Sunday, February 21, 2016

Brunswick Leib Battalion Jacket Reworked for Commercial Production

For a few years the Australian Brunswick Leib Battalion Unit have been researching, discussing and trying to improve our uniforms and impressions. At the same time we were hoping to create a single pattern that could be commercially reproduced. In Australia, it is getting very expensive to have clothing made and a jacket like this involves a lot of hand sewing and has resulted in a lot of visual inconsistencies from different seamstresses. The cost is also very off-putting to new members.

Two years ago we started this project. Unfortunately, there are no original Leib Battalion Private's jackets known to exist. Most reproduction jackets are based on the artists impression of a photo of a 3rd Line Battalion Jacket in the 'Brunswick Troops 1809-15' Osprey book by Otto Von Pivka. This line drawing influenced the images in the book, and then many of the reproduction uniforms. There are now also front and back photos of this jacket provided by the German museum that bring some aspects of the line drawings accuracy into doubt. We also researched period tailoring books, similar uniforms of the time and had discussions with tailors and researchers inside and outside of Australia. The discussions lasted months and in the end we had a consensus on the following construction issues.

Photo and Line Drawing from the Osprey Book.
Front photo of the same jacket.
Rear view of the same jacket.

Officers Jacket
The first clear error in the line drawing is in the sleeves. The artist portrayed them as two piece sleeves. In itself this is uncommon in a cheap private's uniform of this time period, as it requires more fabric and more time in construction. Also the back image of the original jacket clearly shows a single seam from the underarm, identifying it as a single piece sleeve. The extant officers jacket is also only a single piece sleeve, although it does have a lot more fabric in its construction.

The next point of discussion was the back gusset. The artist has drawn it as an inserted separate piece. From a period tailoring point of view this makes no sense as it is bulky, unnecessary, fiddly and time/cost consuming to construction. Other extant examples of similar backed hussar jackets have this piece as included in the back panels as a part of the shaped construction. The original jacket seems to support this theory, but it is not 100% clear either way.

Finally, the most controversial change was to the front. At the waist, the line drawing places a crossing over point to the front of the jacket. This is something we were unable to identify in any other period tailoring. It is a waste of fabric for no purpose in a cheap private's uniform. If you look closely at the photo in the Osprey, it looks more like a crease creating shading on the fabric than an actual point. This is supported by the new photos where the buttoned side is clearly straight and the other side shows the fabric pulling with a clear shadow. 

Reworked/Completed Pattern
Sample Card for Production
Once we had these decisions made I drafted up a toile and fitted it to my father. Photos were shared and discussed until everyone involved in the discussion group at that time were happy with the new pattern.

This jacket, pattern and sample card will now make their way to an Australian Sutler who will hopefully make a decent copy that will be consistent and affordable to members needing new jackets and new members requiring uniforms. It has been a lot of work, but I do hope it helps the unit and it's members out. 

Inside of Collar
Lining of Collar
Front Braid and Tassles
Front Braid and Glass Buttons

Nic Wearing the Jacket. (Its not his size, but he volunteered to pose for the photos)

Jacket Back
Jacket Side
Shoulder Strap


  1. What a handsome jacket! Would the pattern be an exclusive?

    If it would be made public I would certainly like to know :)

    1. Unfortunately, the pattern itself is not being produced... only the jacket for sale by a sutler in Australia. I can however, send copies of the pattern in a size 34 to anyone willing to pay postage. At a later date I may graph it up and make a scan available online.