Sunday, April 24, 2022

A Sewstine Embroidered Regency Sleeveless Spencer Jacket

 A month or so back my husband and I went on a trip. We visited family, did some hiking, went to some wineries, and I even managed to do some fabric shopping. It was a fun, relaxing, trip. It also involved a lot of time in the car.

No complaints there, I do enjoy road trips! However, I also enjoy getting stuff done, so I came prepared with a little sewing project that I was pretty sure I could manage to complete in the week we would be gone.

A sleeveless spencer jacket! Small, straight forward to construct, and pretty! Oh! and a great way to use up fabric scraps!

A little over 2 years ago, just weeks before the world shut down due to Covid, the Saint Louis Historical Sewing Society had a sewing day. At the end of it, Sewstine brought out some fabric lengths, fabric scraps, and embroidery samples she was ready to de-stash, and most of us went home with pretty pieces of fabric to turn into. . . something. Among other things I received some embroidery samples on pink double faced silk satin. (What a luxurious fabric!) Left overs from this 1780's gown.

As stunning as this fabric and the embroidery was, I didn't have a whole lot of it, so it took some brainstorming to come up with a plan to properly use it! At some point in the past year or so, inspired by all the pretty Regency (or Regency-inspired) costumes in EMMA. (2020) and Bridgerton I came up with the idea of turning these embroidered fabric scraps into a sleeveless spencer jacket.

Now I have plans and fabric to make myself a new Regency dress from around 1805-1810 so I wanted the new sleeveless spencer to be from around then to go with the new dress I will eventually get around to making. Thus I went to Pinterest and scoured all the fashion plates featuring sleeveless spencers from that date range that I could find. I particularly liked the 1807 sleeveless spencer featured above.
Once I felt like I had a decent idea of the shape my little jacket should have, I proceeded to cut into the beautiful double faced silk satin.

I used the same pattern I've used for literally every regency garment I've made myself, the drop front gown pattern from Patterns of Fashion 1, and altered it slightly to suit what I was going for.
(Here's the gown I made from the pattern, the "Tunic with Points", and the 1790's open robe.)
The first piece I cut out was the back, centered over the flower embroidery on the largest piece of silk.

 Next I cut out the fronts and shoulder straps from the remaining silk.

Some considerable piecing was required.

But eventually. . .

The primary pieces of the spencer were cut out!
Now I just had to decided how I wanted to use other two embroidered pieces of silk I had. They were specifically shaped and embroidered for the center front of a 1780's gown, but surely I could make them work for something here!

After a bit more brainstorming I decided to use the longest section of embroidery to make a peplum for the back of the jacket.

 I cut apart the other sections of embroidery and ironed in the edges to basically make pieces of "ribbon". My plan was to turn these into a bow for the front of the jacket.

Once I was finally satisfied that I'd figured out how to use all the beautiful embroidery to the best of my ability, construction of this little spencer could begin!

The night before we left on our trip I ironed in all the edges of each piece of the spencer and did the same with the lining pieces.

I then pinned each individual lining piece to it's corresponding silk piece wrong sides together with all the raw edges tucked inside. 

 Into my sewing bag everything went and out it came the next day once we were on the road! The sleeveless spence was assembled using the "English Stich" from The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking.

The peplum was gathered up.

And sewn to the back of the spencer.

With the upper raw edge tucked in-between the outer fabric and the lining. 

The edges were all finished by slip stitching the outer fabric and the lining together.

Once we got home I tried on the mostly finished jacket over my regency dress and under things and discovered the front edges didn't quite meet. Oops! 

The little bow I made from the other embroidered pieces saved the day!

I sewed the bow onto the end of one front piece.

Hooks onto the other edge of the bow.

Eyes onto the other side of the jacket.

And it worked!

The jacket fastened!

My new embroidered sleeveless spencer fit!!

I had one final little piece of embroidered silk which I made into a little bow for the back of the jacket.

I'm satisfied I made good use of these gorgeous fabric scraps!

And once I got started it only took me a week to finish the project!

I'm looking forward to finding many excuses to wear this little jacket! 

 Since the EMMA. movie and Bridgerton put the idea of using this fabric to make a sleeveless spencer into my head, I'm using it as my entry for the 2022 Historical Sew Monthly "As Seen on Screen" challenge: Make something inspired by something you’ve seen on screen, whether it’s film, TV, or YouTube.

What the item is: A Sleeveless Spencer Jacket
How it fits the challenge: Watching EMMA. and Bridgerton gave me the idea of using the fabric scraps I had to make a Regency era garment.
Material: Double faced silk satin and linen for the lining.
Pattern: An altered and adapted version of the drop-front gown lining from Patterns of Fashion 1
Year: 1805-1810
Notions: Silk thread, hooks and eyes
How historically accurate is it? It has the right shape for the era, it's all constructed by hand, and made of natural fibers, so pretty decent! Maybe 80%
Hours to complete: I didn't really keep track, I finished it in a week while on vacation.
First worn: For pictures on March 27th, the day I finished it!
Total cost: The embroidered silk scraps were gifted to me and the linen, silk thread, and hooks and eyes were in my stash, left over from other projects, so nothing!

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Draping the 1884 Ice Skating Dress Overskirt

 I think it's safe to say (despite yesterday's snow flurries) that winter is indeed over. It's April. Easter is about a week away. I really need to finish blogging my winter bustle gown so I can start sharing the more springy projects I've been working on!

Thus, without further ado, let's discuss the final piece of my 1884 Ice Skating Ensemble, the overskirt!

Photo credit: @papagena1791

After making the underskirt out of my 2 yard cut of dark green wool and the bodice out of the thrifted Pendleton wool skirts, I had one cut of forest green wool left - a 1.5 yard piece exactly the same shade of green as the bodice. Surly I could make a decent looking over skirt out of a yard and a half of wool!
I just had to decide what I wanted my over skirt to look like, and figure out a pattern for it.

The fashion plate I was using for inspiration featured a rather small over skirt which appeared to be twisted and draped somehow. It looked nice, but I honestly wasn't exactly sure how it was constructed and a couldn't find a pattern that was similar, so I decided to do my own thing instead. Also, I wanted to trim the edge of my overskirt with the same green tweed as the faux waistcoat of the bodice and with the twisty thing going on this overskirt didn't seem to have a clear edge to trim. 
So from here on out the fashion plate would only be referenced to help me figure out the proper proportions for my overskirt, I had no intentions of closely copying it the way I had done for the bodice and underskirt.

Photo credit: @papagena1791

I looked through my pattern stash and nothing particularly appealed to me. I looked through the National Garment Cutter and there was one overskirt pattern I really liked, but it required more fabric than I had. So I went to my book shelf.

I pulled out American Dress Pattern Catalogs, 1873-1909. This book is a reprint of 4 different pattern catalogues from 1873, 1882, 1894, and 1909. It doesn't contain the actual patterns themselves, but it does show you what patterns were available to the home dressmaker in those years, which I find fascinating!

I went to the 1882 section of the book, since that was closest to my 1884 target date, and looked at the available overskirt patterns of that era. 

I decided to attempt to re-create pattern 7884. I liked the triangular front drape and the split back drape. 
I wasn't going to try to copy this pattern exactly, I would need to change the proportions to fit the fabric I had available, but it gave me an excellent starting point for the design I wanted!

I put my bustle, petticoats, and underskirt on my dress form, pulled out a 1.5 yard cut of red polished cotton, and started playing.

I draped, shaped, pleated, and cut until I had a front drape that I was reasonably well pleased with.

I marked all my darts and pleats.

And then repeated the process with the back drape.

Once I was pleased with what I had and everything was properly marked, I pulled the polished cotton off the dress form and used it as my pattern and underlining for my wool overskirt.

The edges of the undershirt were all bound in green wool tweed to match the bodice trim and faux waistcoat, and I used up the last of my 1" wide green velvet ribbon to trim the front drape.

Once all the pieces were bound and trimmed, I pleated them according to what I had draped and marked earlier.

Then everything got attached to a waistband. 

I re-used one of the waistbands from the thrifted skirts I'd disassembled for the bodice. Yay for not needing to construct a new waistband or sew any new buttonholes!

The waistband was sewn on and finished off with a lone metal button from my stash. (I could have used the original plastic button off the skirt, but the metal button was much prettier and it was lonely so it needed to be used up!)

And with that,

The overskirt was done!

It only took one afternoon to make and turned out to be quite a fun project.

Due to time constraints and my lack of a pattern I actually considered skipping the overskirt entirely.

I'm so glad I didn't do that!

When I put the overskirt on the outfit instantly felt more bustle-y and complete!

It was just the finishing touch my ice skating outfit needed!