Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How to make a thrift store Regency Spencer: Part 2

So, you'll need to decide where to chop your coat, which could be between the range of right below the bust to a little above the waist. I chose for right below the bust since my coat's a big mass of purple as it is.  

1) While wearing the coat, pin where you want the top of your hem to start. I am making a waistband on mine, so the top pin is the top of the waistband, and the lowest pins are the bottom of the band (and also where I am going to be cutting). In the back I marked where my bustle starts on my dress and then added some pins in a curved manner.

2. Before cutting, you may want to take apart the lining (only up to where you will be cutting... leave the top part in tact so you don't add more work for yourself!). This way you can use it to cover up the waistband seam allowances later.

3) Cut the coat along your bottom pins, being careful not to cut the lining. See? Now I have a WHOLE LOT of extra lining that I can use for... I don't really know, actually... Just figured it might come in handy for finishing the inside.  For now I'll just safety pin the miles of lining somewhere on the inside so I don't have to look at it.

4) Now your coat looks something like this... a little more Regency but not quite there yet.

5) Now, as you can see above, the coat hangs very squarely. That's not so good for the fitted look of Regency. So you'll need to add some extra "dartage" so the waistband actually goes somewhere close to your skin.  I "triangled" the existing under-the-sleeve seams and existing bust dart seams but pinning first and then, well, um, sewing. Isn't making up words fun?

Close up of my under-the-sleeve seam (and increased dart)...

...And far-away shot!
6) And here's the part I had the panic attack about.  Cutting the waistband. If you mess his part up there is really not too much extra fabric to help repair the damage. Not to scare you or anything...

So, I cut out the pockets first with my seam ripper, and then cut about a two inch strip of fabric, following the curve I already added for the back.

7) Then pin the waistband (right sides together) to your coat. It will take some repositioning, but for right now I just wanted to see what it looked like to check if I was on the right track.  

I knew there would be a problem in matching the seams, but I was hoping it wouldn't be terribly noticeable. It kind of is:

Here is a close up view where my left Spock finger is near the top left seam and my right Spock finger is along the lower right seam. They miss each other by about a centimeter. Ugh. I'm too tired to think about what to do with that right now.

8) After pinning all the way around, you'll need to check if everything is level. Mine isn't, especially in the front, so I'll need to fix that... tomorrow.  In the pictures below everything's a little bunchy because I still have the miles of lining tucked underneath the coat and then hand-tucked the bottom hem of the waistband under to get an idea of what it'd look like, so don't think these are final shots, by any means.

Here's the pretty back!  I might raise it up more.
Here's the front with my fingers trying to hold in all the thick fabric underneath. I will DEFINITELY be raising this band up higher... and make it even... tomorrow.


  1. Looking great! You are a fast sewer. This spencer is going to be beautiful.

  2. I know it's a little late now, but our costume guild did a class on altering a jacket into a Spencer too, and our instructor suggested we put the jacket on, and tie a string around under our bustline to use as a guide to mark with pins or chalk where to cut it off.

  3. That's an awesome idea! That would have worked a while lot better, that's for sure! Thanks, Val!