As I explained in my first historical sewing post, this skill is something I have wanted to learn for very long time. I had done a preview of the mid-1800’s styled chemise and drawers a couple weeks ago and wanted to wait to give the project revue until I had worn the clothing a couple times and tested the strength of the stitching.
Now that that is done, I can give a truthful analysis of the pattern, the technique, and the practicality of this project.
To begin my historical sewing endeavors, it seemed logical to start from the inside and work out. So the first piece I made was a chemise, or lightweight under dress similar to and often used as a night gown.
I used the Simplicity Pattern 9769 as a basis for both the chemise and drawers. A couple modifications were made to the design due to personal preference. I used a lightweight, soft, off-white muslin. The entirety of the project is hand-stitched.
Full front view
Front drawstring adjustable neckline with overlap
gathered banded, gusseted sleeves
The drawers I made are split, as is consistent with the time era. They are trimmed, at the bottom of the legs, with cream lace that I found at a thrift store. It was a bit of a challenge attaching the lace because it was about a centimeter short and getting the hem even was rather tricky. But overall, the fit was rather comfortable, and the chemise tucks in rather nicely to preserve modesty.
Full side view
Front view, gathered waist
Un-tied drawstring back closure
Inside back view of front waistband detailing
I was very nervous to start an entirely hand sewn article. However, it was a relatively simple pattern that didn’t take as much time as I thought it would. I probably spent about 10 hours max on both pieces. I used double thread for most of the seam work and it seems to be quite durable, I’ve slept in the chemise and there has been no fraying, ripping, or feeling it would fall apart. I am quite pleased with how this turned out.
If you are interested in completing this project for yourself, or would like to commission a set, let me know and I can share more details regarding these garments:)
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak…”
Ecclesiastes Chapter 3