Drafting an Elizabethan Square Necked Chemise – No Math Required!

square neck chemise - line drawing

The Process

traced copy of basic block
Trace out a copy of one half your basic conic block on paper. Mark the front, back, and side line.
basic block cut on side line
Cut the block on the side line.
beginning the draft
Start at the upper corner of a large sheet of paper. Draw a T. Line the front half of the block up with the vertical bar of the T, below the top line.
tracing front half of block
Trace around the front half of the block.
pivoting the block to correct the neckline.
We want a square neck, so pivot the block around the end point of the neckline until the strap is perpendicular to the top bar of the T.
tracing strap and armscye
Trace around the strap. Trace the armscye, too, because it will be a good guide for us.

Ok, there’s two points I’d like to make about what’s going on here. You know how the strap starts out on a weird angle? It’s basically following the outer edge of the side-front piece of a princess line draft. ┬áNo joke.

princess pieces cut and aligned
Here's a princess line pattern for the same doll. See the similarities in angle between the Side Front piece (second from left) and the strap of the conic block?.

(That’s never been really obvious, because we didn’t draft above the bustline.) When we rotate the strap to a vertical position, we’re closing the big gap of negative space between the Center Front and Side Front pieces.

Second thing: Your strap, as mine, might extend slightly above the top bar of the T when you rotate it. That’s good, because we want the chemise a little higher than where a bodice would hit. If it doesn’t knock an inch or two off the strap (for a human – use 1/8″-1/4″ for a doll).

squaring up the neckline
Square off the top edge of the neckline too. This is a square neck smock, not a weird point neck smock!
finished front piece
Drop a line at the center front that extends your waist to ground length past the waist of the first bodice tracing. Extend a second line that falls from the top bar of the T, running through armscye curve. The finished shape of the front piece is outlined in pink.

Next… The Back and Sleeves

1 Comment

  1. Oh, I should mention something: you can use this method with a bodice that fits as well, in case you don’t have a conic block. (Obviously, you should skip the step where you cut the block in half!) Since a bodice usually has some compression built in, you’ll want to draw the side of the front panel out a little farther – otherwise, you’ll be asking your chemise to do the work of a bodice, and it will be very difficult to get into!

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