I needed a quick project to stretch my artistic muscles and scratch an itch - mostly as a means to help me concentrate on the projects I have in my already crowded queue! So many projects, not enough hours or hands.*sigh*
I fell in love with Spencer Jackets before I was actually won over to the entirety of Regency era costume. It's not an era that I am as knowledgeable, and I wanted to remedy that! By demand most of my work has been Elizabethan and Tudor, and I want to offer other eras in my Etsy store and website. So, a few months back in all my enthusiasm I asked for recommendations for patterns and someone suggested the "Sense & Sensibility" Regency era patterns. When they arrived I was so excited. I traced out my size and pinned it on my dress form . . . . and . . . I was crestfallen. What a hot mess! I know how to drape and draft patterns, but not having explored this era I was looking for a well-drafted pattern as a base to teach myself the basic pattern shapes for this particular time period; to get a good sense of how they were constructed. The Sense & Sensibility patterns were not professionally drafted - therefore, they were not properly graded, or trued to make sure each piece aligns with the other! The pieces didn't fit together, there was a huge gap in the armscye. I know that sleeves for that time period often sat deeper - father back than a modern sleeve - but the S&S pattern didn't sit properly - And the instructions were abysmal!
With my bubble burst, I mentioned my dilemma and one of the instructors at the school where I've been taking classes part-time (New York Fashion Academy - Seattle) recommended the "La Mode Bagetelle" Regency Wardrobe patterns, and sold me one of her copies. BOY and am I glad she did! What an improvement!
I cut out my pieces today and pinned them on my dress form, and they're going together so smoothly! They fit perfectly - not awkward gaps, or pattern pieces that have no instructions on actually HOW they are supposed to fit together. Purchasing the La Mode patterns was worth the $50+ for this collection!
When it says "wardrobe" it truly means it! All of the pieces pictured are included.
I wanted to make a Spencer Jacket, but I didn't want to copy someone else's version or make something that looked "cookie cutter." There are SO many gorgeous gowns I've seen on Pinterest, but the majority of the work I see reproduced are just basic batiste linen gowns. I wanted to make mine unique. Something no one else was doing. Something a bit more intricate but elegant.
Something fun. Something whimsical. This little Spencer Jacket served that purpose!
So first let me tell you about:
The Embroidery: The embroidery I am using on my Spencer is a reproduction of the Prince Charming coat worn in the 2015 rendition of Cinderella. I had it digitized for my embroidery machine. (Digital version displayed Copyright Designs From Time 2015-2016 All Rights Reserved). I used the smallest pattern on the bottom since there isn't as wide an area on the Spencer jacket as there is for the men's tailcoat.
The Sleeves: The fabric smocking technique I am using dates back to late 18th Century France (1780s), and possibly even earlier. (see the picture to the right). I haven't found it in any Regency sketches or portraits, but knowing that it IS a historical technique, I decided to use it - even if it is much later in the time period.
MY WORK IN PROGRESS:
Day One: I made a little change in the front by redrafting a little lapel that folds over. I wanted something that hearkened to the men's tailcoat, but more feminine. The front is lined in red silk taffeta.
The jacket and upper sleeves are 100% cotton Velveteen that I purchased at "Walmart!" They normally carried it during the winter months, and usually only in black or red. I'm not sure if they still do?
I pulled out my stash and found this beautiful red fabric, but there wasn't enough for a long sleeve, so I improvised! The short sleeves in the pattern didn't speak to me, so I decided to design something myself.
It's just pinned together right now. Tomorrow I will embroider the other half. . . and I have also decided to embroider the stand up collar as well!