To the right you see the back of the design, from February 1796, Gallery of Fashion. The original description:
...Muslin petticoat, trimmed at the bottom with blue satin in vandyke scallops; short full sleeves of muslin, trimmed with blonde. Body of blue satin, trimmed round the neck with a double plaiting of blonde, and on the back with a chain; epaulettes of the same, looped with a spring chain and tassels of gold.
I will pleat net lace on to the body in lieu of a collar, and make the removeable epauletes to hold up the dress sleeves. However, I will also add a peplum.
I will wear this body in July, to this year's Jane Austen Festival at Locust Grove, as an afternoon ensemble. Hence no sleeves. It can be so hot there at that season! It will go over my existing wrapfront dress. I'd had difficulties with putting something round over something vee-necked, but think it now not an issue, as the spencer is low-necked and I can play with the dress closure.
The Extant Evidence: Inspiration Spencer from the Met
Creating the Cutting Diagram
I had already long figured out many of the details of little Met spencer's basic construction, but had not drawn myself a general diagram.
This morning I had two sunny hours, a doctor's appointment over, the boys at school, and after weeks of sickness and duties of all kinds, thought to play a little, and now was the perfect moment to make that diagram. Here they are.
Here is everything but the peplum.
I am not terribly good with a pencil, but perhaps you see how it is going. I used the original garment photos, looking at both the exterior and what I could make out of the interior to come up with the shapes. They are very simple indeed, except for that peplum.
The peplum caused some muddling around, looking in Costume Close Up for earlier jackets and how they patterned peplums, and a look through all the spencers in the Met's online collection. I came up with two scenarios for how the peplum might be constructed, and decided on the second, simpler version, based on the closest examination of that original that I could manage. My peplum is in two pieces, with points front and back, and in back, a small pleat at the side back seam to give it some puff.
The next step? To drape it in Swedish tracing paper, right over my actual dress so that I get the fitting right. Don't hold your breath: I may not get to that for a bit.
The scene of the planning. It was a pleasure.
Today I leave you with yesterday's news: the boys and I had an alphabet treasure hunt on a walk up the street. Every time we spotted something or some concept that agreed with the letter we were on, either boy or I photographed it. Here we are on "L": they are standing at the edge of a "lake" and floating a leaf boat in it. Two "L"s in one!
Very best to you all!