mercoledì 23 novembre 2016

Black linen spencer (1795-1805) from "Regency Women's Dress" by Cassidy Percoco

In August I turned 30. An important date, yes, so I decided this birthday deserved good self - gifts. After checking my Amazon wishlist I chose to buy two important books for my costuming activity: Regency Women's Dress: Techniques and Patterns 1800-1830 by Cassidy Percoco and Costume Close Up: Clothing Construction and Pattern, 1750-1790 by Linda Baumgarten.
They are two different books, referring to two different eras as the titles suggest: Regency era and 18th century. 

Let's start with the first one. After reading several reviews online, I decided to buy this book because I needed some Regency patterns to be drafted by my own. The book lacks of technical explanations about assembling the garments so I wouldn't recommend it to beginners or sewists used to commercial patterns (like Simplicity, just to tell one) but the patterns are really well drafted and easy to use thanks to the grid. I'm European so I use cm instead of inches but the grid made the conversion easier (a square = 1 inch = 2,5 cm). The pattern came out easily (I drafted it follow my measurements directly) and with very few alterations needed (ok, I've been lucky). 
I needed a spencer for my latest Regency event in Stupinigi. It had to be warm enough without being too heavy so I went for black linen and cotton lining. The spencer in the book dates around 1795 to 1805 so it refers to early Regency fashion with the typical curved sleeves. I did several alterations to the closure (the pattern calls for button and buttonholes mounted on two strings that keep the spencer closed on the front) and I closed it with a simple drawstring. The back seams are all piped and the whole thing is lined in cotton; the bottom of the garment is faced with black bias tape - all hand sewn. 
The neckline has two small lapels at sides and  a regular collar  - nothing hard here.

The worn garment:










Pros: 
- The pattern was really easy to be drafted 
- The linen and the cotton are really warm and comfortable on skin
- Black is a versatile colour I can use with all my Regency dresses
- The drawstring closure makes it unique (the linen keeps it in place)
- The back of the spencer ends with very nice small tails

Cons: 
- There are no images of the extant garment. This would have made things easier, especially for lapels and collar. 
- The illustration in the garment description are minimal  and not detailed
- I made the sleeves a little bit tighter in the upper arm and too large in the lower arm - my fault, I'm not a friend of curved sleeves and I need to practice
- The lapels need a brooch or some small stitches to stay in place when worn

I hope these small pros&cons may help some of you out there! Pay attention to sleeves and keep in mind to enlarge your pattern enough since you're making an outer garment that has to be worn over your regular clothes (don't make my mistake...).
Now the photos - I hope you'll enjoy them!

Some examples of fashion plates from the period (because references are everything):












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