Monthly Archives: July 2012


SIMPLICITY 9454 Inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”



Fabric chosen & sewn by A. Schewe

                             CONTINUED / PART VII





 Goose Mother:  Geez, Andrea!  Sounds like you’ve done a lot of hitting the ground running!  So, now we are about to embark on that infamous year 2001.

 Andrea Schewe:  No, wait.  I forgot two patterns from 2000.  Simplicity asked me to design a Scottish/Celtic costume for Ren Faire wear.  I began by creating the basic skirt/chemise/bodice for the women with a cute hat.  I had just returned from a trip to Germany and was quite taken with the traditional dirndl, so I made the back neckline of the bodice “V” shaped; the same as a Dirndl bodice.  I also squared the neck and armhole to create a unique bodice as well as interesting.  The men’s patterns had a similar chemise as the women’s with a high band collar and full sleeve, but one view had pants with bias plaid gators to wear over the calf and the other had an easy-to-wear, soft pleated kilt that was intended to look like a traditional great kilt.  A great kilt is virtually the Scottish version of a Sari.  Basically, it’s a really, really long piece of plaid fabric that is hand pleated on the ground with a type of belt positioned under the pleats.  The intended wearer lays on top of the pleated fabric and the pleated fabric is secured around the waist with the extra fabric thrown over the shoulder; really very much like a Sari. 

The idea was to make it attractive, but easy-to-make and easy-to-wear.  These three things are always foremost in my mind when I design.  However, an interesting thing was happening.  Customers were phoning and writing in asking exactly what year specific garments were supposed to be representing.  True confession time … I wasn’t able to really say.  Up until that time, I was merely designing outfits similar to what I was seeing people wear at the Renaissance Faires. And, of course, I designed them to be easy-to-make, easy-to-wear and attractive.  I came from theater and in theater and film quite often the costumes are the designer’s artistic take on period clothing.

Well, in 2001 demand for new Renaissance costumes continued and my research and reason for the patterns I was designing at that time were all over the map.  Simplicity Pattern 9256 came to be because a manufacturer of embroidered and pleated silk dupioni wanted a pattern made using their fabric which was featured on a catalog cover. Simplicity Pattern 9246 is fashioned after the garments worn in a medieval tapestry I saw on a trip to Paris in the Louvre.  Interestingly, one of the craziest things a set of patterns was based on was the popular Medieval Barbie and Ken doll. (Simplicity Patterns 9758 and 9753)  In the women’s pattern I included the “evil” Morgan le Fay.  Merlin was added to the Men’s pattern.  I just want to say the Barbie/Ken idea was not mine, but it was fun to make.  Further, this is a point I should make.  Sometimes I will have an idea that I pitch to Simplicity and, if they like it, I will sketch it and then they will decide if it gets made.  Just as often they tell me what they want and I will then make sketches until the design is approved.  Ideas come from many places.

This next pattern, I’m not quite sure who was responsible for coming up with the idea, but this is how I think it happened.  Since there now were a couple patterns for larger women, Simplicity wanted a large size men’s pattern.  I think I was the one who suggested making it look like Henry VIII.  But, how ever it happened, I ended up designing a Henry VIII pattern based on a famous painting of him. The pattern had a couple of hats and such a full coat that it had to be split into two patterns. (Simplicity Patterns 9633 and 9650)

The art department wanted a model who looked like Henry and hired an actor instead of an actual model.  You think they would have learned something from the Caroling Costume episode. (she lets out a big sigh)  Well, because this actor was not the standard sample size Simplicity used for plus sized men, this was the one time I made a trip to New York and fitted the model in a muslin sample before making it in the actual fabrics. He was fun to work with.  I finished the costume with patterns and it was issued.  An excellent advertisement spread was placed in Renaissance Magazine and the pattern was selling very well.

BUT … it had to be pulled only a few months after it came out BECAUSE, since the model was really an actor, his agent expected royalties be paid every time photos of the actor were published.  Simplicity just couldn’t afford to do that.  Many people have requested that pattern since then.  When copies are available, they are snapped up on pattern re-seller websites.  I continue to try and convince the powers that be to let me make a new sample and THIS time just hire a model, but I haven’t succeeded yet.

Goose Mother:  It is a very attractive pattern.  OK, all you costume-lovers.  Get your pens and paper out and contact Simplicity; better yet, call their customer service department and request a re-issue!*  Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease!!

  *Simplicity Consumer Service
Do you want more information about any of our products, have a sewing question or need fit or pattern sizing help? Contact Consumer Service for helpful answers and advice. We also welcome your comments, suggestions and feedback. Please leave a message if you are calling off-hours; one of our Consumer Service Representatives will answer your message as soon as possible next business day.

1-888-588-2700 (in the U. S. and Canada)
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 Request Simplicity Patterns 9633 and 9650 be re-issued.