As I’ve gushed over everyone’s Regency era ensembles, I’ve always yearned for a spencer to call my own. I really adore the short little jacket. Although most of my events are during the summer, when I’m cold, I’m cold and the past winter events I’ve attended, I’ve wished for more wool layers.
I was invited to attend the Christmas program at Boonsefield Village again this year. I thought I was going to crank out a new 1819 dress; however, that did not happen. The week before I woke up Sun morning and was super motivated to make myself that spencer I’ve always wanted. I was especially motivated because the dress I planned to wear was cotton. Although I would be wearing two petticoats, I knew I would need another layer on top to really cover my collarbone.
I did not have a pattern; I just followed this picture. I knew the general shape of the back piece. And back pattern pieces, if I’m drawing them myself, have always been really hard for me to get just right. I thought I would start by using one of my sweaters to trace a jeweled neckline. I knew I wanted it to come right up to my neck because I get cold easily. As I was digging through my clothing, I came across this jacket-thing that I purchased a while back at Kohl’s. I pulled it out on a whim and flipped it over — the back was the *exact* shape I needed!!! The sewing goddesses were smiling on me.
I traced the shape on to my tracing paper. Then I traced the shape of the collar so I could get the right curve on the circle. I just made the edges on the front of the bodice straight, made a little curvey side piece and voila. I was super excited to actually sew something that would have really short side seams. (For a regency gown, from bust to floor, it’s about 50 inches for me).
Here is what my pieces ended up looking like:
This is one day’s accomplishment. I hemmed and hawed over what fabric to use. The dress I wore was teal, and the only other fabric I had that could possibly work was a mid/dark green color. But it was cotton. I really wanted wool. I realized that I had left over black/grey striped wool from my 18th cent jacket. This was the left over scrap. It might have been 1.5 yards-ish? I played around with the pattern pieces for several hours trying to get them to fit and it *finally* worked. I was so excited (and Mr. H really could not understand why…)
Some in process photos….
I did a box pleat in the back to get it to fit snugly under the bust. It probably was about one inch of fabric that got taken in.
And the finished product!!!!
I still had things left to sew when we were driving down and luckily my friend sewed my sleeves on!! If it had not been for her, I would have been very cold. In the original picture, it obviously has a peter pan style collar, which I did not have time to make. That’s still in the plans. I was just going to fold under the edges and finish it, but I did not even have time for that by the time we arrived, so I just pinned on my fur collar and called it good! I also did not have time to sew on my hooks and eyes to keep it closed, so it is just pinned closed. The last thing that needs to be finished is to take a gather/tuck in each sleeve near the elbow. I made the sleeves longer so they would cover most of my hand, but that length was annoying when I actually needed to do stuff, hence my sleeves are rolled up in the above photo. Because the site’s time period was 1819, the bottom of the spencer comes down a bit below my bust, instead of ending right directly beneath my bust.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with this garment. It was very warm. I can’t wait to wear it again!