Friday 23 July 2010

Kacabajka-related thoughts

That's what the nationalist 1848 Czech type of jacket was called. Kacabajka. Which, you English speaking folk, is definitely pronounced differently than you would pronounce it. But I'm not going to try to give you an idea, because my ability to transcribe Czech words in English equals that of English speaking folk to pronounce them.

I did find the passage about that particular jacket (which is in the collections of Umělecko-průmyslové muzeum in Prague). Yes, it was blue and white - light blue, with white borders, and the soutache trim was most probably navy/dark blue (it does look navy on the photo). So the fabric I have got from grandma is perfect in terms of colour.
It's not perfect otherwise, though, because the original jacket is made of silk, while my fabric is rather loosely and roughly woven... cotton, most probably.
Still, I think I'd give it a try. I like the colour and I have heaps of that fabric, so if it doesn't work out, it's not such a problem... I can always interline/flat-line it with something more densely woven to balance out its loose weave. Plus, it seems quite "period" in other aspects.
First, it's narrower than most contemporary fabrics - my guess is 1 m (roughly compared to our 90 cm wide dining table, because I was too lazy to measure it).
Second, a passage in the book says that some of the Czech nationalists of that era who promoted "national costume" also promoted the use of fabric from the mountainous regions of Bohemia, so called "plátno" - woven, and not woolen, as opposed to "sukno" which was, as far as I know, woollen, and which, as quoted in the book, some of the 1840s Czech nationalists equaled with Germans. Sometimes their logic really escapes me...
Anyway, I digress. As the book says, in order to support Czech weavers they promoted the use of Bohemian wovens from the mountainous regions, that were actually woven in satin weave - which my fabric is.

The colour is a bit off, but you can see the weave very well. And the fascinating way the weft and warp threads alternate so that the seemingly dominating direction of threads differs on each side of the fabric. If that makes sense described like this... I think, from satin-weaves, so far I've only encountered crepe-backed satin (AKA charmeuse) or damask (i.e. patterned weave), so this is new to me, and I love it.
I guess that "plátno" which they were promoting for national costume must have been very similar to this. Only most probably linen, not cotton.

The book says these jackets were worn with white skirts, which is an idea I really like. I imagine it worn with a long white skirt, and the OUATITW blouse underneath it... what a lovely mental image. Now I have to make at least one of those things. The OUATITW blouse is an obvious choice, seeing as I already have both the pattern and the fabric.

If I decipher the pattern draft correctly... if I do, to my great and pleasant surprise it seems the original wearer's bust and waist circumference was about the same as mine (at least the waist; I'm not so sure how to determine the bust measurement with the various pattern pieces).
In an ideal world, this would mean I could enlarge the pattern and use it without alterations. Alas, it is not so. Ms Ludmila Tomková of kacabajka renown was apparently very short torso-ed: 29 cm from nape of neck to waist. I, on the other hand, am slightly long-torsoed - about 41 cm, probably to balance out my undeniably short legs. So I'll have to lengthen it in the torso and, on the contrary, shorten it in the hips area, or my legs would look even shorter.

I'll conclude here with a photo of the pattern draft for your sewing-related dreams:

And here I'll leave you, waiting and drooling over its possibilities, until I finish at least some of my Regency-related and modern sewing, and that sontag from Stephanie Ann's Civil War Era Knit-Along.

(Also, this post seems to be an exercise in "How many labels can you squeeze into one post?")

The End. For now.

P.S. That was not long... I forgot to mention that, somehow, I managed to buy both a hat and sunglasses. The sunglasses are not of much consequence for this blog, the hat I'll get to later.


  1. That jacket is so pretty. I would want to wear that today.

  2. Yes. I've been coveting it ever since I bought that first book (the one where only the photo is). So you can imagine that when I saw that the book on Czech national costume in 1848 had the pattern, I snatched it immediately. :-)