How to Sew a Simple Chemise with Drawstring Neck and Cuffs

Sewing a chemise can be as simple, or as difficult, as you want it to be. This is one of the simplest versions. Combined with your Simple Chemise Pattern, these sewing directions are all you need to produce a chemise. Well, I mean, you’ll need some fabric, too, and some thread and a sewing machine would be awfully handy, but you get the idea. Shall we?During this demo, I use the following skills:

  1. Zig-Zag Edges
  2. Hairline Seam

If you're working to human size, use these instead:
  1. Zig-Zag Edges
  2. French Seam

Please note: I’m using fully finished seams because, outside of Dollandia, chemises get washed. Ideally, they get washed a lot. I want to protect my seams from degrading in the wash. I’m using a similar, smaller technique to sew for dolls because I like the pain the way it looks. I’m a very hyphenated little girl sometimes….

The simple chemise pattern.

Start with your simple chemise pattern. Cut out the pieces along the seam allowance and fold lines.

laying out the body

Place the Body piece of the pattern on fabric that has been folded in half. The long edge of the piece, marked 'fold' should be placed exactly on the folded edge. Pin in place.

cutting the body piece

Cut the fabric along the edges of the pattern piece. Take your time - you can only sew as well as you cut.

cutting the sleeves

Do the same with the sleeve pieces. Remember, you need 2 each of the body and sleeve.

pinning the body pieces

Unfold each of the body pieces, and pin them together at each side (from armscye notch to bottom).

The body, sewn at sides

Sew the side seams at the designated seam allowance. Turn the body right side out. I've used hairline seams here, but you could just use a straight stitch (read: normal) seam.

Next: the sleeves….

3 thoughts on “How to Sew a Simple Chemise with Drawstring Neck and Cuffs

  1. missa says:

    Hi, Murlean,
    I’m glad you’ve found the site helpful. You’re totally right in thinking that this type of chemise is a perfect beginner project. Did you read the patterning instructions at http://localhost/~mailtest/sempstress/demo/how-to-draft-a-simple-chemise/ ?
    I can’t tell you exactly how much fabric you will need – that depends on your size and how long you want to make the chemise. 3-4 yards is a good guess for a hip-length chemise for an average size. Since you’re handsewing, you will need your fabric, thread, the elastic you want to use (1/4″ wide will do), pins and needles, and a scissors. Additionally, to make the pattern you’ll need a pencil, measuring tape, and paper (left-over wrapping paper works well).
    Converting the drawstrings to elastic is very easy – simply thread elastic through the channels, adjust until it’s comfy, and sew the ends of the elastic together. (Overlap them by about an inch.)
    If you’re looking for step-by-step instructions with a full supply list and accurate yardages for fabric and notions, you might be best off with a commercial pattern. There are a lot of chemise and nightgown patterns in patternbooks – check the costume and sleepwear sections!

    3 years ago | Reply

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