SIMPLICITY 9454 Inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
MULTI-TALENTED ANDREA SCHEWE
Continued / Part VIII
Goose Mother: So, where are we now on the time line?
Andrea Schewe: I think I’ve worked up to the middle of 2001. Simplicity sent me to the movies again, this time to see “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with Michelle Pfeiffer. This outing to the movies inspired Simplicity 9454. It is actually a pretty easy pattern to make and especially easy to fit because it is a loose straight dress with elastic above and below the bust. It was really fun to buy the fabrics for this and to make the circular ruffles on the cape yoke and the crown with all the gold leaves and fruit. Again, I was in the right place at the right time. Renaissance Faires were just beginning to feature fairies and have fairy weekends, so this pattern sold well and stayed in the catalog for quite a long time.
At this same time, the first Lord of the Rings trilogy movie hit the theaters (Fellowship of the Ring) and I designed two patterns of simplified costumes from those movies (Simplicity 9891 and 9887) which are still in the catalog to this day.
SIMPLICITY 9887 & 9891
The Christmas Nativity patterns have always sold very well and Simplicity thought that people would like a set of more beautiful and elaborate patterns for their Christmas pageants. I spent quite a bit of time locating images of beautiful angels, wise men, and so on. The Christmas tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York puts up a tree every year covered with really fine Eighteenth-century Neapolitan figurines, including angels and a complete manger scene. (See Photo) This display was one of my main influences that inspired Simplicity 7033, 7031, and 7029. Alas, these didn’t sell as well as was hoped and only lasted a year or two in the line.
Moving into 2002, I was being asked to make quite a variety of costumes for all size ranges. A felt company wanted some patterns made that used felt, so I created Renaissance felt accessories, which I thought were very clever and they were super easy, but they were a huge flop and were gone within the year. (Simplicity 5974) A set of easy patriotic costumes did better and stayed in the catalog for a number of years. (Simplicity 5983) The second Lord of the Rings movie was coming out; The Two Towers. My first set of costumes were still doing well, so we issued a second set of patterns; one for men and one for women. (Simplicity 5840 and 5843) The men’s pattern is still in the catalog. As a matter of fact, the Lord of the Rings costumes were doing so well, I was asked to design similar patterns for small children. These patterns had kid size versions of the adult costumes and some things I thought would make good knight and princess play outfits. (Simplicity 5520 and 5512)
Then, one of my theater costumes became a Simplicity pattern. In part one of this story of my work, there is photo of me in a salmon colored 1880’s bustle costume. This became Simplicity 5457. About this same time, I got my first digital camera and I started taking photos at home before sending my finished projects to New York. Some of the photos I took were to help the people at Simplicity understand how something worked, but after a while, I just took them for my own records. Here is a photo of my hands showing how to tie up all the strings on the underside of the bustle of the blue dress. (see photo) The flower detail for this dress is from page 165 in Victorian Fashions & Costume from Harper’s Bazaar, 1867 – 1898, published by Dover Books.
Goose Mother: Yes, I can attest to how popular Simplicity 5457 is. I get a fair share of inquiries about it. You also look quite lovely in your salmon color costume. I like to see patterns made up on real people. It sort of encourages the imagination.
Andrea Schewe: At this time it was difficult to know how easy or how historically accurate the Simplicity customer wanted my patterns to be. Actually, it’s still hard to know that. I now try to mostly keep things easy, except for some of the really historic patterns I occasionally get to do. I wish I could get more feedback from Simplicity customers … hint, hint.
Goose Mother: OK, dear readers, you have it straight from her own lips. Please visit Andrea’s website; Andrea Schewe Design. Let her know what you like or don’t like and what you would like to see. She’s your “in” to the folks at Simplicity. Your input and feedback are important to her and may help you in obtaining what you want from your sewing pattern company. You might even share with her what you would like to see at her own website while you’re there; she’s still working on putting it together. I’m certain she will welcome your input on that as well. You can contact Andrea directly at her website. She’ll be delighted to hear from you!
CHILDREN’S COSTUMES SIMPLICITY 5512
CHILDREN’S COSTUMES SIMPLICITY 5520
Andrea on stage in costume designed & made by her. This design eventually became Simplicity 5457
To Be Continued ….