When Simplicity Isn’t So Simple

Published October 28, 2015 by mindfulofchatter

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I have not been here because I have been wrestling with my Halloween costume pattern. I decided to use the Simplicity 4092 pattern for to make my 18th century dress.


Now I have made Victorian dresses in the past, so I didn’t think would be overly difficult. However, I forgot I was dealing with people making a pattern, and those same pattern people may not speak English as their first language, or make assumptions that the sewer already knows certain things.

This pattern is a mess. Or at least the one I have is. The directions tell me to match up tabs. Great – when both pattern pieces actually have the tabs. I found several pattern pieces have tabs on one piece, but not the other. I even unfolded the pieces to check that was their error and not mine. The same with the dots. Match the dots it says. Okay, but I have dots on one side but not on the other. Needless to say this is making it more difficult to put together.

And there are unexplained directions as well. It calls for the top of the skirt seams to be open. The same opening was to be put on the underskirt and the pannier. WTH? Not explanation as to why, just do it. A little research and a conversation with my ever-so-smart sister revealed this was done to access pockets worn under the skirts, around the waist. I think it also helps the dress fall properly over the panniers, but I’m not sure. There is enough fabric to do that with out the openings, and opening are sewn ‘closed’ at the tops on the waistband. This is a costume, not a historically correct dress, so why are we suddenly doing historical things to it? Plus, there is no under pocket with this pattern.

The pattern also fails to mention you only need to make the underskirt front pretty. The rest doesn’t show. While the yardage table tells you underskirt back and side yardage and separate yardage for the front, it doesn’t explain why they are separate. It also states a 54″ width which is not needed. I knew about the underskirts from researching extant dresses, so mine has muslin for the back and a pretty front piece. But the average sewer would not know this. A lot of money could be wasted on pretty fabric that no would ever see.

The pannier part was also poorly written. The same issues came up – tabs on one side, not on the other. Pleating a round top piece to a square corner back piece with no explanation as to how it supposed to fit made it even more interesting. Oh, and one piece of rigilene will not hold those skirts up. It needs to be doubled. Not that the pattern mentions that bit.

This pattern is a huge fan of gross grain ribbon. The underskirt waist band is supposed to be gros grain, the pannier ties are supposed be gros grain. Stop with the gros grain already! Since this pattern call for one to wear modern unders with it, I can only imagine how much the tiny, thin gros grain ribbon waist band would cut and chafe. Ouch! Lucky for me I am wearing a corset under it (I don’t have the proper stays, so my corset will be making the smooth lines for me) and the ribbon won’t touch my skin. I put the underskirt on a muslin waist band – a nice wide one. It sits flat and comfortable at my waist. I left the ribbon ties on the panniers wide rather than sewing them in half. They are easy to tie and stay tied.

Even with all the issues, I am winning the war. I put it on this afternoon and it fits (HUZZAH!). Now I am trimming it and working on the wee bits of this and that.

Next post will have a photo. Wish me continued luck!


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