19th Century

Polly / Oliver: Coming up to the final skirmish

Polly Oliver is so close to done.  I just need to set the sleeves and collar.

I hope…

Everything has been a bit of a battle so far – very Borogravian: always fighting (thanks to Jenni on facebook for making this link!).

Still, I’m quite pleased with how it is looking, even if I have put at least 14 lines of stitching into every single seam (that isn’t an exaggeration btw.  I counted).

Polly / Oliver jacket almost done thedreamstress.com

First, five years ago, I sewed the jacket together without any flat lining (stitching lines 1), thinking I would line it, but it was too soft and also not historically accurate, so I unpicked it, flat lined in in dark blue twill (stitching lines 2 & 3), and basted it back together with red piping between the seams (SL 4 & 5, because every time you sew a seam with piping you have to sew on the piping, and then re-sew the seam.   Then I fitted it, unpicked the piping, moved the piping, and resewed the seams to the new fit lines (SL 6 & 7).  Then I re-stitched slightly snugger seamlines close to the piping, to be very precise (SL 8).  Then it sat in a box for 5 years.

When I pulled it out a few weeks ago, I didn’t like the red piping – it was too bulky, and didn’t give enough definition.  So I took apart the jacket, and sewed it back together without piping (SL 9), but it wasn’t doing it for me.  I thought about highlighting the seam lines with gold braid, but haven’t been able to find a gold braid that sews nicely in curves.  Then – inspiration: a corset student of mine had bought gilded gold silk for her corset, but it didn’t look right.  I offered to buy it off her, because it matched my red nicely.

Then, working on the sleeves, I noticed that I’d sewn the wrong side of the fabric facing out (d’oh, though it was very, very subtle).  So I pulled the entire jacket apart again to turn the fabric around, and while I was at it took out the blue flat lining (because blue is an abomination unto Nuggan, and also it attracted cat hair like nobody’s business), re-flat lined in the same white as the vest (SL10), and sewed it back together right side out with gold piping (SL 11 & 12).  Unfortunately, due to my little forget-to-add-buttoning-allowance to the vest snaffu, the jacket was now too snug, so I pulled it apart yet again, moved the piping to the edge of the seam allowance, and sewed it with smaller seam allowances (seams 13 & 14).  Then I did a ton of re-fitting of the side-seams (at least 4 lines of stitching each) as I got the front bolero look to fit properly.

And that is what’s been taking me so long!

Polly / Oliver jacket almost done thedreamstress.com

In addition to using the gilded gold silk for piping at each seam, I made piping with  extremely wide flanges and used it to finish the bottom hem of the jacket, so that you see bits of gold at the turns of the pleats.

Polly / Oliver jacket almost done thedreamstress.com

It’s all hand-sewn down on my new white flat lining with neat red stitching.

Polly / Oliver jacket almost done thedreamstress.com

The buttons are the one thing that haven’t given me any hassle.  I am so pleased with how effective my antiquing technique has been.

Polly / Oliver jacket almost done thedreamstress.com

See?  Lovely dull gold, perfect match to the round buttons, not too shiny.

Polly / Oliver jacket almost done thedreamstress.com

I’m not sure about the button layout though.

Do you think I ought to spread the big buttons out a little more?  Or move the top set down to the bottom end?

I could add more buttons, but I’ve only got 10 left, and I wanted to save four to go on the top of the back pleats, and another 6 for the skirt.

Polly / Oliver jacket almost done thedreamstress.com

The four buttons will go at the top of the back and side back pleats where the piping ends.

Polly / Oliver jacket almost done thedreamstress.com

It’s going to be quite spiffy, but goodness am I ready for it to be done!


  1. Lynne says

    You deserve a medal for tenacity! We used to have a prize at school called The Grit Cup. Okay, its citation, which said it was for “the solid plugger” (always cracked the award committee up) is not appropriate, because you are so far beyond that, a star and a wonder. But grit, you certainly have.

    The piping is beautiful, the shape is lovely, the foldy bits at the back are going to be perfect. Love it.

    I vote for the top buttons to move down to the waist.

  2. It is a miracle that you don’t hate the thing and that you haven’t just thrown it into the UFO pile!

  3. mydogphoebe says

    Full Metal Jacket! Looks too crowded. Perhaps lose the top three big buttons. Perfect outfit for Wellington – all that ballast. *vbg*

  4. Certainly sounds like a battle! I am super impressed with the long-term patience required to resew your seams that many times! I think I would have given up the ghost by the point you’re at. But it’s hard to tell… and when it’s your own special project then the endurance and desire to see it finished will keep you going.


  5. What others said.
    And I agree with Lynne, move the top two buttons – I think it will be better balanced that way. Or maybe simply remove them – I rather like the way they’re mostly on the top part of the jacket, somehow it feels “authentic” to me (I’m unable to say why – maybe I’m influenced by the top-buttoning 18th century jackets that were all the talk here recently?).

    • Elise says

      I also thought toward the top is best! But I don’t know the rest of the outfit shape, so can’t really say. Congratulations on your belief in the jacket and yourself!

  6. I would say that you should move the top buttons down just a smidgen (about 1/2 of an inch, or 1 cm) and then space out the rest a bit more.
    Hope you get it figured out! I can’t WAIT to see the finished result!

  7. Kathryn says

    GLORIOUS. This might be my very favourite of all your projects blogged here.
    I suggest: lower the top two buttons a couple centimetres, leave the bottom two as is, and respace all the ones in between. But I also think they’re great the way they are.

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