|Mid 19th Century Image of Average Men|
Let me start this with what it took for me to gain the confidence to pull off a fairly decent coat. Right off the bat, I knew I needed an authentic pattern and I immediately discovered that none had been developed. There is a very good reason why no one has marketed a successful pattern for a Frock Coat yet, it's just too darn hard. Besides being nearly impossible to size it to all the different shaped men out there, it would have to come with a book on period tailoring techniques, written by someone who had the patience to teach us amateurs.
|19th-Century Men |
or Modern Impersonators ?
|Gathered data and samples|
What followed over the next few years was a succession of events and serendipitous opportunities that would eventually lead to a successful coat. First, I found some wonderful black wool broadcloth from the Pendleton Mills in Oregon. It had the finish, hand and density that came very close to the original. It didn't unravel when cut and that was a big plus. Next came Saundra Altman's workshops at Columbia in 1994 and later. One of my projects at the workshops was making a winter paletot under the watchful eye of Roxy Barber. Roxy had come to the classes as a guest of Saundra because she was a professional tailor. From Roxy, I learned about how garments were built from the inside out. She was a great teacher of pad stitching and the use of Interfacing, Underlining and Interlining to gain the correct form in the finished garment.
|Muslin fitting from 1849 Tailor's Sheet|
|One of our original 1850's Frock Coats|
Just a couple of little details need mentioning. With the quality of the wool that I was using, I had the opportunity to take advantage of some period details that I learned from studying the original coats. When it came to constructing the finished edges of Frocks, the tailors would turn under the seam allowances on the top only and cut the under piece to the edge. The raw edge of the under piece would be carefully edge stitched down. What you gained from this was only 3 layers of fabric instead of 4 and would give you a thinner edge, that was desirable. The other point I thought worth mentioning was that the hem on the skirt was left raw as well. To give the hem some body, they rolled up the lining to form a corded edge effect, on the inside of the skirt hem. All in all, I was very pleased how it turned out. I'm the last person to claim any expert status when it comes to recreating period dress but from my experience, here is my formula for success in trying to duplicate a Frock Coat. All I can say is Good Luck and keep trying , it's a tough nut to crack.
1. Find the best possible materials
2. Use an authentic pattern, drafted from an original source
3. Learn and practice basic tailoring techniques
4. Study original coats
5. Make a fitted muslin and correct to fit, this will be your final
| My Replica Frock Coat|
Photos Lindy Miller 2011
|Front View Closed|