Tag Archives: chemise

Pretty white tops or: omgitworked!!!

16 Sep

What worked? Well…. Let me tell you the story. I am SO pleased with myself 🙂 although possibly I should just be pleased that the person who drew up the pattern draft was very competent? *ponders* Nah, there was a lot of my own cleverness in there too!

This, this! I made this! From Tudorlinks, a wonderful site with a number of original patterns for historical clothing.

Front View, Lady's Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893

 

And that’s as big a picture of the finished product you get. It’s called ‘Lady’s old-fashioned chemise‘.

Now see why I’m so proud of myself. I made one that actually works, fits me well, and that regular readers of my blog will already have seen before. These meagre pictures are solely what I created my pretty white linen top from:

Front Piece, Lady's Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893Back Piece, Lady's Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893Front & Back Yokes, Sleeve & Sleeve Band, Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893

And these instructions:

This 1889 pattern was reprinted in 1893 and it can be used at least as late as that date, though this yoked style was in use from the crinoline era.

Note also that there is a misprint on the back yoke. The part marked “Top” is actually the centre back. We have correctly labelled Top and CB in red.

We do not have the scale measures for drafting this garment, so draft to the size given and then alter to fit.

That’s all I had to go on. I’d like you, dear readers, to note that these are inches, and I’m Australian. I am not too bad at working with inches as my mum, when teaching me to sew used imperial or metric in a kinda random manner, (although she learnt in inches, as a science teacher she quickly learnt metric when it was brought into Australia). I ended up using either kinda randomly too, but for the difficult stuff I always use cm because they make the most sense, and besides everything else in my life has been done in metric so of course I’m by far the best at metric, and this project was difficult!

Measuring systems aside, I managed to get this out of this meagre pattern! (I love the way linen creases so I’m making no apology for its unironed state :-).

So how did I do it?

I printed out the pattern pieces given, and the line drawing, and worked my way through each piece, drafting it onto paper. I added in a bit more of a bust dart and length into the front yoke piece, seeing how I usually need an FBA, and I concentrated the gathered sections to be over the bust at front and in the middle of the back. My experience from sewing old-fashioned nighties showed me that’s where it’s most flattering to add gathered ease in. In the original chemise draft it is evenly gathered along the yoke, front and back. Then I added in my seam allowance. (1.5cm coz I cut my sewing teeth on the Big 4, and that’s what they use.)

I had about 80cm of white linen left over from another project, and I decided to try for a wearable muslin. I love wearable muslins! I’ve also learnt if I’m aiming for a wearable muslin to make it up in fabric I like. Using fabric lying around unused because I don’t like it kinda defeats the purpose of the ‘wearable’ bit.)

Fitting

Initially I figured the yoke section would be too small across the shoulders on the general principle of people being smaller back then, but took a punt on it as drafted, because when I measured my shoulders and the pattern yoke width, they seemed to match up pretty well. And … it fits perfectly 🙂 I suspect it would fit well over a range of sizes actually. On someone smaller across the shoulders it would just sit further out. On me the edge of the yoke hits the tip of my shoulder right where it should in a properly fitted shirt.

The sides fall shorter than the centre front and back, which is very obvious in the second and third photo.  But the length for both front and back pieces are even, so I think that is just the pattern. That they are even suggests to me I got the proportions of the ‘FBA’ right and that this pattern is just drafted to be shorter at the sides. I like it. It’s a flattering gentle curve. I also think at a more chemise-y length it would work nicely as well. If it doesn’t appeal, you could just lengthen it at the side a bit.

The length of the chemise I squeezed out of my fabric was just odd, neither top nor tunic nor dress, so I sewed in some wide horizontal tucks to bring it up to a definite shirt length. I then found some pretty gathered broderie anglaise style lace in my stash that I finished the hem with. It’s so pretty! All feminine and soft and gently sitting round my body in a way that is comfortable and loose and floaty, or all pretty and flattering to my little waist with a belt or sash round the waist.

 

Construction notes

Rather than sewing the yoke together at the centre front, I sewed the pieces separately (I lined the yoke with some cotton batiste) and put some fake pearl buttons on it. I didn’t bother with doing them to properly button and unbutton because I didn’t need it to open to get it over my head. I just sewed the front yoke together with the buttons.

 

The biggest issue I had in putting the whole thing together was the sleeves. Honestly? I’m used to sleeves being cut INTO, not set OUT from the bodice. My modern perspective meant it took me a while to work out what to do with them, what bit to attach to what other bit. The sleeve band is shaped too. Another thing to confuse the uninitiated. It took a few goes and lots of unpicking to get it right. *phew*

My arm is waaay bigger than the sleeve band so I didn’t sew it together at the underarm, and then left the sleeve bit open far enough down to accommodate my modern-sized frame and bowhunter-y arm muscles. It’s really comfortable, which I’m glad of. I really didn’t know how comfortable adding a supposedly sleeve-like affair OUT from the straight edge of bodice would be. But yeah, it works! It’s actually similar in feel when wearing to this chemise pattern (Which, although this silk chemise got sent to my sister, I made the pattern up in cotton as nightie for myself as well. YUM!)

Here it is inside out. The sleeve opening goes down to the bit of a corner in the fabric near the 4 corners of the ceramic tiles at low right. The band only goes for 2/3rd that distance. Did women have tiny arms back then? The sleeve piece itself goes down to the bottom of the picture. You can also see where the batiste inside yoke has pulled away a bit near the shoulder. Oops!

 

The right way out: The seam joining the band to the sleeve is messy and folds out to show on the outside at the bottom of the band where it’s narrower than my seam allowance. If I made it again, I’d make lengthen the sleeve band to fit my actual arm properly, and if it was too narrow to hide the seam properly I’d either widen the band a bit or handsew the inside band down. I hate handsewing so it would be the first option, being entirely honest 😛

I do, however like the way the band is shaped to be wider at the top than the bottom. Just looks nice when the seam is behaving itself 🙂

Conclusion

LOVE it! And I’m keen to try some other vintage and historical pattern drafts floating round the internet, some of which I’ve outlined in this post here.And oh boy am I proud of myself for working out how to draft and make this chemise!

What sewing achievement are you particularly proud of? I’d love to hear 🙂

 

 

Simplicity 9769, or: the unauthentically silk chemise

22 Jul

My sister’s great, and needs spoiling, especially for her birthday. So I made her this (the dupioni silk chemise, that is, not the collection of fridge magnets and list of gardening tasks!) Apparently silk is historically inaccurate for undergarments, as pre-modern-washing machine laundering wore silk undergarments out far too quickly, even for very rich people. Linen was the undergarment order of the day. I honestly can’t remember where I read this, but it was on the interwebs so it must be true, right? 😉

Of course, it never occurred to me to iron the chemise before taking photographs. Besides, knowing my luck I’d manage to melt the polyester lace.

from this pattern:

Here are a few highlights:

The neck yoke ended up clearly being waaay too wide for my sister (hey, she lives in London, I live in Darwin, Australia. Fitting, especially for a surprise present, was a little difficult!) So I found this gorgeous lilac ribbon in my stash, and threaded it through the narrow neck yoke so she could gather it to fit. I also added pearl buttons, just because…  🙂

My first ever triangly insert thing at the base of the sleeve. (Oh, what is the proper name them? I’ve forgotten 😦  )

More lovely lace around the hemline.

And as a finishing touch, I made her some satin-silk bloomers from the colette madaleine mini bloomers pattern, previously made and blogged about here.

Photo

  • Fabric/trims/notions used
White silk dupioni
White satin silk
oodles of lace
pearl (fake!) buttons
lilac ribbon
  • Inspiration

Years ago someone gave me 3m of white silk dupioni for my birthday. He said when he went to buy it, the women at Spotlight reckoned 3m was a good amount, I could sew most things out of that much. And to get white so I could dye it another colour if I wanted.

This someone is now my ex – and became my ex not long after this present. (Although I don’t think the present had much to do with it either way!) I just felt a bit … off … about using it for myself so it sat in my stash for years. Then while working out christmas and birthday presents last year (My sister’s birthday is close to christmas) I thought of making her a lovely nightie. (not too hard to get the fit right, and I could make it really lovely, something she’d never find in the shop. And the silk dupioni, now long rendered neutral in feeling, sprang to mind.

  • Construction notes

I flat-felled all the seams, as I’ve found on my own  nighties that’s the most comfortable kind of seam to lie on. As all the seams in this pattern are basically straight, it was very easy to do them.

The sizing chart wasn’t much help, as the size is essentially determined by the width of the shoulders, not the bust/waist/hips, so I had to guess. I measured it on myself, then went down a size as my sister is smaller than me. It turned out HUGE, hence the lilac ribbon to draw it tighter. Apparently it was still far too big on her anyway. Oh well.

The width of the actual chemise was crazy-wide too so I cut it a bit smaller too – just eyeballed it.

The instructions were clear and easy to follow. The underarm/sleeve gusset (aha! finally remembered the word!) was easy to achieve, following their instructions.

  • Last word

Well… as sewing goes it was a spectacular success. A beyooootiful lingerie set. But, sadly, as presents go it wasn’t. Oh dear. You see, my sister lives in London, and my innocent self thought she could wear this as her Summer Nightie. However, my sister explained very gently to me, she only wears a summer nightie for less than 3 weeks each year. Basically it’s so darned cold in London she wears long-sleeved jammies all year round.

Oh. *gulps* I knew England was cold and damp and miserable all the time but I didn’t realise it was that bad.

However, she found the mini-bloomers lovely to wear as a slip-substitute under her work-dresses. YAY!

So I suggested, rather than all my hard work and love in every stitch go to waste have it sitting unworn in a cupboard forever, she sent it on to a dear friend of mine who loves a poet-shirt style for her night attire, and … lives in Florida. A lot more opportunity there to wear a nightie like this.

My friend was the happy recipient of the set 🙂

However in the end, my sister’s birthday wasn’t a resounding present-failure. Over the years, through op-shopping, I’ve collected some very nice silk camisole-slips of the slinky wear-so-your-bedmate-can-take-it-off kind. Or maybe you’re supposed to wear them under a dress for warmth?

I ended up never wearing them. Not my style of bed attire and I don’t need added warmth in my clothes! (And my partner, in that mysterious way men have, seems to find the shapeless tent night attire more alluring. Something to do with invoking his imagination, apparently …???) I asked my sister if she’d like those as a present instead? She did, I sent them off.

I got a call when they arrived. “Imogheena! They’re fabulous! I showed A___ [Her bedmate] and he was very impressed that you sew such gorgeous things.”

“Oh… ah, well… I didn’t actually sew those… ” and I ‘fessed up about the op-shopping.

“Oh. Oh dear. I er, told him you sewed them.”

“Oh that’s alright, I don’t mind A____ thinking I sewed them!”

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