Riennynn the Renaissance & Regency Tailor

Adventures of a part-time seamstress

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Regency chemise in 12 photos
riennynn
From last November when I first started my foray into Regency fashions:

I always like to start from the ground up, so to speak...I guess that's the skin out.  If there's anything I've learned in my journey from 'costumes' to 'clothing', it's that the right underpinnings make all of the difference.

I for the life of me can't seem to locate the exact instructions I used, but this is a very straightforward design consisting of two large rectangles (front and back), two smaller rectangles (sleeves), and two squares (underarm gussets).

Photos shown below accompanying descriptions.

Step One
Select a sturdy but lightweight fabric.  I didn't have any linen on hand when I made this, as I tend to get inspired at 3 am.  Instead, I used a finely woven white cotton that has stood up to poking, prodding, pulling, shrinking, etc.  I cut two identical panels for the front and back as follows:
  • Length: shoulder to knees + 1 inch seam allowance (I cheated and used the selvage edge as the bottom hem)
  • Width: hip measurement divided by two + 6 inches 

Step Two
(Not shown) Cut two rectangles for sleeves.  I made mine 16 inches long by 5.5 inches wide.  The longer edge will circle the arm, so I made sure it was larger than my bicep circumference.

Cut two squares for underarm gussets the same size as the width of the sleeves - 5.5 inches here.  I traced in my seam allowance on the gussets as I was handsewing and wouldn't have the machine guidelines like I usually do.  Since I wanted to finish the seams by turning under, I made a larger seam allowance than normal.  It's a full half inch here.


Step Three
Pin the gussets to the sleeves.  They'll sit at the lower corner, as the extra sleeve material at the top is the seam allowance for the hem.


Step Four
Stitch the right hand vertical seam (to the right of the orange pins above).  Then do an origami-like manipulation and stitch the left hand vertical edge of the sleeve rectangle to the bottom of the sleeve gusset (below the orange pins in the photo above).  This creates a triangular seam, shown in the second photo.  The top point will be at the underarm, just below the bicep when worn.  The bottom point will be at the actual underarm where the sleeve joins the front and back panels.

  

Step Five
Press the seams open starting with the "point" of the triangle at the underarm.  Turn the edges under again and whipstitch down to finish seams.  Stitch the remainder above the "point" to finish the underarm seam.  Turn the armhole edges under twice and finish as well.  The second photo shows the unfinished edge where the sleeve will be joined to the main body.
  

Step Six
Open the sleeve out as before and check that all the seams are finished and even.

Step Seven
Set the sleeves aside.  Open out the front and back panels, which should have the measurements to the left below plus seam allowances.  To make the neckline, I measured from my shoulder to the top of a low cut top for the depth, followed by between armpits for the width.  Since the neckline will be gathered, I didn't worry about it seeming overly wide.  I traced in a curved neckline and cut, as seen to the right below.

Step Eight
Stitch the front and back together at the shoulders.

Pin the sleeves into place just below the shoulder seams and stitch.  Take care that the seams meet evenly at the bottom point of the underarm gusset so there isn't any funny misalignment when the sides are sewn.

Step Nine
Press the seams open, turn under, and finish as before.  This is a photo of the underarm once all seams are finished around it.

Step Ten
Stitch the side seams.  Press open and finish.


Step Eleven
Turn under twice at the neckline and sew a casing, leaving a bit of the seam open.  Turn the chemise out and press seams again.  This photo shows all the seams around one sleeve.


Step Twelve
Thread a ribbon into the neckline casing, try on, and adjust appropriately.

Total time elapsed: two and a half hours due to all the handsewing.  Time by machine?  Much faster.

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