Sunday, September 29, 2013

HSF Challenge #20: Outerwear, 18th Century Cloak for Acadian costume

So my mother-in-law is super into her Acadian heritage.  A couple of years back, she asked for and received an Acadian peasant woman's costume for Christmas. 
A little background on the Acadians:
The Acadians are the descendants of the 17th century French colonists who settled in Acadia, a colony of New France located in what is now Eastern Canada's Maritime provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island), as well as bits of what is now Maine, US. During the French and Indian War (the North American spill over of the Seven Years' War in Europe), British officers carried out the Great Expulsion of 1755-1763, deporting over 11,000 Acadians. While nearly a third of those displaced died of disease or drowning, a large portion were shipped back to France and others down into Louisiana, where they became known as the Cajuns. Later on, many Acadians returned to the Maritime region and it is from those who settled into Nova Scotia that my in-laws are descended.
So, mid-18th century peasant garb from round about that area of the globe using what I could learn about the Acadians from the MIL and the internet (which was frustratingly little, seeing as how I don't speak French) led me to make her this:
Let's all ignore the fact that two years ago, I knew jack-all-nothing about the construction of 18th century garments.
Fast forward a couple of years and now Mom would like a short cloak to pair with her outfit, which gets a lot of wear at Acadian heritage festivals in Nova Scotia (winds off of the Atlantic are cold, I hear).  Knowing what I know now about doing my historical research, I wanted to try to make the cloak a bit more authentic than the rest of the outfit.  With the difficulties of finding information on this comparatively small ethnic group, I expanded my search a bit to include early 18th century French peasants and the more spectacularly well-research American colonies.  I struck gold with an article The Hive Online, sponsored by The Ladies of Refined Taste & Friends and Minute Man National Historical Park.  Now these are people who take their research seriously.  Several excellent articles on that site.
I ended up mostly following their instructions, with some deviation.  Instead of purchasing felled wool, I did my favorite trick of buying inexpensive non-worsted wool suiting (usually pretty cheap round about July) and washing it in hot water and drying in a hot dryer.  I did still need to finish the edges, though, as it wasn't quite felted enough to hold its own hem.  I cut the body of the cloak in two pieces instead of on the fold due to fabric constraints.  Each half was a quarter circle cut 3 inches in from the selvedge (3 inches to add an extra 5 inches of fullness at center back and selvedge to have one less seam that needed finishing). 

The hood is lined in 16mm habotai silk, dyed dark navy and the pieces were cut about three inches longer than the hood and against the selvedge so that the lining extended into the shoulders a bit to prevent the wool from rubbing against the neck.  The center front and hem of the cloak were finished with a strip of silk ribbon that was sewn once on the right side, then turned to the inside and sewn in tow parallel lines, which gave the cloak a bit more shape.

The Challenge: OuterwearMake one of the layers that get added on to your basic outfit to protect you, and it, from inclement weather.
Fabric: navy wool suiting (hot-washed and dried to felt it), 16mm habotai silk (dyed dark navy)
Pattern: Heavily influenced by the fantastically well-researched and detailed instructions here:
Year: mid-18th century
Notions: poly thread, silk ribbon, antler buttons
How historically accurate is it? I'll give it a 6 out of 10 as it's entirely machine sewn and has finished edges.
Hours to complete: Five
Total cost: $45 USD

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