A Shapeshifting (Reversible) Hunting Coat for The Devil/Fox



Missy Jones


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Photographs by myself or Callum Forsyth

Outline the story …

The Devil/Fox appears in folksong/story "The Little Black Fox". A rider complains that his foxhunt is ruined only by lack of quarry, and boasts they could beat The Devil if given the chance. A fox then appears, but with unusual colouring: “...fur... the colour of a starless night and... eyes like burning coal.” They chase the fox without success, whence it reveals itself as The Devil and proceeds to chase the terrified hunt back into town.

The song is by Graham Pratt, inspired by a Yorkshire folktale of a foxhunt-gone-wrong noted by Katharine Briggs. That tale isn’t online; the closest I found was Dartmoor story of a woman who manifests as a black-brush fox to similarly revenge herself on her killer. There’s also Reynardine, presumed-bandit-but-definite-rake in circa-1800 broadside ballads, later linked to anthropomorphic fox Reynard and interpreted as a shapeshifter with foxlike qualities. Foxhunts with hounds began mid-16th century, then increased popularity and developed recognisably mid- to late-18th century; late-18th century coincides with Reynardine’s appearance, which date I chose for my gentleman-fox/manifestation of The Devil.

My garment references gentlemen’s coats circa 1795-1810, with fox-like sleek silhouette and long tail, but colour palette of both red fox and hunting coat are reversed making it “night-coloured” with red lining. The lining uses a slightly different pattern referencing late-18th century women’s riding coats, which also makes the coat reversible/androgenous/ambiguous. Imagine it worn with a then-fashionable tricorn hat tilted forward to conceal the face, with two red cockades/rosettes giving the illusion of glowing eyes.

Outline the construction…

Funds allowing, I would’ve used dark velvet at least for a collar detail and black/red melton for the rest. Instead I used old bedsheet and curtain; they at least have structure, and the pattern on the purple curtain gives the impression of a cloud-smothered (starless) night. I don’t have any historical patterns or books, and libraries here have been closed since March 2020, so I eyeballed a pattern based on online museum photographs and unprovenanced Pinterest patterns scaled/adjusted to my measurements, then adjusted details that didn’t sit right to better match historical images and my own size. Starting from the smooth three-seam coat standard for circa-1795 menswear, I took a tuck out of each side panel to get the nipped waist/smooth torso usually achieved by a waist seam in circa-1805 riding coat (and more foxtail-like flare effect). I made the ‘female’ lining separately, eyeballed the changes from a Diderot pattern, added little ‘horseshoes of straight grain’ to reinforce the skirt splits (as described by a contemporary writer in Norah Waugh) before joining it seam-to-seam to the outer jacket for reversability.

Beyond the patterning challenge, I’ve never made a coat (or really sewn anything apart from hemming teatowels and some hand repairs), so that was... a steep learning curve. I discovered Costube in first lockdown, plus various blogs on Georgian- and Regency-era fashions, so I absorbed the general gist of how to put clothes together by osmosis/binging before starting. I sewed some seams on machine and did the rest by hand.




  1. Avatar Avery on March 11, 2021 at 6:28 pm

    This is absolutely stunning! The silhouette is bang on, and the reversibility and tie-in to your text is awesome. Great work!

  2. Avatar Bethany Rush on March 11, 2021 at 6:46 pm

    This is so impressive! I love the dramatic collar on the dark side and the feminine pleats on the red side!

  3. Avatar Katie Williams on March 11, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    Wow a truly impressive first garment! I love the silhouette and the fabric choices are amazing!

    • Avatar Naomi on March 14, 2021 at 1:16 pm

      I like your gumption. “I’ve never sewn anything big before…let me start with patterning and tailoring myself a coat!” That sort of fearlessness will take you far!

  4. Avatar Kayla Burrow on March 11, 2021 at 7:23 pm

    I really super love this! Heather Dale’s Black Fox is definitely my favorite version of the song, and I feel like you’ve captured the essence of Trickster Fox Huntsman really well.

    • Avatar Missy on March 11, 2021 at 9:52 pm

      Thank you! My favourite version ever since I was a child is Cloudstreet, but I ran out of word count before I could talk about band names haha.

  5. Avatar Lilian Walsh on March 11, 2021 at 7:42 pm

    I love this.

  6. Avatar Sue on March 11, 2021 at 8:14 pm

    I especially love the orange side out and the pleating in the back.

  7. Avatar Laura Holland on March 11, 2021 at 8:55 pm

    Reversible is very ambitious for a beginner. Well done.

  8. Avatar Annette Snyder on March 11, 2021 at 9:07 pm

    Well done. Great idea to make the coat reversible. Very challenging.

    • Avatar Izik on March 12, 2021 at 10:58 am

      You have created my dream garment! I am very inspired now. Fantastic idea to capture the character. I am very impressed

  9. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on March 11, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    When you turned that jacket and the collar just kept being gorgeous my jaw dropped! This is SO gorgeous, the fit, the colours – everything!

  10. Avatar Phanuel Jagna Levinsen on March 11, 2021 at 10:53 pm

    This is BRILLIANT!

  11. Avatar Santiago Quintana on March 11, 2021 at 11:08 pm

    Brilliant! What an amazing garment you’ve made

  12. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 12, 2021 at 12:52 am

    Wonderful coat, perfect for history bounding!

  13. Avatar Auntumn Mahaffey on March 12, 2021 at 1:36 am

    It’s lovely. You did a wonderful job!!!

  14. Avatar Jenny Carruthers on March 12, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    I am so impressed. I actually have the 3 Thames and Hudson Historical Pattern books but I don’t think you ever saw them. The concept is brilliant and you have executed it fastidiously as well. Something good to come out of lockdown.

  15. Avatar Jaclyn Spencer on March 12, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    It’s beginners like you that make me feel like I have to up my game! Brilliantly done!

  16. Avatar Benigna on March 12, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    That looks wonderful!
    I admire you for how you came up with the pattern because that is something I can absolutely not. I like that you used curtains when you couldn’t use your fabric of choice.
    Also, I think the colors fit a fox.

  17. Avatar Ame on March 12, 2021 at 7:27 pm

    It honestly shocked me when I read this was your first sewing project, no kidding about the learning curve! You did a most wonderful job, I love the reversible aspect and how it fits with the story. It’s cool to see the construction, it’s amazing!

  18. Avatar Gabrielle Amey on March 13, 2021 at 2:43 am

    Reversible??!! That is amazing!

  19. Avatar Sammyra on March 13, 2021 at 7:14 am

    this is so cool! love the pattern on the fabric, and making it reversable ties in so nicely to the story. well done ♡

  20. Avatar CHRIS ELLIOTT on March 13, 2021 at 11:43 am

    Wonderful, and so very evocative. I love how you’ve captured the character in your garment, as well as making something so technically difficult look so stunning.

  21. Avatar Whitney Carnahan on March 13, 2021 at 11:56 am

    Really love this – the colors and the silhouette! Wonderful!

  22. Avatar Cassandra Galban on March 13, 2021 at 4:59 pm

    excellent work! Love the color and the pleats

  23. Avatar Lucia on March 14, 2021 at 9:04 am

    A coat as a first project: you are great! I wish I put myself always in challeges like this one, thanks!

    • Avatar Missy on March 15, 2021 at 9:00 am

      Do it! Use old curtains or sheets so you don’t have cutting fear/expensive waste if something goes wrong, and then just listen to Costuming Drama saying “Do the thing!” I only did it because of this challenge, but I’m so glad I did

  24. Avatar Valerie Meachum on March 15, 2021 at 12:38 am

    Congratulations on so beautifully meeting the ambitious challenge you set yourself!

  25. Avatar Zoe Axford-Whitaker on March 15, 2021 at 9:41 am

    This is beautiful, i love a good jacket, you have executed it very well, i love it and it fits lovely xx

  26. Avatar Marion Brunet on March 16, 2021 at 7:42 am

    This is a gorgeous outfit. You are quite talented and the choice of this song is so perfect. It fits you well too. Thumbs up !

  27. Avatar Joshua Graham on March 18, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    not only did you choose a structured garment for your first undertaking, but reversible too. Kudo!

  28. Avatar Alex on March 18, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    Absolutely fantastic! I know the song version by Heather Dale and you captured this fantastically!

  29. Avatar Lisa Olsen on March 19, 2021 at 2:55 am

    I love this, especially the collar! Well done!

  30. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 20, 2021 at 3:00 am

    Wow, this is beautiful! This is something I am thinking of doing one day…one day! Thank you!

  31. Avatar Linda Call on March 20, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    so brave to tackle a reversible coat as your first project! Bravo, great job.

  32. Avatar Senta on March 21, 2021 at 2:53 am

    This is brilliant and I am blown away at it being reversible . Congratulations on your entry .

  33. Avatar Katarína on March 21, 2021 at 3:02 am

    I like this idea! Make 2 in 1 coat must be complicted! It looks great. You have my admiration.

  34. Avatar Bill Baillie on March 21, 2021 at 3:46 pm

    Just wow! Ambitious but hey, you pulled it off. Go you! 😁

  35. Avatar Laura Ingalls Gunn on March 21, 2021 at 10:19 pm

    What an amazing coat. I adore the shape and flexibility. Bravo!

  36. Avatar Stephanie Tietze on March 22, 2021 at 5:04 am

    This is such an interesting concept. Your coat fits well too. Nicely done.

  37. Avatar Abigail Wietecha on March 22, 2021 at 4:23 pm

    Very impressive doing a reversible project!

  38. Avatar Carol Phillips on March 24, 2021 at 4:09 am

    wow x 10
    Stunning success, artistic use of materials.

  39. Avatar Nora Wickman on March 25, 2021 at 1:11 am

    This looks fantastic! Good work!

  40. Avatar Kathleen LaFlamme on March 25, 2021 at 3:48 am

    To take on a reversible tailored coat as a first project is remarkable. This was really ambitious and came out beautifully!

  41. Avatar Vanessa Isobel on March 26, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    “I absorbed the general gist of how to put clothes together by osmosis/binging before starting.” I love this! 🙂 I feel the same a lot of the time haha. Love the collar and the story and your interpretation is brilliant. Awesome stuff!

  42. Avatar Bianca on March 29, 2021 at 1:08 am

    I love the concept and love how it turned out. the pops of color that peek out of the tails is inspired.

  43. Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 9:41 pm

    This is so clever! Im amazed by your patterning skills, it would have broken my brain.

  44. Avatar Nina Martin on March 29, 2021 at 11:20 pm

    This is fantastic! I wouldn’t even know where to start with a reversible coat. Well done!

  45. Avatar Tattersnake on March 31, 2021 at 1:26 am

    That is absolutely gorgeous! I love how the coat ties in with the mythology of the devil/fox and the androgyny of the patterning is delightful (and quite devilish). I love reversible clothes, and you’ve pulled this off beautifully.

  46. Avatar Belle on October 9, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    That collar is AMAZING! It looks like the coat an anime villain would wear or something. Total props.

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