Drafting a Semi-Fitted Chemise from a Princess Line Pattern

What? Why would you ever possibly want to do that, missa? This is a good question, and the answer is basically, “Because you can.” That, in an of itself, is cool enough for me. I can take the pattern of my little dolly body, or the pattern I cloned off a dolly, or even a fitted princess line sloper of a human, and make a chemise. (Also, I have drafted approximately 55,237,648,119 smocks and chemises and shirts in my life, and I’m just lookin’ for ways to keep it exciting…) This isn’t unlike draping on a stand, because we’re going to make a pattern by eyeballing fit against a human form. It’s just that my human form, in this case, is in the form of flat pieces instead of a three-dimensional stand. But those pieces convey all the same critical information the stand does, and they don’t cost near as much as a decent dress form.

So, you’ll need a princess seam pattern, obviously. You can use a doll clone, like I’m using. If you have a Vicksie or a Lizzle or some other doll with a princess seamed body, you can make a copy of the pieces, cut off the seam allowance, and follow along. If you happen to have a princess seam sloper that fits well, use that.  (Look into the Moulage if you’re super-serious about sewing custom clothing for yourself…)  If not, this demo might still help you with the general zen of pattern drafting, and where straight lines have to be treated as arcs and all that fun stuff.

Shall we?

sketch from Kohler

I want to make a nice, loose chemise for under this charming 11th century number.

Kohler's under-tunic diagram

Here is Kohler's diagram, and the pattern I want to create. It would be ease enough to do with math, but I'm feeling creative...

pattern pieces

Print a copy of your pattern, and cut out the body pieces, skirt or leg pieces, and the arm.

lining up pattern pieces to start the draft.

I'm using the Center Front and Leg piece to give me the length of my chemise pattern. I lined the Center and Side Fronts up to give me my shoulder and armscye. I'm tracing pieces as I go, so you can see what I'm doing.

pivoting the side front at the bust.

If you pivot the Side Front against the Center front at the fullness of the bust, you'll notice that the level of the armscye and waist both move as you do.

arc drawn to indicate the line of the waist

In fact, if we mark the waist with the Side Front in several positions, we see an arc. This is important.

marking armscye and waist

At this point, we have our armscye laid out (orange). We want to connect the armscye and the waist. I'm marking a point just past the pivoted Side Front - this will give me some ease in the pattern, but it won't be quite such a tent.

How do I know there will be some ease in the finished pattern? Well, I’m outside the edge of the pivoted Side Front, and there’s also ease brought in by the negative area between the Side and Center fronts. That’s a fair amount of ease.

Next… The Bottom Half

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