Sunday, 30 November 2014

The banyan

It's finished.  While I can't say this was an easy project, the result is very rewarding.  In fact, the main reason for the frustrations and problems I've had with this project is simply that I haven't made anything like it before.  If I did it again, it would probably be easier.

The fact that it's finished already is thanks to's stunningly quick shipping.  I had to order some more paisley, and to my absolute amazement it turned up in just a few days.  Standard shipping too.

In some ways this was a good choice for my first ever coat, because in structural terms the banyan is fairly simple.  I used thin cotton sleeve heads and interlined the collar and cuffs, but otherwise there's not much to it.  The original that inspired me doesn't look overly structured either, and I know early banyans weren't structured like a frock coat.

I've learned a few things making this pattern:

  • Making a coat is a lot like writing SAS code.  It has to be done step-by-step, and the steps have to go in the right order.
  • Yards are not meters.  I know that yards are not quite as long as meters, so I reasoned four yards should be a bit under four meters - plenty for a coat.  Wrong.  Four yards is three meters.  Not enough for a coat when the fabric is only a meter wide and has a directional print that runs across the fabric instead of vertically.
  • Early 19th century coats can be really flattering.

The Challenge: Gentlemen.

Fabric: 4 and a half yards of Kaffe Fassett "Paisley Jungle" printed cotton.  This is intended as a quilting fabric, but I don't think Mr. Fassett would mind.

Pattern: This one, with some modifications to make it look like this.

Year: Mid 19th century.

Notions: Silk thread in black and cream.

How historically accurate is it?  I'm not entirely sure, because I have no experience with this time period.  The original is made of printed cotton and this one is printed cotton too, but in terms of historical accuracy I'd say this fabric is really pushing it.  While the original appears to be self-lined, mine is lined in plain cream-coloured cotton, something I've seen on other mid-19th century garments.  Apart from the fact that my banyan is machine-sewn where possible, I think the construction is probably mostly okay.

Hours to complete: Oh God, I don't want to think about that.  There were a lot of hours.

First worn: For fittings.  It's a bit too hot for this time of year, but come winter I think it'll get a lot of wear.

Total cost: Somewhere around $50 - $60.

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