The Great Pattern Review
Patterns of History
by The Wisconsin Historical Society
1835 Afternoon Costume
Christine James - Recommended
This is a little more advanced than Period Impressions patterns. A beginner will probably need some help. Perfect for intermediate level experience. I am very pleased with the result. It went together easily. I suggest adding a layer of netting between the lining and the fashion fabric to give the sleeve more body. Christine is wearing the dress without the pelerine in the photo on the left. She is wearing the dress and pelerine in the photo on the right.
Elizabeth Atwater - Recommended
I made this without the pelerine, and with an altered neckline. This pattern required significant muslin fitting and alteration on the actress, but that is to be expected with any modern body and fitted garment. The actress was also a pattern size 12 and the dress only comes in pattern sizes 10 or 14. But fitting and construction were fairly straightforward and I think the result is quite wonderful. Definitely flat-line the sleeves in netting to maintain their great shape.
Karen Verschoor - Recommended
I adapted the pattern from front to rear closing. I also lowered the neckline in accordance with period fashion plates. The pattern was well drafted. Instructions are clear. However it calls for some snaps to hold the pelerine in place which were definitely not available in 1835.
1840s Day Dress
It was a little too wide in the back and had to be taken in; otherwise, the fit was fine. It has a rounded shoulder so the armhole is meant to go over your arm. This looks and feels a little strange at first, but it is the correct sleeve for the 1840's.
1857 Promenade Dress
Kendra Van Cleave - Highly Recommended
I LOVE this pattern. The fit on the bodice was perfect and the jacket bodice cut is so flattering. The pattern set includes pieces for the bodice, under-sleeves, bustle, collar, and skirt yoke. There are no pattern pieces for the skirt, only instructions. The skirt pieces are just rectangles of fabric.
Lorraine Carson - Highly Recommended
This was a great pattern that made me fall in love with bustle style gowns - it was clear enough for me to finally light that bulb over my noggin and UNDERSTAND what they were getting at. The best thing about this pattern is that the resulting bustle is adjustable via internal lacing, so you can convert it from early to late bustle period and back again. This pattern seems to be for a much shorter woman than I (I'm 5'7"), I think it is sized for the original wearer, so I extended the bottom by about 10" when I made it up the second time. (You'll need to add additional hoops if you do this.) My only complain about this pattern was that the Period Notes section annoyed me because they had pictures of every kind of original bustle EXCEPT the one you are making. Lorraine's Bustle is pictured at left and a detail of the inside is shown at right.
Frances Grimble - Recommended
Good pattern overall; but, you are instructed to leave gaps in the middle of the boning casings. Presumably, this is to slip the bones in from the middle towards the sides. The instructions do not make this entirely clear. I preferred to leave the casing openings on one side.
Carmen Stone - Highly Recommended
I enjoy working with these patterns. You just have to be patient and read all the instructions a follow them one step at a time.
Jessica Cail-Sirota - Highly Recommended
This pattern is very easy, doesn't require steel hoops, and is adjustable. It laces in the back can be tightened for greater poof. The pattern calls for featherweight boning, but I wanted a bit more strength to carry what will be a very aggressive bustle (I'm reproducing Mina Harker's red Absinthe dress from Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula). I used nylobone. It comes in its own casing, which is convenient in most ways save one: you cannot slide in the bones after the whole pattern is complete. You end up wrestling a bit with the stiffly- boned back while you finish the sides. Preliminary testing of the finished bustle (I flumphed onto the couch in it a few times!) has shown that it's sturdy. It collapses when sat upon, yet bounces immediately back into shape when standing again. The only problem I've found is that you can see the harsh lines of the bones through a skirts. So I made 3 more rows of ruffles and used them to cover ALL the bones, with a bustle pad for the top with a row of ruffle across the back edge and the problem has been eliminated.
1874 Bustled Dinner Gown
Lisa Prindle - Highly Recommended
This is an excellent first bustle dress pattern. The directions were extremely thorough and profusely illustrated, fitting was easy, and it assembled very well. I found this one easier to fit than the 1876 Bustle Dress by the same company.
This gown is slightly high waisted, and as I am very long waisted, extending the waist 1 1/2" still allowed for the high waisted look without having it under my armpits! The bodice has a nifty scalloped hem and an overskirt that is split up the center back - very different!
Be warned, however, that the trimming of the skirts and bodice as shown requires extensive hand sewing (I took a shortcut by making narrower bias so I could do more machine sewing). I did not make up the sleeves as directed, as the fabric insert at the wrist had too much body with my choice of fabric. Instead, I left out the insert and stitched up the sleeve, and it worked fine.
Frieda Fauve - Highly Recommended
This pattern was very thorough and straightforward, and it came with a profuse amount of information regarding the styles of the period, proper fabrics (including color combination) and undergarments. The pieces went together quite well, though as another reviewer said, it is quite high-waisted. Two suggestions: Make this dress out of a lighter fabric if you're intending on wearing it for an extended amount of time. It becomes rather heavy. Also, most importantly, if you're intending on trimming the dress the way the pattern calls for, I hope you have a LOT of time on your hands. Even though I left out the satin ribbon trim, the amount of hand work was incredible. It turned out lovely, though, and completely worth the effort. I included a picture of the back of the dress.
1876 Bustle Walking Dress (Out of Print)
Carmen Stone - Highly Recommended
Definitely the best bustle gown pattern I've worked with so far. It goes together very well and is a beautiful gown. I used a plaid fabric and got a lot of complements on it. Carmen is wearing her gown in the photo to the left.
Kyrsten Comoglio - Highly Recommended
Definitely the best bustle gown pattern I've seen. It goes together very well and is a beautiful gown. Allow extra time for the ruffles; they seem to take forever. Kyrsten is wearing the dress in the photo on the right.
Sally Norton - Highly Recommended
This is a wonderful pattern and makes up beautifully but, it is not for a beginner. A muslin is essential for the bodice. Once you get the fit right and cut out your fashion fabric, use the muslin as your lining. If you like more fullness over the bustle, cut the skirt and apron wider and add more gathering (or pleats) in the back for extra fullness. Cutting the apron on the bias is another option to increase the drapery of the apron.
Note: This pattern has been reworked slightly and is now sold as the 1874 Bustled Dinner Gown.
1878 Men's Sack Suit
Rosalyn Johnson - Highly Recommended
I recently completed the jacket to this suit. This pattern and its accompanying instructions are wonderful. Instructions are given for both the true reproduction method and a modern method, which is really a compromise between the older methods and those used today. Thus far, I have completed the jacket. I am pleased with the results. This was my first tailoring project. I recommend this only for an advanced seamstress with some knowledge of tailoring or access to a class. I did this in conjunction with a tailoring class at my local junior college. The lapels on this coat are longer and deeper than most suits pictured from the Victorian era. Shorten the roll line unless your gentleman is VERY large (as was the original owner of this suit). The coat has a baggy fit, very unlike the suits today. In spite of this, I had to redraw the front and enlarge the armhole for my husband's coat, because of his more muscular build. Absolutely, do a muslin; perhaps more than one. You will probably find that you need to make a larger pattern size than your gentleman's "off the rack" size. Also, it's well worth it to use a nice woolen fabric, which will shape properly as you make up the jacket. Don't bother using a polyester suiting; it obviously isn't period and polyester simply will not work the same as wool. I underlined my fashion fabric in a lighter weight flannel, with silk organza and I would definitely do that again. The pattern doesn't call for it, but it was helpful to catch the various hand-stitching used in construction and kept it from showing on the outside of the jacket.
1881 Avant-Garde Gown (Out of Print)
Lisa Prindle - Not Recommended
This is a very tedious project from fitting to assembly. For some reason the directions tell you to fit the bodice without any undergarments but, I don't recommend that. Feel free to wear your corset or bra, it will work. Be sure to measure your arm length, as the sleeve starts very high into the shoulder and may end up too short. Take note of the photo: I added an undersleeve. This pattern has a fitted under-bodice lining with a neck-to-hem shirred and pleated front panel that covers it. The instructions have no graphics to explain the assembly or to advise how to finish some of the raw edges. The sizing runs very small. I've made it twice now (a glutton for punishment) and love the silhouette which can accommodate a bustle, but it is not something to do in a weekend.
1894-96 Walking Suit
Lorraine Carson - Highly Recommended
This pattern was very clear with simple, straightforward instructions, great clear sketches and informative historical notes. I loaned the pattern to several friends who were beginning sewers, and they had no trouble with the skirt at all. The bodice, because of the multitude of pieces, was a little more trouble for beginning sewers, but I think an Intermediate or patient Beginner would do fine with it. In general, I have been very happy with all the Patterns of History patterns I have seen. Lorraine is wearing the suit in the photo on the right.