V102: A Quick-n-Dirty Regency Spencer

The other day I thought I’d pop down to the thrift store and find a little blazer to cut up and make into a functional, although not historically accurate, Spencer jacket.

I didn’t find one.

Instead, I pulled out some stash fabs and an old “I’m So ’90s” Butterick pattern, with the idea of just throwing something together.  Instead of the straight, puffed sleeve that came with the pattern, I went with my go-to shaped sleeve, commandeered from Simplicity 4400.  It has magical “fit in that hole” powers – thanks, Simplicity!

Hey, let’s hang out, drink wine coolers, and watch “Friends.”

Here’s the result.  I cut the thing off at the empire waist, added a band, there ya go.  I like the military-inspired buttons, not sewn on here…still have to make up the proper covered buttons, lol, these are just stand-ins.

The back gives away the ’90s roots, and I don’t mean 1790s – proper period construction would have sloped shoulder seams, and a diamond-shaped back panel.  Please don’t point it out in the comments…yes, I already know.

So no, it’s not historically accurate, but I love it regardless.  It’s an example of how to take a modern pattern and style it in a period way, for anybody out there looking to experiment with historical fashions, but intimidated by jumping right into period patterning, techniques, and tailoring.


  • Susan

    April 11, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    Some purists might not agree with me, but I think it's just fine, to once in a while take the less-than-completely-authentic route, and to have some fun and create something new. The back may not be "diamond-shaped," but the awesomeness of the military front ought to grab the attention, anyway!

  • Edwina Sutherland

    April 11, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    I agree- there's times when a period – style Spencer gives a fresh look to modern fashion. Look at how Steampunk has taken victoriana and created a new esthetic.

    • Lauren R

      April 12, 2012 at 6:44 AM

      That's a really good point. A friend of mine pointed out that this could be steampunky .. Steampunk Regency? I like that idea 🙂

  • Tansy Holm

    April 11, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    Authenticity be damned….sometimes you need to have a little fun. And I second you, Rowenna….its screaming leggings and heeled boots to me! (Ie: Cont. Marines after hours dress up farby party….yes? )

  • Diary of a Vintage Modiste

    April 12, 2012 at 4:01 AM

    Being a perfectionist & historical purist takes it's toll on the mind, and body. Your artistic expression with this garment is fresh, young, and absolutely freaking beautiful!

    • Lauren R

      April 12, 2012 at 6:46 AM

      Thank you so much! There are time where I like to try to be as historical as possible, then other times where I don't care. It's in phases, like the moon… lol.. "waxing historical, waning historical.

  • M'lady

    April 12, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    I would never be able to tell it wasn't historically accurate…I think it looks fab. Its how my mum is planning to make my spenser for me.
    As for steampunk regency…I think that would be cool.

  • Anonymous

    June 5, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    Im a costume designer and always believe that costuming will interact with fashion – it keeps the art alive in a modern context. Good on you for experimenting. We have a term we use amongst costumiers – it's called hysterical costuming.

  • Laura Morrigan

    November 22, 2012 at 3:24 AM

    I love the idea of turning boring modern clothes into lovely historical looking ones. I need to work at this. With my lack of funds, things like this are lifesavers!

  • Renate Seline Zaz

    August 13, 2015 at 11:11 AM

    I love that you are so welcoming to people just getting started, and willing to show the behind the scenes, this is what I time for and could afford, solutions to getting a period "look" for those on tight schedules and budgets! (The ever fantastic "ugly puffer" comes to mind). I know this is an old post, but I'm just poking around all your regency era posts and costumes, and this post in particular is reassuring to me as a newbie that it's okay to start out with a butterick pattern for my first spencer, even if it's not totally period accurate (although I won't have to alter it, since it is supposed to be a regency pattern). Thanks for being so cool, and honest about the behind the scenes tricks!

  • Anonymous

    November 27, 2015 at 1:34 AM

    This is very cool. It looks fabulous! So the back isn't perfect. Who stands backwards for a photo? Push comes to shove, you could always over a piece to make it look 'correct''. I agree with the others – this would be uber cute with jeans/leggings and boots.


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