Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Spencer Progress!

I am achingly close to being done with my Blue Wool Spencer!  I brought it along with me to Iowa so that I could work on all the hand-sewing of the trim during any downtime over the Christmas holiday.  Of course, I still had the birthday handkerchiefs discussed in my previous post to work on after we arrived in Iowa, so for the first few days I ended up pretending to work on my Spencer while actually working on hemming and embroidering said handkerchiefs behind the Spencer, because one or more of the guys seemed to always be in the room!  I felt like I was in school pretending to study a textbook while in reality reading a comic book.  :p

But I digress.  I'm actually ahead of myself, because before we left Virginia I had made sure to finish up all machine-sewing portions so that the work became entirely portable.  First I cut out the final piece, which was the sleeve lining.  I used linen instead of the cotton muslin I had lined the bodice with, because linen allows other sleeves to slide easily into the arm of the jacket. 

Following the pattern directions (for once) I sewed the hem edge of the sleeve to the sleeve lining, right sides together:

Then turned and pressed the seam.

At the top of the sleeve lining, I pressed under a 5/8" seam allowance:

Pulled the gathers, matched all points:

And stitched the lining in by hand.  This is actually my preferred way to do sleeve linings, and is the same way I learned to do it at Colonial Williamsburg, when I worked there.

I don't have pictures of this step, but I had previously sewn the waistband and waistband lining together, sandwiching the lower edge of the bodice in between.  I then attached the peplum to the lower edge of the waistband only, and folded over the seam allowance of the lining and whipped it down by hand: 

This was all done before we left for Iowa.  Once we arrived at my parents' house and got settled in, I began adding the velvet ribbon along the top edge of the waistband.  Of course, I had to take a break from it for a few days in order to finish the birthday presents.  When I came back to it, I realized that I wanted to attach the braid to the side back seams before I sewed the velvet ribbon over the bottom of the seams.

I stitched by hand just down the center of the braid, through all layers of the jacket at the seam.  At the top of the seam, I started looping the braid to create a frogged design: 

Finally I finished stitching the velvet ribbon on!  (And I have to say that the work went a lot faster when I was actually working on it instead of just pretending!)  I had started with the top edge of the waistband, then I followed around the pointed tab in front, and continued along the lower edge back to the other side.  I stitched only the outer edge first, then came back around on the inner edge: 

On the front tab I carefully tucked under the excess at the points:

Next I measured the remaining braid, and found I had 22" left.  After some hemming and hawing over this final design element, I decided to divide it into eight equal pieces:

Half, half, and half again - each piece 2 3/4"
Each piece would become a loop - six for the ends of the three horizontal bars, and two for each of the points on the collar:

Like this:

An interior shot of the back with all trim added:

It's a little hard to see, but on the inner edges of the velvet ribbon on the waistband, I whipped it just to the outer wool layer most of the way, but stitched through all layers once every inch or so:

I had actually added the skirt hooks and bars before the horizontal bars, to be sure I was lining them up correctly:

And it's nearly done!  All I have to do is add the buttons to the sleeve bands and waistband, and possibly also at the ends of the horizontal bars on the front.

So what do you think?  Is there enough trim?  I certainly hope so, because this is all that's left:


  1. Oh. My. Gosh. I absolutely ADORE this spencer!! The trim is perfect and it looks gorgeous on you!! (I want one now!) You're so talented!
    Anneliese :)

    1. Thank you! I have had so much fun working on it!

  2. Perfect, and excellent use of your limited trim! I love the idea of you working away on presents while appearing to be innocently sewing your spencer.

    Thanks for explaining how you lined the sleeves. It sounds like a really good way of doing this, I'm looking forward to trying it myself sometime.

    1. I felt so sneaky! :p Hehe.

      You're welcome. I never know which technique I use will be new and exciting for someone else. :) I'm trying really hard to better document my process for this reason.

  3. Super adorable! The trim really adds a lot, and I love the height of the collar.

    1. Thanks! It should shield my neck from cold wind. It'll be hard to get used to the edges rubbing against my cheeks, though.