Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Blanket Coats, Blankets and Matchcoats.

Blanket Coats and Matchcoats.

Finding a pattern for an authentic blanket coat or French capot is not easy. Information on the 17th century to early 18th century capot has been contaminated with western patterns showing blanket coats of many stripes and fringes. The original capot was as far as I am able to discern a simple plain coat made out of blanket material, wrap around with a sash or belt to hold it together. As I have read that French sailors originally wore these coats, I would imagine that using a button at the neck would not be beyond the realm of authenticity.
A late 17th to early 18th century sketch of a capot. This has been redrawn from an original.
Of course the French military are also reputed to have worn the capot, but they also had the use of their knapsack bag, which was designed so they could put their feet into it at night when sleeping.

However, the more common use of the blanket seems to have been for the matchcoat.

"The Indians fasten their blankets below with their belts, and make them pass over the head like a monk's hood, arranging them so well that they only expose their nose and hands" (Pierre Pouchot, Memoir upon the Late War in North America, Between the French and English, 1755-60).

To me, the matchcoat seems like a much better garment to wear. It appears to have traditionally been made out of either a length of woollen material, or from a blanket. The original matchcoat was an Indian garment and it was made of feathers.

The matchcoat can simply be wrapped around the body, or it can also go over the head. A belt or sash can be used to secure it around the waist and by making a few folds; it can resemble a great coat.

I found that wearing a capot I got too hot on the trail and it was not easy to remove. I had to take off my packs and accoutrements to do so. Also the capot did not keep all of me warm at night, and carrying a blanket as well as a capot just meant I was carrying more weight. Now I simply use a half blanket round my shoulders cape fashion. If it is very cold then I can wear my blanket as a matchcoat. These two items keep me relatively warm at night and are more versatile than the capot.
Wearing the half-blanket.

Here I have simply taken the half-blanket off, and passed it over my head to sit at my back over my pack.

Detail from above painting. man on a horse wrapped in a blanket.


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