Project Journal: 1815-1820 Regency Ensemble Part V: Completed Spencer (Massachusetts Costumers Regency Holiday Tea)

In the greenhouses at the Regency Holiday Tea.

Despite the long name of this post… Here it is! My (almost) finished 1819 Regency Ensemble! The ensemble includes an early 19th century white linen chemise, 1815-1820 pink cotton corset, 1815-1825 ivory cotton gown, 1819 brown velvet Spencer, 1819 straw bonnet, and mid-19th century fur muff (ok, so it’s not quite as giant and droopy as a Regency muff… but it was cold outside!). You can click on the links to see more about each piece. There is more to come on the gown and bonnet.

Right now I want to focus on the completed Spencer and its details. Please click on the link above to see my research for the Spencer: it is based off a Spencer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can see pictures of the mockup Spencer here. The Spencer is constructed of brown cotton velvet that is flatlined with white cotton. It is trimmed with green cotton cording, vintage brown lace, and green tassels to match (Aren’t the tassels so adorable?).

1819 Spencer
Back of the 1819 Spencer

I wore this Spencer to the Massachusetts Costumers annual Regency Holiday Tea. This year, in addition to having tea, we visited the Lyman Estates Greenhouses, which were built in 1804 and added to in 1820, 1840, and 1930.

On to see more of the greenhouses
Ornaments hanging from a tree!
Picture time!
Admiring the decor
So many beautiful things to look at

The tea was lovely and I do believe that my Spencer turned out wonderfully! Spencers are so adorable and varied. I hope to make more in the future… but there are other things to do before I go back to Spencers. The next big push is going to be Edwardian outfits for Titantic evens in April!

Project Journal: 1815-1820 Regency Ensemble Part IV: Spencer Mockup

I recently shared with you my research for a Regency Spencer! I found many inspiring images, but below is the one that I chose to reproduce, with some creative license, of course. 1819 is the specific year much of my Regency ensemble is aimed at, so this Spencer fits in perfectly! Aren’t the tassels adorable?

1819-1822 Spencer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
1819-1822 Spencer Back

First of all, let me share pictures of the mock-up of this garment!

I draped the pattern and left seam allowance on the draped pieces (to eliminate the step of creating a paper pattern from my muslin) so I could move straight to the mock-up stage. In this case especially, I felt the mock-up to be essential to the fit of the spencer (especially the seams in the back) as well as to reaffirm the scale and placement of the decorative elements. Only after I had fit the Spencer and marked the necessary alterations did I rip open the seams and use the muslin to create a paper pattern.

1819 Spencer Mock-up
1819 Spencer Mockup
Back: close up
Sleeve: close up

Coming soon will be pictures of the finished garment!

Project Journal: 1815-1820 Regency Ensemble Part III: Spencer Research

Merry Christmas!

Let me start by explaining my reasoning about adding to my Regency wardrobe. You see, I had two events in mind for which I needed two different Regency looks: the Massachusetts Costumers annual Regency Holiday Tea and the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers 1812 Ball. What to wear???

“Well,” I thought, “I have an 1819 dress that I built last year for the Sense and Sensibility Ball… but I don’t have the right corset to wear under it. Nor do I have any way to make the ball gown into day wear… And, now that I think of it, what will I do with my hair for a day style???”

The first and most foundational step was to build a corset to provide the proper support and shape for the Regency period. You can see my research and construction of the corset in previous posts.

The next step was to turn my ball gown into day wear! Well, Spencers are a classic Regency garment that can perfectly disguise my ball gown by hiding the short sleeves and low neckline, thus turning it into day wear. Perfect! After the Spencer will come the adventure of finding a suitable hair/hat solution.

What is a Spencer? It is a short, waist length jacket from the 18th and 19th centuries first worn by men but quickly adapted into women’s wear. The garment is named after George John, the 2nd Earl of Spencer who was an English politician during the last quarter of the 18th century and the first quarter of the 19th century.

Early 19th Century Fashion Plate at LACMA (Spencer on the right)
Fashion Plate, 1807 at LACMA (Spencer on the right)

Right now I am interested in the Regency style Spencers, since that is what I will be making, so I will focus my research on that period. Here are some of the Spencers I found most inspirational for my reproduction. These garments are from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection.

1819-1822 Spencer
Early 19th Century Spencer
Early 19th Century Spencer
c. 1815 Spencer
1814-1820 Spencer
c. 1816 Spencer
c. 1818 Spencer
1804-1818 Spencer (That is a lot of tassels!)
c. 1820 Spencer

Let’s leave the Spencer here, in the research stage, for today. More will be coming soon with mock-up pictures of my reproduction!

While looking for research images I did come across this blog post that shows a reproduction of an 1815 Spencer at the LACMA. The post (and her other posts as well)  have great commentary about the research and construction of reproduction garments with lots of pictures included!

Reproduction 1815 Spencer