Tailcoats, Breeches, Bloomers

I’m often asked how I make these. And here’s the simple answer when there’s no time to make them from scratch!

Below is a woman’s coat simply cut out into a men’s tailcoat. And then a woman’s two piece suit (matching skirt and jacket) were cut and sewn together to make a tailcoat. I look for women’s coats and jackets because they often have a more period look to them then men’s.

After removing the pockets from the red coat it was easy to use a seam ripper to open the front seams and cut at the desired waist length. The new seams were finished with red French gimp. And the men’s overcoat was a great start to another tailcoat which was also finished with French gimp but in black.


When in a pinch, breeches done this way look very period (below). And there’s no need for an elastic. Just cut the pants to fit the length (with a proper seam allowance, of course), around the widest part of the calf or a little higher. I usually buy women’s elastic waist band pants or capris so there isn’t any obvious pleats, zippers, pockets.  Hem and “pinch” the sides at the hem to fold back to fit the width of the calf. Depending on the width of the pants you may need to pinch both sides. Secure the folded fabric with one or more buttons. Sometimes I sew three buttons going up the side but that depends on the time frame and the look I’m going for.

Spring Awakening, Academy Players of Rhode Island
Tiny Tim’s costume in A Christmas Carol 2015, Shining Light Productions, Stadium Theatre

For quick and simple bloomers, find thrift store pajama bottoms or light weight capris and just add lace trim on the bottom at desired length or sew in an elastic (create a pocket with bias tape or use the zig zag method) a few inches up from the hem:


Photo credits: Fezziwig’s and Fred photos unknown source (taken by relatives of the cast).

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