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Sewing the Eleventh Century Chemise

This goes together quite easily, since it’s really just a series of straight lines. Shirts and smocks with the same general layout (small variations in neckline) continue to be used into the sixteenth century, at least, and I can see why: it’s easy. There’s no need for a gusset, because of the angle the sleeves are placed on. That is so cool. (If you don’t know why that’s cool, it’s because you’ve never sewn an underarm gusset by machine. They’re all sorts of annoying.)

As the Doctor used to say, Allons-y!

During this demo, I use the following skills:
  1. Blanket Stitched Edging
  2. Finishing a Seam Allowance by Hand
  3. Hairline Seam
  4. Making Decorative Knots
  5. Stay Stitching
  6. The Square Chain Stitch


pieces to cut
I have cut one front, one back, and two sleeves. All are cut on the fold.

Oh, hey… This whole thing will make a lot more sense if you know that I’m using this pattern.

pieces laid out
Generally speaking, this is how the pieces go together. You can also see how someone eventually came up with the idea of a shaped sleeve head...
shoulder seams sewn
Sew the shoulder seams.

I am, for a change, not going to be all pushy about what kind of seams you use. I’m using a french seam. (Well, technically a hairline seam, as this is for a doll.) You could just sew the darned thing and let thread monsters eat your seams over time. That’s fine. Heck, you could chuck it through a serger. I would, but I don’t have a dolly-sized serger.  ;)

neckline stay stitched
Stay stitch the neckline. I've added stay stitching for a slit at the back neckline (at left), to make it easier to put on. Ideally, your shoulder seam allowance should face the back of the chemise.
side seams sewn
Sew the side seams, from the bottom of the arm slit down to the hem.
hem turned up once and sewn
I've turned the hem up once, towards the back, and sewn in. I've trimmed this to right next to the stitches. (Trust me- I'll be doing more to this later!)

Next… The Sleeves

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