For my latest reenactment event in Stupinigi I had to sew a ridign habit, since the theme of the day was hunting and I didn't own a proper dress. I always loved riding habits from 18 and 19th century so I immediately started to look for references from paintings and extant gowns,
Riding habits were extremely popoular at that time and were also used for walking or travelling, so were versatile; they were inspired by mens fashion so they were often made by tailors following traditional male techniques, as buttonholes on the left side instead on the right. They could be richily decorated or simpler, with long or short skirts, worn open or closed on the bust. Blue and red were popoular and fashionable colours.
I wanted it in velvet but I thought it would have been too pretentious to be a first riding costume so I went for wool. I didn't have a particoular colour in mind and I chose a pumpink wool I found at a very good price in my home town. I also bought black wool for waistcoat, collar and cuffs. I wanted to look the most accurate as possible so I wore the proper undergarments (chemise, stays, pocket hoops, petticoat and riding shirt) including the riding waistcoat; now the fun part: tailoring. Seriously, tailoring is totally different from regular dressmaking. For my waistcoat I used my Outlander jacket as reference for the main body, enlarging the front pieces and elongating a lot the skirts as seen in "Patterns of Fashion" and "The cut of women's clothes"; the back has lacing as the male waistcoats. It is lined in cotton and it came together really quicly (sadly I didn't take photos of it during the event!) with hand finishing on the outside but machine sewn buttonholes. It was really warm!
Now the riding habit. The skirt is a classic 18th century skirt made of rectangles with slits at sides and a waistband. I didn't took photos of the construction since I think almost all us know how to make a 18th century skirt properly =) It ended to be longer than I expected so I will have to hem it again in the future.
The jacket was longer to make. I used Waugh's pattern to start but I definitely abandoned it because I disliked the dropped waist in the back skirts (The Antique Sewist explains this issue in her blog perfectly with lot of photos of the finished garment) so I referred to Janet Arnold. The pattern was kinda easy to draft but I did some alterations in the skirts and omitted the side pockets. The collar is from Waugh's pattern - it was faster to make.
Janet Arnold pattern
The back and the sleeves fit perfecly but there are some issues with the front. The jacket looks bulky and too long and this is probably due to the position of my old pocket hoops. The front edges of the jacket are reinforced with canvas according to the pattern instructions.
The pockets and the hems have been stitched with whipstitches on the inside and visible stitiches on the outside to keep lining in place. Cuffs and pockets have been them embellished with gold metallic buttons.