Thursday, April 21, 2016

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Introducing the New Simplicity 18th Century Sewing Patterns by American Duchess

I've managed to keep quiet about this for a whole seven months (heaven knows how; I'm terrible at keeping secrets!) but the cat is now out of the bag, so I'd like to officially introduce the new...

Simplicity 18th Century cosplay sewing patterns ..... by ME!

Squee!


Last year Simplicity contacted me to do a promotion. I pitched them the idea of doing some historical patterns and they said they were working on a whole new Cosplay category, and that they'd like to include something inspired by "Outlander." I jumped at the chance and submitted several designs for jackets, gowns, and underpinnings.

With the restrictions on the patterns - things like tissue size and complexity/length of instructions - we came up with two pattern packets that work together: the underpinnings packet with a chemise, bum pad, and stays; and the ensemble packet with a gown, petticoat, bodice, and stomacher.

My original drawings for the patterns, with ideas on how to share pieces and get the most out of the limited pattern tissue and instruction sheet space.
There were some things we had to compromise on. For instance, due to restrictions on the pattern tissue, we couldn't include an alternative cut or the skirting on the jacket, using instead the same pattern pieces from the gown. There was no room for a winged cuff, second view of the stays, or under petticoats in the underpinning packet.

Additionally, all of these patterns had to be designed for beginning sewists, easily made using a sewing machine, from materials and notions readily available from chain fabric stores like JoAnns. This is where modern construction with bag linings, application of metal grommets, top stitching, etc. came in.

BUT.

While these patterns are "just" costume patterns from one of the Big 4, hidden in the tissue paper folds are the makings of a historically accurate ensemble. I referenced all our favorite sources - Janet ArnoldCostume Close-Up, The Cut of Women's Clothes, Jean Hunnisett- and looked at myriad extant garments from the 1740s and merged that information with Terry Dresbach's original designs for "Outlander" season 1. What I came up with was a very basic Italian gown (sometimes called quarter-backed) with a single piece sleeve darted at the elbow, laced over a stomacher in front. The gown and/or bodice is designed to be worn over stays, which are of the more conical shape of the 1740s.



So now what? Now it's time to "HACK" these patterns. What do I mean by that?

I mean that here starts a blog series that will show you various techniques that you can use to take these patterns to the next level. Such as:

  • Hand-stitched eyelets instead of metal grommets
  • Creating robings and closing the bodice with pins
  • Interior lacing, buttons, and other bodice closures
  • Drafting and applying a 1740s winged cuff
  • Redrawing bodice seams and stays boning patterns
  • Drafting skirting for the bodice, to create a jacket
  • Extending the front edges for a center front closure
  • Setting sleeves with the 18th century method
  • 18th c. hand stitching techniques for finishing edges and sewing seams
  • Fitting through the side back seams the mantua maker's way
  • Proper silhouette through bum pads, petticoats, and more petticoats
  • Binding and facing the stays with chamois leather
  • Proper materials - wool, linen, cotton, silk
  • How the heck to get dressed

And plenty more. I have a huge list. It's going to be great!

Already starting on the stays - top is reference materials for boning patterns from two great books, "Costume Closeup" and "Corsets and Crinolines." Below is the stays pattern cut out in a size 12. You can see the boning pattern layout for half-boned stays.
As we all should, I'm starting with the stays, so you can expect to see the first of these "hacks" soon.

In the meantime, go and hassle your local Joanns to get those Summer catalogs out and the patterns in the drawers so you can purchase them, and stay tuned for the first installment of "How to Hack the Simplicity 18th Century Patterns."
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101 comments:

  1. Excellent! I can't wait to see what you do. I have been wanting to make a 1740s ensemble for quite a while.

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    1. Thank you! I'm starting from the "skin out," as they say, with a new pair of stays, then onto the fun stuff - the jacket and petticoat :-)

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    2. I'm super excited!! Can't wait to see the blog and try the patterns!!

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    4. I have had a terrible time finding the correct fabrics and trims in Jo Ann's fabrics, They mostly stock fleece fabrics and knits and everything else is so expensive especially for patterns that require nearly nine yards.I'll go broke if I'm not able to sell them! They really look good. I have been stopping my copied programs to examine the gowns more closely and I'm glad to see someone came up with this idea. Now you need to take the CEOs of Jo Ann fabrics that they are not stocking what we need!!! (They used to)

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    5. Gaile, There are always independent fabric and sewing stores in any decent-size metropolitan area. Check those out and don't just depend on JoAnn's for your supplies.

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    6. Anon, in my town, which is not small (in the top 20 for size in the US), our independent fabric stores closed years ago, and Hancock's just went out of business. Joann's is all we have left, if we want to feel the material before we buy it.

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    7. If you live in an area with a large immigrant population, it's well worth checking out those neighborhoods. In the San Francisco Bay Area,for example, there are many Indian stores that sell sumptuous sari fabrics. There are also usually stores that cater to dressmakers and other professionals, often with bolt-ends of a huge assortment. Again, in the SF region, San Jose has a store called Fabrics-R-Us, a hole in the wall place that draws sewers from all over California, esp. for costume materials. It takes some hunting to find these places but they DO exist.

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    8. If you live in an area with a large immigrant population, it's well worth checking out those neighborhoods. In the San Francisco Bay Area,for example, there are many Indian stores that sell sumptuous sari fabrics. There are also usually stores that cater to dressmakers and other professionals, often with bolt-ends of a huge assortment. Again, in the SF region, San Jose has a store called Fabrics-R-Us, a hole in the wall place that draws sewers from all over California, esp. for costume materials. It takes some hunting to find these places but they DO exist.

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    9. I would recommend William Booth, Draper for really authentically historic fabric. He's online, but I bought linen from him and was overjoyed by the price and the quality. I'm a Living Historian, so my clothing absolutely MUST be historically accurate.

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  2. Lauren, you are amazing!!! Congratulations!!!! That is quite the awesome feat, and may I say how wonderful it will be to have some period-correct historical patterns from the big box store!! There are so few out there, and these ones I am very excited to get!!
    Eeek! I'm going shopping soon! :) And I can't wait for your blog series.

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  3. This is really interesting. I look forward to seeing the patterns and the blog posts. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Congrats, Lauren!! These patterns are making me wish I had an opportunity to wear something like this so I have an excuse to make them . . . perhaps I will have to do something about that!

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    1. Thanks! Ah, perhaps host an Outlander tea? Tea parties always seem to be a ready and willing excuse for dress up :-)

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  5. Ooh, I wonder how long it'll take for them to get to NZ, we're just getting winter patterns in now though so probably a while. Might have to brave the exchange rate and hideous postage to get them.
    Or I could draft something from scratch, but I'm not so good at that and my back objects.

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    1. Good question - I don't know if Simplicity holds their patterns for seasonal releases down under. I wouldn't be surprised, though.

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    2. Usually, costumes placed in the Halloween or Specialty section of the design book. Towards the back before Decor.

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    3. Rachelle - or you need a friend in the US who will get you the patterns and sends them to you :)
      Let me know if you need a "new friend" to help you out.
      I last sewed over 40 years ago, but now have the peace and quiet to try again and I will get these for myself and give it a go. Even if I only ever wear them in my home Hahaha - seriously though - thanks for the inspiration! SO glad I saw this blog post shared on Facebook!
      I must now follow Lauren! (yea, new hobby!)
      Ingrid Phoenix Doerksen

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  6. So cute! You did a great job in the OPH Part I, and I for one can't wait to lay my grubby pin-stabbed hands in a copy of the pattern!

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  7. I am so excited about this! As someone new to costuming I've been a bit reluctant to delve into some of the historical patterns, but I think your patterns will be a good place to start. Now, if only my local Joann's would start stocking them so I can stop stalking the sales peeps!

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    1. They'll have them soon, hopefully! In the "Hacks" I'll be showing how to add more historical-ness to the patterns, but as they are, straight out of the envelope with just following the instructions, they'll make a good basic 18th c. costume. I don't want you to be overwhelmed by all the stuff I'm going to talk about!

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  8. Congrats!! I have a feeling I'll be seeing a lot more Outlander cosplays at the next con we go to! ;)

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    1. Hopefully! I'll be sporting it for a half day at CoCo this year, for the Hacks class, naturally. It'll really be my first cosplay!

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  9. I am so beyond thrilled for you Lauren! Congratulations! These almost...almost...make me want to sew this era! I can't wait to see what others create from your patterns! Oh! And I thrilled at seeing the "American Duchess" logo on the patterns! I may just purchase them to have them!
    Blessings!
    g

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    1. We'll get you into 18th century one day! :-D

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  10. Congrats. I am a beginner sewer but I must say I have used your sites and other similar sites to make my first period corset, petticoats, and the whole nine yards. I am learning a lot as a sewer by working period patterns using as many period techniques. I am looking forward to this blog series. It will help me fit my riding habit better!

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    1. That's awesome! You sound truly dedicated to learning the craft. I'm glad to hear you're starting with the underpinnings - absolutely essential. I'm glad you've found help here, although I realize I've never really done a proper tutorial or explanation of the 18th century techniques I use. That's my intention for this upcoming series - to really delve into the how and why for beginning sewists and costumers.

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  11. That is so cool! Congratulations. I don't costume, since I never seem to find the time, but I love all of your tutorials and the detail you put into your costumes, so I am looking forward to your new series. They look like lovely patterns!
    www.theartyologist.com

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  12. I can't wait to read this series! Now to stalk pattern sales to get them.

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    1. Do you have any idea WHEN the patterns will be available? I own a costuming business (Dreamcatcher Connection Costumes on Facebook) and already have one client who wants the 2nd dress for our local Highland Games in July. She wants to know how much tartan to buy, but without the pattern, I have no idea what to tell her. Thanks for the patterns! The patterns will have awesome to own. Much of the work that I do is for fairies, Highland Games, ball gowns (for ballroom dancing) and Renfaires.

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    2. Ticia, I've read the entire series twice and LOVE these books. You can get them on Kindle, which makes it easier, because the books are HUGE (700-900 pages). However, they are so creative, romantic, dramatic, and beautifully, poetically written, they engage you from the first page to the last. When a book ends, you want more - and guess what?! There are nine of them! Of course, there is always the series on Starz where you can watch a very condensed (and much more violent) version of it. That is good too, but we have fast-forwarded through scenes that are MUCH easier to READ, than they are to WATCH in all the gory, bloody details. The mid-1700's in Scotland were a dangerous time for sure! The main thing I love about the show IS watching the costumes!

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  13. Congratulations! That is awesome! Can't wait to see!

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  14. I am waiting for them to go on sale. patterns are getting really expensive.

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    1. They really are! At least Simplicity are still printed in the US, and the big stores have them 50% off all the time. If you can snag them on sale, though, do!

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  15. This in incredible!! Congratulations!!

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  16. I swung by my local Joann's today and found the last copy they had of the stays pattern! I'm fairly new to historical costuming so I'm excited to get some more good foundations out of the way. Looking forward to the pattern hacking series!

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  17. So excited about the new patterns and your hacking series! What are the pattern numbers I need to be looking for?

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  18. Oh my goodness...I am just beginning my journey into historical sewing, and your blog in general has been extremely helpful in getting started. But this...this is amazing. Thank you so much for creating these glorious, easy to understand patterns while introducing elements to make them more historically accurate for those like me to want to take it one step further, they are just unsure how yet. You have no idea how much I appreciate this!! :) :)

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  19. Congratulations! I am so excited for you. I look forward to the Hack-series.

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  20. Feeling depressed, it doesn't look as though they are available in the UK, plenty of Game of Thrones, but not a sign of anything like Outlander by American Duchess in Simplicity!

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    2. I am depressed too because we can't find Simplicity patterns in Québec! So when this great one will be avalable on the Simplicity website?? Or Can we order it here?

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    3. The pattern is offered as a download at www.sewingpatterns.com. Of course you will need to print and assemble it.

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  21. This is great!! You're so talented :)
    The blog series will be awesome, I learn so much over here. I only wish my sewing mojo would return, so I could get something done.

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  22. I love your post so much! Your drawings and ideas are amazing. I've dedicated a blogpost to this article and your project: https://baytreecostumes.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/simplicity-outlander-patterns-are-out/ Hope that's alright!
    ~Ava

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  23. What sizes do they come in? What stores carry they? What do I search for?

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  24. This is so exciting! One day I do plan to make one and wear it to one of the Outlander functions. I too, would like to know where to purchase them?

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  25. I just bought the patterns! They are great! Thanks so much for all your hard work and showing us how the bring it to the next level!

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  26. This is great I love doing period costumes.

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  27. Just found them on a Dutch site for sewing patterns. Ordered them straight away.

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  28. SO SO EXCITED for this series!!! Can't wait!

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  29. Is this one of the patterns? http://www.simplicity.com/simplicity-pattern-8161-misses-18th-century-costumes/8161.html#start=2

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  30. Don't like down loaded patterns. I want one in an envelope!!!!

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  32. Size! I love the new patterns, but I'm not going to buy them. Why? Because Simplicity did what they always do. They don't take into account that the world doesn't end at size 24. I'm a size 32. Could I buy the patterns then adjust them up those 4 / 5 sizes? Sure. Do I want to spend money only to have to do more work on a pattern that is supposed to be ready made? Nope. Sure I realize that cost can be an issue for a mass produced pattern... But it doesn't add THAT much cost to make the pattern run up in size at least to a 30 / 32 or even a 34 / 36 which more and more of the population of the Nation is becoming (won't debate WHY, but it's just what reality is). Especially since those of us on the plus size of the equation are willing to PAY anyway. First world problem, I'm sure. lol. But one that the manufacturers should take into account when they are trying to pry our hard earned cash from our hands.

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  33. Got my patterns and fabric (mostly 100% linen) and am anxious to charge ahead, starting with the stays. My daughter Jessica who is an expert at historical costuming highly recommends using reeds instead of the zip ties. She said she made two sets of stays, one with zip ties and one with reeds, and the one with reeds was MUCH better and more comfortable to wear. Will be doing everything as historically correct as I can and still get it done by the big Outlander event I'm going to at the end of August. I know from experience that anything you do "in costume" is way more fun!

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  34. Congratulations and thanks for the hacks. I too am larger than size 22, but willing to draft out to a larger size. I like having accurately shaped pattern pieces as a starting point rather than draft the entire pattern from scratch on grid pellon. I do American Fur Trade Era re-enactments and mid-Colonial is included.

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    1. Where are the American Fur Trade Era re-enactments?

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  35. this is so awesome!!! thanks for sharing techniques for us to take this amazing project further!

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  36. I'll post again! I think the only "hack" here is the person who would copy an existing design/designer to collect a paycheck from Simplicity and then take credit for it. It SHOULD be understood in our industry that there is such a thing as "artistic right" - to which you have none in this case. It's called professional courtesy - so...please delete my comments again - so your "followers" can continue to see only the "good" things said here in praise of you - and not the obvious...that you've done nothing original, and stolen an idea in order to get paid for it.

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    1. How is that a constructive comment?

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    2. Sir, I think you neither understand fashion nor history. My patterns are based on actual historical garments, just as Terry's costume designs for Outlander are. They are original patterns made by me, researched, and made in a way sympathetic to beginning historical costumers and those interested in Cosplay.

      If you have a problem with what has been created, please take it up with every sewing pattern company to ever exist, every dressmaker who ever produced an outfit from a fashion plate, every fashion designer who ever referenced art or history, every theatrical costume designer who was inspired by what has come before, and everyone henceforth who wants to enjoy making historical outfits, be them plaid and inspired by a TV show or silk taffeta and inspired by a gown in a museum. Fashion is fluid and belongs to everyone. It is not copyrighted, not exclusive, and accessible to anyone whether you like it or not.

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    3. You talk a lot!....and say nothing. I'm not going to defend my resume here...moot point on your part because, in your case, ALL the work had been done for you, and there is no talent OR skill involved whatsoever. But....Congratulations.... on your "mediocre" success.

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    4. Matthew, your comments are so bitter. Please don't negate the work I've done - researching, draping and patterning, testing, and creating working garments from scratch - because the samples were made in plaid. Once again, these are all garments closely based on extant historical pieces. I looked at many, many references, same as Terry did for Outlander, but at no point did anyone copy anyone else's patterns.

      Historical designs don't suddenly become off-limits when a new designed draws from them, be that for the theater, TV/Film, or haute couture. You can't honestly believe that the work you're doing on Bolden or Underground is now yours and yours alone when you're creating historical garments.

      And when a group of fans creates cosplay outfits for their favorite characters from the shows you work on...what then? Are you going to troll their blogs too? Are you going to claim that every historical design you ever worked on for a stage show or a TV show is now your intellectual property? That's a pretty quick way to alienate the fans of your production, and we all know that a show without an audience doesn't last long.

      Outlander is extremely popular, just like Game of Thrones and Star Wars, all productions that Simplicity has cosplay patterns for. How is this possible? Because fashion is not copyrighted. Your drawings, textile prints, paper sewing patterns...those are all copyrighted, but not the style itself.

      So once again, there is no wrongdoing here. I'm sorry you're upset, but this is an uphill battle if you choose to keep fighting it. If you do wish to press it further, please address your concerns to Simplicity.

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    5. Lauren, you are providing a very 18th-century service ... namely to disseminate and educate.

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    6. Man, this guy doesn't have much of a clue. All fashion of any kind is derivative of something and/or someone, which any decent costumer knows.

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  37. Can you please help me purchase these 2 fantastic patterns? I live in Ottawa, Canada and Simplicity is not sold here. I tried to order them from the Simplicity website but they are "back ordered". I do not want to purchase the PDFS because I don't want to do all that matching and taping. I just want to buy the printed, paper patterns. Please help!

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    1. Hi Kay - You might look on eBay or Etsy for these pattern. I think SewingReview.com also has them for sale: http://sewing.patternreview.com/Patterns/79357

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    2. I would check back at Simplicity again because they must have gotten more, I ordered mine on June 8th.

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  38. This is amazing, I just ordered mine but only got 8161 (-_-) I wasn't thinking I guess I need to order the other one too lol. Thank you so much I'm in love with this style.

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  39. I've just cut out the stays in order to make a toile and I was wondering about 2 things: with the lining and boning put in, how much smaller will the finished garment become? and does the side front need to be cut on the bias or can I cut straight to pattern match my fabric?

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    1. Hi Emma - The stays won't be that much smaller when complete - a fraction. The thicker and more boning you use, the smaller they will get, but this is barely noticeable.

      You don't have to cut the side front piece on the bias, no.

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  40. I'm working on the bodice an there is a dot mid-back bodice for creating a pocket for stays. The pattern says to stitch the lining the same way as the bodice - do they both get stays? I have never seen a dress pattern with stays in up the back - what is the purpose of this?

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    1. Hi Diane - The patterns calls for boning just in the center back and on the front edges. This is common for original 18th c. garments, and help keep the shape of the bodice, especially in areas that come to a point. The boning goes just in the lining, and the channels for it are made from the seam allowance of the lining. So just the lining gets the boning, then the top fabric is supported from underneath without the boning showing.

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  41. Greetings,
    Has anyone attempted the Swan Dress that was in Outlander? I know its way out there on the risque factor, but I'm pierced myself and would LOVE to have something so ornate and unique for the right occasion !

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  42. I just looked at the sizing for the patterns and I'm either a size 10 (bust) or a size 14 (waist). Do you have any recommendations as to how to accommodate that difference? Many thanks!

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  43. Is it too late to find these patterns? What are the pattern numbers? I looked in the fall Simplicity book and found nothing.

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  45. whatever happened to the hacks that were to go with these patterns? i just saw your video (was it a live thingie on FB? I couldn't tell where the questions were coming from?) where you mentioned hacking the cuff on the sleeve, and I've seen reference to your plans to show us how to do these hacks, but I can only find your blogs about adding extra boning to the stays so far. Did you give up on helping out us newbies?

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    1. Howdy - Shortly after the pattern came out and I started the videos, I was contacted by a publisher to write a book on 18th century hand sewing. They gave us a very very short deadline and also restrictions on publishing the content beforehand, understandably, so I had to postpone the hacks series due to time and content. That being said, the book is basically a giant hacks book, with full color photos and step-by-step instructions on how to make 4 18th c. gowns and the accessories to go with them. It comes out at the end of this year.

      We shall fire up the hacks series again as soon as we can. :)

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    2. The new book sounds great. Look forward to it. Please do come back with your pattern hacks. By the time you do I'll probably have my stays done. Haven't opened the pattern yet, but was hoping there were instructions to shorten them as I'm a short waisted girl. :)

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  46. Hi, I'm doing an Outlander dress for the Salt Lake ComicCon in September and I was wondering where I can find the hacks you were talking about posting? Thanks!

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  47. See http://www.wesleysheritage.org.uk/ and watch the rolling pictures of our museum and the Georgian town-house in London! You'll eventually see me, third from left, in the outfit from the Simplicity pattern. I get lots of compliments!

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