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Tag: Chemise

How to Sew a Chemise Really, Really Fast

Sometimes, you need to sew a chemise and you don’t really want to spend a lot of time on it. Either you’re out of time, or the thought of sewing just one more chemise in your life inspires a sense of soul-crushing despair. Anyway, I’ve worked out a couple tricks over the years to get the stupid things sewn as quickly as possible, with a bare minimum of hand work, so that they still come out looking decent.

Warning: I’m about to go through a lot of things that are simply not best practices. (That’s why it’s called cheating.)


Pattern Cheat for Sewing Underarm Gussets Faster

An underarm gusset is a square (usually) of fabric inserted between the body and sleeve of a shirt. They give you an improved range of motion without a lot of bulk around the arm. There are examples going back to the sixteenth century. My mother remembers by great-grandmother adding them to her husband’s shirts so he wouldn’t rip the seams under the arm. Just the other day, I saw directions in Threads magazine on adding a gusset to a shirt. The problem with gussets, though, is that they’re a pain in patouty to sew. If you need to do them fast (or really really small), there’s an easy way to cheat out your pattern.


Pics of the Eleventh Century Chemise on Tyler

I finished the chemise. Yay! Technically, it’s taken from a pattern Kohler gives for a coat (A History of Costume, pg 136). His text claims that a chemise would be cut in the same way, but with shorter sleeves. I went a little embroidery-happy on this, so maybe it is more like a cote. I might make a plain one for underneath and dye this one a festive color. I haven’t decided yet…

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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.)

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Drafting a Semi-Fitted Chemise from a Princess Line Pattern

What? Why would you ever possibly want to do that, missa? This is a good question, and the answer is basically, “Because you can.” That, in an of itself, is cool enough for me. I can take the pattern of my little dolly body, or the pattern I cloned off a dolly, or even a fitted princess line sloper of a human, and make a chemise. (Also, I have drafted approximately 55,237,648,119 smocks and chemises and shirts in my life, and I’m just lookin’ for ways to keep it exciting…) This isn’t unlike draping on a stand, because we’re going to make a pattern by eyeballing fit against a human form. It’s just that my human form, in this case, is in the form of flat pieces instead of a three-dimensional stand. But those pieces convey all the same critical information the stand does, and they don’t cost near as much as a decent dress form.


Drafting an Elizabethan Square Necked Chemise – No Math Required!

It sounds way too good to be true, doesn’t it? I mean, making patterns without a whole bunch of math? You can do such a thing? We’re barely even going to use measurements!  We’re going to use out Basic Conic Block, and enjoy good old fashion magic of the sloper alteration. If this sounds too modern, there’s something you need to know: the idea of describing a pattern as a series of steps and measurements is less than 150 years old.

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How to Sew a Simple Chemise with a Square Neck and Loose Sleeves

Sewing a chemise can be as simple, or as difficult, as you want it to be. This is version has a slightly more advanced finish on the neck than the simple chemise with drawstrings, but it’s got an easier sleeve. You will need your Simple Chemise Pattern. This method produces one of my favorite festive peasant chemises, but with a little decoration and nicer fabric, it also produces a neckline that’s a good fill for any square necked bodice.

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