How to make a Regency Spencer
There are two options for making a Spencer Jacket, for most jackets the easiest ,quickest and most effective is to find a suitable full length modern jacket and cut it down ,both the one above and those below are cropped modern jackets.
I have worn an assortment of these cut down and retailored Jackets and no one has ever guessed they were not specially made Spencers,yet the need so special skills and take well under an hour to make .The most important thing is to find a suitable jacket.(I will give details on choosing a jacket at the base of the instructions)
You simply find your jacket
And cut off the bottom leaving enough length to make a turned over hem
Before cutting check the waistline of the gown or gowns your most likely to be wearing it with and make sure the jacket sits at or just below it .Cut to about 2 inches below a fastening ,button etc .
Now just turn over the cut edges and you have a Spencer.
If your lucky and theres enough spare fabric you can turn the chopped off bits into Regency bags or reticules to make your jacket just sew along the already cut edges .
You may be lucky enough to have a jacket that has some interesting detailing that makes the bags look ok without trim but if not a small amount of curtain or upholstery fringe makes most bags look authentic.
To finish your bag add a strip of velcro acorss the top of your bag and a piece of crod for a handle or use an old necklace or length of beaded trim etc.
You can make Spencers from jackets made from any fabrics but the most authentic looking ones are velvet and mat silk ,shiny fabrics such as satin should be avoided as should patterned fabrics.Plain wool works but not tweed ,I have made a very pretty pair of corded velvet ones but theres are not really authentic.
Chose one which is tailored and shaped to fit snuggly at the bust and just below it.Miliatary style jackets look good and are a authentic Regency style but most smart or evenign jackets work ,,dotn be tempted to use an already cropped shrug style jacket as most of these wont sit properly
The jacket should also have a slightly puffed sleeve or at least have some gathers were the sleeve is attached to the bodice ,straight sleeves will work but dont sit as comfortably over puffed sleeved dresses.
To make a much more elaborate Evening Spencer
If you want to make a more complex Spencer for evening wear its still possible to make one fairly quickly.
I will add more photos to the guide shortly .
You will need the fabric of your choice ,,at least a metre ,more if your making a long sleeved one .
A boned bodice ,clubbing or prom top any length but with a neckline the shape you want your spencer to be .You also need to decide if your going to have a closed front Spencer or one that fastens with a band leaving a front gap
some kind of fastener ,velco,hooks and eyes or ties ,
As with the jacket you need to cut the bodice off at the length you need our Spencer to be.
Then cover this cropped off bodice with your fabric starting with the centre back panel
Turn the fabric over at the edges ,ie the neck the bottom and arm holes,it might turn over easier if you make small snips to it at intervals
You then just carry on recovering the bodice working outwards from both sides of the first panel
,when you reach the front edge turn over a generous amount of the fabric and stitch,This gives you a little waistcoat looking jacket
When its completely covered you need to make sleeves you can just add puffed sleeves by cutting a long rectangle or fabric then gathering it to a width that fits in the arm hole and at the bottom to a width that fits your upper arm .Just tack this sleeve into the bodice.
Or you can make more elaborate sleeves
This is also quite easy ,you do this by cutting long strips of your fabric to the length required which should be just below or at the length of your gowns cuffs .
Now cut two strips long enough to go around your upper arm where the spencer sleeves will end these will be your cuffs
stitch all these strips to your sleeve holes and then to a narrow longer strip which is your cuff .
Add another strip across the front if you are making that style of spencer then sew velcro to the end of the strip and inside the bodice or add ties or hook and eyes
You can add more decoration or even add a long skirt part by cutting a length of fabric to the length required then making it into pleats and stitching them to the base of the bodice.