The cheats guide to making a very easy Regency Spencer (short jacket )

red specner breeze

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.

mrs bronte parsonage sign



jane Austen festival


Mrs Bronte moor

reg dress

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

black jacket 1


And cut off the bottom leaving enough length to make a turned over hem

spencer guide 2

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 .

spencer guide and bags


spencer side

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.

Jacket choices

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

gold spencer gal

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.

spencer 1

Then cover this cropped off bodice with your fabric starting with  the centre back  panel

spencer guide 2


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

spencer neck13


You then just carry on recovering  the bodice working outwards from both sides of the first panel

spencer 12

,when you reach the front edge turn over a generous amount of the fabric and stitch,This gives you a little waistcoat looking jacket

spncer body done


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

spencer sleeve finished

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  .

spencer sleeve panels 21


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 .

spencer slseves fin

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

gold spencer gal

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.



About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
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