Morris Clothiers
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  1. #11
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    Mar 2008
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    Mid-Atlantic
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    224

    Re: Surviving civilian Jean cloth frock coats?

    Curious patch pockets on that one...
    -Elaine Kessinger

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Gettysburg, PA
    Posts
    150

    Re: Surviving civilian Jean cloth frock coats?

    The Shippensburg University Fashion Archives and Museum has a jean frock coat from the first quarter of the nineteenth century in their collection. It predates the era of interest on this forum, but it's an interesting example if you are interested in textiles or how the style evolved over the next few decades.
    Carolann Schmitt
    cschmitt@genteelarts.com
    20th Annual Ladies & Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference, March 6-9, 2014

  3. #13
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    Sep 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    447

    Re: Surviving civilian Jean cloth frock coats?

    Quote Originally Posted by LibertyHallVols View Post
    The MoC had a suit of clothes on display that was made of cassimere. Looked like quality tailoring and construction, as I recall. I believe it was made by a slave for... ? Could have been his "master"... not sure.
    Andrew Jackson Grayson. It is a fine blue jeans woven by his slaves. Nicely tailored. Grayson was a wealthy Virginia planter who raised a company of soldiers in 1861. The suit was probably a product of the 1860-1861 fad of wearing "homespun" among some wealthy southerners.

    -Craig Schneider

  4. #14
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    Sep 2006
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
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    314

    Re: Surviving civilian Jean cloth frock coats?

    I own an original 1860s civilian single breasted frock coat made from black satinette. The satinette though, is unlike anything you'll find on the market today. For one, it's "double-faced" so it is finished on both sides, rather than the typical single faced cloth you'll find now. Only where the nap has worn away in spots can you see the natural cotton warp. The other thing is, the quality of the satinette is incredible, the nap has a teasle drawn finish exactly like super fine broadcloth and it's so incredibly tightly woven that it holds a raw edge without fraying; try finding a jean wool or satinette now that will do that. It weighs the same same as any other original frock made from superfine broadcloth or doeskin (which is to say VERY light weight). The construction is the same as any of the other 1860s frock coats I own or have examined and it's lined in a twill alpaca same as most other period frock coats. The only thing that's really different about this frock is that the sleeves are lined with a really pretty purple cotton print.

    I've said it numerous times, there's nothing wrong with wearing a jean cloth or satinette suit as a civilian, it's perfectly correct and more common than people think. The major problem is finding jean cloth or satinette as fine as original stuff, which were finished to look like other period woolens, but were cheaper because of the cotton filler. All the other original civilian items I've examined or have seen photos of that are made from jean or satinette, are made using materials finer than anything currently on the market. Using reproduction jean/satinette meant for Confederate uniforms is a poor substitution. You're better off just using quality all wool fabrics. Why use something that's so visibly different and feels so different? Better to stick with fabrics that are a better approximation of period fabrics.

    The photo Andrew posted deserves some context. I have saved on my computer numerous photos of men wearing frock coats made from the same "variegated looking" cloth. It's worth noting that all of these photos date to the 1845-1855 period (including the one Andrew posted). I have not seen any photos of any men dating after that wearing frocks made of this material. That tells me that these coats were likely a fashion trend during that time period, many of the men appearing in those photos I would definitely not classify as "poor." There's a whole host of period fashionable fabrics which were finished with interesting textures or patterns (tweeds for instance), that to the unknowing reenactor can appear as "poor man's jean" in photographs.

    Here are exerts from an add placed by Eagle & Elliot in the Detroit Free Press in May 1854:
    "Printed and Fancy Satinettes at Reduced prices" ("fancy" generally means patterned in period advertising)
    "Fancy styles of Mottled and Fancy Jeans"
    "Tweeds of approved mixtures and colors"


    Genio C. Scot, editor of Scott's Report of Fashions, described the selected stocks of Messrs. Clark & West in New York City in the Spring and Summer 1862 issue:
    "The Coatings include the finest mixtures in all the most mellow tints; while the delicate shades of striped, plaided, and mixed cassimeres, with or without very small side-bands, are so pleasing to the sight as to inspire the beholder with a ray of life's spring-time, recalling the ecstatic throbbings of hope and pleasure which are the exclusive inheritance of youth."

    I've read numerous descriptions in many more advertisements of fancy cassimeres, jeans, and other fabrics that have "spotted," "flecked,""Marbled," or "Mottled" patterns. Even came across a description of a fashionable man wearing a "tigerish" tweed.

    The following fashion plate appeared in the July 1853 issue of Louis Devere's The Gentleman's Monthly Magazine of Fashion and Costumes de Paris: http://i157.photobucket.com/albums/t...r/CIMG3810.jpg

    Looks similar to the gentleman in the image yes? I also have the corresponding pattern drafts for all the garments that appear in the plate.

    Basically, jean cloth, satinette and cassimere frock coats do exist, but you'll have to examine them in person to gain a true appreciation for their quality. Just because something may be "cheap" or "homespun" in period descriptions doesn't mean the quality will be poor in our eyes. Try to understand the context and choose fabrics based on an original example rather than guessing and therefore creating a fantasy garment. Personally, I wouldn't use any jean cloth or satinette currently on the market for anything other than Confederate uniforms. And why should I when there's far more accurate and far more affordable fabrics available for working class clothes? I have a photo of a man wearing a three piece matching corduroy sack suit from the 1860s. I bet you can find corduroy that's closer to the original fabric than you can find civilian jeans.
    Last edited by Ian McWherter; 03-07-2012 at 03:43 PM.
    Ian McWherter

    "With documentation you are wearing History, without it, it's just another costume."-David W. Rickman

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Charlottesville, VA
    Posts
    235

    Re: Surviving civilian Jean cloth frock coats?

    The Bennett Place (North Carolina) Visitor Center museum has an 1840s tailcoat on exhibit. The material is definitely a jean, but as Ian pointed out above, it is much nicer than modern-day reproduced jean. The coat's color is a chocolate brown and has some printed fabric on the interior. Although not a frock coat, and dating to the Antebellum period, it is another known example.
    Respectfully,
    -Kyle M. Stetz
    Liberty Rifles

    "I think the prospect for an active and laborious campaign in Virginia is pretty clear and we will again this spring renew our old occupation and struggle between life and death for six more weary months." Capt. Samuel S. Brooke 47th Va. Infantry-- March 27, 1864

  6. #16
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    Dec 2003
    Location
    Kalamazoo, MI
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    1,072

  7. #17
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    Sep 2006
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
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    Re: Surviving civilian Jean cloth frock coats?

    Thanks for sharing that, neat. Such an outdated coat too, very 1840s. Wonder if there's any additional background information to go with the coat, was it an old coat from home, or something newly made in a very old fashion? Trousers also have a back pocket.

    One thing is sure, nice jean. Again, something that's not easy to find a reproduction of.
    Ian McWherter

    "With documentation you are wearing History, without it, it's just another costume."-David W. Rickman

  8. #18
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    Sep 2006
    Location
    Chesapeake, VA
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    376

    Re: Surviving civilian Jean cloth frock coats?

    Quote Originally Posted by LibertyHallVols View Post
    Many years ago...

    The MoC had a suit of clothes on display that was made of cassimere. Looked like quality tailoring and construction, as I recall. I believe it was made by a slave for... ? Could have been his "master"... not sure.

    ...but, its a place to start.

    Not sure if it is exactly what you're looking for, but it is a civilian suit made of a wool-cotton blend. More coarse than satinet, but finer than jeans... perhaps.

    Good luck!
    I recall this exact jacket. I made note of it because it belonged to Jefferson Davis.
    Matthew Semple

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Keokuk, Iowa
    Posts
    206

    Re: Surviving civilian Jean cloth frock coats?

    In trying to continually learn, I am enjoying this thread regarding the frocks made of unusual fabrics. Am I correct that the full suit made on the plantation from cotton grown there is an extremely unusual garment and not one to be reproduced freely?
    I often find a piece of wool that has cotton in it, and also a silk/wool blend that would make wonderful civililain clothing. It shows up on line fairly frequently.
    Would you gentelmen be so kind as to share other info you might have on more common blends for textiles for gentlemen's civilian clothing?
    I purely do understand the feeling of being constantly on the look for correct textiles. Cashamere was also used for women's winter clothing and it's i seldom found. The few pieces I have found were unfortunately way out of reach of most ladies financial realm
    REgards
    Vivian Murphy

  10. #20
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    Mar 2004
    Location
    Keokuk, Iowa
    Posts
    206

    Re: Surviving civilian Jean cloth frock coats?

    Ian...thank you so much for your explanations of the period textiles. When one knows the difference and knows the hand and feel of fine textiles, it's quite another thing to give a good description to someone else who might not be as well acquainted with textiles. I'd love to see your original frocks. I've had the opportunity to see several originals similar to what you mention, but of course usually in a situation where one isn't allowed to touch

    Regards
    Vivian MUrphy

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