Fashion history has always been both a source of inspiration for our designs as well as providing a window into past times. When considering the fashion history of the late Nineteenth Century, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the magnificent designs of Worth, Doucet, Pingat, and others rather than consider what regular people wore. During this period, there was a growing market of patterns that were becoming available to the home sewer and marketed through publications such as Peterson’s Magazine, Demorest’s Family Magazine, and The Delineator, to name a few. In many cases, the patterns were designs licensed directly from major designers such as Worth (although they tended to downplay their involvement). Below is just one pattern for a jacket-bodice that was offered as a premium in Peterson’s Magazine…
Featured in the February 1887 issue of Peterson’s Magazine was a pattern called the “Kensington Jacket. While we’d love to believe that this was the start of a new fashion trend, unfortunately it wasn’t but rather a variation on the jacket-bodice style trend that had been developing for some time (the name was probably just an identifier for marketing purposes). That said, let’s take a look…
The pattern itself was included with the February issue (unfortunately it wasn’t scanned in the electronic version that we downloaded) and here’s a little description:
We give, this month, a “Kensington Jacket”— a very stylish affair, and suitable for late winter or early spring. It is quite an improvement, as will be seen, on the jackets of last fall.. Folded in with the number is a “Supplement,” with the several parts of this jacket given, in diagrams, full size. There are, as will be seen five pieces, as follows :
1. HALF OF FRONT.
2. HALF OF BACK.
5. COLLAR AND REVERS
…The velvet revers can be worn either open or closed, thus making the jacket single or double breasted, at pleasure. The material is fine cloth, the revers being of velvet to match. Fancy oxidized silver buttons are the prettiest, if they can be had.
As with many Victorian Era sewing patterns, this was a fairly utilitarian garment that can be made in a number of different styles in different materials and with all manner of trim. We’re tempted to track down an original paper copy that (hopefully) still has the pattern; it would make for an interesting project. 🙂