, though it could be altered to have a stomacher front (thus eliminating the piecing issue). Sigh. I just think myself around in circles. So again, I appeal to you! If you have any thoughts, please share!

Help! I’d really appreciate it!

10 thoughts on “Trouble In Curtain Land

  1. I’d chose the blue ribbon…it looks fresh and lovely and corresponds with the blue in the dress fabric. But please keep in mind I’ve no real clue about this era – so I’m probably no help at all with the choice of proper closure of the garment 😉

  2. Don’t be discouraged! I think you think it looks a lot worse than it actually does. I just made a jacket like the one in costume close up and it has a stomacher front and isn’t a pet in l’air. Maybe that is your best bet. You can add eyelets like the costume close up jacket or pin it closed. I love pinning…. I don’t have to sew in any closures 🙂 Do you have enough fabric left to do maybe some self trim? That’s always pretty.

    Best of luck 🙂

  3. I don’t have any clue about Problems #1 and #2, but for the color of Problem #3, I’d pick the gold ribbon. For some reason, the blue is looking a bit costume-y to me; perhaps that is just how it looks in the photo and not IRL, but I think the gold looks best. This is coming from a girl who LOVES the color blue, too! 🙂

  4. See how the trim goes up the front and around the neckline in the fashion plate (1780s)? I’d do that and close the jacket with hooks and eyes (or just pins which is also period). This way you can a) hide the piecing in the front and b) still be content that this is period correct.

    I’d also go with the blue trim – it looks more lively than the gold. On my monitor, the gold is coming off as dead, dried grass in color.

  5. What struck me when looking at the two ribbon photos is how much the blue ribbon pulls the blue out in the fabric, and how the gold sort of knocks the blue back. I like the blue.

  6. Definitely the gold ribbon. Not only is the blue not the right color when looked at as a whole, but you are right—it just doesn’t seem to pick out the blue in the jacket….
    I actually notice the blue MORE when the jacket is framed with the gold.
    I also think the blue is WAAAY too “costumer”.
    Wear a straw hat with some of the gold ribbon and maybe stick on a few small tasteful blue flowers (such as delphineum) if you want. (I have some really really pale ones that I use where appropriate for perking up an 18thc. outfit.)
    I also think making the trimming out of the SAME print fabric is a really good idea, and very correct.

  7. I like the blue, but feel it’s too strong. If I were you, I’d take a tiny snippet of it and dip it in a weak bleach solution, to see what happens. (If you like it — BEFORE USING IT!! — rinse it a gazillion times. You don’t want fade spots migrating from the bleached ribbon onto the lovely fabric!!) Or, what about centerfront rosettes using both colors? Possible? I also love the idea of same-print ruffled trim. Very cool

  8. Thanks for the opinions, everyone! I’ll be posting about this again once I get the new sleeves set in, but in the meantime I’m mulling over all of the ideas and inspiration you’ve provided. I really appreciate it!

  9. I know this is a bit late, (I’m slow reading my email!), but can you open up a the front and add a stomacher? Or is that the wrong period?

    1. No problem, thanks for sharing your opinion! Yes, a stomacher is a possibility for this period and certainly a good way to eliminate the crazy front piecing. It’s definitely an option I’m considering!

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