Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Historical Sewing: Regency Crossover and Spencer

It was 2009 and graduation was coming up. Being the off-beat, homeschooler that I was, I wanted a Regency dress for the event instead of a cute, trendy summer frock. No, I needed a Regency dress. It was my second 'big' sewing project, the first time I would be doing it on my own without much in the way of mentoring, and the first time I had worked with a pattern so... drapey. A friend of mine let me borrow her pattern from Sense and Sensibility Patterns. It looked pretty straight forward and simple enough, so, true to my style, I dived in without really knowing what I was getting myself into. But I wasn't ecstatic about it. It felt frumpy and baggy, and the closure on the front just wouldn't cooperate. I still wore it to the graduation, and I even wore it to a bachelorette tea party. I decided that crossover Regency gowns weren't my thing because of the kinks in the pattern that wouldn't seem to work themselves out. The dress landed in the farthest corner in the costume closet as more structured dresses were added to the collection.  
Graduation day. 
Fast forward to just several weeks ago. I got my sister and myself tickets to an upcoming Regency ball. And I hadn't a clue what I was going to wear. Anything that I would choose would have to be altered (loosing 30 lbs. will make your entire wardrobe not fit anymore). Now would be an excellent time to see if there was any hope for that light green damask crossover dress. 

I checked out books from the library and scoured Pinterest for ideas. It didn't take much research to find bits and pieces that I wanted to incorporate. But first, fixing that darn closure and those funky sleeves. I wish I had a before and after picture of that closure. It was a mess before. Some ribbon here and some stitches there, I'm much more pleased with the final results. But, as a whole, it didn't seem complete. 

I had enough time to spare before the ball (it's still several days away) to make that something more that the dress needed. A spencer! I had the pattern, fabric, trim, buttons... everything already in the stash (and it was all given to me by different people at different times o_O) I did a mock-up, and somewhere along the line, I decided to make it sleeveless. There are sleeveless spencers out there; just check out this beauty. After doing Jacob's coat, this project went really quick. The only kink that I ran into along the process was the ribbon on the waist that I had on my dress - the spencer wasn't long enough to cover it up. A 1 1/2" waistband needed to be added in the front and 3" to the back. After drafting some pieces and adding a seam allowance, the problem disappeared. 

I took a step back. It was finished (before the day-of). And I loved it. 
Now to figure out what I'm doing with my hair for the ball. ;)

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