19th Century, Sewing

The Polly / Oliver jacket is done, done DONE!

Well, only three weeks late for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge, and 5 years and 3 months after I started it, the Monstrous Regiment inspired Polly / Oliver jacket is finally done!

The 1880s does 18th century Polly / Oliver jacket thedreamstress.com

I’m very proud of the end result, but it does suffer from being five years behind the times where my sewing skills are concerned.  I re-fitted and draped as much as possible, but there was a limit to how much I could rescue the original work (which wasn’t the best example of my sewing skills five years ago to start with, having been draped and started in a mad rush).

The 1880s does 18th century Polly / Oliver jacket thedreamstress.com

There was many a time when I was tempted to can the project, scrap the fabric, and move on to something easier.  Looking at it, I’m actually amazed that I didn’t.  The  sleeves were just as troublesome and difficult to finish as the rest of the jacket,  I put them in, tweaked, adjusted , set them, re-set them, bag lined them, took that apart, flat lined them, set them, re-set them, re-set them, re-set them, re-set them, finally got them where I was reasonably happy, triple-stitched the armscye, and then realised that 1) I’d sewn the wider piece of the 2-piece sleeve with the right side of the fabric facing in to the flat lining, and the wrong side facing out, and 2) the sleeves were only sewn together with basting stitches, but they were very firmly sewn into the armscye.

The 1880s does 18th century Polly / Oliver jacket thedreamstress.com

Crap-dy crap crappers von Crapperkins.  

You know what I did?  I sewed as far up the sleeves as I could with proper stitches, and left it.  I know when to cut my losses.  The wrong-side is so subtly different it’s almost impossible to notice.  The jacket looks good.  It’s not going to be historically accurate at this point, and it’s not worth the time.

The 1880s does 18th century Polly / Oliver jacket thedreamstress.com

Except for some teeny-tiny issues around the sleeves, it fits well.  It’s striking, it will look fantastic once the skirt is done (I’m saving that for the Whites challenge), and the hat is done, and I’ve had enough.

The 1880s does 18th century Polly / Oliver jacket thedreamstress.com

So I sewed on the last buttons on the back of the jacket and on the sleeve cuffs, put the jacket on over jeans (note to self: wearing jeans over a corset is weird), and got Mr D to take pictures of it.

The 1880s does 18th century Polly / Oliver jacket thedreamstress.com

The Challenge:  Literature: Inspired by the character of Polly / Oliver Perks in Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment, re-imagined as an 1880s outfit.

Fabric:  1.5m of red cotton jacquard, 1.5m of white cotton sateen, both gifts from friends. 40cm of gilded gold silk, $22

Pattern:    My own, based on period examples

Year:    1886 does late 18th century historicism

Notions:  25 round brushed gold buttons for the false waistcoat, 14 antiqued gold buttons for the false bolero and jacket back, two old gold buttons for the jacket cuffs, all from inherited/gifted stash (so free), piping cord ($2).

How historically accurate is it?:    The pattern is period perfect, and all the sewing and techniques used are period accurate.  The fabric and overall aesthetic: not so much.  It would  probably have passed muster as a fancy dress or theater costume, though even with these cotton would be an odd choice.  Let’s say 50%

Hours to complete:    Oh dear.  That doesn’t bear thinking about.  We’re heading into 50+ territory – so much unpicking and re-sewing!

First worn:    For photos.  I’ll finish the skirt for the White challenge.

Total cost:  $24.  At least it wasn’t expensive!  (and strictly speaking, I have over half of the gilded gold silk left to use on another project).

The 1880s does 18th century Polly / Oliver jacket thedreamstress.com


  1. I’m loving it with jeans. I would so wear this with jeans and a pair of American duchess shoes.

    • Elise says

      It does look good together, doesn’t it? Congratulations on your temerity!

  2. Lynne says

    Oh, happy day! The whole thing. I’m sorry it was such a saga for you, but it really has turned out well. The front is great, and the back is just charming!

    And it makes an excellent foil for Felicity.

  3. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I can’t wait to see it with a skirt, but it’s pretty awesome as you have it with the jeans.

  4. I love it with jeans as well! You have certainly excelled yourself on this…

  5. How cool to make an outfit from a character in a book! It looks wonderful, and I love the lines 🙂

  6. Well it looks gorgeous! Hopefully the memory of all those hours will fade over time and you can enjoy it. 🙂

  7. Polly says

    Fantastic! Just love this, you could wear it any day, just with your Jeans 🙂

  8. Dear me! I want to make this whole outfit. Any chance you will make up a pattern or direct us to comparable historic patterns from which to cobble our own? I’ve never tried any historical sewing, but I absolutely am dying over the jacket and corset! Excellent job!

  9. Zach says

    I’m so glad you finished it! It looks wonderful in my eyes, and as a bonus, you’ll won’t feel like a quitter (as I often do when I give up on stuff)! I can’t wait to see the whole outfit complete!

  10. caroline says

    I really like how to you make something new again. Look marvelous on you too.

  11. YAY!!! It turned out BEAUTIFUL!!! It actually looks sort of cool with the denim jeans. 🙂 Can’t wait to see the whole outfit!

  12. karenb says

    I also love the jacket and corset with jeans. perfect in my eyes. the colours are perfect together too. Love the back of the jacket.
    would be very happy to have the pattern too. You might be starting a new look.

  13. Lark says

    Holy canolies! I am in severe lust with your jacket. It is GORGEOUS! Kudos!

  14. Makenzie Coker says

    I was reading through some of your old posts attempting to soak up inspiration and the way you pronounce new evils is quit reminiscent of abominations unto Nuggen, although yours are far more sensible. The jacket is lovely and very smart looking.

  15. AnotherStephanie says

    I just love it.

    I hope the memories of the many painful hours fade enough for you to wear it often and enjoy it, because it looks fantastic!

  16. This is absolutely amazing! What a labour of love (and hours!) This is Pratchett-tastic!

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