|First: please dont' mind any grammar mistakes I might make; I'm Dutch.|
Allright, now the review. The elegant lady's closet pattern offers two 18th century, Jane Austen period dresses, both with three different sleeve options (short/puffy, elbow length, long). The drawstring dress and the crossover dress are both rather easy to make, but not quite easy enough to be the ideal starting dress for a beginner. A starting seamstress would probably need a little help to get it done.
These are the points on the plus side: it is a well made, hand-drawn pattern (printed of course, but the original is hand-drawn), on strong and sturdy paper. The markings on the pattern are very clear and easy to understand. It comes with a great booklet with extensive and very helpful sewing guidelines. Furthermore both dresses require no zipper, which is always a good thing. . The dresses are very period correct in execution, style and recommended fabric. All sizes, for very slim als wel as pleasantly rounded ladies, are included into the one pattern. The pattern gets updated regularly by the pattern maker with corrections and improvements; she has her own website and uses the feedback from customers to make corrections and posts these onto her website. She has a friendly and personal attitude towards her customers and is quite willing to help with any sewing challenges one might face while processing her patterns.
On the not so bright side: because the pattern is so period correct, the shape of the pattern pieces and the way the dress should be put together can be confusing to the 21st-century seamstress. This is no fault of the pattern but it does make the sewing somewhat more challenging.
Also, placing the pleats/gathering of the sleeves on exactly the right spot on the bodice can be tricky. According to the guidelines, they should be very low, not ON the shoulders but behind the shoulders. In my opinion the dress turned out better with the pleats/gathering not quite that low.
In the photo you can see the difference quite well. The crossover dress on the right has the very low gathering on the sleeves; on the drawstring dress on the left I placed the gathering just a bit higher on the shoulders.
Further, the neckline of the drawstring dress is very high and modest. You might lower it just a little if you like.
I used the pattern for four dresses and I made some styling modifications to all of them.
First of all I have to say that the colouring (black/red) of the girls dresses is NOT period correct at all. However, they asked me to use these colours, I lovingly complied and I think they look adorable.
Modifications I made on the girls dresses: on the drawstring dress I added the red chest ruffles. I also used a double layer of fabric, because of the transparency of the black material. The lower fabric is thin red cotton, the upper fabric is black veil material.
On the crossover dress I added a flounce (is that the correct word?) to the lower part of the skirt. This dress also is made in a transparent black veil fabric. Underneath she wears a long red chemise.
If you click on the photo, you will see some small photo's on the right of the screen. Among these is a green dress. This is the drawstring dress in a plus size (20), made in a combination of two fabrics (uni green and striped green).
The last dress I made from this pattern is a beige one with white lace. On this dress, I lowered and squared the neckline and I think it improves the appearance of the dress. T
The pattern maker, and I as well from personal experience, strongly advice to use a thin cottonlike, 'floating' fabric for these dresses, or similar. The veil fabric of the black dresses was not great to use at all, and the green dress on the other hand is made in a polycotton fabric that is just a bit too thick. It turned out not too bad, but would have been better in a thin fabric. For the beige dress, at last, I used the right kind of fabric.