In late September 2014 while watching TV in my bedroom I was folding laundry and feeling not so pretty. I saw this beautiful picture on the screen and I took a quick pic and posted it to Instagram. Ruby Randall contacted me instantly with a request for a romantic 18th century riding coat. She wanted to do a similar shoot.

Tracy McElfresh

Finding a pattern is always the hardest part. We chose Reconstructing History’s riding coat. Their patterns use accurate lingo and have directions for constructing in the time period of 1776. This made for an incredibly advanced project. Historically it would have all been hand stitched, each piece to it’s lining. I believe this was because garments in that day were meant to last as long as possible. If a piece got ruined it would be easier to take the panel out and replace it without taking the entire coat apart.

Wow, that was a fun moment! I stitched it together with modern techniques.

Tracy McElfresh

It’s a good thing there is no shortage of vintage books in Dayton, Ohio. I was able to look up the time period and get a good sense of why things were the way they were and the proper names for parts of the garments. I learned about stays, why coats and jackets had so many buttons, why the large vent in the back and what’s up the white wigs ladies wore. Every project is a learning experience.

Tracy McELfresh

The sleeve armscyes were way too tight and needed to be reworked. This was the only real problem solving.

For materials we were able to source vintage wool and the lining for free. Last we figured out the buttons and fur! Buttons were a sign of wealth in the 1760s. We used only 5 large buttons. Buttons can be expensive and time consuming. Tracy McElfresh

The fur made an incredible difference in the overall look of the riding jacket.

Tracy McElfresh

I felt like a cobbler elf constructing such a beautiful piece and am honored to have the privilege.

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Photos taken by Sharon Caraway and Ruby Randall modeling her new coat.


Behind the scenes~

It’s been a special fall. I’m still doing alterations and making a few custom pieces on the side although everything feels like it has slowed down. How are you making through these time?

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!

Tracy McElfresh
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