Regency Spencer – Laughing Moon #129

Regency Spencer

Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton Dress
This historical costume project came about as an attempt to salvage another historical costume project.

Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton Dress
Let’s begin with the dress that inspired the jacket. Warning, this post is long so if you’d like to skip to the discussion on the jacket, continue down until you see more jacket photos.

I sewed this white Regency gown years ago but due to a massive fail on my part, it lingered in the Drawer of Shame ever since.

Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton Dress

See, I bought this thin, semi-sheer striped cotton destined for a sheer dress gown. I’d already made Laughing Moon #126 and loved the fit and imagined I could use this fabric with that pattern. However, that pattern is an apron front dress and were I to make it with a sheer fabric, the entire interior bodice structure would be exposed. Hmm, how to work around this…?

Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton Dress(the dress looks deceptively fine in the front…)

Rather than lining the bodice (which would ruin the sheer effect I was going for) I chose to convert the entire bodice to a back-closing design with drawstrings. To do that I needed to widen the back pieces so they could be gathered up by the drawstrings at the waist and neckline.

But I didn’t cut the back pieces extra wide. Because I forgot. Or something. I don’t remember. Instead, I cut the back like normal and didn’t have enough fabric left to cut new pieces. Ugh. Without the extra width, the drawstrings couldn’t do their job leaving MASSIVE gaping in the center back.

Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton Dress(but the back reveals a fatal error!)

To salvage the dress, I lined the bodice to permanently fix the gathers in front and attached three hooks and eyes in the back. So much for that sheer bodice design I was going for…

But this solution still resulted in gaping. Because of course there would be gaping. The original dress is designed with a close-fitting back and if you split that back in half, the fabric will strain at that point.

It looked awful and unwearable and showed all the undergarments in the back.

(Some Spencer inspiration. My jacket looks similar to the right-side portrait from 1799.)

Enter 2018 and the new solution: SPENCER!

Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton Dress

Why didn’t I think of this before!?? Spencers were a style of cropped jacket unique to the Regency period of about the 1790s-1820s. They were often worn over gowns when it was too warm for a full coat.

Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton Dress

Luckily, I had plenty of this black cotton velveteen leftover from other projects and I read somewhere that velveteen was used for Spencers in the early 1800s.

I used View C of Laughing Moon #129. I liked the “tails” in the back which would cover more of the back bodice of the dress and the high collar gave the jacket a military feel. Laughing Moon says this design is good for 1798-1809 which pairs well with my jockey-style bonnet from around the same period.

Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton Dress

I ordered a black taffeta from Silk Baron for the lining. I liked the idea of the shiny silk contrasting with the velveteen, but the black on black still makes it easy to match the jacket with dresses and accessories.

Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton DressI find that Laughing Moon patterns fit me well right out of the envelope and this was no exception. The only problem is that the armholes are a tad snug but I bet that’s because the velveteen seam allowance is so bulky where it is gathered.

Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton Dress

The only change I made was to shortened the sleeves by about 1/2″. They’re meant to be quite long but even so, they were super long.

Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton Dress

The sleeves bell out at the wrist and I like that I can roll up the cuffs if I want to show off more silk.

Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton Dress

The button came from a swap. I originally attached two buttons for symmetry but the “faux” button was droopy and looked unsymmetrical despite the buttons being stitched in the same place. I took the extra button off.

Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton Dress

Sewing this pattern proved more challenging than I expected. I knew I’d have to do plenty of hand sewing here and there but I struggled with the points near the collar and with the pleats in back. I had to do some extra hand sewing and clipping to make sure everything layed correctly.
Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton DressSewing the velveteen proved challenging as well. While not as slippery as silk velvet, the pile on this fabric makes it difficult to sew without the layers shifting. I used a walking foot and a long stitch length to accommodate this finicky fabric.
Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton DressFor this outfit, I’m wearing my Regency undergarments, the dress, Spencer, my silk bonnet, a coral bead necklace and an extra long pashmina shawl (made by stitching two long shawls together at one end).
Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton DressIn the end, this jacket turned out fantastic! The cut is perfect for this era. I love the contrast between the sleek silk and the heavy velveteen. The whole outfit looks straight out of a French fashion magazine.


Velveteen Regency Spencer and Cotton Dress

Papercut Patterns Adrift Dress

Papercut Patterns Adrift Dress

Back again with more #SummerSewing! Almost to the end. After this I just have one more garment to share.

Summer 2018 Wardrobe Mood Board

This is the Papercut Patterns Adrift Dress in a coral rayon twill.

I used leftover white cotton cording and a couple silver eyelets for the drawstring and casing.Papercut Patterns Adrift DressThis is the 7th pattern from Papercut that I’ve tried. They tend to fit me fairly well and overall I like their stying.

Papercut Patterns Adrift Dress

Fun fact, in my original #SummerSewing moodboard, I had the Sway Dress by Papercut in a coral twill. And I even made it! But I used a stretch woven sateen from Joann and that fabric was terrible. You could see the lines of the neck and arm facings through the fabric. You could also see the lines of everything else that was under the fabric… It was unwearable.
Papercut Patterns Adrift Dress

I scrapped that dress and made the Adrift instead, with rayon rather than cotton, and I’m so glad I did!

Papercut Patterns Adrift Dress

I love this dress! The rayon is perfect for the flowy ruffles on the sleeves and skirt. I like the adjustable drawstring at the waist (it’s a faux wrap skirt, the drawstring doesn’t hold the skirt together, it just allows for better fit) and coral is my favorite color.

Papercut Patterns Adrift Dress

Only problems with this dress: 1) darts are a wee bit too high. Not a big deal. 2) Rayon. Rayon gets super wrinkly with wear, and it’s especially noticeable in a solid color. Luckily the wrinkles soften with heat and since it’s always hot in Texas I hope the wrinkles won’t be terrible. Not that I mind too much. This dress is so cute, even with wrinkles!

Seamwork Hayden

Seamwork Hayden

Seamwork Hayden Shirt (modified)

Continuing on with my #SummerSewing projects (1: Yes, I realize it is October, I’m just now getting around to blogging. 2: It is still 90+ degrees in Texas. Summer never ends…), this is my third and final shirt from my list.

Summer 2018 Wardrobe Mood Board

This is the Seamwork Hayden woven tee, altered to add a peplum skirt rather than a folded hemband.

I also inserted ladder lace into the front and waist seamlines.

Seamwork Hayden Shirt (modified)

This super lightweight navy Swiss dot cotton came from Fabric.com and the lace from Etsy.

Seamwork Hayden Shirt (modified)

The button in back is from my stash.

Seamwork Hayden Shirt (modified)

For my alterations, I began with the cropped version on this shirt. To convert the hemband to a peplum I simply doubled the length of the band pieces, stitched them together at the side seams, gathered the top edge and stitched to the lace. I did not fold the band up like in the original garment. Rather, I simply hemmed the lower edge. This made the shirt about three inches longer than it would have been normally.

Seamwork Hayden Shirt (modified)

I have to admit, of my #SummerSewing, this is the project I’m least excited about. I think I just wasn’t able to match my vision for this shirt with what the pattern could produce.  My main gripe deals with the style lines. The princess seams aren’t proper “fit” seams. They don’t go over the fullest part of the bust. They sit closer to the side seams. This makes the front of the chest area seem wider than it is.

Basically, I wanted a “loose,” “full” shape but the seam line placement creates an illusion that the shirt is too big. Even though the shirt fits in the shoulders and high bust, it looks like it doesn’t because that lace isn’t floating over the bust apex.

Seamwork Hayden Shirt (modified)

Added to that issue are side-darts which are necessary because the seamlines don’t help the fit. The darts are hard to see but they create an awkward pointy mess where dart meets lace. Because the seamline is pushed toward the side seam, that means the dart point has to end further back from the bust apex than it normally would, only adding to the weird pointy effect. How can I describe it? It’s like the dart point doesn’t even touch my bust. It just floats off in space, away from my body. Like the point is repelled from the rest of me.

I don’t want to say this is a bad design. My combo of light fabric and lace in the seams likely didn’t help things. This is a personal preference issue and while the design and instructions were fine, the end result is just not what I ultimately wanted.

Seamwork Hayden Shirt (modified)

Next time I’ll choose a more traditional princess seam bodice (no darts) and use that as a basis for a shirt. I do think the peplum turned out well. It adds a fun touch to the shirt. Hey, they can’t all be winners!

Embroidered Deer and Doe Myosotis Dress

Deer and Doe Myosotis

This dress is the Deer and Doe Myosotis. Another make from my #SummerSewing series and possibly my favorite piece yet!

Summer 2018 Wardrobe Mood Board

I ordered this lovely white embroidered cotton from Finch Fabrics. The bodice and skirt lining is plain old white cotton.

 

The clear buttons are the same from my Alder Dress but in a larger size (thanks Roseana!).

Deer and Doe Myosotis

I’ve sewn a few Deer and Doe patterns before and this one was easy to follow.

Deer and Doe MyosotisI loved the styling of this dress. You can get a completely different silhouette depending on fabric type. I used a thick cotton but you could make it with rayon for a drapey dress.

Deer and Doe MyosotisI chose to sew the version with all the gathers because that seemed fun.

Deer and Doe MyosotisThe waistline actually isn’t fitted at all, so the gathers help give an illusion of a waistline. This is actually pretty nice for summer time when you don’t want clothes tight on your body. But that paired with the poofy ruffles and a fabric with a lot of body makes for an especially girly dress.

Deer and Doe Myosotis

Because I had to line my dress I made a couple minor changes to the pattern. I didn’t topstitch down the center front facings. I figured the buttons and buttonholes would keep the facing in place well enough.

I made the lining of the skirt a little less wide and shorter than the overall embroidered skirt. I also nixed the extra ruffle on the skirt lining.

Deer and Doe Myosotis DressI worried the embroidered fabric would be too bulky for the gathers but I think it works – with the help of topstitching to keep the seam allowances from flopping around.

Deer and Doe Myosotis

I love love love this dress! Only one issue – the center front has something like 6 layers (two of which are gathered) not counting seam allowances, and it was difficult to sew across them and get a straight seam. As a result, my center front is a tad wonky. This is one of those details that no one else will notice but me. Nevertheless, I’ll probably go back and hand stitch that part to get a straighter line. In the meantime, I’ll keep wearing it because it’s such a nice dress!

Deer and Doe Myosotis