FAQs

If you have a question and cannot find the answer below, please contact me and I will try to answer as soon as I can. Thanks!


Contents

Placing an Order

  1. How do I place an order?
  2. Can I order your patterns over the phone with a credit card? I am having trouble using Paypal.
  3. I don’t want to place an order online. How do I order by mail, and how long do mail orders take to fulfill?
  4. I’m overseas, can I order your patterns?
  5. Is shipping calculated per pattern or combined for entire orders? Will I save on shipping by ordering multiple items?
  6. Do you wholesale your patterns?

Sizes & Measurements

  1. Do your patterns come in different sizes?
  2. Will your patterns fit young ladies?
  3. I’m making a dress, and I notice one size on the chart is closer in width, but another is closer in height. Which should I make?
  4. I’m thinking of placing an order for one of your patterns, but I am not sure if its smallest/largest size will fit me. Will I need to alter it?
  5. I love your regency gown with nursing and maternity alterations available. I saw that a few other dresses had nursing options but can they also be altered for maternity?
  6. Where can I find a list of measurements for each of your pattern sizes?
  7. Do you figure ease into your pattern sizes? My measurements are an exact match for one size, should I go larger?
  8. What is the equivalent size for European sizes?
  9. When measuring my bust to determine size, do I measure the fullest part of my bust or below the bust (where my bra bandline is)?

Patterns

  1. Can I order a print catalogue?
  2. Do you offer Victorian or Civil War era patterns?
  3. What are the seam allowances for your patterns?
  4. Can you recommend patterns for Regency underthings like chemises and corsets (stays)?
  5. Where can I find a pattern for nightgowns from the Romantic/Victorian Era?
  6. Do you have any patterns that look like they would fit Little House on the Prairie?
  7. Is the Regency Gown Pattern the same as the Elegant Lady’s Closet pattern?
  8. Is the diaper allowance in your toddler-sized girls’ pantaloons ample enough to accommodate cloth diapers or only disposables?
  9. Am I permitted to use your patterns to make clothes to sell to other people?
  10. Which patterns do you offer for maternity and/or nursing?

ePatterns

  1. Can I sell or lend my downloaded ePattern to someone else?
  2. How does an ePattern work?
  3. I’ve lost my ePattern (or the download link expired). Can I re-download it for free?
  4. I really like paper patterns and am not sure about using an ePattern. What are the advantages (besides the cheaper price)?
  5. Are there any “cons” to ePatterns?
  6. What software do I need to open and print my ePattern?
  7. How can I print just a single piece from my ePattern?
  8. What kind of paper is needed to print an ePattern? Will A4-sized paper work? Also, is there a blank space around the pages for me to glue together or does the pattern print to the edge?
  9. Are ePatterns easy enough for beginners to use?
  10. Do you have some kind of tutorial for putting together ePatterns?
  11. Can I open the ePatterns and print from my iPad?

Classes

  1. All of your classes are for intermediate or better sewers, do you have any classes or patterns for beginners?

Accessories

  1. Where can I find hats or bonnets to match my dresses?
  2. I would like to know where I could find a dress making mannequin. What do you suggest?
  3. I have no stays and I don’t sew. Do you make stays or can you recommend someone who does?
  4. What are underpinnings? Do you have a pattern for them? Can I wear a regency gown with modern undergarments?
  5. What will give me the correct silhouette for one of your gowns?Is there a very noticeable difference between a bonded bodice and a corset?
  6. You have plenty of information about underpinnings for Regency gowns, but I can’t find any for Romantic era. What are the appropriate underpinnings for a Romantic gown and where would I find patterns? Are underpinnings for children the same as for adults (both eras)?
  7. I was looking at the pattern for your 1914 afternoon dress and you said a corset was needed. What do I use to support the bust since the corsets around that time were underbust corsets?
  8. I am interested in men’s Edwardian era clothes, what can you tell me about obtaining such clothes?
  9. What type of shoes should or could be worn with your patterns?

Resources

  1. What if I need someone else to sew for me? Can you recommend a seamstress?
  2. Where can I find reproduction fabrics to use with your patterns?
  3. What fabrics you would recommend for winter clothes that are feminine and flowing, as your patterns are. What did women wear for winter back then? How can that be translated to now?
  4. Where do you go to study original garments?
  5. What books do you recommend to people who are interested in studying costume or fashion history?
  6. Why did fashion change so much from the 1800-now and how did it happen? Also why were their clothes so long? Did it mean something?
  7. What is your linking policy?

Reenacting & Living History

  1. Are your patterns appropriate for living history events or reenactments?
  2. Where can someone wear outfits made from your patterns?
  3. What are period-appropriate fabric colors for the Regency Era? Would there have been a difference between Children’s and Adult gowns?
  4. Do you have any links or know of any regarding women’s hairstyles of the past and directions on how to create them? Thank you and have a great day!

Where did you learn all of this?

  1. Where do you get your ideas?
  2. Did you go to design school or costume college to learn how to draft patterns?
  3. Do you need a college degree to design patterns?
  4. How on earth do you sew, design patterns, maintain a website and still manage to stay at home, keep house, cook, clean, raise children, homeschool, and have tea at four in the afternoon?

Sewing Tips

  1. Do you offer tips for people who would like to customize your patterns or try different fabrics and/or trimmings?
  2. Which of your patterns would be easiest for a beginner?
  3. With some patterns you say it’s important to wear period undergarments. What is the reason for this? And, since I have no wish to wear stays and such, can I adjust things when I cut out the fabric?
  4. I want to make a sash for my Regency gown, are there specifications or a pattern for this?
  5. Is it possible to adapt any of your dresses for nursing?
  6. I noticed that you recommend copying your patterns onto interfacing or pattern paper. Is that something I can get a JoAnn’s or a local shop, or do I have to order it?

Forum

  1. How do I join the forum?

Placing an Order

  1. How do I place an order?
    You can order all of my patterns online in my Patterns section, where I can accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and e-checks through Paypal. You do not need a Paypal account to place an order.
  2. Can I order your patterns over the phone with a credit card? I am having trouble using Paypal.
    Unfortunately, I cannot process credit cards directly, since I do not have a traditional merchant account. Paypal is the only way I can take credit cards. If you cannot get Paypal to work by clicking the buttons in my pattern section, first check to make sure your browser is set to “accept cookies” from Paypal.com (otherwise the shopping cart will not be able to “remember” your order from one page to the next). If that still does not work, please drop me a line, and I can walk you through the steps to place an order directly rather than using the cart buttons.
  3. I don’t want to place an order online. How do I order by mail, and how long do mail orders take to fulfill?
    Yes, you can always send orders in via snail mail if you like! To get an exact shipping cost, go ahead and fill the online shopping cart with everything you wish to order, then enter your zip code or country and click the “Shipping” button to have it calculate the shipping cost. Add that to your pattern total. Then send a note with a list of the patterns you would like along with check or money order (in USD) to PO Box 2155, Harrisonburg, VA 22801. As for how long your order will take to fill, it all depends upon how long your letter takes to reach us. There is a reason we call it “snail mail!” I’ve had some orders take over a week to reach the post office box, while others make it in a couple of days (even from the same distance away!). Order Fulfillment usually ships mail orders out the next business day (if she can’t do it the same day). Orders go out via first class mail (or by priority mail if they are over the first class weight limit). Someone on the East Coast might receive a pattern in two days. It takes at least three days (sometimes four) for a package to reach the West Coast.
  4. I’m overseas, can I order your patterns?
    Overseas customers can order my patterns in a couple of ways. The easiest method is paying with Paypal.com, which accepts foreign currencies. If Paypal doesn’t work for you, you can always get an international postal money order in U.S. funds and send it to PO Box 2155, Harrisonburg, VA 22801 USA. Air Mail shipping to areas outside the US cost extra. If you live in Europe or Australia, it might be easier to order the pattern from one of my retailers, since the shipping would be cheaper than air mail from the U.S.
  5. Is shipping calculated per pattern or combined for entire orders? Will I save on shipping by ordering multiple items?
    The shopping cart adds only a bit more for each additional pattern you put into the cart–not a set amount for each individual pattern. So, yes, you do save on shipping if you order multiple patterns. Paypal prints shipping labels directly through USPS.com, so it will calculate the charges based on distance and weight. If you are ordering via snail mail and would like to get the shipping cost, just put all the patterns you want into the online shopping cart, enter your zip code, and click “Calculate” to get the exact shipping cost. Then you can close out the cart and send in your order via snail mail.
  6. Do you wholesale your patterns?
    Yes, I do! If you run a retail business, I am happy to be able to offer you wholesale prices on most of my patterns. Please feel free to contact me for more information. I also offer discounts for group orders (4-H, Girl Scouts, homeschool co-ops, etc.). Thanks!

Return to Top


Sizes & Measurements

  1. Do your patterns come in different sizes?
    Most of my patterns are sized from 6-18, and all pattern sizes are included in one envelope. The Regency Spencer/Pelisse pattern includes all sizes from 6-26DD. My 1910s Tea Gown pattern includes sizes 8-26 in one envelope, and I also have available a bodice supplement for ladies sized 18-26DD. I also offer a supplement to the Regency Gown pattern in sizes 18-26D and DD. The 1914 Afternoon Dress pattern contains sizes 6-26DD in one envelope. I try to offer a wide rage of sizes to accommodate the most ladies. All of my pattern sizes are based upon measurements–not upon off-the-rack sizes (which are constantly in flux!). If you go by your measurements (over whatever undergarments you plan to wear), you will be fine. Don’t be surprised if your “size” is much larger than what you wear in ready-made apparel, that is normal (i.e. I’m a 10 in ready-made, but a 14 or a 16 in patterns). Just ignore sizes and go by measurements. You can download the yardage chart for each pattern in PDF format to get the measurements you need. Always check your body measurements against the chart to determine your pattern size before cutting into your material. I’ve also put an article in the Sewing Tips to show you how to resize any pattern. You can size patterns up or down and even shrink adult patterns to fit children with these simple instructions!
  2. Will your adult patterns fit young ladies?
    It all depends upon the measurements, but my size 8 is fairly small (31.5″ in the bust). I have had customers make dresses from my adult patterns for tween daughters with great success — only the skirt length had to be shortened. If the young lady has not yet hit puberty, the girls’ patterns will be best for her. If she is already developing a womanly shape, go for the adult version.
  3. I’m making a dress, and I notice one size on the chart is closer in width, but another is closer in height. Which should I make?
    The most important area to fit in this instance is the bodice, then cut the skirts to length. Little girls often shoot up in height without adding width, so I also recommend going ahead and making a longer skirt with a deep hem or tucks, since you can let those down as the young lady grows. This makes the dress last longer!
    Be sure you check the sleeve length when making smaller patterns. I wouldn’t go up to the next size sleeve, because the sleeve top will be too large and full. Instead, just add length to the bottom of the sleeve if she needs it (often the case with taller girls). Check my Sewing Tips for my article on how to resize a pattern, which will help you scale patterns up or down for a perfect fit.
  4. I’m thinking of placing an order for one of your patterns, but I am not sure if its smallest/largest size will fit me. Will I need to alter it?
    Double-check all of your measurements, because the fit is accurate to the measurements. If you find you need to make any alterations, I have lots of online helps with photos and drawings, including an article in my Sewing Tips (“Why Doesn’t This Look Like the Pattern Cover?”) that helps you tackle the most common fitting issues (everyone has them!).
  5. I love your Regency gown with nursing and maternity alterations available. I saw that a few other dresses had nursing options, but can they also be altered for maternity?
    Yes, you can alter just about any pattern for maternity by simply adding width to the skirt front for gentle gathers. If a dress has a regular waistline, you’ll also need to raise the waistline slightly to accommodate your growing belly. I am short-waisted anyway, so I have to shorten most bodices to fit me — especially when I am expecting. If you carry out front, you’ll also want to add a bit of length to the center front of the skirt to prevent the hem from pulling up and becoming uneven. That’s all there is to it!
  6. Where can I find a list of measurements for each of your pattern sizes?
    Beneath the photo gallery for each pattern is a link to the yardage chart, which includes the measurements you need to find your correct size (keep in mind that pattern sizes are not the same as off-the-rack sizes!)
  7. Do you figure ease into your pattern sizes? My measurements are an exact match for one size; should I go larger?
    I do figure ease into my patterns, but the ease is not what you’ll find in modern patterns from the big pattern companies. On a typical historical pattern from any of the big companies, you’ll find four inches of ease — often for a dress that is meant to be form-fitting and worn over a corset! This is simply ridiculous. The ease in my patterns is generally no more than one inch. This gives you enough room to move, bend, and reach without binding in the chest or shoulders. The Tea Gown is mean to be just about form-fitting, but with the toile step, you can adjust the fit perfectly to your own satisfaction before you cut into your fashion material. The Regency Gown and 1914 Afternoon Dress patterns are far more forgiving. This is because the Regency pattern technically doesn’t have a waist, and the hipline is very roomy. The 1914 dress pattern allows you to customize the bodice, waistband and skirt to best fit your own measurements at the bust, waist and hips. I always recommend making a bodice toile to check fit, since no two women are built alike. Most of us are not even the same “size” in the three main measurement areas (bust, waist, hips). You can cut out your toile along the size lines indicated by your measurements, then customize from there as you see fit, but the measurement sizes are designed to match up with just a bit of ease. Hope this helps!
  8. What is the equivalent size for European sizes?
    The sizes I use for my patterns are based on actual measurements, not ready-made sizes. Each of my patterns has a measurement chart you can download to see the measurements in both inches and centimeters.
  9. When measuring my bust to determine size, do I measure the fullest part of my bust or below the bust (where my bra bandline is)?
    You measure around the fullest part of the bust, then also take into account your cup size (which affects the length of the bodice front). So, if you measure 36″ around the bust and wear a “B” cup, you’ll cut out a bodice in a size 14 and use the “B” cutting line at the bottom (if applicable–some patterns like the Romantic Blouse don’t have those extra cutting lines).

Return to Top


Patterns

  1. Can I order a print catalogue?
    I do have a big, magazine-format catalogue with lots of beautiful color pictures. Click on the Patterns menu above to find it. If you prefer to order via snail mail, please send $4 to Sense & Sensibility, PO Box 2155, Harrisonburg, VA 22801. Thanks for your interest!
  2. Do you offer Victorian or Civil War era patterns?
    I do not have any plans to offer patterns from 1837-1899, simply because there are so many good ones already on the market. Check my Sewing & Pattern Links to find them.
  3. What are the seam allowances for your patterns?
    All seam allowances are given in the pattern instructions and on the yardage charts. For the majority of my patterns, the allowance is 5/8″, but I have a couple with 1/2″ seam allowances.
  4. Can you recommend a pattern for Regency longline stays? I don’t want to make short stays.
    The best Regency stays pattern is by the Mantua Maker. Also see my article “How to Make a Bodiced Petticoat” in the Sewing Tips that shows you how to take my Regency Gown pattern and use it to make your own bodiced petticoat. That way you don’t have to purchase yet another pattern!
  5. Where can I find a pattern for nightgowns from the Romantic/Victorian Era?
    I don’t have a pattern for a nightgown, per se, but you can use the Romantic Dress and Regency Gown patterns to make nightgowns. There is also a beautiful pattern for a late Victorian nightgown and robe by Simplicity at simplicity.com (pattern number 5188). It is very beautiful and may be just what you are looking for.
  6. Do you have any patterns that look like they would fit Little House on the Prairie?
    McCall’s has a “Laura Ingalls” pattern in its Costume section. It isn’t 100% authentic for the 1870s, but it is close enough for playwear. Included with the dress pattern is a bonnet, apron, and pantaloons. Folkwear also has a wonderful prairie dress and apron that is just right for the late 1880s-early 1900s and very comfortable to wear (not at all costume-y).
  7. Is the Regency Gown Pattern the same as the Elegant Lady’s Closet pattern?
    These are completely different patterns in every way. The Regency Gown pattern is based upon designs from the 18-teens and has a more modern look to it (I deliberately chose extant gowns that looked more modern when I designed this pattern). This dress can also be worn over a modern push-up bra–correct underthings are not required for a nice fit. The Elegant Lady’s Closet pattern contains pieces for two different dress styles (drawstring and crossover), along with patterns for reticules and embroidery designs from the time period. This pattern drew its inspiration from the late 1790s to 1800 and must be worn over period underthings (see my Regency Underthings pattern) for a proper fit. The bodice pieces are much shorter (correct for early Regency), so a proper foundational silhouette is a must. You can make a wide variety of Regency Gown styles with each of these patterns, but they don’t overlap each other.
  8. Is the diaper allowance in your toddler-sized girls’ pantaloons ample enough to accommodate cloth diapers or only disposables?
    It depends on what kind of cloth diapers you use. I have used the Bumkins (outer wraps over a single cloth insert), and the pantaloons fit fine over those. But you’d probably need to add more room for a bulkier type of cloth diaper. All you need to do, thankfully, is add to the top of the pattern piece (this is true for any girl who needs more room in the crotch–everyone is different). I’d recommend cutting out a “test” pair, adding two to three inches at the top. Baste them together, turn down the waistline casing allowance, then have a try-on. You’ll be able to see if your daughter is going to need more room or if they are fine as-is. :-)
  9. Am I permitted to use your patterns to make clothes to sell to other people?
    Thanks for asking! The answer is “yes!” I don’t charge a licensing fee or require any kind of payback for using my patterns professionally. All I ask is that if you display your creations on a website, you provide a courtesy link to my site so that folks can get the patterns if they’d like to use them. Other than that, have fun creating clothing, and I wish you all the best with your business!
  10. What patterns do you offer for maternity and/or nursing?
    I have quite a few patterns that work for pregnancy and/or nursing. Here’s the list:

    • Original Regency Gown Pattern ~ Fits about up to the sixth month, but you can widen the skirt front to add gathers and make it fit all the way through. I have instructions for nursing alterations up at http://sensibility.com/blog/tips/easy-alterations-to-the-regency-gown-pattern/. You can also make a drop-front version of the bodice, which is even easier to nurse in!
    • Elegant Lady’s Closet ~ The drawstring dress option in this is my go-to favorite for maternity, and I even nursed twins in it! If you tend to carry all out front, you’ll want to add about four inches total to the bodice and skirt front (at the fold) to fit comfortably through to month nine. Nursing access is simply loosening the neckline drawstring and pulling down to nurse. If you make short stays, you can quilt them and cord them instead of using boning. Then they are soft enough to fold down for nursing access. The crossover gown in this pattern also works for nursing, and both options can be made into hip-length tunics that look great for pregnancy and nursing. :-)
    • Romantic Era Dress ~ This has nursing access instructions included (a discreet front flap that buttons into the waistband and is quite correct for the time period). To make the dress work for maternity, simply shorten the bodice. The skirt has plenty of fullness as-is. The button-front version also works for nursing, as does the Romantic Blouse pattern.
    • 1909 “Beatrix” Shirtwaist ~ The button-front version is great for nursing.
    • 1910s Tea Gown ~ One of my customers modified this dress for nursing and shows how in her Show & Tell photos.
    • 1912 Kimono Dress ~ This one has nursing flap options included in the instructions for discreet nursing.
    • 1914 Afternoon Dress ~ Again, instructions for a discreet lift-to-nurse flap are included in this pattern. You can also use it for maternity if you shorten the bodice a wee bit (about an inch).
    • 1940s Swing Dress ~ One of my customers created a tutorial showing how to modify this bodice for nursing — beautiful!

    Just a quick note for the Regency and Romantic eras: You can “get away” with wearing a modern nursing bra, but the look really is nicer with proper stays. And, as I mentioned before, making soft stays that are quilted and corded instead of boned means you get a comfy fit that works nicely for nursing, too! But if you prefer to go with a regular nursing bra, just be sure the bodices are long enough to accommodate your cup size (particularly on the Regency dresses), as you don’t want the empire waist cutting across the bust.

    Whatever you choose, make sure you fit a toile over whatever underpinnings you plan to wear so you can work out any kinks before cutting into fashion material. :-)

Return to Top


ePatterns

  1. Can I sell or lend my downloaded ePattern to someone else?
    You can print copies of your ePattern for personal use, but like any other copyrighted work, you cannot re-sell, distribute electronically, or print copies to sell of any of our ePatterns. Each ePattern is protected by copyright law. Please read our Terms of Service for more information. Note: If you are interested in promoting my ePatterns and earning a commission, I do have an affiliate program! Click HERE to sign up.
  2. How does an ePattern work?
    My ePatterns are downloadable and printable PDFs. The PDFs include the pattern sheet(s), the illustrated instructions, the yardage chart, and a special page of instructions just for ePatterns. All of the ePatterns are stored on an encrypted, secure server. You will receive a unique download link via email when you purchase an ePattern. When you click on the link, you download your ePattern to your computer for your personal use. After printing the pages, you follow the instructions to tape them together to create the full pattern sheets. You can also choose to print individual pages if you want to print only certain pattern pieces rather than the entire sheet.
  3. I’ve lost my ePattern (or the download link expired). Can I re-download it for free?
    I am happy to reactivate expired download links. You never have to purchase a pattern twice if you lose a piece or lose your download. Send a message through the Feedback Form including your invoice number, I can reactivate your link so you can download your file.
  4. I really like paper patterns and am not sure about using an ePattern. What are the advantages (besides the cheaper price)?
    An ePattern really is still a paper pattern, since you’ll need to print it out to use it. However, it has several advantages over a conventional paper pattern:

    1. You get your pattern instantly. There is no wait for it to be shipped. So if you’re in a hurry or have a pressing project, you’ll have your pattern within a matter of minutes.
    2. You can never lose a pattern piece. If you misplace a sleeve, you can just print out a new one from your PDF.
    3. Because ePatterns are PDFs, they are scalable. You can tell Adobe Reader to print them to any percentage you like. If you want to scale an adult pattern down for a fashion doll, for instance, then you will print it at 1/8th scale (12.5%).
    4. Your ePatterns will not take up physical storage space. If you don’t have a sewing room or dedicated storage space, you can always toss your printouts when you aren’t using them, then print out new pieces for a future project at a later date.
  5. Are there any “cons” to ePatterns?
    Yes, there are downsides to ePatterns, which is why I will continue to sell paper patterns! ;-) Here we go:

    1. You have to print out the patterns yourself at home (or at a print shop if you don’t have a printer), and you have to be very careful to make sure the pages print correctly (I’ve got detailed instructions in the ePatterns to help you through this).
    2. You have to tape together 25-35 sheets of paper to create a full pattern sheet, which is time-consuming and a bit on the tedious side, as it’s important to make sure all lines match up properly. If your printer misfeeds even slightly, you end up with skewed lines. This is definitely a patience-building exercise!

    If you’re willing to put up with the extra work, then ePatterns are for you. If you prefer to have a full sheet from the get-go, then buy the paper pattern! :D I do not recommend ePatterns for beginners for these reasons. Far better to have all the pieces in hand to start if you’re new to sewing or to historical patterns.

  6. What software do I need to open and print my ePattern?
    All you need to open and print a PDF is Adobe Reader, which is a free program. You can download the latest version at http://www.adobe.com/acrobat
  7. How can I print just a single piece from my ePattern?
    If you scroll through the pages in the ePattern’s PDF document, they go in order, left to right, top to bottom, and there are five pages to a row. So if you find, for example, the first part of a sleeve on page 6, then you know to look also at page 7 and the pages immediately following (depending on how long and how wide the sleeve piece is.) Once you find all the pages with your pieces, you can tell your printer to print only those pages. (Choose “page range” instead of “print all,” then type in the pages you want like this: “6-9″ or “6,7, 11, 12″ if your piece bleeds on to a second row of pages)
    Each ePattern also comes with a thumbnail image of the entire pattern sheet, so you can see it at a glance and spot the piece you’re looking for.
  8. What kind of paper is needed to print an ePattern? Will A4-sized paper work? Also, is there a blank space around the pages for me to glue together or does the pattern print to the edge?
    The patterns will print on A4 paper. There is a 1/4″ white space margin around each standard US-sized page, which means the patterns will print on A4 paper with a smaller margin at each side. Most printers cannot print lines that run all the way to the edge of the paper, so I don’t make mine that way. The instructions explain how to overlap the pages to match up the lines. There is also a test page that you print BEFORE printing the actual pattern to make sure it is printing to full scale. I had two overseas customers test the A4 option for me, and both had no problems.
  9. Are ePatterns easy enough for beginners to use?
    I do NOT recommend ePatterns for beginners! If you are new to patterns and new to sewing, having to tape together 25-35 sheets of paper and precisely match up lines to build each pattern sheet will be frustrating and difficult. I strongly recommend that beginners use the full-sized paper patterns instead.
  10. Do you have some kind of tutorial for putting together ePatterns?
    Yes, I do! I’ve shot three video segments that walk you through the process step-by-step. Pop on over to my YouTube channel to view them.
  11. Can I open the ePatterns and print from my iPad?
    No, the iPad doesn’t handle ZIP files, and it doesn’t open PDFs in Adobe Reader. You’ll need Adobe Reader (version 9 or later) to correctly open and print the pattern sheets as tiles for taping together. You can certainly read the instruction PDFs on your iPad, but you need to do the printing from your computer.

Return to Top


Classes

  1. All of your classes are for intermediate or better sewers, do you have any classes or patterns for beginners?
    I think it would be helpful to define “intermediate” vs. “beginner.” You are a beginner if you do not know how to use your machine for more than making straight seams. If you can make a basic A-line skirt or gathered apron, you are ready to tackle my Regency Gown class or the 1940s Swing Dress class. Once you are confident of your stitchery skills, you can move on to the more complicated projects like the Heirloom 1914 Dress class. :-) I’ve had many, many beginners successfully navigate the Regency Gown class with very little extra help from me.
    As far as the patterns themselves go, if you don’t want to take a class, the best place for a beginner to start is the “Beatrix” skirt pattern (all straight seams!) or the Girls’ Edwardian Apron pattern, followed by the Romantic Blouse pattern.

Return to Top


Accessories

  1. Where can I find hats or bonnets to match my dresses?
    I have links to several excellent milliners on my Costume Accessories page in the Links.
  2. I would like to know where I could find a dressmaking mannequin. What do you suggest?
    I use two different types of mannequins. My favorite is the Twin-Fit mannequin which is sold at most chain fabric stores (JoAnn’s, etc.). However, the newer models do not have the telescoping waist feature that my mannequin does, and I consider that one if its best features. The other mannequin I use is “My Double,” which is foam with an outer shift garment that you alter to fit your own form (or your customer’s). This one I like because it is soft and can wear a corset, which is great for historical costuming. The absolute best fitting system (no matter what type of mannequin you use) is by fabulousfit.com. It is a set of foam pads that you can use to make your mannequin look like you and includes a tight knit body stocking to keep everything in place.
  3. I have no stays and I don’t sew. Do you make stays or can you recommend someone who does?
    For stays, I recommend going to http://www.originals-by-kay.com. While Kay specializes in the Civil War period, she can make stays from other eras. I have a custom corset by Kay, and it is the best-fitting (not to mention best priced) corset I’ve ever owned! If Kay isn’t able to do these, try http://www.periodcorsets.com — they are pricey, but the quality is unbeatable
  4. What are underpinnings? Do you have a pattern for them? Can I wear a Regency gown with modern undergarments?
    Proper underpinnings for Regency Gowns include a chemise and “stays” (I offer a short stays pattern in my Regency Underthings, but if you want long stays, my preferred pattern is the Regency Stays pattern from The Mantua Maker). I also offer complete photo instructions that show you how to use the Regency Gown pattern to create your own bodiced petticoat under “Sewing Tips” above. You can wear modern undergarments with my original Regency Gown, though the silhouette will appear very different. If you are a “B” cup or larger, I recommend wearing a minimizer bra or lengthening the bodice of the dress to create a better fit. Otherwise, the empire “waist” will hit you along the bustline. If you’re making dresses from my Elegant Lady’s Closet pattern, you definitely need the correct underpinnings to get the right look.
  5. What will give me the correct silhouette for one of your gowns?Is there a very noticeable difference between a boned bodice and a corset?
    The difference between a bodiced petticoat and a set of stays is fairly simple: posture! Short stays are designed to force the shoulders back. Long stays go down over the top of the hips and have a busk inserted in the front to keep the wearer sitting and standing up straight. While a bodiced petticoat will encourage the wearer to keep her shoulders back, it will not give the more columnar shape of the mid-to-late Regency period. Stays are not as comfortable to wear as a bodiced petticoat, although they can be very helpful if fitted properly (they really help people with back trouble, in particular). The petticoat will be easier to make, but if you want to go for all-out authenticity, I’d recommend biting the bullet and making the stays.
  6. You have plenty of information about underpinnings for Regency gowns, but I can’t find any for Romantic era. What are the appropriate underpinnings for a Romantic gown and where would I find patterns? Are underpinnings for children the same as for adults (both eras)?
    The underpinnings for the Romantic Era are pretty much identical to the Regency Era. You have the chemise next to the skin, then the long (over the hip) stays. Both the Mantua Maker and Past Patterns have good patterns for long stays. The only real difference is that Regency petticoats were fairly narrow, while Romantic Era petticoats (that go over the stays and tie around the waist) were as full as the skirts of the dresses worn over them. It is easy to make yourself a petticoat by simply following the skirt directions in my Romantic Era Dress pattern and adding a waistband (which can either button in back or tie with a drawstring–the former is less bulky and easier to wear). As far as children are concerned, little girls of the Regency and Romantic eras wore chemises with fabric stays over top that did not provide any shaping (no gussets or boning). They were basically there as glorified undershirts, but they also prepared a little girl for the stays she would wear as she grew older. I’ve seen sets of stays from both eras that were made for a young teenager with minimal boning and lots of cording. As you progress into the later Romantic styles (1830+), the hourglass shape becomes more pronounced, and stays for both young teens and older ladies are not as long and provide more shaping at the natural waist (but still not nearly as defined as what followed in the 1850s-1880s).
  7. I was looking at the pattern for your 1914 afternoon dress and you said a corset was needed. What do I use to support the bust since the corsets around that time were underbust corsets?
    Corsets were worn over sleeveless chemises. With the corset laced, the chemise provided the bust support (also pulling in the bustline a tad). You can see images of 1914 corsets over chemises on Wikimedia Commons.
  8. I am interested in men’s Edwardian era clothes, what can you tell me about obtaining such clothes?
    There are several good sources for men’s reproduction clothing both on- and offline. One of the best is Lavender’s Green, run by Kay Demlow. She reproduces men’s clothing from the 1830s through the Titanic era. I’ve got links to other purveyors of men’s reproduction clothing in my Links section. As far as patterns go, I recommend that you pop over to Harper House Patterns and scan through what they have available. They carry practically every historical pattern on the market today. You’ll see that they have Past Patterns’ line, which includes men’s clothing. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, order the print catalogue, since they don’t have everything on the website. For shoes, your best bet is Amazon Drygoods, which doesn’t sell online but offers contact information on its webpage. They have an entire catalogue containing just shoes!
  9. What type of shoes should or could be worn with your Regency patterns?
    Ballet flats are actually the perfect shoes to wear with Regency dresses for indoor wear. I have gotten comfy flats in black and brown from Sam & Libby at discount stores. If you like boots without the the heel, Fugawee Shoes makes a wonderful Victorian boot in leather that has the 1837 elastic insteps. They are pricier, but if you want to save the money, they are 100% authentic and are also comfortable. I find that I need to put a scuff pad on the bottom, since the soles are slippery, but they are just right otherwise.

Return to Top


Resources

  1. What if I need someone else to sew for me? Can you recommend a seamstress?
    I have an “in-house” seamstress who can create outfits for you from any of my patterns. Please visit the Seamstress in Residence page for more information! If she is booked, I also have a large section of links to seamstresses who reproduce historical garments. All of the seamstresses to whom I have links are trustworthy, reliable, and talented and have passed my strict linking policy.
  2. Where can I find reproduction fabrics to use with your patterns?
    I have posted many links to superb fabric companies in my Sewing Links section. One of my favorites for the Regency period is Reproduction Fabrics, which carries period reprints from the 1770s through the 1940s.
  3. What fabrics you would recommend for winter clothes that are feminine and flowing, as your patterns are. What did women wear for winter back then? How can that be translated to now?
    There are so many good winter fabrics available now that are lightweight and warm. The old woolens our grandmothers wore were often itchy, but we now have wool-cotton and wool-linen and other blends that are both soft, cozy and lighter in overall weight (look for wool tencel and worsted wool, too). It is not difficult to find these fabrics at good prices on the Internet. Some of my favorite sources are http://www.fabric.com, http://www.fabricclub.com, and http://www.denverfabrics.com. Many of these shops will also send free swatches so you can see and feel fabric prior to purchasing. Another good fabric choice is flannel, which most consider nightgown material. It actually makes wonderful, warm skirts and dresses, and the skirts won’t cling to your legs if you line or interline with slippery lining material or wear a full slip. Finally, underclothes go a LONG way in making winter comfy for beautiful feminine dress. I love my long underwear made of silky pima cotton, and you can get these new on eBay at over half off the retail price. They last for absolutely years and are incredibly comfortable and toasty warm, too. Run an eBay search for “Cuddl Duds” (no “e” on “Cuddl”), and you’ll find them. You can also get 100% cotton lisle stockings from places like http://www.vermontcountrystore.com. These are nice and warm under dresses and skirts, too. It is possible to beat winter without looking like a hibernating bear–LOL! I hope this information is helpful, and have fun sewing!
  4. Where do you go to study original garments?
    I have had the privilege of viewing costume collections at several acclaimed museums. I was able to visit the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England, when I was there as a teenager, and I’ve been back four times since then (see my England travelblog!). I’ve also visited the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum in Washington, D.C., and had the opportunity to study a few dozen dresses there up close. My favorite museum is the Valentine in Richmond, Virginia, which houses one of the largest historical clothing collections on the East Coast. It is well worth a visit, and I had the great pleasure of studying several gowns there from many different time periods. The Smithsonian in D.C. is also a fantastic place to study, although it is a bit harder to get permission to go “backstage” there than at some of the smaller museums. If you have a museum close to you, ask the curator about taking a peek behind the scenes. It is well worth the effort!
  5. What books do you recommend to people who are interested in studying costume or fashion history?
    There are so many good books that I’ve created an entire Bookstore to showcase them! If you are serious about studying historical garment construction, I would encourage you to begin with Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion series. Each garment is sketched in detail and includes a gridded pattern so you can reproduce it. For a good overview of fashion history, including pattern shapes and sewing methods, Karl Koehlher’s classic volume, A History of Costume is a good place to begin. There are also many excellent books full of photographs of garments from many time periods. My personal favorite is Jane Ashelford’s The Art of Dress. Check out the Bookstore for more recommendations, and have fun!
  6. Why did fashion change so much from 1800 to now and how did it happen? Also why were their clothes so long? Did it mean something?
    This is a huge topic that could cover many, many articles and books. There are entire websites dedicated to the past 200 years of fashion history. I’d recommend going through my Costume Research links, and I’d also recommend the following books, which will explain many of the trends and their social, religious, and moral implications: The Art of Dress: Clothes and Society by Jane Ashelford, The History of Costume by Carl Kohler, and What Clothes Reveal by Linda Baumgarten. These will give you not only an overview of the changing styles, but pertinent information of the political, social, religious, and cultural ethos of the times. All of these influence fashion (even today)–particularly the religious aspect (whether people call themselves religious or not, this has a bearing upon what they wear and when and how).
  7. What is your linking policy?
    All of the links on my site are to sites I have visited personally and found useful or enjoyable. All of my links to recommended seamstresses, however, have passed a more rigorous test. I used to link to anyone who seemed to have a good business going, but after seeing several people cheated by charlatans, I had to change my linking policy for seamstresses. Here are my rules: 1. You must have been in business for at least one full year. 2. You must have photographs of your own work on your site (yes, there are those who steal other people’s photos and doctor them to look like their own — that is heinous), and you need to show at least a dozen completed outfits. 3. You must have verifiable positive comments from at least ten customers who have ordered outfits from you. “Verifiable” means you supply the customer’s e-mail address so I can doublecheck their remarks or you have the customer e-mail me personally. 4. You must not have posted slanderous remarks about anyone else’s work on any listservers or web forums (yes, I can check this). People who have to stoop to stabbing reputable seamstresses in the back do not deserve any recommendations — in fact, I will warn people to avoid you if they ask. This may seem strict and severe, but I want to link only to ladies who do high-quality work and meet their deadlines. When you click on a seamstress’s link from my site, you can have full confidence that you are not going to be ripped off!

Return to Top


Reenacting & Living History

  1. Are your patterns appropriate for living history events or reenactments?
    As a general rule, I design all of my patterns from original period outfits, modifying them only so that they will fit standard modern pattern slopers (and therefore the modern body). See my Pattern Research section for the sources for my designs.
  2. Where can someone wear outfits made from your patterns?
    Well, if you are as hopelessly Romantic as I am, you will wear them to the grocery store and around the house every day. :-) But you might also enjoy finding local living history events to attend or reenactments in which you can become involved. Visit my History & Reenacting Links page for resources and calendars of events.
  3. What are period-appropriate fabric colors for the Regency Era? Would there have been a difference between children’s and adult gowns?
    There is not a tremendous difference between gowns for girls and gowns for ladies, since Regency gowns were actually inspired by children’s fashions of the late 1780s! The only real, noticeable differences are in the neckline depth and in the amount of trimming used. I attended an exhibition of clothing in Colonial Williamsburg and got to see several children’s outfits up close. One girl’s gown was a deep mustard yellow. Another was an orange-red. White was the most popular color from about 1785-1810 for little girls, but there are also colored dresses (including some surprisingly bright reds and blues) in the 18-teens and 1820s. For a play dress, it should be plain and untrimmed. For a formal dress, it would need self-ruffles, piping, and/or ribbon trims above the hemline and around the waist.
  4. Do you have any links or know of any regarding women’s hairstyles of the past and directions on how to create them? Thank you and have a great day!
    Visit In Timely Fashion and click on “Hairstyles.” I’ve contributed instructions and photos for three different styles (two Regency, one Edwardian). Other gals have contributed some photo instructions as well. I also recommend checking my History & Reenacting links for old-fashioned hairstyle sites.

Return to Top


Where did you learn all of this?

  1. Where do you get your ideas?
    I’ve been in love with vintage fashions since I was a little girl, and I started recreating vintage clothing when I was a teenager. I have a large collection of original 1900-1959 patterns and fashion advertisements from which I draw my inspiration. Be sure to check my Vintage Images section to see part of my collection. I also love to study original garments, learn from old methods, and improve upon them when I can.
  2. Did you go to design school or costume college to learn how to draft patterns?
    Everything I know I learned from my fantastic mother. She is a genius for pattern design and can copy any garment she sees. She taught me to sew by hand when I was five and on the machine when I was eight. Believe it or not, I hated sewing until I was 14 and saw the “Anne of Green Gables” mini-series. When I decided I wanted to dress like Anne, my mother taught me to draft original patterns and make just about anything I wanted. My darling late father taught me all of my research skills and gave me a love of museums and dusty attic corners that I’ve never lost. They gave me the tools I needed, and I have sharpened them with constant use and lots of mistakes. “You learn best by doing” is my mother’s motto, and she is right!
    If you want to learn how to draft patterns by the same old-fashioned method I use, I’d recommend searching for the following books: Make Your Own Patterns by Rene’ Bergh, Shelter and Clothing by Kinne and Cooley (1914), and Dressmaking by Butterick (1911). You can do a comprehensive book search at Book Finder 4 U. In addition to titles specifically on pattern making and sewing techniques, I recommend Janet Arnold’s wonderful Patterns of Fashion books, which contain detailed drawings of historical garments and gridded pattern pieces that show how the outfits are put together. If you study the shapes of individual pattern pieces, you come to have an instinctive understanding of what a garment would look like if you took it apart, making it easy to copy historical garments (or any garments!).
  3. Do you need a college degree to design patterns?
    You do not need a college degree to become an excellent designer. You just need a willingness to read, study original garments (many museums will let you do this if you set up an appointment), and experiment with fabric. Mistakes are often gateways to fun new designs! I just learned to play with fabric on a mannequin and figure out what made a certain sleeve work or how one kind of fabric would drape a certain way, while another behaved differently. “Hands-on” is my motto! Have fun!
  4. How on earth do you sew, design patterns, maintain a website, and still manage to stay at home, keep house, cook, clean, raise children, homeschool, and have tea at four in the afternoon?
    The answer is simple: I do not do everything at once! ;-) And everything I know how to do, I learned from my incredible mother. My mother is a model of prioritizing and efficiency, yet she is not an automaton who runs a “tight ship” with no flexibility. Her home has always been warm, inviting, relaxing, and welcoming, even in the midst of busy projects and homeschooling. She taught me how to cook, clean, sew, bake bread, build bookshelves, set a gorgeous table, and waltz. My late father taught me how to make lists and live by them while still maintaining flexibility. I have by no means achieved perfection in any of these areas, and there are days when four o’clock tea goes out the window, among other things. But the great thing when I was designing and making patterns is that it didn’t have to be done in one day. I spread the work out over months (or even a year – LOL!). My philosophy of work comes from the Bible: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” Whatever is next at hand — be it laundry, cooking, or sewing a velvet evening gown — I like to tackle it with joy, interest, and vigor. No work is drudgery when it is seen through the lens of Scripture. A life poured out to Christ and others is beautiful and life-giving. Even the days where “everything goes wrong” have their purpose: live, learn, and move on! Oh, and my other “secret” is that my children help with the housework, just as my mother taught her children to do. They handle dishes, vacuuming, mopping, dusting, and general straightening-up. Work is more fun when you do it together!
    The other important thing is to recognize there are seasons for certain things. When I was a newlywed, I had lots of extra time for sewing and designing. After the birth of baby number three, my sewing business went gently into the night. After designing and publishing 18 patterns and welcoming baby number four, I decided it was time to retire from pattern design for several years. And once I was homeschooling three children and keeping two toddlers busy, I decided to hand over order fulfillment to someone else. Now I just answer questions and help customers! There is no way to do everything at once–that’s a silly myth and one I refuse to buy into. Much better to have lots of time for reading aloud with little ones and welcoming folks into our home than to run around like a crazy woman trying to do too many things (and do them badly, I might add!). Life is good when you slow down and just enjoy what is right in front of your eyes for the all-too-fleeting moments it remains stationary! ;-)

Return to Top


Sewing Tips

  1. Do you offer tips for people who would like to customize your patterns or try different fabrics and/or trimmings?
    I have lots of Sewing Tips and helps online. Included are sections on altering necklines, adding trains, and more. Also be sure to check my Message Forum, which has over 3,500 members who love to share their sewing expertise!
  2. Which of your patterns would be easiest for a beginner?
    For a beginning seamstress, the easiest pattern will be the “Beatrix” walking skirt, which is all straight seam lines. The only challenging part to a beginner will be the back closure (though an invisible zipper is not that hard once you’ve tried it if you prefer it to a placket with hooks and eyes!). The next easiest pattern is the Edwardian Apron, which has few parts and can be put together fairly quickly. The only “tricky” part is getting the back waistband into the corner where the strap meets the back of the apron. Next I’d say the Spencer Jacket and Regency Gown patterns are easiest — I rate them “intermediate” because you do need to know some sewing terms like “under-stitching,” but if you look at the online photo instructions, you should have no trouble with those! The Walking Jacket and the new “Beatrix” jacket are really very easy to put together, since they feature princess lines. The only difficulty on the Walking Jacket is the trimming, which takes a lot of patience! The 1914 pattern really isn’t that hard at all. It is a basic bodice and skirt. The only challenge is in choosing the right bodice size if you do not plan to wear it over a corset. In general, if you make your muslin mock-up two sizes larger than your (uncorseted) self, you will have no problems. The only “intermediate” steps on this pattern are the narrow facing around the neckline and the lined waistband — the nursing front bodice is also intermediate, but I personally think lining the bodice is easier than facing the neckline. The 1940s “Swing” pattern is by far the hardest, because it has a very tricky yoke on the bodice. Once you get through it, though, it is not hard at all!
  3. With some patterns you say it’s important to wear period undergarments. What is the reason for this? And, since I have no wish to wear stays and such, can I adjust things when I cut out the fabric?
    If you wear the Regency drawstring dress with a regular bra, the bodice is totally unflattering (especially if you are a B cup or larger). It basically looks like you’re wearing a sign that says, “Here comes my bosom!” LOL! Not the look we want to achieve…. With short stays (which are very comfy), the bosom is pushed in and molded in such a way that the dress fits nicely over top without a “bullet” effect, if you know what I mean. The crossover gown is a little friendlier to modern underthings, but it still looks better over stays. However, if you really don’t want to create period-correct underpinnings, you can lengthen the bodice pieces (or cut a “D” if you’re a “B”). Then wear a minimizer bra to prevent the pointy look that ruins the lines of the gown, and you’ll be set. As always, make a muslin toile for a try-on first! You’ll be able to check the fit in front of a mirror and make sure the look is flattering for you.
  4. I want to make a sash for my Regency gown, are there specifications or a pattern for this?
    Sash width and length are really up to personal preference. If you want a wide sash that will “crumple” a bit, cut it ten inches wide, then sew it up and turn it right-side out, giving you a sash 8 3/4″ wide. As for length, you can cut it long enough to go around the empire waist and tie in a knot or longer–to tie and have ends hanging down. You really don’t need to “obey” grain lines for a sash unless you want it to have some stretch. If you’d like it to stretch, then cut it on the diagonal. Otherwise, you can cut it longways down the fabric, allowing you to go as long as you want (and utilize scraps of fabric to boot!). Making small loops at the side seam of the bodice is a good idea if you use a slippery material or plan to do a lot of vigorous dancing. ;-) That will ensure that your sash does not slip down as you move.
  5. Is it possible to adapt any of your dresses for nursing?
    I’ve got instructions online to modify the Regency Gown pattern for nursing (see the articles in the Sewing Tips section). The 1914 Afternoon Dress pattern already comes with a nursing option, as does the Romantic Dress/Jumper pattern. All my other dress, blouse, and jacket patterns have front closures that make it easy to nurse with a cover-up.
  6. I noticed that you recommend copying your patterns onto interfacing or pattern paper. Is that something I can get a JoAnn’s or a local shop, or do I have to order it?
    Hi! You can get conventional interfacing at any fabric store for $1-$2 a yard. It’s also available at http://birchstreetclothing.com/group.php?itemID=9036&colID=28 – It’s called “Swedish Tracing Paper,” but it’s really interfacing, and you can get it by the roll for about $1 a yard including shipping.

Return to Top


Forum

  1. How do I join the forum?
    All you have to do is click on “Register” and create your own unique username. I do not keep any of your registration information, and this is a totally private forum, so you don’t have to worry about spam! Once you have registered, log in with your new username and click on the forum in which you’d like to post. From there, you can start a “New Topic” or reply to another post. :-)

Return to Top


12Pingbacks & Trackbacks on FAQs

  1. […] for instant download as an ePattern in PDF […]

  2. […] available for instant download as an ePattern in PDF […]

  3. […] available for instant download as an ePattern in PDF […]

  4. […] available for instant download as an ePattern in PDF […]

  5. […] available for instant download as an ePattern in PDF […]

  6. […] available for instant download as an ePattern in PDF […]

  7. […] for instant download as an ePattern in PDF […]

  8. […] available for instant download as an ePattern in PDF […]

  9. […] available for instant download as an ePattern in PDF […]

  10. […] available for instant download as an ePattern in PDF […]

  11. […] for instant download as an ePattern in PDF […]

  12. […] available for instant download as an ePattern in PDF […]

Leave a Reply