This is a very simple chemise pattern. It won’t win you any points for historical authenticity, but it’s a really great, “feel good” sort of introduction to pattern drafting. Historically, linen items (including chemises and smocks) were made by home seamstresses because of their relatively simple cut and construction. To draft a simple chemise, you really only need to be able to sort out a couple of rectangles.All truth told, I don’t usually make a pattern for these – I just measure and cut. Well, except when I’m feeling really lazy, and then I sort of eyeball and rip. (I really am this bad…) So, without further ado, the draft goes like this:You will need the following measurements:
What? Wait! Why only half?! When we sew the chemise, we’re going to cut this on a folded piece of fabric. Additionally, we’re going to cut it twice – once for the back and once for the front. Ultimately, we’ll end up with twice the body’s widest measure for the width of our chemise. (Of course, for a human, you could just use two lengths of 45″ wide fabric and it should do unless you’re super-ultra-skinny. If you’re that thin, though, you should probably be eating instead of sewing….)
Some people believe that all chemises should be ankle length, and quite a lot of surviving examples from the sixteenth century on (and visual references in earlier paintings) supports this idea. However, I find a chemise that long to be an absolute horror to walk in – it twists all around my ankles, and I feel like I’m being attacked by bedsheets all day. For myself, I generally make my chemises to the high hip. (Of course, I also wear some really outrageous bloomers to avoid the obvious modesty issue.) Since my doll doesn’t walk or talk, she gets no vote and a longer chemise.
That all might seem a little OCD, but it’s very important. Chemise patterns aren’t something you change up a lot, so there’s a very real possibility you’ll be looking at this thing in a year, wondering how you made it last time. I also date patterns, especially anything fitted (like corsets), so I can guess whether or not I’m the same size now as I was when I made the darn thing. If only my dress form would gain and lose weight with me, life would be so much easier…. But she lies.
Next: drafting the sleeves….