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 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!
ETA: I just found this online tutorial for them that looks quite good, if you’d like to try yourself. They’re quite easy and forgiving if you don’t get them perfect (I certainly didn’t, but it’s not obvious!)
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!