Wednesday, November 09, 2011

1790s Convertible Spencer: Examining Extant Articles

Late 18th century spencer/jacket from the Met.

Convertible spencer research time! The first step, a look at originals out there. At the Victoria and Albert I could find nothing, but elsewhere, paydirt. Here's the first find.

As always, please click on the images to see larger versions.

Jacket-Spencer from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

A beautemous article, so beautiful, in fact, it might become my inspiration piece. They call it a "jacket (spencer)" and date it to the late 18th century. That's rather a wide timespan, but this garment clearly is high-waisted, so I am confident of its being made around the 1790s.

The front-closing, light blue silk item features spiral lacing: you see this in some fashion plates, and tiny skirts, so it's almost more a jacket than a spencer. The very narrow shoulder straps are almost covered by a collar. (Thank you, Sabine, for catching that...I first thought the straps twisted.)

I wonder if it was remade from something else; the embroidery is scattered and in no way follows the design of the piece.

It's trimmed with cream gimp and embroidered, more on which below.

The picture at right will tell you a lot about the construction. Those seams to the right and left of the center opening: do they conceal a separate-closing lining? However, the inside is kind of a puzzle so far.
Here's a picture of the back.

The trim is yummy. Just cream gimp, and embroidery with a few spangles for glitter. Here's a closeup, from the back of the garment.

Then a real closeup. You can really see how the embroidery is done. For me, very doable, although I'd scatter the sprigs around a little better. Hmmm, will I stick with chenille, as in the original plan? Hmmm..



MrsC (Maryanne) said...

What a poppet of a spencer!! Agree, it is definitely a repurposed something, maybe a petticoat. Love the wee motifs, very doable. I still LOVE the roule work idea but these wee sprigs are pretty cute too!

Natasha said...

Very, very pretty!

Kleidung um 1800 said...

What a lovely find! I really do love the MET and it's always my first choice for reference, because their detailed pictures are awesome!
In my opinion though the shoulder straps aren't twisted, they've added a flat collar to the jacket that hides the small straps in the back, but reveals part of them in the front to create a unique look.
Can't wait for your further research!

Isis said...

That's so beautiful!

ZipZip said...

Good morning, everyone!

Poppet of a jacket is right. I just love the word "poppet": Mrs. C., you are enriching our collective vocabularies with ducks of words.

Sabine, Eureka, you're right! There's no twist in the straps, it's a collar. What a goof I am. That's what happens when I do something late in the day, when the brain is beginning to dim.

Special good mornings to you both, Natasha and Isis! Hoping it's pretty there. Isis, I am following your 17th century research with interest.

Very best,