Tuesday 16 July 2013

Victorian Chemise - Image heavy

A chemise is the undermost of all Victorian undergarments, often made from white cotton or linen, designed to protect the corset (and garments) from bodily dirt. It is a long, sleeveless dress, and the neckline style has varied over the Victorian era from square or round and undecorated, to more decoration and triangular necklines acceptable for day wear (initially they were for evenings only). It eventually evolved into slips in the early 20th century.

I attempted to make one without really doing a lot of research into what was acceptable for the time period, and took the pattern from Directoire Revival Fashions 1888-1889 (edited) by Frances Grimble. Absolutely fantastic book but quite complicated to use. All patterns have to be drafted from the book, but they are very simple and have a variety of scale rulers so you can draft your size without having to make too many calculations. Just measure bust size for bodices, waist size for skirts and away you go.

The pattern, as you can see, is for a square necked chemise with lace trim and insertions around the arm holes and neckline. In the description on the page over it suggests you add fine tucks and lace to the bottom (which I ran out of time to do). The second pattern piece is the yoke which I have absolutely no idea what to do with, so I omitted it.

Restricted by both my small table and my terrible laziness, I started drafting straight onto the fabric (huge pain in the ass, and entirely NOT recommended. I only managed because this is a very simple pattern. Easiest to measure down from the fold, then out at a 90 degree angle to do the widths.

Other issue with drawing straight onto the fabric, 90 degree angles are not 90 degrees anymore

Tiny table isn't very good for sewing
Next it was just a case of draw lines between all the dots, cut out one piece, and lay it over the rest of the fabric and trace it out.

Unfortunately I derped and didn't have quite enough width of fabric. To be fair, the chemise is so massive it's not really noticeable

Stitch the sides together and shoulder pieces together, and you will have a tent. Seriously, it is HUGE, but it is meant to be. What I should have done now was gather along the bottom of the neckline on both back and front, then add trim, but I decided not to do that so that I could have a bit more flexibilty of what I wear over the chemise (think it'd look silly of I try to wear it with a v-necked Victorian bodice). So add all the trim

Lace over green ribbon around the neck, with cord so that I could tighten/loosen the neck
Green around the arm holes, just because it's pretty.

And this is it being warn under corset and skirt (ignore my scruffy face)