How to Make a Lady’s Ulster

Plate 29

The history of the rise and progress of ladies’ tailoring has yet to be written, but we venture to anticipate the historian by asserting that the evergrowing popularity of tailor-made garments owes more to the cunning of the tailors’ fingers and to the influence of pressing and effective manipulation than to the cutter’s skill.

The well-made Ulster supplies a convincing argumens in support of this thesis, and inasmuch as it possesset many of the features common to both coat and skirt, its position and importance are alike unique.

Ladies Ulster coat

Taking the popular D.B Ulster as a basis we show by Diagrams 1, 2, 3 and 4 the pieces as they leave the cutting room. The inlays are represented by dot and dash lines and these, together with the crease row of collar and lapels, the flaps, the waistline, the buttons and buttonholes should be carefully thread-marked with the stitch advised in the article on the skirt making which appeared in the August number. The pockets, it will be noticed, are slanting and slightly curved, so that while the marks are clear take a pattern of the same by placing paper under and pricking through with a needle. After marking over the punctures cut the pattern an extra seam’s width all round, so that when fitting-up, the flaps may be cut to the exact size of the pattern. Before fitting and cutting the linings it will be advisable to sponge the front and collar canvasses and lay them aside to shrink; and if the body linings are of the featherweight woollen check, which is sometimes used for these garments, it should be shrunk at the same time. For this somewhat delicate operation use only just sufficient water to accomplish the purpose without destroying the brightness and finish of the material. Even Italian cloths and Hollands shrink perceptibly under the influence of moisture, so that it will be necessary to use every possible precaution to prevent disaster. For D.B Ulsters it is desirable that 

The Forepart Facings

should come quite back to the bottom line, and if the material is not over heavy, the facings may also be carried through the shoulders. True this is a detail for the cutter’s consideration and judgement, rather than for the workman, but we would remind our readers that, as Ulsters are generally worn buttoned, we have not to aim at bringing the linings so well forward as for garments which are furnished with rich, bright linings for “show” purposes. when therefore, by backing a garment with the same material, we can manipulate both fronts and shoulders, of both linings and outside into precisely the same desirable form, it becomes a point which not only deserves, but demands consideration. If however, for lack of material, or instructions to the contrary, we have to fill out the shoulders with silk or cotton of unyielding nature, we must provide sufficient width when fitting up for the formation of a pleat, as from W to P on Diagram 1 when basting over.

Ladies late Victorian coat pattern piece

Judgement must however be exercised as, for example, when heavy materials are under consideration, it would be manifestly improper to rigidly follow the course just indicated. For D.B Ulsters the front facings need only be sufficiently wide to take the button holes and buttons, and to assist the hang of fronts by the impartation of a little extra weight, but, for the reasons explained above, we advise carrying the cloth through shoulders under normal conditions. If the material happens to have a prominent pattern, the cutting of flaps will require special care. Lay on the right side of material the piece of cloth from which the flaps are to be cut, so that it exactly matches the stripes or checks, then place the pattern in position and cut to shape.

To cut the collars do not rely on long service patterns, each workshop has such by the score, but they have long since earned retirement from active service. Differences in the run of gorge and amount of opening require corresponding variation in the shape of collar, so that each should be specially cut. A perfectly reliable method for producing the same is illustrated on Diagram 7, which we explain at a later stage. We advise cutting a pattern, rather than marking the collar on the material direct, for economy sake; and assuming the pattern has been produced, we take out the under collar from the bias and the top collar from the cross way of the material.

Make an Ulster coat

Lady’s Fashionable D.B Ulster

Plate 30

Ladies Ulster Coat

Fitting the Forepart Linings, The Pockets, The Canvas, The Lapels, Pressing Out, Location of the Seams, The Sleeves, The Running Baste Thread, The Collar and the full article on  How to Make a Lady’s Ulster Coat September 1898 can be downloaded as a pdf.



  1. Hi Wanda – I noticed a new post – I have shared it – excellent work transcribing this. I am still interested in it but have so little time and my health has been letting me down.

    Hope it provikes some new interest as it deserves to be a lot better known. Have you seen Bernadette Banner by any chance? she's amazing and she's connected with the School of Historical Dress and I really think this is where you might find some more professional academic interest – I'm just a seamstress, as they say….

    I'd love to make the Ladies Tailor  the subject of a project for 2020 – if I could only figure out how to make it pay. Thinking about it.

    Best wishes


    Visit my website at:


    Sent: Friday, February 28, 2020 at 3:03 PM

    1. Thanks Karen. My new iPad enables me to easily scan & create a pdf to either work from a printed copy or to upload to the site. This was always an issue to getting more articles uploaded and also I was concerned the book was getting too manhandled. It’s precious to me in every way!

      Thanks for the information about Bernadette, I shall have a look. We share the same view, I keep thinking along the same lines too.

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