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How to Sew a Chemise Really, Really Fast

sleeve hem finished
I pressed the sleeve hems up when I did my ironing. Now, I've rolled and sealed the unsewn bit where the cuff opens, and put in a gathering stitch.

If you’re working to normal human sizes, you an probably do all this on the machine.

I’m not going to do any sort of sealing on that sleeve hem. The gathering and gathering stitches are going to prevent major fraying. This solution is surprisingly fast, reduces the bulk in the cuff, and looks neat. This sneaky cheat was brought to you courtesy of Patterns of Fashion 4. I kid you not – sometimes, the period way is the fast and easy way. Hooray for period cheats!¬†At dolly sizes, this is the single fastest way to attach the sleeve to the cuff that I’ve found. For human sizes, it’s at least one of the neatest. Fastest depends on how you are with gathering stitches and the whole stitch-in-the-ditch to sew down the cuff lining trick.

checking sleeve gathers against cuff
Make up the cuff as a fully finished rectangle. Gather the sleeve down so that the end is the same size as the cuff.
sewing sleeve to cuff
With the right side of the cuff to the right side of the sleeve, line the gathers up neatly and stitch once through each gather.

This is just like cartridge pleating, but done rather smaller.

finished cuff
When you're finished, you've got these utterly perfect little gathers and no extra bulk anywhere. Isn't that fab?
finished smock
And there's a finished smock.
closeup of hem
The zig-zagged hem is still rather ugly.
lace at hem
If this bothers you, the fastest solution is to smack some trim over it. ;)

This particular trim is much too large, but you get the idea.

And there you have it. It’s taken me almost as much time to write it up as it did to actually make the chemise….

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  1. Roxane
    Roxane November 6, 2011

    I used this same “no shoulder method on a handwoven wool gauze. Not too many cuts for that fabric lol.

  2. Lynn D
    Lynn D February 26, 2013

    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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