|1883 linen chemise (reproduction)|
I hit a bit of a road block right off the bat when I tried on the old underpinnings I had made. The petticoat had gotten ruined at one point and as thrown out, and the combinations made from a Mantua Maker pattern no longer fit (oh, middle age spread, what have you done to me?!). So, back to the sewing machine on those.
First up was making a chemise. I don't know what the deal is, but the ones I have made in the past from Simplicity patterns have always ended up huge. Either they were what I found out later were more suitable for 1830s/1840s fashions, or were just plain sized wrong and falling off of me. So, this time, I grabbed my book, Fashions of the Gilded Age, Volume 1 by Frances Grimble, and tried drafting one from 1883. The description said that the measurements given should fit up to a 14 year old. I'm relatively thin, but even that size looked like it would have too much bulk from all the cloth in it. I trimmed it down a couple of inches on the sides. The version I chose had small sleeves. Big mistake. Apparently, this was designed to fit a somewhat wide 14 year old with very scrawny arms. Unless I wanted the circulation in my armpits cut off every time I wore it, the sleeve had to go.
The illustration looked like the neck opening was barely gathered if at all. However, when I tried it on ungathered, the neckline was so big that it was falling off of me. I ended up putting tucks in the front and another pleat in the back to take up another 2 inches on each.
The chemise is made with handkerchief weight linen from Fabrics-store.com and trimmed in 1" wide white cotton lace. I think it turned out pretty well. The arm holes are still a little tighter than I would have preferred and there is more gathering than the illustration shows. I probably would have done more futzing with those aspects if I wasn't already running behind. Still, overall, I'm pretty pleased
copyright Nellie Kampmann, 2014