Sunday, November 20, 2011

1790s Convertible Spencer: Examining Extant Articles, Part 2

I've spent a little while peering nearsightedly at the Met's "spencer jacket", and my peregrinations along the seam- and hemlines may have uncovered a little more of how it was constructed.

Walk along with me now, and see if you see what I do.

First let's note that this little gem was likely a remake using fabric from an earlier garment. I say this because the embroideries are sparse and random, rather than planned to the garment.

Front Closure


The center front meets edge to edge. If we look at the left side, for instance, we can see two vertical rows of stitching. There may be a tape or something behind to help strengthen the fabric to take the strain of the lacing.

At the neckline edge the fashion fabric is folded back to the underside, and is stitched down to create a channel for the drawstring, of tape, that you see still tied. The stitching for this channel is covered by the gimp trim.

The lacing is made of multistrand cord. Its gleam makes me think it may be silk.


Inside Construction


This is a detail of the inside of the left shoulder of the garment.

Please be sure click on the photo above and really look at it or you probably won't understand the below.

A: This is actually the underside of the collar, not a part of the shoulder strap. The fashion fabric has been turned to the underside of the collar, turned again to enclose the raw edge, and stitched down. On the exterior, the seam would be hidden by the gimp trim.

B: This is the armscye edge of the shoulder strap, seen from the inside of the garment. The fashion fabric appears to have been turned in once, and then covered by a narrow cream tape or ribbon, which is stitched down along each long edge, apparently with the blue silk thread used elsewhere on the garment.

C: This is the shoulder strap where it attaches to the back piece.  You can see that the strap is laid atop the back piece, the raw edge turned under, and hemmed down. You can barely see a line of prick stitching about a quarter inch above. On the outside, this would be the seamline of prick stitching (my guess) that fixed the back piece to the shoulder.

D: This is the upper edge of the back piece, just peeking out from below the shoulder strap. Its raw edge has been turned under too and hemmed down. You can see the continuation of that neckline hem at F.

E: This is the neckline edge of the shoulder strap. Here the fashion fabric has been turned under twice and hemmed down. Thick, isn't it?

F: Here is the neckline edge of the back piece. It's treated the same way.

G: This is the collar seam! The collar appears to be simply brought to the inside of the already finished neckline, the raw edges turned under, and hemmed down. See where the neckline turns? Note how the collar has a little wrinkle there. Was perhaps the collar a later addition to an earlier, plainer jacket? Or did the maker simply not care to fuss with a facing? Given how the rest of the fabric is finished, that would just add bulk.

The garment is, to my mind, happily casually finished, almost ill-thought. It suits me, for some reason, perhaps because I am continually process-challenged as I learn all of these methods, and my mistakes lead to such collar "issues" as we see here.

Next time, we look carefully at the rest of the garment.

Readers, if you take exception to my dissection, I beg you write and let me know what you think. Together we may be able resurrect this puppy!

9 comments:

MrsC said...

I am convinced this spencer is the work of a teenager wanting to have the latest fashion and needing something to wear to an event that her friends had not already seen, something to give her white muslin dress a point of difference. Her mother reluctantly agreeing to let her cut up and remake that shawl/old petticoat or whatever. Getting stuck in, getting a bit muddled and just doing it as she sees best from the illustration, and then being nagged into binding down the seams etc afterwards by her mother!

ZipZip said...

Dear Mrs. C.,
Love it! Can see the scenes now...

I am really thinking to replicate it, collar and all. Am I silly?

Very best,

Natalie

Kleidung um 1800 said...

Yes, please do replicate it true to the original - this always proofs to be very rewarding, as going along the process the amount of knowledge gathered is immense! And it gives very much insight to the seamstress back then. I do love the met collection for given us the chance to zoom in the garments and examin each tiny detail - such a treat!
I can't wait for your further reasearch and the actual reproduction spencer!
"Hurrah" for this new project!!!

Sabine

ZipZip said...

Dear Sabine,
Ah, now I am torn, for after that post I did some more digging, and you will see what I found in the next post. The design a little more engaging than the Met one...but if I used the same methods? Will that do?

Very best,

Natalie

ZipZip said...

Dear Sabine,
Ah, now I am torn, for after that post I did some more digging, and you will see what I found in the next post. The design a little more engaging than the Met one...but if I used the same methods? Will that do?

Very best,

Natalie

MrsC said...

Hmm. Does one recreate the methods of a pretty inept seamstress of the time, or apply the best of what we know about techniques of the time? OR even of our time? The former could be interesting from an educational point of view, but I feel that this garment would work better properly constructed. :)

The Dreamstress said...

Oooh, so cute! And so easy to make! Thank you for all your research into it!

ZipZip said...

Dear Dreamstress,

You bet. My sentiments exactly. More research on the way...I am obsessed at the moment with them :}

Very best,

Natalie

ZipZip said...

Dear Mrs. C.,

Interesting questions. Part of me, like Sabine, wants to construct it as is, in order to understand it better. The other part of me wants to find a better example of a collar treatment in an extant example. I just have to keep searching. Modern methods? Since that doesn't further my research aims into methods of the day, I'll not be doing that. I *might* if in a hurry for an event, mind you, but unlike you Wellingtonians, chances to wear creations here are r-a-r-e, since I cannot travel very often right now, so I lack events to be in a hurry for [sticks out lower lip, sulking].

Very best,

Natalie