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Teal Wool Spencer

When I was planning what to make for my trip to Bath, an all-weather spencer topped the list. The only spencer I had was my blue spotted silk, which as lovely as it is, isn’t good to wear in the heat or in the rain. Yes, I realize my trip was in June, but I run cold and England’s idea of summer is not mine. I froze on both my previous trips and was determined not to do so again!

Costume Parisien, An 10, Plate 378.
I was intrigued by a style that kept popping up in fashion plates from around 1798-1801. Usually a dark blue or black, they have long tight sleeves with an open, pointed front that may cross or may just hang open. Some had tails, some didn’t. Some had rolled collars, some had standing. I found a lot of variety, but all had the basic silhouette. It seemed like a versitile style that would be perfect for a summer spencer.

Costume Parisien, An 9, Plate 297

You can see more of my inspiration images here on my Pinterest board.

Using a fine striped teal wool from Burnley & Trowbridge, I made a lightweight wool open spencer. I I lined the body in linen for breathability, but used silk at the sleeves for ease of movement. It’s entirely hand sewn using the method I described with my pink silk spencer. The seam allowance on the outer fabric of one piece is turned under and placed on top of the corresponding outer piece and lining. The seam is topstitched with a spaced backstitch and then the other lining piece is folded over and whipped down, encasing the seam. The front pieces are faced with wool and the edges are turned under and topstitched.


(Please note the generous amount of cat hair covering this spencer. The wool was a dream to work with but attracted fur like a magnent. Literally every stitch I had to pull out a piece of hair before I could move on to the next one.)

I padstitched both the collar and lapels, but didn’t add extra interfacing other than a layer of the linen. I’ve heard conflicting reports of when padstitching became widely used, and without doing more research I can’t definitively say if it is correct to use it on a spencer this early. However, I really wanted a nice roll on the lapels and collar, and knew padstitching would give me the effect I wanted so I was happy to compromise accuracy to achieve the final look.

To pattern the spencer, I used my navy figured spencer pattern as a guide, keeping the back shape basically the same but draping the open front, points, lapels, and collar on the dressform. Playing with collar and lapel shapes is actually one of my favorite things to do, so this really was an ideal project for me.

Posted: 3/26/2017 10:43:48 AM by Aubry | with comments
Filed under: 1790s
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Project Details

Teal Wool Spencer