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View Full Version : "easiest" CW pattern line



RebeccaMI
02-21-2007, 03:50 PM
I know there are a lot of pattern lines out there for ladies' garments of the Civil War time period: Simplicity's "Fashion Historian", Galla Rock, Past Patterns, and probably lots of others. I've read that Simplicity made changes to the patterns from Martha McCain's original work, but the advantage of Simplicity patterns is that I can get them on sale for $1 or $2 and they are like modern patterns with instructions and tissue paper pattern pieces you cut out, etc. Other pattern lines, like Galla Rock and Past Patterns, cost more and then would have to be shipped to me. If I'm going to spend more than just a few bucks, I want to make sure that what I'm getting is something that I am able to use since I would still consider myself to be a beginning sewer (maaaaaaybe on the very bottom rung of intermediate).

So, the Cliff's Notes version: I'm wondering what folks think is the pattern line that best combines easy-to-follow instructions with historical accuracy.

MargaretO'Grady
02-21-2007, 04:28 PM
Pseudo-beginner seamstress in the general sense of the word...I've done the beadwork on friend's dresses, but friend has sewn my best dress because she knew I'd sew myself to it if I tried hehe we're slowly striking out on our own. The good ladies here recommended Past Patterns last fall, and the patterns are simple enough that I've made a wearable gathered bodice in a little over 15 hours overnight - sans coffee or someone to help with the fitting :D While it does need the extra pair of eyes to fix the length in the back, it's actually quite decent considering the sewing circumstances. Definetely worth the price of the pattern, and the paper's nice and study too!

Another wonderful place is Mrs. Clark's Sewing Forum, for sewing guidance, research, and networking. They make everything look so simple!

Spinster
02-22-2007, 01:05 AM
Simplicity patterns often go the long way around the world to construct the garment---when a period technique would be easier, quicker, and fit better.

Your mileage may vary but in my experience......

If you are a "sizable" woman, either in girth or height, Galla Rock patterns are scaled to fit women of frontier proportions--tall, muscular Arkansas women. Sizes run fairly true to modern size, whether one is a bosomy 12 or a bosomy 24

Past Patterns are porportioned for a more medium sized build, and are more difficult to adjust for the over endowed--with our biggest fitting challenge being a set of 'football' shoulders on one family member.

Dealing with multi-sized patterns is not difficult--fold under the excess and go right on, or trim it off if it suits you.

No matter what, you will still have to make a fitting muslin for the bodice of any mid-19th century dress. It does not matter how good the pattern is--it is simply not tailor made for you, in a period when women's clothing was custom fitted to the wearer.

ElizabethClark
02-22-2007, 01:08 PM
The difficulty comes in here: what I consider easy (even when I was a novice historic sewist), someone else might be confused by, as we have different learning styles.

That said, the Martha McCain patterns *can* be a good base--but you'll want to change some of the ways things go together to get to actual historic methods, though, because apparently Simplicity got scared of actual historic techniques. :) There's an article in the Compendium section on Dressmaking in the site below my signature that has some tips for using them. Past Patterns, Fig Leaf, Homespun, Galla Rock, Laughing Moon, Truly Victorian, and other specialty publishers don't tend to have the modern stuff gunking up the directions (taking the long way round, as Mrs Lawson said), *will* have a lot of historical information included, and taken step by step, are no more intimidating that any other pattern.

If you attend a few events with a merchant area, you'll have a chance to see various patterns first-hand, and buy without postage costs. You won't find them on $1 sales like big-publisher costume patterns, though. Keep in mind that a good pattern becomes your base for many, many styles. Once you have the basic shapes adjusted for your figure, you can use that one pattern to make virtually ANY mid-century style, so it becomes a one-time purchase.

chatrbug
02-23-2007, 07:39 AM
i dont find the simplicity ones all that simple...some are, but some can be downright confusing (ive been sewing for 20 yrs now... started when i was 12). i cant yet compare the other ones that elizabeth mentions, but i have a past patterns on the way...so in a few weeks ill be able to compare... btw...elizabeth has been an awesome help to me on getting everything right! hopefully one day i will know all that she does.

xamier
02-23-2007, 03:40 PM
Hi:
I learned to sew on period patterns and actually have problems with modern patterns in both period clothing and modern clothing. :rolleyes: I think that there is an advantage in being a beginner working on good period patterns, you donít have a lot of ďhow it should be" ideas cluttering up what you are learning to do.:D

As to patterns, I really like Gayla Rock patterns even though I have a smaller frame and do have to adjust the fit of the shoulders and sleeves.

I just cut the pattern out to my size, (this keeps me from being tempted to share the pattern with friends, which is not cricket and makes the pattern easier to work with) I make a muslin including at least one sleeve, adjust it to fit and then use that as my pattern. On any subsequent dresses, I make the muslin out of the lining fabric, check the fit and then cut out the good fabric using the lining for the pattern.

I also would recommend Past Patterns, they are every bit as good as Gayla Rock in my experience. (I canít say why I like Gayla Rock better, I just do)

While simplicity can be used, I think it is better to get a really good period pattern to make your basic bodice.

Respectfully,
Betty Morgan

EFA
02-24-2007, 06:33 PM
I like the Simplicity line. I'm currently working on a corset from their line. And while it's unlined and not exactly right it's coming together pretty well. I just have one edge to bind and a little trim to attach and it's finished. I haven't gotten into their dresses yet, but I have many of their Fashion Historian patterns and am going to attempt a few dresses for some fall encampments. I've used patterns from Amazon Dry Goods as well and they carry several excellent lines of patterns with fairly easy to follow instructions. If you need any advice you're welcome to message me and I'll give you as much help as I can.

Beth

catspjamas
02-28-2007, 09:28 AM
I was/am a beginner when I made my first period outfit, a Past Pattern Garibaldi shirt and it was very easy. So easy that I made 3. One of the reasons I chose it was, it wasn't fitted, but tucked. I now feel a bit more confident in my sewing, and I'm ready to tackle a fitted bodice.

Joni

ElizabethClark
03-02-2007, 07:25 PM
Joni, that's a good point. If a person is new to sewing, and feel hesitant about their fitting skills, there are two things that help a lot. One is having a nice mentor to help out, and the other is choosing a dress style that's forgiving, like a gathered-to-fit bodice. It's still controlled fullness and a one-piece dress, but it's simply gathering and stitching on a waistband, instead of trying to perfect darts the first time out, which can be really intimidating. No reason it has to be, especially since many of us are relying on cotton prints for budget and climate reasons, and gathered-to-fit bodices are very commonly done in cotton in the period! It's a great solution all around.

RebeccaMI
03-06-2007, 11:04 AM
If you are a "sizable" woman, either in girth or height, Galla Rock patterns are scaled to fit women of frontier proportions--tall, muscular Arkansas women. Sizes run fairly true to modern size, whether one is a bosomy 12 or a bosomy 24.

Past Patterns are proportioned for a more medium sized build, and are more difficult to adjust for the over endowed--with our biggest fitting challenge being a set of 'football' shoulders on one family member.

So let me see if I understand you correctly. If I am 5'5" and have a 30" waist but I'm rather bosomy, it sounds like Galla Rock would be a better bet for me than Past Patterns?

MissMaggie
03-10-2007, 05:25 AM
So let me see if I understand you correctly. If I am 5'5" and have a 30" waist but I'm rather bosomy, it sounds like Galla Rock would be a better bet for me than Past Patterns?

Ma'am,
I took Carol Ann's bodice fitting class last summer and she started with the past patterns pattern for all her students from the slender young things to the umm...well, my types (and lets just say that I need to bend over to see my feet) though my waist is about 32 inches. Its really all about knowing how to alter a pattern and then working with fitting muslin. I am currently going to school majoring in costume production for theatre and nothing we make for a show goes into real fabric until it has been made and fitted in muslin first.

RebeccaMI
03-10-2007, 11:35 AM
I accept the fact that no pattern is going to be a perfect fit right out of the envelope. Everything, even the modern garments I sew from modern patterns, needs some fussing. I guess perhaps I should have asked which of the two lines would require less fussing-with for me.

celtfiddler
03-10-2007, 02:35 PM
So let me see if I understand you correctly. If I am 5'5" and have a 30" waist but I'm rather bosomy, it sounds like Galla Rock would be a better bet for me than Past Patterns?

I'm 5'4" somewhere around a 30" waist and a 38C chest--I'm fortunate, past patterns require a minimum of tweaking for me. I've never used Galla Rock, so I can't speak to what their patterns are like.

RebeccaMI
03-10-2007, 08:56 PM
I'm a 34D. I was going to post that originally, but didn't know if it was appropriate.

I found out today that one of the two local fabric stores carries the Past Patterns line. Yay! They have to order them from the Kentwood store, which is maybe an hour away from here, so it takes a few days... but it still beats paying shipping. The regular prices (on pastpatterns.com) for the patterns I ordered are $12 and the fabric store has them for $14, so that's very cool I'd say.