Plum Spencer and White Dress

A circa 1800 white gathered front dress with a plum colored velvet spencer.


Inspiration & Resources

Useful Books & Links Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion: English Women's Dresses and Their Construction, c.1660-1860. New York: Drama Book, 1984.

Bradfield, Nancy. Costume In Detail: Women's Dress 1730-1930. Plays, Inc., 1985.

Hunnisett, Jean. Period Costume for Stage & Screen: Patterns for Women's Dress 1800-1909. Players Press, Inc., 1991.

Construction Details


A late 1790s gathered front dress, made from white cotton voile. The dress is unlined and is worn over a bodiced petticoat. The back of the dress is fitted, using a basic regency bodice scaled up from Hunnisett, while the front of the dress is one full width of fabric gathered at the neckline and under the bust. The front is open to the waist and ties closed at the center front. The dress was sewn on the machine and finished by hand.

The spencer, slightly later in date, is made from plum colored silk velvet, interlined in cotton, and lined in caramel china silk. The spencer was sewn entirely by hand and the edges were finished with self-piping. It has a standing collar and is ment to be worn open in front, closing with a belt under the bust. It has integrated tails in back and two covered buttons for decoration. The belt and button detail was inspired by a spencer in Costume In Detail. I scaled up a pattern from Period Costume for Stage & Screen as a base and then added the tails and collar.