Friday, February 3, 2012

"Patrick Henry" Details

Fittings, 28 buttonholes, 32 + 19 buttons (long story), linen, more fittings. Yes, it is done. Patrick Henry now has a new outfit! :) 

We've been attending Liberty Day, since I was 11 or 12, and "Patrick Henry" has been wearing the same outfit every year. It was time for a change!

We got the fabric at Joann Fabrics, and it took a long time to find the "perfect" fabric for him. But finally we settled on a green suit coat, a tan waistcoat and chocolate brown breeches. 

I'm so thankful for scrap material! Not having the chance to sew many outfits for gentleman, mock-ups were wonderful! Especially when he has very, very broad shoulders, is rather thin and very tall. :) It was a really fun project, with very few mistakes and a very pleasing result!

I used Butterick #3072 for the suit coat and waistcoat, and Simplicity #4923 for the breeches (don't laugh... I know it's a pirate outfit, but it was the only pattern for fall-front breeches that I could find at the fabric store!). The breeches needed serious adjustments (after all, it is a pirate pattern... what can one expect! *smiles*), but thankfully wasn't too terrible. The waistcoat was fine and all I changed was adding lacing loops in the side seam so it can be adjustable. For the suit coat, I broadened the shoulders, pulled in the waist seam slightly, lined it, and did a 1 1/4" stand-up collar, instead of the pointed flip-down collar. 

The cravat is made of linen, and I completely forgot about it until a couple days ago! Thankfully I had some white linen on hand and was able to whip it up in about an hour and a half (lots of hemming...) and had no problems. I love ripping fabric to get straight lines - it's terribly fun.

Now I'm going to bore you dreadfully with the woeful tale of buttons. I ordered the suit coat buttons from James Townsend and Son, and while waiting for them to arrive, I bought the buttons for the waistcoat and breeches and sewed them all on.... all 19 of them.  That took me the greater part of two days to do all the button holes (once you start doing them by hand there is no turning back. Ever. Especially on a historical outfit.) and buttons, and cravat. I'd do my chores and such, possibly send a quick email, sing/play piano and head down to the basement to watch another episode of John Adams and sew another set of buttons and/or buttonholes. And I got them all on, rejoiced that I only had 13 left on the coat, and then......

...... the order arrived. And they were silver. Bright shiny silver. Not what I was expecting, given the photo on the website which looks decidedly brown-toned. The 19 buttons I had sewn on the waistcoat and breeches looked terrible next to these stunning silver buttons. As my friend Lily says "I like to put blood, sweat and tears into each project." Our basement is very hot in the winter when the heater is going, so I did my fair share of sweating (and stressing.... I nearly always have a stressing stage in each project), and plenty of pin-pricks (there must be a limit to the number of times a person can poke themselves on one garment) and the buttons pretty much completed the tears department, except I didn't actually cry, just got very near it for a second. :) Mom took me to the store and we got 19 new buttons and I sat down once again to rip off those 19 I had just sewn on and put the new ones and the 13 coat buttons on. 

The end of the story is that it all looks very nice now, and the new buttons are nicer than the old ones, even if that did mean a few more hours of work! :) I'm very eager to see it on Patrick Henry while he gives that glorious speech - won't have to wait too much longer now!! :)


  1. wow! that is incredible! amazing work.

  2. oh girlie... your work never ceases to amaze me. I love it, and can't wait to see it in the performance!! =)

  3. It looked great!

    Yeah... I got my share of pin pricks, and I didn't even sew my own outfit!

  4. my goodness Tara! What a great job and what patience! Looks terrific!
    Your proud Oma....

  5. Hannah Elise & Laura- Thank you!!

    Emil - Thanks! LOL! I had to laugh about getting pin pricks! It was great to see you at the rehearsal! Grace did an amazing job on your outfit!! And you look good in a wig. Seriously. :)

    Oma - Thank you so much! I love you!!

  6. Tara,
    It was great seeing you as well! Yeah, I couldn't tell how it looked, but I'm glad y'all liked it! The funny part is just when I swung my head to either side, the pony-tail thing lay on my shoulder... LOL. :-) And then the whole picture taking thing was hilarious.... Overall an awesome time! :-)

    See you at Liberty Day! It's going to be a great weekend! :-)

  7. Emil - So you had to do the finger-flick off the shoulder, like we talked about when you first told me you had to wear a wig.....haha!! Make sure that doesn't happen during the performance!! Fun times!

    See you then! :)

  8. Tara,

    I just found your treasure trove of a blog, and enjoyed every last post!
    Your sister's photography is wonderful, your costuming adventures are so creative, detailed, and exquisite, and I am in love with this Patrick Henry ensemble. The End.

    Looking forward to more! :)


    P.S. I have a dotted swiss regency gown down on my sewing list now;)

    P.P.S. All of the quotes in your sidebar made me smile hugely=D

  9. Kellie - Thanks so much for the encouraging comment! Hope you'll be back often!

    And you look really familiar from your profile picture....... have we met somewhere before?

  10. I don't remember ever having seen you - unless you've ever been in the Idaho Panhandle, in which case it might be possible... But I am so delighted that our paths have crossed now, and I will definitely be following your creative journey. =)

  11. I've heard soaking buttons in vinegar takes the shine off them...perhaps you could experiment with several different types of metal buttons (if you have any lying around) and see if it dulls them at all.



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