Renaissance Elsa: Simplicity 1773 Pattern Review

When I decided to make a Renaissance Elsa, I knew I had to make her extravagantly simple. Which is no easy feat! Making sure this cosplay was balanced in color, cut, and styling was a great deal harder than I thought it would be. But check out my Making of Renaissance Elsa post for more information on that. This is the review of the pattern I used to create the look.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once I was done sewing it?
White dress: It did indeed, the shape was consistent with the envelope examples.
Blue overdress: Heck to the no. After 6 muslins, I finally got the bust curve and *NEW* angled front seam put in to make the bodice even in the front. I basically redrafted the whole bodice, the original was FAR too big and overlapped even though I cut it at the same size as the underdress. Big yikes. Definitely do a mock up of this lace up bodice.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
White dress: I had no troubles and the instructions actually made some things simpler in construction (like stitching in the ditch instead of hand whipstitching), so that was nice.

Blue overdress: what instructions? I threw those out the window with all the alterations I made.

What did I particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like the overall aesthetic of the dress. It’s just different from what you usually find in patterns and though this is a costume, it’s still a unique take on a classic chemise. I disliked the fit, read on to hear my woes.

Fabric Used:
A 5.3oz linen from Fabrics-Store.

Pattern alterations or any design changes I made:
White dress
–The shoulders are wide, like SUPER WIDE. Other reviewers have commented on this, and as someone with broad and very square shoulders, this was still an issue for me. I ended up cutting the 16 shoulders on the yoke to narrow them some (I cut a 20 for the rest so it would be loose all around). In hindsight, I wish I’d cut even narrower.

–I added about 4″ to the hem so it would fall at/below my knees for my tall self. I’m 5’9″ tall, so adding to the length was a must. I also put in a serged folded up 1/2″ hem because I didn’t want the raggedy edge.

–I used a 16″ zipper and used a button closure at the top for a more unique look.

–Them the BIG change: the sleeves. I went basically off book with these and used the pattern piece as a guide for length, the underarm portion of the armscye, and seam angle. I added 8″ across the width of the sleeve, cutting the pattern vertically in four spots to add 2″ each. Then I added 1″ in length so it would billow. I added a button closed cuff and a ruffle to round it out.

Blue overdress:
–I basically drafted a whole new bodice so that it lines up evenly when tied snugly. I used rings instead of just the ribbon loops for the tie closure for strength.

–The oversleeves: These are actually the original white dress sleeves! I just cut down the center and created functional buttons to be close points along the fully lined over sleeve. If I tried to recreate the steps I took to get them this way…I could not. It’s sorcery I tell you, sorcery! I did add the tabs that connect to the buttons on the straps so the oversleeve will stay upright and in the locked position.

–The Skirt: I doubled up the panels of the skirt and gathered them into the bodice. So I had 8 panels! The hemline is roughly just shy of 6 yards. I know this because I played trim chicken with the beaded trim – I only had 6 yards to go with and I ended up with 8 inches left over. Phew!

–I added pockets to the dress so I don’t need to carry a bag with me as well!

Would I sew it again? Would I recommend it to others?
White dress: I actually think I would, again, just narrowing the shoulders. The dress is actually quite lovely to wear and is comfortable as heck in linen. I would recommend to others, but take your bust (it feels smaller than the ease it actually gives due to the seam placements) and shoulder measurements seriously, those spots can make or break the fit.

Blue overdress: Find yourself another pattern. There HAS to be one that would be better, this was just a mess with the bodice being so unusable.

White dress: As this is meant for under heavy/snug garments for Renaissance Festivals in high heat, I made it out of linen. I also used all French seams (except for the back zipper and underarm, which just have serged edges) because this dress will be washed frequently and, when worn, likely take a beating.

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