I also came across photos of Merja Palkivaara's riding habit on her blog, Before the Automobile, and I fell in love. I had to have one, but I wanted mine to follow the regimental colors and lace pattern of the IXth of Foot, my reenacting unit. Dressing in this fashion was made popular by Georgiana Spencer, the ever fabulous Duchess of Devonshire in the 1770s.
The Fabrics: I started with red worsted wool from Burnley and Trowbridge that is perfect in all ways and absolutely striking. It's a twill weave, and much deeper in color than the picture lets on.
The lining is silk taffeta in a beautiful ivory that I acquired from Osgood Textile in West Springfield. I found some lovely silk for the waistcoat there as well. The gold wool is leftover from the first run of IXth uniforms from the early 2000s.
The pattern: Mill Farm 15: Woman's Riding Habit Jacket and Waistcoat, according to Old Time Patterns, suitable for 1760 - 1780. I modified this pattern heavily for the cut-away, and the pointed waistcoat. The waistcoat that comes with the pattern is the more traditional men's style 1770s waistcoat. I ordered size 12-14 based on my measurements, but the pattern does not differentiate between 12 and 14. It simply states 12 will fit loosely, and 14 will "just" fit. I always work from a mock up, so I wasn't super worried.
The pattern has a dart across the bust that I omitted in fitting to accommodate shaping for the cut-away., and my alterations left little skirting on the front, so I'm not sure I will end up being able to do a pocket. I may still try to place a faux pocket flap just for style.
Waistcoat: Take One: I used two light weight cable ties to brace the back seam for lacing. When I tried it on, I decided I did not like how the the upper chest looked around the bust line, so I trimmed it down.
Waistcoat: Take Two: I made more of a V shape. It reduces much of the fitting issues. It will also make room for the cotton voile habit shirt and silk cravat fluffities
Progress: Looking a bit more sharp and put together. I ended up taking the pattern mock-up in considerably at the waist to create the cut-away shape. The idea is to have it all link up with one hook and eye closure
I cut out the lining in two pieces - skirting, and everything above the waist. My intention is to avoid the obnoxious problems that arise when trying to line box pleats. I think I may be on to something here.
I treated the lining and the fashion fabric as one pieces, and stitched the pleats in place. The idea is to attach the rest of the lining over it, hiding the business part of the pleating.
Constructing the Facings and Collar: Using my grungy IXth infantry grunt uniform as a starting point, I free-handed and eye-balled the facing shapes.
I traced the shape of the facings, and just sketched with a pencil on the yellow wool until I had an approximate. Attaching the facings will be a bit different from the construction of the actual private's uniform. I intend to make it a bit less rough around the edges, as these facings are just tacked on the top. I'm still cooking up construction ideas.
Getting there. I got the cuffs, collars and facings out of the one scrap of yellow wool.
The plan is to follow the lace placement patterns of the IXth uniform with silver mylar lace and fancy buttons. The collar will be interlined with cotton duck cloth I had lying around. I looked for horsehair fabric online, but was not quite sure what I needed.
Next up are some more tweaks to the waistcoat length and the jacket flaps. I think I need to order the lace and apply it to the cuffs and facings before proceeding much further.