Pattern Notes & Adjustments for Simplicity S8941

As promised, here is my really big post of pattern notes and adjustments for Simplicity S8941 1790s to Regency Round Gown and Open Robe pattern.

This pattern was originally designed in the 1790s style, with a peaked back and full gathered skirt. As is Simplicity’s preference, it was designed to be worn with a modern bra, but can also be worn with a 1790s or Regency corset.

This period of dress is an “easy” one to pattern because there is no tricky waist fitting – BUT, there is still the bust, sleeves, and overall length to consider. So let’s get into how to make these adjustments, along with a few others. I’ve made some handy diagrams – 

The biggest check and adjustment many report for Simplicity S8941 is the bust depth for the round gown. Though 1790s necklines were *very* low, the amount of decolletage you wish to show will depend on your bust size as well as personal and design preference. For my 1790s Vigee Lebrun round gown I wanted a higher neckline, so I made the above adjustment for a look closer to the original portrait.

The next adjustment was for skirt length. Simplicity patterns are sized for about 5’3″ to 5’4″, the average height of an American female (apparently.). I am 5’6″ so I needed to add on, plus I wanted an epic train. It’s an easy fix, shown above.

Above is one design adjustment and one pattern fix. The design adjustment is to straighten out the back if you don’t like the 1790s peak. Not all ’90s gowns had that peak and later Regency gowns lost it as well. I will admit that it’s a pain to keep a sash in place (I added thread loops to the center back on mine), and much easier to keep it tied with a straight back.

Also in relation to the peaked back – there is a flaw in the pattern for the straight skirt without the train. To account for the center back peak, you need to add about 1 – 1.5 inches to the center back at the top. The fix is shown above.

Time for sleeves. We all have different length arms, so here’s how to adjust the sleeves to fit you better. The key here is that the top of the dart should be right on your elbow. If it’s too low (as seems to be the case for most), shorten the upper part of the sleeve as above. Do this for both the short and long sleeve options.

Lastly, for those of us with narrow shoulders, here’s a multi-staged adjustment. This one works best for when you are fitting shoulder straps and sleeves on the body, in the 18th century method (see The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty for step-by-step instruction with photos). It’s important to add shoulder strap length as well as extra to the sleeve head to accommodate for setting the shoulder straps further back.

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I hope the above fixes and adjustment help! We want this pattern to fit everybody, but as with all patterns some tweaks usually need to be made for your unique shape.
For more information on how I made this gown, with all of these adjustment, by hand in one weekend, check out my dress diary on the 1790s Vigee-Lebrun gown.
If you’d like this post and want early access to others, as well as a downloadable PDF of these diagrams and fixes, please consider joining our Patreon.

7 Comments

  • Anonymous

    January 9, 2021 at 8:39 PM

    oh no, look at that, suddenly i have started a new project, how did that happen?? jokes aside, i absolutely love how much extra help you guys provide with your patterns! you're the bomb 😀

    Reply
    • Mrs Irena

      March 25, 2021 at 11:26 PM

      I made a mock up of your open robe bodice in blue and white stripes . I will posted it on Historical Costuming blog ….please let me knwo IF it looks about right. I slight tightnees in front at arm pits and I did cut a crescent shape out to allow for more movenet . Maybe I needed to cut more ??? Irena

      Reply
  • DAC

    March 27, 2021 at 8:25 PM

    If my bust measurement is 35 inches, and under bust 29 inches (both measured over chemise and Regency stays), should I use size 10 or 12?

    Also, are the skirt panels narrower than your original design?

    I hope to cut and sew these lovely garments on my summer break.

    Appreciate your reply.

    Reply
    • Joni

      June 30, 2021 at 2:51 PM

      I’m using your adjustment for more bust coverage, but I’m a little confused. If I add 1″-2″ at the shoulder on the front piece, isn’t that going to make the armscye considerably larger as well? How will the sleeve fit if I do that? Thanks!

      Reply

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