I pushed myself to finish and it’s now done. Yipee! Thanks for all your encouraging thoughts here and on the Facebook page.
So here’s the process (with quite a few pics):
Sifting through images for inspiration, I came across this one that shows two costumes from the movie Persuasion. (Now I don’t know exactly *which* version but I’m assuming the one with Amanda Root. Aren’t these just yummy?)
So with my gold silk taffeta, I fell in love with this gold velvet design with the red piping. (I also loved the puffs on the dress but you’ll have to read about that in another post.) I loved the sleeves too. They puff and drape ever so nicely.
I also used some design ideas from this antique spencer from the Victoria & Albert Museum:
(The book is Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail by Lucy Johnston.)
The pom-poms are so period and fun but I decided to save that idea for another project. I did however, snatch the separate waistband idea and tried to replicate the sleeve idea with mine.
I am a pattern hoarder. Yes, I collect sewing patterns.
So I wandered into my trusty collection to find something I could start with. What I found (among a whole lot of other patterns I’d love to make soon) was the Rocking Horse spencer pattern. Apparently YEARS ago (and I do mean years, like probably 8 ) I’d traced it out onto pattern ease (similar to interfacing) and was going to make it.
So I pinned it together and put it on my dressform. Wow! I was so surprised it fit as well as it did “out of the box.” You can see my pin fitting below.
My dressform bust is in it’s 21st Century pose and far away from the height & support it gets from my Regency corset. So I left the dart unpinned and fit it later when my corset was on. You can also see the pins marking my new armhole seam.
The sleeve pattern started from, I think, my 1839 blue floral dress from Costume College 2010. This is how it looked before I started pinning the heck out of it to make it tighter in the forearm and reducing the sleeve head/cap width to make it “look like picture.”
And here’s the muslin mockup:
And the mockup with the paper collar pinned in:
Once the mockup was fitted to my design, I cut out the silk taffeta fashion fabric, the red silk satin for the piping and buttons and sturdy cotton for the front and back underlining.
*Ok. What I’m about to tell you goes against the grain of my own teachings. But I decided to break my own rules for the sake of functionality. (“They’re more what we call – guidelines” anyhow.) Please don’t be offended. Please don’t scream out loud. I did this for a reason.
I cut my sleeve lining out of polyester satin. (cringe) AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!
Yes. I did the unthinkable and used a synthetic fabric. Why?
Well, it’s only in the sleeves. And it’s so I can slide my long dress sleeves (made from non-slippery cotton) easily into the spencer.
Have you ever tried to put on an outer garment that had cotton or linen linings over a cotton or linen garment? It can be a bit difficult to put it on. So this is the reason I decided to line the sleeves in a slippery fabric. (I’d love to hear your ideas on this “breach” of historical costuming.)
I love how the gathers turned out. The taffeta fabric helps a lot in keeping the sleeves “puffed.”
The spencer went together quite easily with only the side back and shoulder seams. The sleeves were finished at the wrist with the red piping sandwiched between the taffeta and lining. They were then set into the body and the lining seam allowance folded inside and tacked to cover the raw edges.
The collar was piped before it was sewn to the neckline. The bit of lace was hand gathered & tacked to the inside as a final trim.
The waistband was finished separately and hand tacked to the spencer hemline. It is purely for design style.
The 3/8″ buttons are for decoration only. The center front edges meet right at the front with no overlap. At this point I didn’t sew on any hooks to close the front as I want to wear it over all my other garments to test the fit then decide if I want to add the hooks or not.