18th Century

The 18th century man’s suit: fabric and trims

I planned and made my 18th century mans suit redux in just a few days, so I had to scrounge in my stash and use whatever I had on hand.

For the jacket, I used a fabulous sky blue duchesse silk satin which I picked up at the same time as the beige satin which I dyed for Ninon’s dress:

Delicious duchesse silk satin

Unfortunately, I forgot that I had a specific project in mind for the sky blue fabric, and now I’m grumpy with myself for using it.  However, Daniil is probably very grateful that I didn’t use my other option, which was a lilac silk duchesse satin – very 18th century, but rather difficult for a 21st century man to pull off!

I was pretty confident about my ability to make the jacket, and make it well, but I was much more nervous about my ability to make breeches.  So I chose a fabric that I wouldn’t be heartbroken about if I totally stuffed them up: a $4 a metre heavy cotton with a woven in irregular diagonal rib.  I picked 10 metres of it up at Arthur Toye’s bi-annual 50% off fabric sale.

My breeches and waistcoat cotton

I wanted the breeches and vest to match, so the vest is made out of the same fabric.  Both the vest and the jacket cuffs are trimmed with silver and white borders which I cannibalized from an old scarf.

Pretty glittery from an old scarf - $3 at a thrift shop

I plan to replace the jacket cuffs at some point, but I think of this vest and breeches as ‘stunt’ garments, so the trim will stay on the vest.

The cuffs used the wider decorative border from each end of the scarf

The wider decorative borders had a weird bird motif on them.  I ended up chopping the birds in half, and they are basically upside down on the cuffs, so no-one else knows.  But they still make me giggle when I see them.

Hehe. Chickens

To contrast with the silver trim on the white vest, I used gold buttons from Grandma’s stash.

Gold waistcoat buttons

I love the gold and silver together, and I think it helps break up the cliche of the blue and silver.

I wanted to use gold buttons on the jacket too, but I couldn’t find any that I liked.  I did find gorgeous silver buttons at a reasonable price, so I used them.

Silver buttons on sky blue silk

The buttons are fabulous.  They have mirrors behind the ornamental grid, so they flash and gleam as the jacket moves.  Not quite Louis XIV’s solid diamond buttons, but lovely nonetheless!


I also bought matching little gold buttons (they didn’t have large ones) to go on my eventual non-stunt waistcoat and breeches.

Pretty little gold buttons for a later waistcoat and breeches

For now, the breeches are just fastened with boring, pragmatic shell buttons.

Hmmmm...not nearly as pretty



  1. We all know about the birds now, tee hee, and aren’t they out of sync with the rest of the design on the border. Love that you talked about the buttons, the silver and gold ones from Grandma’s stash are gorgeous. I don’t usually like metal buttons but those are to die for. Menswear and those breeches, there are a great pair of men’s breeches in the collection at The Elms, they button up at the front on each side of a central flap. They were made of a kind of moleskin fabric, cream in colour.

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