The Elegant Lady’s Closet

By Jennie Chancey

Here is a pattern with something for everyone! I took some designs I’d played around with years ago and turned them into a “mega pattern.” All of the pieces are totally correct for the time period (ideal for 1790s-1805) and can be mixed and matched to create an entire wardrobe of gowns! You’ll be able to create day gowns, half-robes, visiting gowns, and evening gowns with ease. Best of all, this pattern is ideal for expectant and nursing mothers, since the drawstring gown accommodates a tummy, and both gowns are nursing-friendly! More photos are below to give you an idea of how you can use this pattern. Important: The gowns in this pattern were designed to be worn over period underpinnings and will not fit correctly over modern undergarments. Please make sure you have your proper underpinnings before you use this pattern!

  • Sizes 6-26DD all included in one envelope.
  • Illustrated instructions make construction easy!
  • Options for long sleeves, fitted elbow-length sleeves, and short puffed sleeves, as well as two different bodice styles.
  • Bonus: Includes authentic embroidery motifs as well as patterns for two “ridicules” (Regency era purses)!
  • Click here for the Elegant Lady’s Closet yardage chart
  • Also available for instant download as an ePattern in PDF format!

Note:If you purchased a copy of the paper pattern prior to May 2010 or the ePattern prior to March 2012, click HERE for corrections/revisions. 
 

Paper Pattern $17.95

 
 

ePattern $9.95

 

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137 Comments on The Elegant Lady’s Closet

  1. Lanai
    September 8, 2011 at 6:24 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you so much for the links to those pictures. What a wonderful prom dress! Both gowns gave me some good ideas for reworking my dress.

    Reply
  2. Kayla
    September 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi Jennie,
    So after looking at the pictures, I went with the Regency gown and it came out beautifully – much easier (and quicker!) to sew than I had anticipated. So thank you for a beautiful pattern!

    It does seem a bit big so I may size down the next time I try. But this is just for halloween so I’m not too concerned.

    http://www.box.net/shared/xxz111cql6dbrif24yob

    I am considering trying to surprise my best friend from high school with a Jane Austen weekend at One Hundred Main next spring – if I am able to pull it off would you recommend a drawstring gown since I wouldn’t be able to fit my model? I’m thinking it might be a bit more forgiving.

    Thanks!
    Kayla

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      September 13, 2011 at 1:16 am (3 years ago)

      Good news, Kayla! So glad it worked out. Be sure to see my fitting tutorial, “Why Doesn’t This Look Like the Pattern Cover?”, as it will help you with any fitting issues (there are really very few “standard” bodies in this world!). And, yes, the drawstring gown is very adjustable–just pull up the strings and go–so I’d recommend it for someone whose measurements you have but whom you will not be able to fit personally. :)

      Reply
  3. Serena
    October 6, 2011 at 3:51 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi Jennie,
    A silly question, but I’m trying to decide between this pattern and the original Regency gown pattern. Is the Regency gown duplicated in this Elegant Lady’s Closet pattern or are they entirely different?

    Many thanks :)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 7, 2011 at 3:11 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Serena! Nope, this is a completely different pattern — totally different shape to the bodice back, armholes, sleeves, everything. The bodice pieces are also shorter and do require the proper underpinnings to fit correctly. Hope this helps! :)

      Reply
  4. Serena
    October 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you so much Jenny for such a prompt response! I ordered the original Regency dress (the underpinnings as well)and will definitely be back for the Elegant Lady’s Closet and Spencer patterns soon.
    I can’t wait to go fabric shopping!! :)

    Reply
  5. Calypso
    October 31, 2011 at 5:57 pm (3 years ago)

    What time period are these dresses based on? I’m looking for a dress that would work for late georgian to early regency, and this one caught my eye.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      November 1, 2011 at 2:32 am (3 years ago)

      Hello! These gowns are based on extant garments from the mid-to-late-1790s, which is early Regency. If you want late Georgian/early Regency, I recommend the drawstring dress option from the Ladies’ 1780s Portrait Dress Pattern. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  6. Mollie
    November 17, 2011 at 8:47 pm (3 years ago)

    hello, i love these dresses but i have a question about the yardage. i have cut fabric from many years ago and it is just about 3 1/4 yards. i am short, 4ft 8 and i wanted to know if it would work. thank you.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      November 18, 2011 at 5:36 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Mollie! Yes, you will have plenty of yardage, as the skirt length will be shorter. You won’t have enough for the optional extra skirt panel for the crossover gown, but you can always make that from another material (similar in color and type). Hope this helps!

      Reply
  7. Mollie
    November 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm (3 years ago)

    thank you sooo much!

    Reply
  8. Molly
    November 22, 2011 at 5:35 am (3 years ago)

    I see that you have to have proper underpinnings for the “gowns.” My question is regarding the maternity blouse that is pictured. Does that require special underthings as well? How many patterns in this package are meant to be worn with standard issue lingerie? It is so hard to find pretty and modest clothes. Even maternity clothes are too low cut or too short in the skirt. I love the elegance of these dresses but I don’t want to deal with underpinnings.

    Reply
  9. Mollie
    November 24, 2011 at 5:16 pm (3 years ago)

    I have a question: how do the e-patterns work? do you print them on your printer? Thanks.

    Reply
  10. Mollie
    November 26, 2011 at 12:03 am (3 years ago)

    thank you

    Reply
  11. Hannah
    December 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm (3 years ago)

    Which dress is in the very first picture, also, does the ballerina neckline apply to it? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      December 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm (3 years ago)

      That’s the crossover bodice, Hannah. If you have a ballerina neckline (low bust point), you may need to add length to the bodice. However, since this pattern calls for period correct underthings (chemise and stays), you will probably find the low bust point “fixed” by stays, as they lift the bust. Always measure over the undergarments you intend to wear with the gown before cutting or altering. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  12. Liz
    December 26, 2011 at 9:32 pm (3 years ago)

    Which pattern would be easiest and turn out best if you sewed it by hand?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      December 27, 2011 at 2:06 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Liz! The drawstring dress can easily be put together by hand. In fact, I’ve made one that way myself and really enjoyed the work. :)

      Reply
  13. Liz
    December 28, 2011 at 11:33 am (3 years ago)

    Thanks Mrs.Chancey!

    Reply
  14. Annemarie S
    January 13, 2012 at 8:44 am (3 years ago)

    The pattern worked super, thanks!
    I made the dress from a red/fuchsia sari

    Reply
  15. Kelly
    February 18, 2012 at 10:40 pm (3 years ago)

    Hello there! I was wondering how to get the smooth skirt front that is on the brown drawstring gown in the pictures above. Thank you!

    Reply
  16. Jennie Chancey
    February 20, 2012 at 4:41 am (3 years ago)

    Hi, Kelly! The smooth skirt front is from my original Regency Gown pattern. You substitute it for the drawstring skirt front, then gather the lower bodice front to fit it. Some ladies can pull the dress over their heads without the additional ease in the empire waist, but you can also make the gown button up the back instead. Hope this helps!

    Reply
  17. Chloe
    February 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi Jennie,
    I have some questions about making a regency ball gown that I hoped you’d be able to help me with.
    First, the ball I’m attending is from 10:30-3:00, instead of an evening ball, so would it be appropriate to make my gown from calico? (like a day gown)
    If it should made out of a more formal fabric, would a ribbon taffeta like this one be appropriate? ;http://www.ebay.com/itm/10-YARD-RIBBON-TAFFETA-FABRIC-58-LT-PLUM-/300499640506?pt=US_Fabric&hash=item45f72ca0ba (mine is in a hot pink, I’m wondering if the color is anti-period?)
    Also,I read in a “regency ball attire” article that a balconette bra would be acceptable to form the correct regency silhouette, instead of the short stays. Do you agree with this?
    Thank you so much,
    Chloe

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      February 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Chloe! It all depends on how the ball is billed. If it is a fancy dress ball that is just being held in the daytime for convenience, I’d make a formal gown. If it’s a country dance for intimate friends, you could get away with a cotton print like the ones seen on ReproductionFabrics.com (check the 1775-1825 “shelf”). Hot pink is actually a color I have seen many times over in museum collections, so it’s entirely appropriate! The fancy taffeta looks more like 1818-1825, but that still works. Finally, you can get away with a balconette bra if it truly creates a “shelf” look by pushing the bust in a bit rather than just hiking it up higher. ;-) If you are a “B” cup or smaller, it will be perfect. If you are a D or more, I’d recommend a minimizer bra to help hold things in. Have fun preparing for your event!

      Reply
  18. Chloe
    March 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you so much for your advice and such a very prompt reply! Your advice was very helpful and I really appreciate it. :)
    Thank you again so much and God bless you!

    Reply
  19. Kati
    April 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm (2 years ago)

    Is there any way to make any of these nursing mother appropriate?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi, Kati! No need to change them, as nursing access is built in. I nursed twins in gowns made from both options. :)

      Reply
  20. Kati
    April 26, 2012 at 11:55 am (2 years ago)

    Oh that’s wonderful! Which options did you use? Maybe it would make more sense if I saw the actual pattern but I’m trying to decide which pattern to get first! I’m loving the Regency, Elegant Lady’s Closet and the 1912 Kimono. I am a beginner. I also live in a pretty warm area and summer is upon us so I want something I won’t have a heat stroke in hehe. What would you suggest?

    Reply
  21. Jennie Chancey
    April 27, 2012 at 7:59 am (2 years ago)

    Both, actually! You can easily nurse in either option. With the drawstring option, you just loosen the neckline ties for access. With the crossover option, just open one side for access. You still need a cover-up, but it’s not difficult to nurse that way. The 1912 Kimono Dress has nursing access instructions in the pattern for a lift-flap access. But for comfort, the drawstring dress from the Elegant Lady’s Closet is my favorite. I even make hip-length blouses from it!

    Reply
  22. Lyric
    June 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm (2 years ago)

    Well, well, Ms. Jennie. You’ve struck again, haven’t you? With purchasing the 1914 dress, the romantic blouse, and the Simplicity Regency pattern with your logo I thought our relationship was over. But, noooooooooo, you had to strike again.

    Not only do I want/need/have to have the pattern being discussed here, but now I had to go and get into the underpinnings thing. Geesh. I reallly didn’t want to be bothered with those things, but now, they all I can think of (hey, anything that can lift these girls up needs to be considered).

    Lady, you are the business! I am SO glad I found S & S and your forum is truly a godsend.

    Cheers, keep ‘em coming, oh and when are you coming home and when will the site be completed?

    Lyric

    Reply
  23. Jennie Chancey
    June 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm (2 years ago)

    LOL! Thanks for the grin today, Lyric! My tech guy is apparently out of the country for a bit, so my menus are still broken. So I’ve got someone else looking at them and hope to get the site fixed soon! We’re in Kenya for the long haul and love it, but we do have plans to visit back home again from time to time. :)

    Reply
  24. SWMBO
    July 9, 2012 at 7:32 pm (2 years ago)

    Getting ready to make a fitting muslin for the crossover dress and noticed that the cutting line for the “A” cup is drawn only for sizes 6. 8 and 10. My bust measurement is a size 14, but I still need the “A” cup, not the “B” or “C” cup that you have drawn for that size. Should I just continue the “A” cup cutting line to the lower corner of the size 14 side seam?

    Reply
  25. Jennie Chancey
    July 10, 2012 at 4:17 am (2 years ago)

    Hello! Yes, just continue the “A” line over to the 14. That will work perfectly unless you have a very low bust point — but you’ll catch that when you try on the muslin if that’s the case. :)

    Reply
  26. SWMBO
    July 18, 2012 at 9:02 am (2 years ago)

    A general question about sleeve seams: Usually when I set sleeves into a garment I stitch the seam and then stitch a second line a quarter inch inside the seam allowance, then trim just outside the second line of stitching, This removes the excess fabric from the sleeve seam and eliminates the need to clip curves. Your instructions for setting the sleeves do not mention either double stitching and trimming or clipping curves. Is this a “period” method, or are you just assuming that we already know to do one or the other?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      July 18, 2012 at 9:56 am (2 years ago)

      Hello! There are all kinds of seam finishes correct for the Regency Era. The most common I’ve seen is a very narrow French seam, but it’s harder to do those around curvy elbow sleeves. The other common method is to stitch the seam, then trim it down and overcast it to finish. I’ve never seen double seam stitching, but I wouldn’t worry about it, even if you’re trying to be period authentic, since no one will see the seam finish outside the sleeve. :) Hope this helps!

      Reply
  27. Emerydd
    August 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm (2 years ago)

    I love this site and am just putting an order together so I can sew for a good friend.

    I have one (very small)correction to suggest: the word for handbags from that era is ‘reticule’ not ‘ridicule’. If you only hear the word, they do sound similar, though. Hope you don’t mind.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 7, 2012 at 6:07 am (2 years ago)

      Hi, Beth! The purses are actually called both in the letters and fashion journals of the time. ;) “Ridicule” is the earlier word, which referred to the ridiculously small size of the bag. “Reticule” appears about ten years later and seems to have come from the earlier word. Fun bit of fashion history!

      Reply
  28. Blythe Ann Hockensmith
    August 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm (2 years ago)

    I have loved working with your patterns – so much fun! However I am now wanting to make the crossover dress for myself in a bit of a rush, as usual. I am full figured, but I believe the largest size will work with some minor adjustments (bust 50). Will a good fitting underwire bra, cinched up high, work as underpinnings since I have no time to make proper stays? Also, would a flouce at the bottem of the 3/4 sleeve be appropriate? I’ve been to many webcites and it appears there were many sleeve finishes. Love making your garments for clients but this is my first undertaking for myself – got roped into a period church play and waited to make my costume last.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks, Blythe Ann (I love your name, by the way!). Yes, you can use a good, firmly supportive bra if you are in a rush. I just recommend lengthening the bodice front as shown in the Romantic Era Dress appendix. Do this in muslin (even if you are in a rush!) to make sure you’ve got a good fit before you cut into your fashion material. And, yes, flounces at the end of the elbow-length sleeves are totally appropriate for an early Regency gown. Have fun sewing!

      Reply
  29. Blythe Ann Hockensmith
    August 17, 2012 at 11:48 am (2 years ago)

    Just whipped crossover gown in a little over 3 hours. Didn’t even lengthen bodice and changed ball gown sleeve to 3/4 length so I’d have room to move. It worked perfectly for the play and had time to review my script! I had so many compliments,including my husband, who is picky about being historically correct. I just love your patterns – the fit is amazing! Can’t wait to move on beyond Regency era….

    Reply
  30. Jennie Chancey
    August 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm (2 years ago)

    Wow! Thanks so much, Blythe Ann! I am delighted it went together so nicely without a hitch. Would love to see photos if you care to share! :)

    Reply
  31. Zoellen
    October 8, 2012 at 10:08 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi Jennie! I absolutely love all your Regency designs (I’ve bought all the patterns, but haven’t had time to make anything yet, unfortunately.) I was just wondering how you add the braid trim to the crossover gown. It’s such a lovely detail.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 9, 2012 at 6:09 am (2 years ago)

      Hi, Zoellen! It’s just hand-stitching. Cut the braid to the proper length, leaving about 1/4″ at the ends to turn under, pin in place, then stitch with thread the same color as your trim. That’s all it takes!

      Reply
  32. Shanna
    September 14, 2013 at 11:52 pm (1 year ago)

    I recently found out that I am pregnant again and it popped into my brained to head over here for this pattern to make my own maternity wardrobe. I have looked over the question/answer section but I cannot find out how the underpinnings would work for nursing/pregnancy. Do you have a section or blog post devoted to augmenting for pregnancy/nursing? I think it might be really helpful if you don’t already (and I am just missing it).

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 29, 2013 at 11:30 pm (11 months ago)

      Hi, Shanna! Sorry it took me so long to reply to this–it got stuck in the spam filter for some reason! At any rate, when you create the stays for nursing, you do not bone them. Instead, you use cording and quilting stitches. This makes it easy to fold them down out of the way (when unlaced) for nursing. I even nursed twins in mine! The neckline of the chemise just loosens and pulls down for nursing–very easy. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  33. Laura
    December 25, 2013 at 2:26 am (9 months ago)

    Do you have a picture tutorial showing how to sew the crossover bodice dress? I don’t understand it very well and am feeling quite lost.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      December 25, 2013 at 10:54 am (9 months ago)

      Hello! I haven’t had the time to put together the step-by-step photos for that option yet (only the drawstring option), but if you drop a line to contact [at] sensibility.com, I’ll be happy to help!

      Reply
  34. Hattie
    March 2, 2014 at 9:20 pm (7 months ago)

    Dear Jennie,

    I have just bought this pattern but have a question – Does one need significant bust to look well in the drawstring dress? I am slightly concerned that because I am not very well endowed (only a b-cup when I’m in my stays) that the drawstring dress will make me look like the 1995 Caroline Bingley, but the pictures are so pretty! What would you recommend?

    Hattie

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      March 2, 2014 at 9:40 pm (7 months ago)

      Hi, Hattie! The drawstring gown is actually very flattering to a slender silhouette, as the gathers add fullness in front. I personally don’t think it looks very flattering on anyone over a “C” cup, as it creates a very “busty” profile — but it will be great on you. Happy sewing!

      Reply
  35. Joanne
    May 9, 2014 at 5:12 pm (5 months ago)

    Hello!

    I have recently made this dress, with a dravstring bodice and elbow-length sleeves, and I think it looks lovely. But the lining confused me. Is it just supposed to be laid crossed over the bust? Of course, I may have misunderstood the instructions, being a beginner at this, and English not being my native language.

    Kind regards,
    Joanne

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 9, 2014 at 6:40 pm (5 months ago)

      Hi, Joanne! Yes, you did it correctly. The word “lining” throws off many people, as it’s not a lining as we think of it in the modern sense. The flaps are meant to smooth the line of the stays and chemise under the dress, so you cross them firmly one side over the other and pin or hook in place. Enjoy wearing your gown!

      Reply
  36. Shayna
    June 16, 2014 at 7:23 am (3 months ago)

    I’m new to sewing period clothing, but finished the stays fairly well. The crossover gown is what I’m tackling now, but I’m having a bit of trouble with attaching the ballgown (short) sleeve. I’ve matched the * to the bodice side seam. But does the sleeve seam need to match up with anything (like the shoulder or back side seam) at the back? Thanks for your assistance!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      June 16, 2014 at 7:40 pm (3 months ago)

      Hi, Shayna! Nope — if you match that * you are all set. The “leftover” fabric will all be pleated or gathered to fit the top and back of the sleeve (between the shoulder and the dropped seam). The front is completely smooth. Happy sewing!

      Reply
  37. Betsy
    July 16, 2014 at 1:51 am (2 months ago)

    Hi!

    You wrote, “The gowns in this pattern were designed to be worn over period underpinnings and will not fit correctly over modern undergarments. Please make sure you have your proper underpinnings before you use this pattern!”

    I love the idea of having an assortment of pieces, but being on a bit of budget, I don’t think I want to tackle period undergarments too. Would I be able to make dresses that fit well just by sizing down a bit? (And perhaps wearing some skirts underneath for fullness?)

    Thank you!!!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      July 16, 2014 at 5:12 pm (2 months ago)

      Hi, Betsy! If you don’t have the time or budget for underpinnings, you will need to lengthen the bodice (unless you are an “A” cup) so that the empire waistline hits below the bust. Without the “uplift” of stays, the empire waist will be too short in the front, so you’ll need to lengthen it — something I show how to do at http://sensibility.com/pattern/romanticdresshelp.htm#appii. Just take measurements and test in muslin before cutting into your fashion material. Happy sewing!

      Reply
      • Betsy
        September 22, 2014 at 12:57 am (5 hours ago)

        Thank you for the help!

        Reply

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