Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #22 - Choice - Gentlemen

Quitting smoking is easy, I've done it hundreds of times.
Mark Twain
Imagine that when dinner is over our gentleman has retired to the smoking room.  He has put on his smoking jacket, his symbol of a time of leisure and reflection, and quiet meditation.  He still looks distinguished in this now iconic casual dress.  As far back as the 17th century when spices, tobacco, coffee and silks began flowing from India, Asia, and the Americas, our gentlemen have taken these habits and dress.  The smoking jacket, a kind of short robe or dressing gown made with luxurious fabrics, bright colors, and bold trim, survived into the mid 20th century.
This wonderful page will lead you through a brief history and pictures of the smoking jacket:
Some modern famous wearers include Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Hugh Hefner, Fred Astaire who was buried in one, and the Third Doctor of Doctor Who.
It's now time for my gentleman, my husband Patrick, to wear his own symbol of leisure.  "But I don't smoke!", says he.  So I tell him it's also fitting for a late evening drink and he brings out the Maker's Mark, his favorite Kentucky Bourbon.
The basic smoking jacket appears little changed through the years and I use Folkwear 238 pattern for both gentlemen and ladies.
I have a deep rust cotton twill and a black cotton matelassé in the fabric stash and cut out the pattern pieces.

Assembly is very straightforward and Patrick is ready for that bourbon.
"Here I am.  What am I supposed to do?"
Here is Patrick with his new smoking jacket looking all the dashing gentleman at leisure.  No Smoking.

Historical Sew Fortnightly
What It Is:  Gentleman's Smoking Jacket
The Challenge:  #22 - Choice - Gentlemen
Fabric:  Cotton twill, cotton matelassé
Pattern:  Folkwear 238
Year:  1880 plus or minus 70 years
Notions:  thread
How historically accurate is it?  The use of bold and bright colors, the shawl collar, and the overall impression are accurate.  Historically the fabrics would have perhaps been richer silks and velvets.
Hours to complete?  5 hours due to the amount of hand sewing
First worn:  Photos and for the pajama party at the Victorian Dance Cruise in January.
Total Cost:  The fabric was all in the stash but requires just under 3 yards for a large size.
Love always,