Dawn's Costume Guide

Commercial Costume Patterns

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Ladies American Colonial (about 1776). Basic petticoat and gown bodice set. The petticoat could benefit from being pleated instead of gathered, and should be shortened to ankle length for a fashionable lady's dress, a little higher for a servant or a working class woman. Don't attach the apron, put it on a waistband of its own so you can remove it when you want to change the "working" apron to a "dress" apron. By combining the sleeves in view A with the overskirt in view B you most closely replicate a "gown polonnaise". Otherwise, cut the front of the bodice straight across the front and attach the skirt for an everyday gown. I would avoid using the sleeves in view B. The addition of a non-visible smock would round out this outfit and help it wear better.


Men's American Colonial (about 1776). Shirt, coat, breeches, waistcoat and hat. The shirt is excellent and accurate for the time portrayed. The pants are ok (the front fly opening is quite a bit different in historical garments) but alterations would be more work than reward. The waistcoat could be fitted in the back or at the side seams, and shortened to waist level for later-in-the-century styles. Both the coat and waistcoat can be dressed up with embroidery on the front. This pattern is suitable for use as a Hobbit costume.


Women's medieval fantasy gowns. Square-necked princess-line gowns with two sleeve variations and a "cape" that hooks onto the shoulders. The trained hem looks a little long to be practical for outdoor wear, but would be lovely in a themed wedding. The white gown would be suitable for LOTR 'Galadriel' fans.


Historical Hats. Mostly fantasy. View A: I rarely see hennin in a 15th century portrait that has a pointy end, and let's face it, it's not a flattering style. Most of them are about the size and shape of a flowerpot, and draped differently. You could shorten this cone and use techniques from hats C and D to close the end. View B: Fantasy ren-faire. 'Nuff said. View C: tricorne styling, though I usually see them out of shaped felt, or at least with a more conical crown. View D: roughly 1830's in shape, probably the best of the lot.


Men's early 18th Century Costume. Coat, vest, pants, and neck ruffle. No shirt. Completely modern style, unfitted costume pieces. Compare with 3896 which was a much better re-draft of a period outfit. This costume is so bad it looks as if all they did was grab some slopers and draw on markings for the button loops and push it out the door in anticipation of this summer's pirate movie. Clothing from this time period exists and is not hard to find diagrammed for reference. Don't waste money on this one, it has no redeeming features and is not worth altering.


Misses Fantasy dress, skirt and vest. Amusing combination of a 1970's style peasant dress, a Victorian bodice, and an early 1980's western style skirt. If you just want to dress up for fun, this is a cute set. It has little or no historical basis.


Unisex cape. Fantasy, probably based on LOTR costumes, this costume pattern is a houpellande waiting to happen. As-is the pattern is a versatile robe for most fantasy festival and LARP needs. With very minor alterations it becomes a perfect 15th century gown. Leave the hood off, and cut the sleeve piece (4/4a) straight across at the wrist instead of in that deep curve. Add a belt and you are all set. If you feel up to it, make a low-necked or collared version instead.


Misses stays and corset. View A & B are front and back lacing variations on 18th century (American Revolutionary War) era stays, while views C & D are 19th century (Victorian) corsets.


Costume headwear. Pretty much entirely fantasy, but good fun. The jester's hat may appeal to some.


Misses Cape and Dress. The cape is very nice, but the dress fails on a lot of points. The waist seam is a contemporary feature, and the princess line bodice cut isn't appropriate for the medieval style. The skirt is too long, unless you like the idea of tripping on the stairs while trying to manage your dress at an event. Unless you need the length for something theatrical, save yourself the grief.


Misses Historical Underpinnings, or, Gee This Corset Looks Familiar. I think it's the same one from 4254, but it doesn't matter. Stays, pocket hoops, petticoat and pockets for the 18th century. Way too late for renfest, girls.


Mens and Misses Shirts. Fine Victorian style drop-shoulder shirts with cuff and collar variations. You could get away with the plainer versions at renfest, but I would avoid the ruffles with a lace-up shirt. Gentlemen who can afford ruffles can also afford buttons.


Misses fantasy dress. Draws on various medieval and renaissance elements for style. Very pretty but not worth altering. Enjoy it for the fantasy elegance it was meant to portray.


Misses’ Corset. Neckline and lacing variations, couple of options for the waistline skirts, none of which appear to be based on anything historical.


Misses’ medieval gown.


Men's Doublet. Not even close. This garment is pure fantasy and not suitable for historic events.


I'll just cover the bodice for now. To be brief, it is a mish-mash of 16th century styles. The neckline is typical of the very early part of the century, what we call Tudor. The sleeves are a later style, from about 1560, both the paned sleeve cap and the long straight sleeve. The lines of trim that go over the front and back like suspenders, and along the neckline is a very late (1570+) fashion from Italy. The scalloped tabs are more fantasy than history, some tabs did show up on bodices, but mostly they were confined to corsets and they were not scallop shaped. The panel on the front of the bodice is also an invention. Some bodices in some places and times did open in front with an under layer showing. It would never be sewn in and never so wide.

If you can make the top without the puff and paned part of the sleeve, have a solid untrimmed bodice, no tabs and a plain skirt with no front panel you'd have a reasonable working class English Tudor gown -- although the bodice is made with princess seam panels. 2009


The guys really make out with this one. A real shirt, a nice cloak, and a cool hat. There is also a leggings pattern and the jerkin isn't too bad and can easily be made with a shorter "skirt" for a more Elizabethan appearance. (See instructions) Just skip the spats. Gentlemen, if you can get this on one sale, do.


Misses sized skirts, blouses (two variations), bodice, apron and cap clearly aimed at the renaissance faire attendee. This is your typical made-up Hollywood Medieval look -- if you can document this outfit in period art I'll buy you a copy of the pattern. Not a bad basic set if you are looking for a costume (though the chemise pattern ought to be trashed in favor of my simple one). Make yourself two skirts. Can be dressed up with fancy fabric and trim. Womens sizes in #6198.


An Empire-style inspired gown and robe. Cut on modern lines, but beter than some at attempting to get the fit correct.

Discontinued Butterick Patterns

All text and artwork copyright 1990 - 2005 D. Duperault. Pattern images used on this page belong to their respective manufacturers and are used for review purposes only. NOTHING on this site may be reproduced or distributed by any means without my written permission. This information offered in good faith, and worth only what you paid for it.
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