How to Sew a Chemise Really, Really Fast

finished smock
sleeve pinned in place
Pin the self-gussetting sleeve in place, matching the center of the sleeve to the shoulder mark on the chemise.
sleeves sewn in
Sew the sleeves in.
sleeve join finished
Trim back the seam allowance, and zig-zag over the edge.

Here’s the thing: the simple fact that I’m in a hurry does not make me any less hyphenated. I still like finished seams, but I’m willing to take the faster options. ;)

seam allowance topstitched
Turn the sleeve seam allowance towards the neckline, and top-stitch it in place. This prevents it from going all flopsy-wopsy.
gores sewn in
Sew one gore to either side of the front panel, starting at the hem. You will need to pin this one, because the gore has a really long bias edge.

Now, you probably noticed that this is looking really rumpled. I haven’t ironed anything yet. Part of sewing fast is knowing when to do what so you don’t have to redo anything. If I’d ironed the pieces after they were cut (or, heavens forbid, ironed the fabric before cutting), I would still have to iron it again right now so I could get all the seam allowances between the pseudo-gusset and the gore working the right directions. So…. I just saved all of it for now.

chemise, ironed.
That looks nicer....
chemise folded at center of sleeve
Fold the chemise at the center of the sleeve, so that the sleeve seam lines up.
starting the side seam
Sew up the sleeve, from wrist to pseudo-gusset.
sewing the gusset
Raise the foot, pivot your work, lower the foot and sew down the gusset. You want the two corners from the front lining to meet up at the end of the gusset.
preparing to sew the gore
At the end of the gusset, you'll need to pivot both the work and the side of the gore.
finishing the side seam
Finish the side seam by sewing down the gore to the hem.

Remember how you had to control the bias stretch when you sewed the first side of the gore? You’ll have to do the same thing with this side.

side seam, sewn
No joke - we can sew that in on relatively painless go. Gotta love it!

Now, ┬átrim your seam allowances, including anything wonky that makes it look like you can’t sew straight. (Trimming seam allowances well is a great way to look like you sew well… Just make the ugly go away. ;) ) Zig-zag over the seam allowances and hem to seal them.

Next: the Cuffs

2 Comments

  1. Hi
    just camae back from the library and they
    had photos in 1 book of the original clothing, and then a breakdown of the fabric , construction, seaming pattern. The chemise in the book had reinforcments from arm to shoulder along top, and also on chemise body where sleeve attached(21’strip).
    Where do you chemises usually wear most,(probably like socks, diff for each person)
    Thanks for you info on Fast chemises
    Lynn D

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