Sleeveless Spencer or Bodice

(image source:  Dames a la Mode )

The Jane Austen Festival of Louisville is only two days away.  I will need two gowns for the weekend. So, with my 1803 Drop-front Gown finished, I have turned my focus to accessorizing my white Tidens Toj Gown. I have always loved the beautiful fashion plate above, from 1799, and my friend Natalie of A Frolic Through Time has been doing a lot of research on Sleeveless Spencers or Bodices.  So, the easy conclusion was to accessorize my gown with a sleeveless spencer.  It should be a fairly cool choice as well.

Rather than spend money on new fabric for this tiny little project, I decided, with some hesitation, to re-purpose the fabric from my green, block-printed, crossover gown.  It was the first 'real' (as in proper fabric and style) regency gown I ever made, so I was a little sentimental, and shy about cutting it up.  

But, it was also not hand sewn, it didn't fit well, and it was stained and faded in several places.  So, doing what any frugal regency lady would have done with her old, worn out gown, I cut it down and made it into something else.  I still love the colors and the block print, so I'm glad that the fabric can be put to use.

I did not line it, because I wanted it to be as cool as possible for the festival, and I've been told that this is perfectly accurate, that some spencers were unlined.  I created a little 'skirt,' or peplum as we now call it, for the back of the bodice, and I pinked, then ruched/pleated (whatever) the trim from the original gown and used it to decorate the neckline.  I'm pleased with the results.  It was a quick, and easy way to spice up my white gown.

Now, wish me luck, say a prayer for me, or what have you...I am off in a couple of days to lead two fan painting workshops at the Jane Austen Festival.  I'm just a WEE bit nervous about this.


wow those sleeveless spencers are all the rage this rincluding you and me i know at least4 people who will be wearing them at jane fest!
Jenni said…
Ha! For real! It's like the white gowns of last year. At least there won't be any two alike. They really are the 'coolest' option for this heat.
ZipZip said…
Dear Jenni,

Yay! It's done and it's beautiful, and it should be nice and cool to wear.

Think you'll do really well with the painting workshop. Still seeing if I will attend or not...jury is still out.


I love everything about this garment!
First with the hand sewing it truly looks like as if you've snatched it from the met museum!
Second I love that you have re-used an old dress for it - very authentic!
Third I just LOVE the look, the fabric, the colour - it all comes together perfectly!
Hope you have lots of fun at the Festival! Plus you don't have to worry about your fan workshop - it will be bliss!!!

Lindsey said…
This is absolutely lovely! It looks so much like an original! I'm sure it will be just stunning at the festival!

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