This is my entry for February’s Historical Sew Monthly challenge “Blue”. It wasn’t my initially intended entry, which was supposed to be a smart and clever-looking new pale blue wool coat made from a late teens/early 20s pattern I have. However, after doing a muslin and fiddling with it a bit I just wasn’t feeling it. I still hope to make it someday, but I wasn’t feeling totally enthusiastic about it and I think it’s too straight a silhouette for most of the clothes I wear, even though it has a little more flare than most styles from that period.
So, about the middle of the month I decided to completely switch tracks and make something that was nowhere on my sewing list/queue. Very practical decision (please note the sarcasm). I rationalized it to myself by saying that I had intended <someday> to make a new spencer from a piece of pale blue silk in my stash left over from the Regency ball ensemble I made a little over a year ago. And that even though I had no definite plans about it, it did get something off my sewing wishlist, at least, and used up an awkwardly-sized piece of fabric stash. In fact, everything on this came from stash, I didn’t purchase a single little bit for this, and that’s always nice.
I made the even more practical decision to hand sew the entire thing.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
My spencer is a combination of Sense & Sensibility’s pattern (which I already had and already used so I didn’t need to worry about fitting):
But took the sleeves from the 1818-1823 Pelisse in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion I:
The construction of the body of the spencer is probably pretty straightforward, but here are a couple of the sleeve to show how those go together.
Curiously, the sleeve head of the undersleeve is a separate piece. I used some of the white linen that I was using for lining (linen still being a common choice for linings at the time, a carry-over from the 18th century).
The oversleeve before being attached to the undersleeve:
The underside of the oversleeve to show some of the stitching:
The over and under sleeves pinned together:
And sewing the sleeve into the armhole using a thick silk thread and tight backstitches:
I really love the little wee peplums on the backs of some spencers!
One of the other HSM participants, Hvar Spae Kona, made a whole slew of Dorset buttons (in tardis blue!) for her entry and that reminded me that I’d gotten a little kit for them at the Fashion Museum at Bath way back in 2008. I thought they’d be the perfect period addition to my spencer and I love them!
Fabric: silk dupioni (very low-slub/smooth one); white linen for lining
Pattern: Sense & Sensibility Spence and Pelisse pattern, c. 1818-1823 Pelisse in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion I
Notions: metal rings and cotton perl thread for Dorset buttons; silk, linen and cotton sewing threads
Historical Accuracy: I’m gonna go ahead and give myself 95% on this one. It’s a mash-up of patterns, but I think pretty plausible. It’s silk dupioni, but a very smooth/low slub one, so I’m not taking much off for that. It’s 100% hand-sewn with period appropriate methods, techniques, and supplies.
Hours to Complete: Ohhhhhh………lots, for such a little thing. Let’s guesstimate 25-30.
First Worn: not yet (see below)
Total Cost: all from stash whose prices I can’t remember. Let’s guesstimate again at….. $30.
AND NOW – all I need is a dress to wear it with! Yes, I made this without already having anything to wear it over. Such a practical project, but I love it , am so pleased with how it turned out and don’t regret it!