Drafting a Semi-Fitted Chemise from a Princess Line Pattern

full front view of the Kohler chemise
measuring length
I've drawn in the side seam above the waist. To finish the side seam, we'll need to know length from the waist of the chemise to the ground.
finishing the side seam
Square your ruler up to your waist arc at the end of the side seam you have so far. Draw a line the length of the chemise from waist to ground.
edges and hem marks for skirt
I've drawn in both sides of the chemise below the waist. Since our waistline is on an arc, our hemline has to fall on the same arc or it will fall unevenly. Pick several points along the waist arc, square up your ruler, and mark a point at the length of the chemise. Connect these in an arc.

There are two things to note here: a) I’m almost positive that this should really be done with a side gore, but it’s not in Kohler’s diagram, and I’m basically lazy. Point b) speaking of gores, we just made one. That process of transferring the waist arc down to the hem creates a gore. (Creating a gore without an existing waist arc is slightly more involved. If you’re interested, I’ve got an eBook on a possibly period method for doing it. Shameless, ain’t I?)

altering the top of the bodice.
Because Kohler's diagram shows a slanted armscye rather than a modern one, I've drawn one using the pattern armscye as a guide. I've also blocked out the top of the chemise.

I will need a neckline, larger than the neck. Ideally, it will be large enough to put a head through.

drawing the neckline
Kohler's neckline is square. I am drawing asquare neckline. Taking it over to the princess line on the shoulder will generally give you a big enough hole. (Tyler has an oversized head, so I'll be cheating and adding a slit in the back.)

Next… The Sleeve

6 Comments

  1. Just out of curiosity, would it make sense for ease of movement to add a gusset under the arms? I know it’s not in the pattern diagram, but I weave and like to raise my arms …

    1. Hi, Eowyn – If the sleeve head is gathered, and the fit across the chest isn’t snug, you’ll have room to raise your arms just fine. You might run into problems if you have a really snug belt or bodice that prevents your chemise from moving. At that point, yes, by all means, add a gusset for movement. Happy sewing!

  2. Second question; in the original princess seam block we made with the velcro, I definitely needed darts. (Big tracts of land.) Do I just use the pattern without sewing in the gusset? (This seems wrong to me.) I’m trying to figure out how to adapt the dart …

    1. Eowyn – do you know how to close a dart? You’ll want to close the side-bust dart. This will open a new dart at the bust point, which we can translate into ease (which I hate in a princess line, but it will work fine for this draft).

      If not, it’s super-simps. Trace out your side front block on paper. Mark notches (match points) 2″ up from, and 2″ down from, the bust point on both your center front and side front pieces. Mark a line from the end of your existing side-bust dart to your bust point. Cut on that line from the bust point to, but not through, the tip of the dart. You want a little bitty-bit of paper holding the pieces together. Now bring the existing side-bust dart legs together and secure them in the shut position. This has opened a new dart on the other side of the piece. Conned the dart legs with a smooth curve.

      If you were sewing this as a princess line, you’d use your notches to help you match the fullness of the ease back into the center front princess piece.

      Note: depending on the hugeness of the tracks of land in question, you might want those notches to be more than 2″ away from the bust point. If the new dart opens out with more than a 1″ uptake (space between the legs), you will need to go larger. I wish I could give you a definitive guideline, but I really don’t have a set of rules in my head on this one. :{

  3. Hmmm. No; I don’t think I know how to close a dart but I think your explanation makes sense. Basically you’re switching the seam that forces the change in geometric plane from the side to the front.

    Would it work if I took the front block, taped the dart “shut”, creating a 3 dimensional sheet of paper, and then cut a line up from the bottom towards the pointy bit until it lay flattish? And then fill in the triangle for the vertical dart, of course.

    And after that I can work as before; the extra fullness underneath the tracts of land is really not a problem in a kirtle, I think. (The tracts sit on a generous bellyfull so …)

    (Side note: I have next to no sewing experience. I’ve made viking rectangle construction tunics and disliked them because I couldn’t get the arms to fit right (large tracts of land implies back width is less than 1/3rd of circumference, rather than being closer to half.) On the other hand, I am a mathematician, for what it’s worth …)

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