Sunday, November 23, 2014

KFI Redingote 1810-15

Happy Sunday.
When I take stock of future projects, I like to review what I have done in the past~ considering what I've learned and what I might want to improve on, as well as what is really going to challenge me beyond the desire for a new gown.  Because, I do have plenty of gowns to wear.  But not a lot of practical garments, like hats or coats.  I do seem to collect many pairs of gloves and far more jewelry than I need.  Always on a quest, I suppose. 
With that said, I'd like to share the garment that both challenged me the most, as well as providing the satisfaction of a job well-done.

Kyoto Fashion Institute: Redingote 1810-15
     I purchased the Kyoto Fashion Institute book a number of years ago.  However, this garment is only available to view on their website. The bold colour & stripes drew my attention, as well as the clean, tailoured look of the construction.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to discover additional views of the redingote, either of the back or the interiour construction. Shortly after seeing this photo online, I found a historical based fabric similiar in colour, but let it languish in my stash.  4 years ago, I did not feel equal to the task of doing this redingote justice.  Last fall, I finally worked up the courage to begin the project. 
     Per the KFI website, the only description of the redingote is as a "coat dress":
"The slim silhouette of this coat dress, free of any excessive decorations, was accentuated by a striped pattern, which was popular at the time. The belt marks a high waistline, and the front-opening skirt has a fly closure. Stripes became popular a little before the French Revolution as Chinoiserie, Chinese influence. Later, exotic stripe patterns of Egyptian and Turkish styles were introduced mainly as a consequence of Napoleon's expedition to Egypt. Such stripe patterns came into frequent use for clothes and interior decorations."  The material is described as "Yellow ocher and cardinal red strip printed plain-weave cotton with matching belt."

                                              Here is my version of the KFI Redingote.

      With out additional pictorial resources, I based my construction of the back by perusing the design various extant redingotes, as well as fashion plates from 1810-15.  I had previously made one spencer, completely reshaping a commercial pattern (Period Impressions 1809).  For this new project, I only used the redesigned back piece, while the rest of the garment was drafted & draped by me.  Thank you to modern technology, as I was also able to use the close up feature to see more of the cuff details and skirt's fly closure.  I spent hours lining up the fabric's stripes to create the "chevron" pattern in the photograph.  I also used a shaped skirt (triangles with a curved edge) to create the more bell-shape popular around 1812-15.  I did take some artistic license, with the lining colour and in adapting the skirt's fly closure. As a side note, I am not entirely fond of this type closure, and once  photographs are become available revealing the true construction, I may change how it currently operates--it is closed permanently at the hem, with the "fly" only open to the hip area (not illustrated in the picture).  I have not seen other redingotes with this closure, so I made it up a bit, working with the idea of the buttoned or "french fly" closure of breeches (and modern Levi 501 jeans).
     The garment is lined in a golden bronze cotton, one of my "artistic licenses" employed its creation.  I also used a bit of this to pipe the back of the redingote, to add interest and break up the stripes.  Another license, as piping does put it closer to the 1815 end of the time spectrum.  I liked the effect, and decided to keep this deviation of the back/bodice construction, from what my theory was of the original garment's look.     

  The lower portion of the sleeve is attached like a gauntlet cuff, and shaped a bit rather than cut straight.  I positioned the stripes a tad off center, to mimic the original.  And a good view of the chevrons of the skirt.

    the cuffs close with metal hooks and thread eyes.  Here is a peek of the lining too.

I took my time with this project, overall spending approximately 60-70 days between drafting the patterns & fittings--I didn't count the actual hours, as it was over weekends and evenings mostly.  There is both hand sewn & machine sewn portions of the garment.  I always hand sew the fiddly bits.  I wore it to the Oregon Regency Society's Jane Austen Tea in December 2013. 

   So what's underneath, you ask? I am wearing a muslin double ruffled chemisette and sleeveless petticoat in cotton sateen.  My "unmentionables" include a set of short stays & chemise. And it's all about the accessories: boots from Robert Land, wool muff from JAS Townsend,which I recovered in changeable silk to match the redingote.  I made both the reticule and the puffed crown hat (sometimes called a Lunardi hat), while the vintage Russian Lacquer brooch was a fantastic Ebay find.

   I'd like to thank those that has expressed interested about this project when I first shared it on Facebook. I apologize it took so long to put up this post.  During the initial stages of a project, I spend a lot of time percolating before putting my plan into action.  But once it is finished, I often move on to the next shiny new project, to dream & create. Quite so, if I am working on multiple garments at one time.  Please contact me, if you have further questions regarding fashion plates or extant resources, that I may have filtered through my brain to come up with this particular end result.

    And a final thought for the day: I don't believe there is an absolute right or wrong way when one is creating beauty--whether in poetry, painting, or apparel.  Put your heart & your truth into it, that is Art. Others may disagree, but there is plenty of room to share & grow together.  Start your journey, and see where it takes you.  



  1. I have seen you wear this and it is truly beautiful and looks amazing on you. I am in awe.

    1. Thank you, Mari. Hopefully I wear have another chance to wear it in 2015.

  2. Absolutely gorgeous! This is one of my favorite dresses ever, and your reproduction of it is perfect!