|Pattern Description: |
A pattern for a Regency/Empire-era women's Spencer jacket taken from an extant musuem garment, circa 1800. The original is in a French museum, I believe.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
They were relatively easy to follow, but there are only a few illustrations to help guide the sewing/construction. A beginner may have some trouble, and anyone unfamiliar with Regency era clothing construction will have some trouble. This is not a first-timer's pattern.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love the style! You can choose to eliminate the lapels and/or collar very easily to make a style variation. It is designed without any front closures, and is intended to be worn open. You can even leave the back sleeve seam unsewn for a few inches above the sleeve hem and decorate the slit with braid or other trim, as in the original garment. But this is not something that is mentioned in the pattern instructions--you'll have to apply your own creativity.
A few more construction illustrations would have been helpful, but aren't 100% necessary if you're familiar with period construction. Also the sleeve pleats are located in the same spot for all pattern sizes. Unfortunately, this means that the pleats are a bit too forward on the shoulder for the larger sizes. However, this is very easy to remedy when sewing in the sleeve. You simply relocate the pleats to the top of the shoulder or back of the shoulder, as desired. Either mark the new location on the sleeve or wing the new positioning as you install the sleeves. Also helpful would have been notches to mark the collar positioning, but that is something you can--and should--add yourself. Remember to clip and notch the collar's bottom edge as you pin and sew it to the jacket body. The collar is straight, but the jacket neckline curves, so notching is crucial to get the collar to bend around the curve.
Mostly from my stash: Acetate velvet in chocolate brown for the shell, brown faille (probably polyester) for the lapels, gold soutache braid trim on the lapels, lightweight silk taffeta in mauve for the lining. Black satin piping around the collar's top edge and the lapels, and down the front opening. Home dec tassels at the center front bottom edges. I reinforced the collar with a layer of corset coutil to ensure it will continue to stand up straight; the pattern recommends interfacing, but it would have to be a very stiff interfacing; hair canvas would be a good substitution.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
The only alteration I made was to shorten the sleeve above the elbow, and lengthen the sleeve below the elbow. Otherwise the elbow bend would have hit far too low on my short arm and pulled uncomfortably during wear.
The collar on this version is a bit too tall for me, since my neck is short, and in future versions I will shorten it by 1 inch.
I sewed the majority of this Spencer by hand, since I was working with persnickety velvet that likes to shift during machine sewing. Setting the sleeves in by hand was much easier than it would have been by machine, at least. But it would be very easy to sew on the machine.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Absolutely. I've already got two more colors of silk/rayon velvet, as well as some linen lined up for additional versions.
This is a great pattern for an early Regency/Empire Spencer, although a bit tricky for the inexperienced. I'm having some trouble with the left side of the collar wanting to lay against my neck rather than stand up straight, although the coutil inner layer keeps it stiff. I think the sleeve may be pulling from the left elbow just enough to affect the collar. I'm going to add a large hook and eye to the Spencer's bottom opening edge, which I think will help keep everything in place, and it'll give the option of wearing it open or closed.