Historical Sew Fortnightly: Challenge #1

The first offical challenge of the Historical Sew Fortnightly event, hosted by The Dreamstress, was due yesterday.  I seem to be a day late posting my project, once again.  The theme: something ‘Bi/Tri/Quadri/Quin/Sex/Septi/Octo/Nona/Centennial’...in other words, any year ending in '13.  

I chose 1813.  

My inspiration...

...this 1813 yellow spencer fashion plate, which I found on the Dames a la Mode site...

...and the 1795-1810 Salisbury Museum riding habit in pale blue (found in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1.)

My 1813 Spencer has the button-down, front closure of the Salisbury Museum habit, and the sleeves, ruffled collar and waist-band of the fashion plate.  I really enjoyed this project.  I'm extremely pleased with the ruffles.  I used the salvage edge of the fabric, and it has a sort of 'furry' effect to it.

 And *SHOCK* the long sleeves...I love.  I've never done a project where the sleeves came out so perfectly, with no issues at all.  It was a small miracle.  I get kind of giddy when I try on the jacket, because I love how the sleeves go all the way down to my knuckles.

It is all hand sewn, of course.  And let me just say...if I haven't before...that I am a terrible button hole maker, so don't look too closely.  Also, the only buttons I had on hand were dark colored bone buttons.  I have a feeling the buttons on the above spencer would have been fabric covered, or metallic (military inspired) ones.  I used what I had.  In the future, if I can find military inspired buttons of a similar size, I might switch them out.  The only thing about this project that I'm not that pleased with (besides the button holes)...the darts.  They turned out just a bit too pointed for my taste.  Does anyone have any tips or tricks for making a more curved dart?  I always have trouble with this.

 I don't have any 1813 gowns, all of mine are between late 1790's and 1810.  The line of of 1813 gowns are much less 'classical' in line, and more 'romantically' inspired...higher hem...more of an A-line shape starting to appear...etc.  So, sorry for the inconsistency of display.  Maybe this calls for a gown of a later date to be made?

The unglamorous inside.

I used a very narrow tape at the shoulder and waist to hold the left front panel tight across the bust.

 If you have any other questions, please ask.  It was fun!

  Just The Facts:

The Challenge: Spencer/Riding Habit

Fabric: Cotton velvet, lined with block printed cotton

Pattern: Draped/drafted


Notions: thread, 1/8in tape, embroidery floss, buttons

How historically accurate is it? Yes, it's hand sewn, using appropriate seam construction and fabric, and the design is based off of a fashion plate, and garment in Patterns of Fashion 1.

Hours to complete: Too many...I don't know...maybe 20ish...maybe more?  I'm really not good at keeping track of time spent on projects.

First worn: Hasn't been worn...yet.

Total cost: The fabric was from my stash, but originally would have cost about $40, I think.


Sarah W said…
Very nice, I like the sleeves too! Been thinking of making that kind of sleeves on a dress :)

If you (like me) is of the curvier kind, two or three smaller darts on each side, instead of one larger, will create a softer line. I've seen it done in dresses from the 1810's, so for that decade, it's period. Don't know about the 1800's, though.
Jenni said…
Sarah W. Thanks for the tip! Yes, I am definitely of on the curvier side. Next time I make a garment that calls for darts, I will try two instead of one.
Sarah Jane said…
Oh Jenni, WOW - that is absolutely lovely!! I love the ruffled collar and the little ruffled bottom edge of the jacket, and the sleeves are awesome! It reminds me of something Elizabeth Bennet might have worn in the 95 P&P.

I think two (or more) darts per side would give a softer line too. I have never had much luck with just 1 dart per side. I'm used to doing at least 2 darts per side from my 1860's stuff, and it definitely gives a more rounded shape to the peak of the bosom.

Can't wait to see this on you at some point!
Amazing what you've managed to hand sew in a fortnight as velvet is often such a struggle. It turned out lovely.
Yes, definately use more darts in the front for a smooth silhouette - we often see two darts, but there are many with three darts, too.

I'm looking forward very much to following you through this year's challenges!

Ophelia said…
This is gorgeous - the sleeves, the ruffles, the color! I love it all. I'm always in need of more jackets, I might keep your inspiration in mind for a future project of my own. Best of luck with your next challenge too!
ZipZip said…
Dear Jenni,

As my boys would say, "Nummy!" It's so pretty and perfect for January. Can't wait to see it for real!


Lisette said…
Thanks for all the extra detail photos we didn't get from FB. It's very inspiring.
As well as shortening the bust darts (that was me on FB), if when you drafted them you made them very curved (think in the shape of a gothic arch), taking some of that curve out and making the darts more of this shape: ^ can also help.
AuntieNan said…
Hi there -- gorgeous project. I am so jealous of what you've made here!
(My buttonholes (at least my hand ones) SUCK, so I feel for ya.) But that back seaming is scrumptious!
As to the darts -- They look a hair long to me. it's geometry, right? You're going from a narrow underbust to a full bust with short darts, so they will run that risk of being pointy. More of them will help. Also, what about gathering in that underbust fullness instead of using darts? I'm just talking wild here, as I don't even know if that's period? Meanwhile, a good steaming with an iron, spray and velvet board might help.
Auntie Nan

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