One of my goals for the Historical Sew Fortnightly, both 2013 & 2014, has been to expand my Regency wardrobe.
But look, now I finally have a proper chemise, so I can stop wearing my 1880s ones under my Regency dresses!
(and I just feel the URGENT need to point out here that I’m wearing a bra, camisole, knickers, tap pants, and a slip under the chemise, so any weird shadows in the photo are JUST weird shadows!)
It’s entirely hand sewn, in a lightweight (not quite handkerchief weight) linen I picked up at Fabric-a-Brac for $5.
The chemise is classic fabric-saving geometric construction: one rectangle for the body, little rectangles for the sleeves, the extra fabric cut into long triangles to add width to the chemise, and square gussets under the arms to help with movement.
All the seams are flat felled, to reinforce them and hide any raw edges. There is something so wonderfully satisfying about hand sewing flat felled seams on nice linen!
I’ve been working on this for months, just as my bit of handsewing when there was nothing else on, but the vast majority of it got finished on a midwinter trip down to Nelson to visit my in-laws, where I sewed between rounds of scrabble and jenga.
I also got to sew somewhere quite exciting that used to be my most productive sewing place, but is now impossible except on tiny planes between obscure destinations (and even then I make sure to have my threads pre-cut, pack my scissors in my stowed luggage, and to use a needle I am willing to relinquish if the flight attendant isn’t sure it’s allowed).
To figure out the neckline, I put the chemise under the 1813 Kashmiri dress and copied out the neckline: low and square in front, dipped and round in back.
The chemise was finished well in time for the Under $10 challenge, and I got some quick documentary shots of it on Isabelle to post in the challenge album, but I just haven’t had the time to get photographs of me in it (and also, it’s been cold, and wearing only a chemise as outerwear when it is cold isn’t much fun).
This weekend I sucked it up and put on the chemise, and my corset a la paresseus, and a new pair of Under $10 stockings, and posed in the bedroom.
Unfortunately the wrap corset isn’t improving with time (sometimes I find I like initially disappointing projects much better the second or third wear), either in comfort, or in how it supports my bust. C’est la vie. Someone else will just have to wear it for me.
It’s still a really interesting garment, and at least I am very happy with the new chemise.
It fits just as I want it to, front and back, and the new (as in, not usually seen in earlier 18th century chemises) drawstring neckline provides just the right amount of snugging in. I hadn’t originally intended to use a drawstring neckline, as there are plenty of examples of Regency chemises without them, but it was just a wee bit too open without it.
The Challenge: Under $10
Fabric: 1.5m of lightweight linen (found at at fabric fair for $5, and I’ve got a 30cm or so of it left)
Pattern: None, based on period examples
Notions: linen thread, cotton tape
How historically accurate is it?: 95.99% – almost as close as you could get with a modern recreation. Excepting the bias drawstring binding, the materials are virtually indistinguishable in fibre, weave, hand etc, the pattern is period, and the construction techniques all match those seen on period examples.
Hours to complete: Lots. Maybe 8? I’m a slow hand sewer, and worked on this while doing other things.
First worn: For the photoshoot
Total cost: $5 (about US$3.5)
And most importantly…
Does Felicity Approve?:
I think we can give this a wholehearted yes: