One Pattern, 120 Years: Adapting Butterick 6093 for Regency, Teens, and 1930s

Butterick Patterns has a set of patterns called the Retro line. The Retro patterns skirt (ha ha!) the line between costume and everyday wear: it caters to those looking to revive vintage styles in their daily wardrobe, also known as “historybounding.” Most are 1950s patterns, but they did shock and confuse the non-costuming crowd a few years ago by sliding a few 1910s patterns into the mix, including Butterick 6093, a pattern based on day fashions from 1912.

Now, folks had strong reactions to this pattern when it came out, mostly because the styling of the model was neither modern nor historical, but an odd mishmash. However, it quickly won folks over. I love Butterick 6093! It is a great simple pattern. I’ve already wrote a ton about it, so I’ll spare repeating myself again here, but if you want to read more about the pattern, you can check out my numerous blog posts about it.

I am all about versitility…and sloth. Once I have a pattern down pat, I want to use it over and over instead of having to start over again with another pattern. I made several 1910s versions of Butterick 6093, why not see where else I could take it?

So I rolled the calendar back 100 years from 1910 to 1810(ish) and made a Regency dress!

1910s and Regency fashion have a lot in common on the most basic level: high waistlines and columnar skirts. They have vastly different construction methods, though! Butterick 6093 isn’t historically accurate to Regency or 1910s construction (uh, invisible zipper, anyone?), but when I was invited to a luxurious Regency Valentine’s tea by Laura of Decor to Adore, I decided to see if I could make a Regency dress out of this pattern.

To turn Butterick 6093 into a more Regency-esque shape, I had to alter a few things, mainly the skirt.
1. I used the under-skirt panel from Butterick 6093 for the front, adding length so that it reached the floor instead of my ankles.
2. I left off the overskirt and wrap front pieces.
3. Then, for the back, instead of cutting the fitted skirt back, I added ~24 inches of width and pleated it to the back.
4. I cut a wedge shape out of the back bodice waistline to mimic the high Regency bodice backs popular at the time (plus I’m short-waisted anyway, so it fit much better)
5. Then I trimmed the sleeves with pinked self-fabric trim.

Otherwise, I followed the normal pattern instructions, including the invisible side zipper!

Is it Historically Accurate™? Not in the least! But does it make a flattering, passable dress for a fun day out with friends? Yes!

Becky is wearing a similarly styled dress, but from a more accurate pattern: the cross-bodice dress from the Sense and Sensibility Elegant Lady’s Closet pattern set.

Ah, the winsome pre-Covid days when we all gathered in other folks’ houses for dinner parties!

Just a month later, Lockdown began.

Stuck at home, I should have been in the midst of a creative bonanza! Here I had all the free time in the world– but I had no energy. It was too stressful, watching from windows and wondering what was going to happen. The depression was real. I slugged away in bed most days. But I did have one more idea for Butterick 6093…

I was going to be stuck at home, why not make a house dress? Browsing Pinterest, I stumbled upon some 1930s catalogues and old Lane Bryant ads for house dresses in cute cotton and rayon prints. I had some daisy print cotton I’d bought at Walmart ages ago because it screamed 1930s at me. Now, locked in the house and needing a project, it seemed like the perfect solution to the creative slump.

As you can see, there were plenty of wrap and faux-wrap style house dresses with wide collars to choose from! They looked so much like Butterick 6093, I knew I had to make one last transformation out of it.

To make Butterick 6093 more 1930s-esque:
1. I shortened the skirt and added a kickpleat at the bottom for ease of movement.
2. I lengthened the waist a few inches to put it more at the natural level.

I opted to leave off the faux-wrap skirt pieces, but as you can see in the original ads, you could add one or both and still maintain a 1930s look.

That’s pretty much it!

Sounds simple, right? Well, it is, but in reality, I started this project in Spring of 2020 and I only finished it last week…NEARLY A WHOLE YEAR LATER. I jokingly started calling it my “Depression Dress” because it was from the Depression Era and I was depressed so…ha ha! Dark humor.

I just wasn’t feeling it. I struggled with picking trim for the dress– overwhelmed by possibilities– then stalled out at the hem and zipper completely.

I hung it on my door a while, waiting in its half-finished state.

Then, last week I finally decided to just finish the dang thing! When I grabbed it off its lonesome hook, I discovered it was even more complete than I remembered: really, all it needed was the zipper and the pocket! I waffled a bit on the pocket: without it, the dress was much more flattering, but the crochet pocket is an antique from my grandma, and what more perfect place to use it than on the exact type of dress it was originally made for? (You can see a similar little crochet pocket in one of the ads above)

And thus, nearly a year later, I finally completed my Butterick 6093 1930s house dress!

The yellow glass buttons were a last-minute addition. I found them in the bargain bead bin at Walmart, of all places! They came in a $1 pack mixed in with other random pressed-glass buttons, clearly all made from antique molds.

Butterick 6093 is now, tragically, out of print, so it can only be purchased second hand. If you don’t already own a copy, it is worth investing in! As you can see, it is quite versatile!

This pattern experiment was also a great example of how fabric choice and accessories really affect the final outcome of a pattern. My philosophy is that if you don’t have a perfectly accurate pattern, having an period-plausable fabric and accessories can help make up for it. It also works vice versa: an accurate pattern and fit can transform a less-than-ideal fabric into something more historical looking. Each of these three Butterick 6093 dresses are almost identical in style and are all made of cotton with a side zip (ahistorical for every era but the 1930s dress version, of course!), but the different fabrics enhance the illusion of their representative eras.

9 Inexpensive Christmas Stocking Stuffers for the Historical Costumer

The holidays are here and it can be a bit challenging to find gifts to give a hobbyist if you don’t share that hobby.

For a costumer, a good pair of sewing shears is always a welcome gift or a fresh set of sharp pins or a giftcard to the local hobby shop, but here are a few smaller, less obvious gifts that make great stocking stuffers for the historical costumer in your life.

These are general inexpensive common items that can be found in big box stores or online– stuff that might not pop immediately into your mind as a “costuming” gift, but that are infinitely handy for historical costuming!

1. Tinted Lip Balm (Average Price: $1-10)

Blistex’s Lip Vibrance is my absolute favorite (Walmart, $2.50). It has the perfect rosy pink color and is SPF 15. Plus, it has a tiny mirror on the tube! I also have Vaseline’s Rosy Lips (Dollar Tree, $1). It is more slick and glossy with barely any color, but it does a good job of keeping lips soft.

Lip balm is incredibly handy to have at outdoor events, especially in dry climates (or cold ones, as I discovered during a particularly chilly DFWCG Georgian Picnic). In addition, a little sheer tint gives your lips a healthy rosy glow without looking too made-up. A lip balm with a bit of color to it is an indispensable item I take to every costuming event!

There are a variety of historically accurate options available as well, like LBCC Historical’s 1772 tinted rose lip balm (Etsy, $10). Or, if you are feeling crafty, make your own from a historical recipe, like this one! Bonus points for making a homemade gift as well.

2. Black Safety Pins – (Average price: $2-4)

I buy my black safety pins at Walmart for about $2, but you can find them in almost any big craft store or online. I love them because they are much less visible on darker and matte fabrics! In the above picture, you can see the difference between the black safety pin and the regular silver safety pin on the very matte black linen I used for my 1878 mourning dress.

The vintage term for black lacquered metal pins is “Japanned.” In the Victorian era, they were used for mourning clothes, but black pins are incredibly handy for wearing with any dark costume were the glint of a silver pin would be glaringly obvious. Plus, you can never had too many safety pins!

3. Knee Socks and Stockings ($1-35)

It’s an age-old trope: socks for Christmas? Bleck! But to a historical costumer, stockings are the perfect stocking stuffer! You can’t go wrong with a fine pair of creamy white or black above the knee stockings, but you can go for funkier designs, too, depending on your gift recipient’s personality. I have another post about historical stockings here.

I have a wide variety of stockings from basic knee socks (Walmart, $3) to baseball socks (Academy Sports, $8) to trouser stockings (Dollar Tree, $1) to fancy clocked stockings (Fashions Revisited, $15).

I will say that I prefer a finer, even knit stocking, not necessarily sheer, just a smaller thread/stick size, like a modern dress sock. Chunky, textured, or coarse knits can cause rub spots in shoes…a not-so-nice situation if you’re having to walk around uneven ground outside all day.

You can find a huge variety of fantastic knee and over-the-knee socks online at places like Sock Dreams or Ozone Socks! For luxurious historical repros, there’s the  American Duchess stocking line or Fashions Revisited.

4. Hair Donuts, Hairpins, and Hair Ties ($1-6)

Historical hair can be hard. A hair donut makes it easier! What on earth is a hair donut? A hair donut is just a puffy circle of fine mesh that helps make perfectly smooth buns easily. They are readily available from Dollar Tree, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Sally’s Beauty Supply–or just about anywhere you can find hair accessories– and usually cost just a few dollars.. They come in a variety of sizes and colors like blonde, brunette, black, and red to help blend better into the hair. You can find hair donuts in singles or in kits.

A packs of hairpins/bobby pins and hair ties in the right color to blend into the hair are also wonderful. Hairpins and hair ties always seem to vanish after a while, so getting extras are usually a very welcome surprise. I like Goody’s Ouchless hair ties, myself (Target/Walmart, $5). They come in a variety of natural hair colors.

5. Shoe Laces ($1-12)

This may be a bit out of left field, but shoe laces are very handy to have around the sewing room. They can become a drawstring in a skirt or purse and lace up a corset. Shoelaces with metal ends are especially nice and more historically accurate (The technical term for the tips is “aglets” and they have been around for centuries). Look for solid-color flat ones in the kid’s section which work great for purses or extra-long (84″+) round ones by the men’s workboots that are ideal for corsets.

6. Cute Paper-Cutting Scissors ($3-10)

Every seamstress has a preferred type of sewing shear, so if you’re planning to get them a new pair, ask them what type they prefer. However, for just a quick gift, it’s equally handy to get a pair of scissors for cutting pattern tissue, too. Find a fun pair! An all-purpose pair of scissors with a cute handle makes it easy to tell the paper-cutting scissors from the fabric scissors. You can never have too many pairs of scissors of all types!

7. Faux Pearl Jewelry ($3+)

Pearls are classic and have been treasured since ancient times. The great thing about a strand of pearls or a pair of pearl drop earrings is that they are timeless: they can be worn with any era of costume from Roman to Renaissance to Victorian to Retro. If you’ve got the budget for real pearls, kudos to you! But quality faux pearls are affordable and widely available anywhere that sells jewelry like Target, Kohls, Claires, etc. One of my favorite costuming necklaces is a $10 strand of glass pearls from Walmart.

If you have a few extra dollars to invest in a gift, there are several historical costume jewelry sellers as well, like Dames a La Mode or K. Walters at the Sign of the Gray Horse.

8. Long Evening Gloves ($8-25)

In the past, folks generally wore gloves when they went outside no matter the season. Gloves have mostly fallen out of fashion in our modern world and finding vintage examples can be difficult. That’s why stretchy costume gloves are so great! Places like Party City and bridal shops generally have them year round in a variety of colors. Plain black, white, and ivory are the easiest to find and the most versatile, though if your giftee has a fave color, you can certainly find it online. They come in lots of colors!

9. Book Phone Case ($10+)

Lots of costumers like to use a cell phone cover designed to look like a little leather-bound book to hide this indispensable bit of modernity. I love my book phone case! Book phone cases are not one-size-fits-all, so if you plan to get one as a gift, make sure you know the model of your giftee’s phone. Unlike the other items on this list which you can find easily in stores, this one you’ll probably have to buy online. You can find genuine leather ones ($25-50) or  faux-leather ones ($10-25).

Of course, each costumer is different, so not all of these gifts are 100% perfect for each person, but they might give you some ideas.There are plenty of other little gifts you can use as stocking stuffers (measuring tapes, pins, etc.) for your favorite historical costumer. If in doubt, though, just ask them what they want! They’ll be able to tell you more specific items.

HAVE A SAFE AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!