Romantic Era Dress Pattern

By Jennie Chancey

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With this pattern, you can create a wide variety of dresses for day and evening–plus a jumper that can be worn over a blouse made from my Romantic Blouse pattern. This pattern was inspired by the PBS production of “Wives and Daughters,” which motivated me to look into extant gowns from this transitional time between the Regency and Victorian eras. I owe a great debt of thanks to Janet Arnold’s detailed sketches in Patterns of Fashion 1.

  • Sizes 6-26 all included in one envelope.
  • Illustrated instructions make construction easy!
  • Options for long sleeves and short sleeves; darted, gathered, or pleated bodices; front or back closures; and five different necklines.
  • Instructions for creating a period correct nursing dress–perfect for nursing moms!
  • Period fashion plates included to inspire your creations.
  • Pattern appendix explains how to adjust the bodice front for ladies sized D and DD.
  • Photo Instructions online (coming soon in PDF format).
  • Click to download the Romantic Era Dress Pattern yardage chart.
  • Also available for instant download as an ePattern in PDF format!

The photos on this page show several different outfits you can make from this pattern (you could easily make a dozen different styles by mixing and matching necklines, sleeves, and bodice treatments). The pattern is rated “intermediate” because of the fitting techniques involved, but a patient beginner should be able to navigate the instructions without too much trouble.

Note: If you purchased a copy of this pattern prior to December, 2007, click HERE for corrections.
 

Paper Pattern $17.95

 
 

ePattern $9.95

 

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67 Comments on Romantic Era Dress Pattern

  1. B.L.B.Reed
    May 19, 2010 at 5:31 pm (4 years ago)

    What sort of underthings would one wear with this lovely pattern?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 19, 2010 at 10:11 pm (4 years ago)

      You would need a chemise (available in my Regency Underthings pattern), a set of longline stays (available from The Mantua Maker), and one or two petticoats (which you can actually make from the Romantic Era Dress pattern itself). Hope this helps!

      Reply
  2. Emily N.
    May 28, 2010 at 7:35 am (4 years ago)

    Beautiful dresses, Mrs. Chancey! I love your new site too! :)

    Reply
  3. Johanna
    June 5, 2010 at 7:46 pm (4 years ago)

    How difficult would this be to sew? From a 1 being the easiest and a 10 being the hardest?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      June 6, 2010 at 7:42 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi, Johanna! I’d list this as a 5–an 8 if you choose to hand-gauge the skirt to the bodice. If you’re a total beginner, I recommend starting with the “Beatrix” skirt and progressing from there. The original Regency Gown pattern is fine for beginners if you know how to use your machine and can do basic stitches. If you are still uncertain, you can always take my online class for the Regency Gown to get your feet wet. :)

      Reply
      • Johanna
        June 28, 2010 at 12:11 pm (4 years ago)

        Well, I have sewed ever since I was seven, and am 13 now. I have made a few normal jumpers for my sisters and I, with lining too. So, do you think I could handle this project?

        Reply
        • Jennie Chancey
          June 28, 2010 at 5:51 pm (4 years ago)

          Hi, Johanna! Yes you could definitely tackle the Romantic Era Dress if you can sew jumpers and have used lining before. You’ll have no troubles at all. :)

  4. DollyMae
    June 22, 2010 at 2:38 am (4 years ago)

    This is beautiful, I love the colours, so pretty.

    Reply
  5. Dulcie
    October 8, 2010 at 10:07 am (4 years ago)

    What time, exactly is the Romantic era?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 8, 2010 at 10:50 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks for asking, Dulcie! It bridges the gap between the Regency and the Victorian eras — so roughly 1820-1837, though the styles hung on until around 1840.

      Reply
  6. Pamela
    October 18, 2010 at 7:10 pm (4 years ago)

    Does the pattern include a 5/8″ seam allowance?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 18, 2010 at 11:31 pm (4 years ago)

      Yes, it does. :) Seam allowances are included in all my patterns and mentioned on the yardage chart and again in the pattern notes. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  7. Your Name
    January 7, 2011 at 6:07 pm (4 years ago)

    Really, a beautiful dress, espacially for everyday!

    Reply
  8. Mommy of two little blessings & so much more!
    January 12, 2011 at 11:03 am (4 years ago)

    I am new to your site and am on the hunt for a new dress pattern for myself as well as our three (soon to be four) year old daughter. I like the last dress here with the high neck line and little bit of puff in the sleeves for me. I am in my earily 30′s and a little on the heavy side of things, does the last dress in this patter pack look silly on the “older” ladies? And would I be able to calm the puff out a bit? I am pretty new with puffed sleves and have never lined a dress before. Thanks so much.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      January 14, 2011 at 1:23 am (4 years ago)

      Hello! yes, you can easily narrow down the puffs. I show how to do that in my “How to Resize a Pattern” tutorial. The “Leg o’ Mutton” sleeve is already pretty narrow and flattering. It’s the ballgown sleeves that are huge balloons. ;)

      Reply
  9. annie
    January 16, 2011 at 5:21 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi Jennie! We just recently attended a Civil War re-enactment locally and I fell in love with all the ladies and their dresses! Costumes there were quite pricey, but they were all correct for the period. I wondered if this pattern would be appropriate to make my own. I know the Romantic era of fashion only goes up to about 1840, but it seems if I cut the skirt a little fuller and add the hoops it could work. What do you think? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      January 17, 2011 at 12:22 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Annie! Cutting the skirts fuller would be a start, but you’d also have to change the sleeves completely. You’d want the fittted sleeves of the time period rather than the big, leg o’ mutton sleeves or balloon puffs. The neckline also needs to come in all the way to the neck for day dress, though the wide bateau neckline is fine for a young teenaged girl. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  10. abby
    January 17, 2011 at 8:09 pm (4 years ago)

    Hello Mrs. Chancey!

    I absolutely love this pattern! Wive and Daughter is one of my favorite movies! Two questions for you: first of all, may I ask, do you have the downloadable yardage chart for this pattern available? Secondly, I have sewn your Regency chemise, stays, and ballgown with as minimal problems as a 14 year old sewer has :), and was wondering about the amount of effort that I might expect to expend upon this project? :) I noticed you said that it was about a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, and an 8 if I would choose to hand gauge the skirt to the bodice. Not that it is necessary to know, I’m just the curious type!

    Thank you so much for your time with these rather unimportant questions!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      January 18, 2011 at 7:07 am (4 years ago)

      Hello! If you’ve already made chemise, stays, and ballgown, you will have NO trouble with this pattern at all. It’s about the same difficulty level as the Regency Gown unless you plan to hand-gauge the skirt. The yardage chart link is at the bottom of the bulleted list in the pattern’s description. It won’t work if you have pop-ups disabled, because it is a PDF download. So just enable pop-ups for sensibility.com, and that will allow you to download the chart. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  11. annie
    January 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm (4 years ago)

    Okay, thank you! I noticed quite a few women at the reenactment with the full short sleeves and the bateau neckline but the fabric was usually finer, as they were preparing to go to the ladies tea. The ladies wearing the daywear type dresses had full sleeves, too, but were much wider than these and were about 3/4 length with what looked like shirt sleeves underneath reaching their wrists and at the neck was a collar. Hmm….maybe this would be more reconstructing than I’d like to tackle. I don’t suppose you’re planning to unveil any Civil War era patterns, are you? :)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      January 18, 2011 at 7:05 am (4 years ago)

      Sounds like they were wearing ballgown bodices for the tea. For great Civil War Era patterns, I recommend PastPatterns.com. You’ll find exactly what you’re looking for there! :)

      Reply
  12. abby
    January 18, 2011 at 1:07 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you so much for your prompt reply!! Now I see where the yardage chart is! I look forward to using this pattern

    Thanks!

    Reply
  13. Emily
    February 1, 2011 at 7:25 pm (4 years ago)

    This is just the pattern I’ve been looking for! Do you suppose that by shortening the bodice a bit and making a nice full skirt this dress could be made to accommodate pregnancy as well as nursing?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      February 2, 2011 at 5:18 am (4 years ago)

      Yes, indeed, Emily! That will work nicely. :)

      Reply
  14. M
    February 18, 2011 at 8:01 am (4 years ago)

    I was thinking about getting a pattern for an everyday dress.
    Would it be possible to make a dress like the last one without it being a nursing dress?
    And would it be an option to do the last dress shown with short sleeves?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      February 18, 2011 at 9:17 am (4 years ago)

      Hello! No need to use the nursing option at all. All views make up as regular dresses, too. And you can use any sleeve option with any bodice. Have fun sewing! :)

      Reply
  15. Peggy T
    February 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm (4 years ago)

    I’m new to your site, but I see just the dress I’ve been looking for. How long will the time to mail to Canada be if ordered today?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      February 20, 2011 at 10:23 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Peggy! All orders placed on weekdays go out the following morning. Orders placed between 10am Friday and midnight Sunday go out Monday morning. Air mail to Canada takes anywhere from three days to a week, depending on where you live. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  16. Oksana
    March 12, 2011 at 10:36 am (3 years ago)

    Hi Jennie,
    Does your pattern come in size 2-4. I am somewhere inbetween. Lovely patterns!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      March 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm (3 years ago)

      Hello, Oksana! Pattern sizes are not the same as off-the-rack clothing sizes. If you are a 2-4, then you’ll be closest to a 6 or 8 in pattern sizes. Download the yardage chart to see the measurements that go with each size. :-)

      Reply
  17. Oksana
    March 12, 2011 at 10:39 am (3 years ago)

    Me again. If this pattern is made like shown on the picture, is a blouse and two pettycoats enough to go under it? Do I also need a chemise and longline stay?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      March 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm (3 years ago)

      That is plenty. You do not have to make the jumper version to go over period underpinnings. It will fit over conventional undies. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  18. God's Princess
    April 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm (3 years ago)

    Are all the armholes on your patterns the same? For example, I love the lower waistlines and fuller skirts of the romantic period, but I prefer the long sleeves from the regency period. If I have both patterns, could I use the long sleeves from “Elegant Ladies Closet” in the Romantic dress pattern?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 18, 2011 at 3:04 am (3 years ago)

      The armholes are similar, though not identical, but if you use gathered sleeves (rather than closely fitted), they will work on either pattern. :-)

      Reply
  19. Moriah
    June 3, 2011 at 7:05 am (3 years ago)

    I was wondering if it would be possible to wear “modern undergarments” under like a day dress made from this pattern (with the addition of some petticoats). Right now I’m not going for an authentic look :)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      June 3, 2011 at 9:12 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Moriah! Yes, you can wear modern undergarments beneath this gown without any trouble. I even have “DD” instructions in the appendix for larger cup sizes. :)

      Reply
  20. Moriah
    June 3, 2011 at 10:09 am (3 years ago)

    Thanks for letting me know. I have fabric that I think should perfect to make a day dress with but wasn’t sure if I was up to the whole project of dress and stays and petticoats :) Thanks for letting me know!

    Reply
  21. Johanna
    August 1, 2011 at 11:46 am (3 years ago)

    Would I be able to wear just regular (modern) under garments with this dress???

    Reply
  22. Jennie Chancey
    August 1, 2011 at 11:51 am (3 years ago)

    Yes, you can wear a regular bra if you prefer. The fitting instructions will help you to get a perfect bodice over the undergarments of your choice. :)

    Reply
  23. Sarah
    September 21, 2011 at 11:02 am (3 years ago)

    The sleeves are very long on me for this pattern. Are they meant to be long and scrunched up a bit, or should they be shortened?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      September 22, 2011 at 1:12 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Sarah! Having them on the long side is correct for the period, but it’s also kosher to shorten them and hem them where you like. :)

      Reply
  24. M.B.
    October 13, 2011 at 10:52 pm (3 years ago)

    Hello Mrs. Chancey!

    I actually just started cutting/sewing the lining for my own Romantic dress today and it’s going great so far {except for one minor mishap ;)}. What I was wondering is…the picture above of the grey long sleeved dress…were the sleeves cut down in anyway on this dress? Are they made according to the pattern piece, or were they made a little smaller at the top?

    I really like this look and want to replicate it for my dress. :D Thank you for a great pattern and thank you for your time!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 14, 2011 at 1:17 am (3 years ago)

      Hi there! The grey sleeve is the regular long sleeve pattern. The area below the elbow was tailored in a bit for that model, but the top part of the sleeve is identical to what’s on the pattern sheet. Hope this helps, and have fun sewing!

      Reply
  25. M.B.
    October 14, 2011 at 8:11 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you for your help! I suppose that if the lower sleeve is too big, it can be easily altered to a smaller size below the “puff” at the top…I’ll keep that in mind.

    I’m getting excited! ;) Thank you again.

    Reply
  26. Jennie Chancey
    October 14, 2011 at 8:18 am (3 years ago)

    Hi again! Depending on how rounded your forearms are, you can tailor for a closer fit. Just remember to try on the finished sleeve wrong side out and FLEX your arms after you take in any “excess” with pins. You definitely want to make sure you can still move comfortably in your sleeves. Have fun sewing!

    Reply
  27. M.B.
    October 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you for the great advice!

    Now to work…looking forward to the finished product! :D

    Reply
  28. Nicole
    November 2, 2011 at 2:34 am (3 years ago)

    very nice!! I love how you always find a clever way to show the front and back view :-) this is a great pattern; I am really anticipating all the options on this dress! Can’t wait to discover some new construction techniques as well!!
    -Nicole :-)

    Reply
  29. Nicole
    November 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh, and your photo instructions are FANTASTIC!! :-) Thanks for including the large bust adjustment as well, you saved me A LOT of trial and error :-)

    Reply
  30. Kelly
    December 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm (3 years ago)

    Hello Mrs. Chancey, the instructions that i received for this pattern give the yardage requirements for your 1910s Tea Gown Pattern, even though it says Romantic Dress Pattern at the top. Just thought that you should know so that the problem can be fixed at the printers.

    Reply
  31. Jennie Chancey
    December 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi, Kelly! We fixed this error at our printer a good while back, but I’m having Heather check what is in stock to make sure the wrong chart hasn’t been switched back in again! In the meantime, I’ve sent you the correct chart via email. Thanks! :)

    Reply
  32. Alison
    January 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm (3 years ago)

    Can you tell me what the five necklines are (more or less)? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      January 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Alison! There are options for a wide bateau (“boat”) neckline, a ballgown (deeper scoop) neckline, a V neckline, a V with collar, and a square jumper neckline. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  33. Your Name
    January 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm (3 years ago)

    I am sorry for cutting in like this, but I was wondering which of these necklines were used on the dress worn by the lady standing behind the chair in the pencil drawing.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      January 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm (3 years ago)

      That’s the default neckline on the bodice front and back pieces. The other necklines are achieved by using cutting overlays to change the standard shape. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  34. Lyric
    May 7, 2012 at 10:52 am (2 years ago)

    Enamored with Ms. Chancey’s work I keep looking at this dress and pattern with everyday farm work in mind. I’m thinking of shortening it a couple of inches to hit maybe just below my boot tops. I’m ever on the lookout for dresses I can wear while working each day and that would become a middle-aged, overweight lady as myself.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 7, 2012 at 11:13 am (2 years ago)

      Thanks, Lyric! This is a very comfy and versatile work dress when you make it for everyday wear. Several customers have sent photos of themselves in everyday dresses from this pattern, so be sure to check Show and Tell for examples!

      Reply
  35. Eleni
    May 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm (2 years ago)

    Are Mantua-Maker’s longline stays the same thing as their regency stays? I didn’t see anything called longline stays on their website. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi, Eleni! Yes, I meant the Regency Era Stays. Sorry about the confusion! “Longline” refers to the fact that they go down over the hips. :)

      Reply
  36. Eleni
    May 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm (2 years ago)

    How can you use Regency stays for the romantic era? Lace them up less tightly in certain areas or something? Thanks for your help!

    Reply
  37. Jennie Chancey
    May 12, 2012 at 7:49 am (2 years ago)

    Hello, Eleni! The more conventional hour-glass shaped corsets didn’t come into use until the Victorian Era, so longline Regency Stays work fine for the Romantic Era (late 1820s through 1837). I recommend the Mantua Maker’s Regency Stays pattern, though keep in mind it tends to run about two sizes too small. Double-check the fit in muslin first, and you’ll be set!

    Reply
  38. Eleni
    May 14, 2012 at 6:06 pm (2 years ago)

    Thanks so much!

    Reply
  39. Erica Shay
    May 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm (2 years ago)

    Hello Mrs. Chancey! I absolutely love this pattern—for both its modesty and old-fashioned charm! I would love to make it, but I am somewhat of a beginner seamstress. ;) I have made your 1940s Swing Dress before and it came out darling; your patterns are excellent. Would you say I could handle this one? And if I buy the physical copy, does that come exactly like a regular pattern (i.e., mccalls)? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 28, 2012 at 12:39 am (2 years ago)

      Hello, Erica! If you have made the Swing Dress pattern, you can definitely handle this one! Paper copies of my patterns are printed on heavier paper stock rather than tissue, as it doesn’t tend to wrinkle/skew during the printing process and lasts longer as well. Hope you enjoy sewing, and I’d love to see what you’ve made if you care to share photos!

      Reply
  40. Erica Shay
    May 28, 2012 at 6:01 am (2 years ago)

    Wonderful! Thank you so much!

    Reply
  41. Hannah R
    April 3, 2014 at 1:03 am (5 months ago)

    Would I be able to make this fit a size E bust? I’m on the lookout for patterns that I can make that are nursing friendly, but I have a very large bust so it’s a bit more difficult!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 3, 2014 at 2:31 am (5 months ago)

      You sure can! Appendix ii in the instructions shows how to modify for D and DD busts, but the instructions also apply to E busts–just use your own measurements and go for it! :-)

      Reply
  42. Kylie
    April 26, 2014 at 9:58 pm (4 months ago)

    I love the Victorian era, and this is perfect for what I love! (mid 1800′s to early 1900′s; Victorian.)
    I am only 13 and so I probably will not be able to make this….. I might ask my grandmother. I love this!

    Reply

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