October 17, 2013

Of sewing and inspiration...

There's finally real progress on the flounce dress. I re-designed and re-drafted the bodice, checked if it would fit on the fabric and then made a muslin to check the fit. When I was happy with it, I started cutting. 
As mentioned, the fabric is only 90 cm wide and the front skirt is asymmetrical, so I had to cut the entire dress out of a single layer of fabric. Fortunately, this particular check has a very small set (repeat) so I could do some check-matching but not as meticulous as I might have wanted.

And then, last evening, I could finally start sewing the real thing. I continued today and it's looking promising:

 Nice bodice...

And look, the lines meet at the front darts and I got them to run along the edges of collar pieces. I like that.

I even spent some time looking at button options. I even looked at some bigger buttons as well. I quite like both the 'aged' copper snaps and the semi-transperant plastic ones and tried some bigger buttons as well. In the end, I'll probably go for matte black ones after all. Those won't stand out as much and after all, I want the skirt to be the eye-catcher here.

Seeing the bodice like this, and trying it on, made me think of something else. 
The caraco. 
I don't know whether that name was also used in English, but back in 1956, Dutch ladies' magazines new a particular style of jacket by that name.

A caraco was a waist-length jacket with a semi-fitted shape. It usually had a single breasted closure, a high neckline with or without collar, no pockets and set-in sleeves, which were often less than full length. 

It was worn over dresses or skirts with tucked-in tops and wide, cummerbund-like belts. In any case, it was worn with full skirts.

The caraco was quite a trend that winter. I guess it was mostly meant for young women. At least it was shown, like in the picture here, as part of the modern young woman's wardrobe. 

It got me thinking. I don't really have a suitable jacket to go with my full skirts and I had been thinking about making one this winter. Maybe I should try a caraco...  


  1. The bodice is looking great! I really love it, as well as both 2 buttons on the top row. I wasn't sure what those coats were talking about, but I've also started to become interested in a caraco, and I look forward to seeing what you create!

  2. A caraco is a brilliant solution for wearing with a full skirt, because anything longer is too unflattering If it covers the waist. I've made a few cropped jackets in the past but didn't know the official term until now though!

  3. To me the jacket you call a Caraco looks more like what in English would be called a spencer - though that in its Regency version stopped just below the bust. However, I have seen later jackets referred to as spencers that look like what you show. On Caracos I found this http://thegoldenscissors.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/kicking-caraco.html
    very interesting, though it suggests that what was called a caraco in the 18th century was not what you show. And since there is a suggestion that the word might originally have been French I treid my French dictionary and found it translated as a tucker, which these jackets are not, since "These were known by the late 17th century and were described by Randle Holme in The Academy of Armory, or a Storehouse of Armory and Blazon, 1688:

    "A Pinner or Tucker, is a narrow piece of Cloth - which compasseth the top of a Womans Gown about the Neck part."
    All fascinating - and in case they are really nice jackets and I have been wondering about making fsomething similar to wear over a fuller skirted dress in the summer when a blazer or cardigan doesn't quite look right. In a nice reasonably hefty linen perhaps?
    Anne Frances

    1. Wow, thank you for the research!
      To be honest, I didn't try and look for an English name for this kind of jacket because I didn't know where to start. Spencer might apply though.
      It's not a bolero because those were also in fashion at the time and the magazine makes a point of explaining how the caraco is different (it's longer and bolero's don't have to have a front closure and/or collar, caraco's do).
      I thought the word might, like 'bolero' be Spanish in origin. When I make one, I try and look that up.
      I wouldn't be surprised however if the Dutch fashion editors had just appropriated this term for a jacket, which wasn't in use in Dutch at the time, for this new style of jacket, regardless of its exact history or use in other languages. After all, that happens a lot in naming fashion items.

  4. Love your attention to all the little deatils in this piece. The collar looks stunning with the check running along the edge. This would be gorgeous as a caraco too :)