Wednesday, August 26, 2015

1860's Chemise

I started sewing my chemise together last night and before I knew it I was almost done! I finished off the little bit I had left to do today and took some pictures. It was a quick and simple project but it left me feeling happy.

This chemise is really basic in construction. Many chemises of this era had underarm gussets but raglan-style sleeves are also an option. I went with that for this one, using the original chemise pictured below as inspiration:
Original chemise from eBay
I cut two one yard length panels from my fabric for the front and back. I cut a slight scoop for the neckline and slanted edges to attach the sleeves. The sleeves were pieced since I was using a rather small bit of material and didn't want to cut into new yardage, but the piecing isn't terribly noticeable. Plus, piecing is period. ;) The neck band and sleeve bands are just straight grain strips of fabric. 

This was my first chemise ever with puffed sleeves. I don't like puff sleeves since I've always been kind of self conscious about my arms and I feel like puffs just add bulk where I don't necessarily want it. But it's a very common feature of chemises of this era and since the original I was taking inspiration from had puffed sleeves I decided to try them this time.

Mrs. Clarks free chemise pattern is really similar to mine (and in fact is the pattern I used when I first started out!) I used that basic construction method but added a facing to the seams between the chemise and sleeves as per the original chemise pictured above. This facing makes a lot of sense, since that area will have the most friction and will wear out the fastest. The facing strengthens that area and helps keep it intact for a lot longer!
Inside the sleeve you can see the facing stitched down.
Here is an outside view of the sleeve and the facing: 

I added a bit of vintage lace to the neckline and sleeves. I've had it for a while and it seemed to be just the thing to dress up an otherwise very plain garment. I'm not sure if the lace pattern is totally period correct but I'm happy with it!

I mostly sewed it on the machine. The little bit of hand finishing I had to do was slip stitching the inside bands down over the seam allowance. 



  1. Very nice! I have been wanting to hand sew my own chemise. Where did you get your fabric?

    -Leah Kathryn

    1. I think I got this fabric from JoAnns. They have some nice cottons for underpinnings there and with a 50% off coupon very reasonably priced!


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