Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Simple Regency Spencer Jacket - Purple Silk

Pattern: Self-draft.
Fabrics: 100% silk, woven, with jacquard stripes. Body is lined in cream cotton print. Sleeves lined in dark gold silk.
Available on Etsy HERE

Measurements: *underbust band has a drawstring channel hidden in it, allowing it to be cinched down smaller.
Bust: 38" max
Underbust: 35" max
Sleeve: 26.5" front top of shoulder. Meant to be worn to the knuckles, scrunched up along arms.
Bicep: 13" max
Forearm: 11" max
Back Width: 13.5" between armhole seams.

I have made this jacket, or a version of it, several times with this same fabric (that tends to happen when a particular garments becomes popular and you get multiple custom commissions for the same, lol). This gave me the opportunity to sort out the pattern I had been working on--tweak the flaws--and determine the best ways to get that authentic Regency silhouette.

~Raise the Bust and the Waist!~

The first thing I see that tends to keep historical impressionists for achieving that Regency silhouette is that they wear their busts too low and tend to have the underbust (waist) of their garments also too low--especially on Spencer jackets.

An accurate pair of Regency stays or a period accurate brassier should raise the bust to the point where the shape has virtually no under-breast curve. Our modern silhouette emphasizes natural form (or an idealized version of it anyway) in which the full rounded shape of the breast is emphasized with under-wires and shirts that scoop under the bust, etc. The regency silhouette is about the top of the bust, just as it was in the 18th century before that. In other words---mashed and pressed up Up UP, lol.

I completely understand that this can be less than comfortable, especially if you have a large bust, but there is no "should" here. Just as with every time period, people did things differently. Not everyone wore high-rise stays in the 1810s and not every historically impressionists should do so now. If someone ever tells you "this is way they did it back then and it's the only way that's right", just pat them gently on the hand and smile. No doubt 300 years from now people will be looking at old issues of Vogue and thinking we all wore 4" heels and navel scoop power-suits. =P

~Looooong Sleeves~
Part of the squishy sleepy wonderful comfort I love about the Regency era is the overly long sleeves. The fashion was, for quite some time, to have sleeves that would be scrunched up along most of the arm, with flared cuffs ending at the knuckles. No matter what you were doing--elbows bent, holding horse reins, arms raised over your head--your sleeves would never pull up further than your wrist. ;)

The sleeves on this jacket at the same. 26.5" from the top of the shoulder, they are actually a bit conservative by the standards. I've seen museum pieces with sleeves laying out straight of more than 30". 

Because I made these sleeves a bit slimmer fitting than are usually on a jacket, I lined them in silk for ease. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to shove your cotton covered arms into a cotton lined jacket while everything is catching and bunching up.

~Buttons and Buttonholes~
The buttons are hand wrapped over round forms, in the accurate manner, and the buttonholes are hand worked. Since I've been doing so much 18th century work over the last year, I've sort of fallen in love with the handmade buttonhole. I've started doing them on my modern garments as well. 

(below) One of the buttonholes from the back, also showing the eyelet where the drawstring will come out. Because this jacket has an overlap of buttons--rather than meeting flush--the drawstring must end back a ways on the underside.

(below) showing the lining. The sleeves are lined in dark gold silk, hand stitched over the raw edges of the armhole seams to cover.

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