Jessamyn's Regency Costume Companion: Patterns for Women's Underthings



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L A D I E S '   U N D E R T H I N G S

Please note: I do not sell patterns. These are reviews only.
Please Google a pattern name to find a vendor for that pattern.



shifts & petticoats




stays (corsets)




stockings, drawers,
& pockets


Shifts & Petticoats

The basic undergarments of a Regency wardrobe, shifts and petticoats are made from very simple shapes but involve some fiddly sewing with felled seams and the like. However, a patient beginner should get through just fine.

Kannik's Korner 1790-1820 Shift
Sense & Sensibility Regency Underthings
Simplicity 4052
La Mode Bagatelle Regency Wardrobe


Kannik's Korner 1790-1820 Shift.

A simple, period-accurate undergarment appropriate for almost any period or class of the Regency.

Price: About $10.

Details: This is a well-researched shift pattern that should fit comfortably under almost any Regency gown. It has a drawstring neckline, short sleeves, and underarm gores for ease of movement. It includes an optional wider sleeve. Based on original cutting directions, with construction techniques from several extant garments. Includes all sizes.

Kannik's Korner is generally well-regarded as a reliable patternmaker. The instructions will lead you carefully through the techniques, demystifying underarm gores and felled seams.

Examples: You can see a completed shift at Koshka the Cat.


Sense & Sensibility Regency Underthings (Shift, Stays, Chemisette).

This pattern contains reasonably accurate basics that are reasonably easy to sew.

Price: About $15.

Details: This is a good multi-use pattern to achieve an appropriate Regency sillhouette without too much pain. The shift pattern shapes are perfectly period-appropriate, and include notes on period construction. Includes all sizes.

This is a good approach if you want one pattern that provides shift, stays, and chemisette. However, the stays are not for everybody; check the review in the Stays section below to see if this pattern will work for you. Nevertheless, even as just a shift and chemisette source this pattern has value - we would all give much more accurate impressions if we added chemisettes to our Regency-era daywear!

Examples: You can see completed garments at Sense & Sensibility.


Simplicity 4052.

This is an alternate version of the Sense & Sensibility pattern listed above.

Price: About $15, but keep an eye out for pattern sales at the big fabric stores.

Details: This is essentially the same as the Sense & Sensibility pattern, but Simplicity-ized. Most importantly, this means that "wearing ease" has been added into the pieces. You will probably have to go down a size from what the package tells you. Be sure to make a muslin first.

Also, the historical construction notes are omitted, and the pattern pieces are printed on tissue instead of heavy paper. However, the $1-Simplicity-pattern sales at my local Hancock's Fabrics make it worth these minor annoyances!

Examples: Same as above.


La Mode Bagatelle Regency Wardrobe (Bodiced Petticoat Pattern).

Part of the La Mode Bagatelle package (described in more detail on the Gown Patterns page), this pattern creates an all-purpose undergarment: a petticoat with attached boned bodice.

Price: About $50 for the whole package.

Details: This pattern is a theatrical substitute for the more complex underthings worn in period. It creates a full-length, sleeveless, drawstring-neck, back-buttoning petticoat with a boned bodice. It is worn in place of a period petticoat and stays, and is meant to provide the right line for the clothes in the simplest way. Includes all sizes.

This does give a good look under Regency dresses, but be warned: it does not work for large bust sizes, despite separate DD pieces. Even those with small busts may find that it is cut uncomfortably low and yet manages to ride up under the bosom.

If it were made in a size larger than the wearer usually takes and not boned, however, this would make a reasonable facsimile of the type of petticoats worn about 1815-1825.

Examples: This version is from Sense & Sensibility, and there is another example at the lovely site Historically Dressed.


Stays (Corsets)

Requiring medium to advanced skills, stays will make any garment look better. Some form of support is necessary for all but the smallest-busted women, unless you are going for an avant-garde French look.

Mantua-Maker 1800-1820 Corset
Past Patterns 1820s-1840s Corded Stays; Transition Stay, c. Circa 1796-1806
Sense & Sensibility Regency Underthings
Simplicity 4052


Mantua-Maker 1800-1820 Corset.

Thanks to my visitors for their many comments on this pattern! There are known fitting issues, but usually they can be overcome.

Price: About $11.

Details: As with all Mantua-Maker patterns, the illustration is awful but the pattern is actually pretty good. And this pattern is the only one available for a long-line corset, which you will want if you are large-busted, need waist or belly control, or are going for a straight-backed, English look. It is not for the beginning sewer, but an intermediate sewer with patience will do fine.

PLEASE NOTE: this pattern has been universally found to be too small across the back. Even allowing a "lacing gap" of as much as four inches, many wearers have discovered that they must add several inches to the pattern. A gap of about two inches would be more appropriate; it's very important to make a muslin first, or at least add plenty to the back panel and don't make your lacing holes until you have done a test fit. ALSO, larger-busted women often find that although this corset supports, the gussets are overly flattening and produce more of an 18th-century flat front than the bosom-on-a-shelf look of Regency-era portraits.

Multisized 2-24.

Examples: Koshka the Cat has a charming version, and a fanciful black-and-white satin version can be found at Farthingales.


Past Patterns 1820s-1840s Corded Stays.

Past Patterns are well-drafted, reliable, and historically correct.

Price: About $12.

Details: These stays are appropriate for a late-period impression, and larger-busted women may find that this is the only pattern that really works. Details include front busk (with intensive history and instructions), two strap variations, gusset construction, and intensive quilting. Past Patterns are taken directly from original garments but resized for modern figures; they include great historical notes, have comprehensible instructions, and go together well.

Recommended for intermediate and above sewers. This does involve a lot of fiddly cording work, but you can choose to do as little or as much as you like, and whether or not you do it by hand is between you and your sewing conscience.

Multisized 10-20.

Examples: There is an example and further reviews of this pattern at the GBACG Pattern Review, a good rendition at Historically Dressed, and a really wonderful version at In the Long Run.


Past Patterns Transition Stay, c. Circa 1796-1806.

Past Patterns are usually well-drafted, reliable, and historically correct - but I don't know of anyone who has made stays from this pattern.

Price: About $9 - or as a complete kit with linen fabric, silk thread, reeds, and metal boning for a very reasonable $35-$37.

Details: These are appropriate for an early-period impression. They are more like a shortened 18th-century corset than like the other quilted, gussetted examples available. Perfect for the round gowns of the 1790s, or for the persona of an older or more conservative woman of the early 1800s.

Recommended for intermediate and above sewing ability. Working with reed can be trying, but it's more about patience than skill. The stays of the 18th century are simpler to construct than later styles, due to their straight, geometric pieces and straight boning. Extensive historical background and notes add to this pattern's appeal.

Sized 8-14, 16-20, 22-26 in B, C, and D cups.

Examples: None. Let me know!


Sense & Sensibility Regency Underthings (Shift, Stays, Chemisette).

This pattern contains reasonably accurate basics that are reasonably easy to sew.

Price: About $15.

Details: This is a good multi-use pattern to achieve an appropriate Regency sillhouette without too much pain. For $15, one pattern provides a good period choice of shift, stays ("corset"), and chemisette. However, these stays are not good for DD sizes and above; they simply do not provide enough support.

A welcome addition to the pattern lineup, because these will be the easiest of all stay patterns to make, and the front lacing style also makes them easy to wear, all of which should encourage hesitant costumers to add stays to their wardrobes! My quibble with this pattern is that the gussets are so narrow, they almost serve no purpose - this is practically a straight-fronted stay (appropriate for the 1790s and very early 1800s, but not later). I would try enlarging the gussets, both in width and length, in a practice muslin to try to create more of a cup effect for a post-1805 look. I would also consider narrowing the straps, especially in front where they meet the bodice.

Includes all sizes.

Examples: You can see completed garments at Sense & Sensibility, and anielmom's version on LiveJournal.


Simplicity 4052.

This is an alternate version of the Sense & Sensibility pattern listed above.

Price: About $15, but keep an eye out for pattern sales at the big fabric stores.

Details: This is the Sense & Sensibility pattern, but Simplicity-ized. Most importantly, this means that "wearing ease" has been added into the pieces - ridiculous, since a corset with "ease" is no corset at all. You will have to go down a size from what the package tells you. Make a muslin.

Also, the historical construction notes are omitted, and the pattern pieces are printed on tissue instead of heavy paper.

Examples: Same as above.

Stockings, Drawers, & Pockets

Requiring basic to medium skills, these are nice extras that serious reenactors will want to add for a complete wardrobe.


Kannik's Korner Stockings, Pockets & Mitts
Period Impressions Pocket & Caps
Mantua-Maker 1800-1830 Pantalets


Kannik's Korner Stockings, Pockets & Mitts.

Well-researched patterns for those almost-forgotten accessories. Pockets were fabric pouches tied to the waist under the skirt and reached through pocket holes (slits in the skirt); largely out of style for the upper classes by the Regency, they were still worn by older women and the lower classes.

Price: About $8.

Details: This contains a multisize pattern for stockings, a one-size pattern for mitts, and patterns for pockets of different periods. The stockings can be made of knitted fabric (such as silk jersey) or bias-cut linen. Instructions for custom-fitting are included. The mitts to intended for bias-cut linen only. There are five patterns for pocket styles; two are late 18th-century and, while out of style in the Regency, would still have been used by older and poorer women.

Multisized S-M-L-XL-2X-3X.

Examples: The mitts can be seen on GBACG's pattern review.


Period Impressions Pocket and Caps pattern.

If you're a married woman or a spinster (a la Jane Austen), you should wear a white linen or cotton cap most of the time, for day wear at least. This pattern combines those useful items with pockets.

Price: About $8.50.

Details: This contains patterns for two fitted caps that tie under the chin, one cap with lappets (dangling decorative strips), and a pocket. Caps such as these would have been worn in fine muslin by older women of the "better" classes, and in middleweight linen by poorer women. Pockets would have been used by lower-class women and older women set in their ways.

No sizing.

Examples: A lovely cap can be seen at Historically Dressed.


The Mantua-Maker's 1800-1830 Pantalets Pattern.

Recommended for serious reenactors who want a pattern to rely on. Period-accurate, hard-to-find garment for the fashionable Regency woman.

Price: About $6.

Details: Although the pattern refers to "pantalets," the period term is drawers. Despite the non-period terminology, this pattern, with its separate legs, open crotch, and ribbon fastening, is period-appropriate—although only for the fashionable gentry. Serious reenactors of that class will want to consider them. On the other hand, these are fairly simple; you could probably fake them pretty well without a pattern.

Multisized S-XL.

Examples: None.


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