18th Century, 19th Century

A simple Regency chemise

One of my goals for the Historical Sew Fortnightly, both 2013 & 2014, has been to expand my Regency wardrobe.

So far, progress has been slow.  I’ve made mitts, and my 1813 Kashmiri dress is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, but my wrap corset  a la paresseus  is a disappointment on.

But look, now I finally have a proper chemise, so I can stop wearing my 1880s ones under my Regency dresses!

Linen Regency chemise thedreamstress.com

(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.

Linen Regency chemise thedreamstress.com

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.

Linen Regency chemise thedreamstress.com

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!

Linen Regency chemise thedreamstress.com

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).

Sewing a regency chemise, thedreamstress.com

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.

Linen Regency chemise thedreamstress.com

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).

Linen Regency chemise thedreamstress.com


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.

Linen Regency chemise thedreamstress.com

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.

Linen Regency chemise thedreamstress.com


It’s still a really interesting garment, and at least I am very happy with the new chemise.

Linen Regency chemise thedreamstress.com


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.

Linen Regency chemise thedreamstress.com

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

Year: 1795-1825

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:

Linen Regency chemise thedreamstress.com

Linen Regency chemise thedreamstress.com


  1. Maybe it just takes another mock-up of the stays, or one of the other recommendations by Bernhard to fit your needs better? Not every pair of stays fit every figure. I think that is the challenge when working from an extant garment & based on research instead of a final pattern, it’s a garment once made for one person, and consequently not meant to fit everyone.

    Mine were fitted in the same weight of fabric as the project fabric is, and they do fit well (but I still have plenty of lacing holes to sew until it’s ready for an outing.)

    Cute kitty picture, such a darling wee girl :-))

  2. Completely absurd that our government is letting known terrorists into our country via the Mexican/American boarder, but a woman with a 2.5 inch needle is a threat to national security? I think one would have to be a Ninja to take down a plane with a sewing needle and even then it would be a herculean feat!
    p.s. the chemise turned out great!

  3. velcro says

    You could bring fingernail clippers! I’m not responsible enough to preclip thread (especially when I’m embroidering or tatting…it just tangles everywhere), so I always just bring some clippers with me.

  4. Lynne says

    I’m with Felicity – this is charming! And I love the flat felled seams on the linen, too.

  5. It’s perfect. And Miss F looks cute “in” the chemise, too. Sometimes I think she would love to be tall enough to wear your creations as well. 🙂

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