A and S Class: A basic Chemise (and Under-shirt)

Please note: If you wish to reproduce this in any way please credit me. We all work very hard and share our knowledge freely in the SCA. It would be a shame to find my work in someone elses name. Thank you.

 

Notes written for Kinges Lake College in the Shire of Eplaheimr (Ireland) for the garb making workshop each Wed night, 2014.

 

Capture3      1522 ladies bathing

 

Duc de Berry,                   Ladies Bathing, 1522.

Book of Hours,

1412-16

 

Before you start:

Below are the instructions for sewing your first chemise (female) or under-shirt (male).

The instructions and photos are for a chemise, however, if you still follow the instructions and just leave out the gore and shorten the length to just above the knee/mid calf for the male shirt, then it is the same construction process.

 

Why:

A Chemise or Under-shirt is the first layer of any outfit in the female/male wardrobe. It is Made from white Linen and it is the layer that sits next to the skin.

 

Materials:

  • 2-2.5m White Linen

I would recommend spending just that little bit extra and buying linen rather than cotton. It wears well, lasts for a very long time, is machine washable and cool. You are fortunate over here you can buy linen off the internet for around 6 pounds a metre, ask around and see if anyone else wants to go in to purchasing some with you – the more you buy the cheaper it becomes

Ikea also sells Linen for 8 pounds a metre.

If you are visiting London you can also get Linen for 3-4 pounds a metre in Walthamstow Market.  If you get the Victoria Line (light blue) right to its Eastern End get off at Walthamstow Central walk down onto the main street and you will see all the stalls/fabric shops.

  • pins
  • white thread
  • scissors
  • sewing machine
  • chalk or a pencil to mark the fabric
  • tape measure

 

NOTE:

A luggage saving tip for females:

I have been known to cheat and wear a male 16th C. shirt (almost the same cut and construction as the chemise – the shirt has slits up the side instead of gores and isn’t as long) under my 16th C. clothing to save on space in my luggage if I am wearing boys and girls clothes at an event.

 

A Drawing for an under-shirt is below:

note the lack of gores in the shirt: this is the main difference between a shirt and chemise. The shirt has split sides to allow movement around the waist, hips and legs for the male.

t

IMAGE one.

 

Measurements:

  • Neck (measurement one)
  • Shoulders (bony bit to bony bit) (measurement two)
  • Chest (largest part) (measurement three)
  • Waist (largest part – usually around the belly button) (measurement four)
  • Shoulder to floor (measurement five)
  • Arm length – shoulder to wrist (arm slightly bent) (measurement six)
  • bicep (measurement seven)
  • Head (measurement eight)

 

NOTE: VERY IMPORTANT BEFORE YOU DRAW on your fabric:

When you are drawing up your measurements onto your fabric – please remember to add 1.5-2 cm seam allowance

Also add at least 1.5-2 inches to each measurement to make the chemise slightly bigger than your body. The sleeve width (bicep measurement) is variable depending on how wide you want your sleeves to be.

The gussets that go under the arms make the chest of the chemise larger. The diagonal cut makes the chemise already wider, but if you need extra space enlarge the gussets – this gives more room .

The gores (triangles that go on the side) can be made wider if you need more space at the waist/hips.

A gore can also be inserted into the front and or back to make the chemise wider.

There are other ways to cut out and make a Chemise/Shirt – this is just one of them, but most should have a gusset under the arm and gores in the sides.

Pattern:

The basic chemise is rectangles and squares: see Image two below

 

x

IMAGE two: Pattern pieces for chemise laid out.

NOTE: the gusset under the arm folds on the dotted line

 

s

IMAGE TWO : Chemise with measurements laid out

 

Pattern construction:

NOTE: Add at least an 1.5-2 inches onto all your measurements before you start

  • Fold your material in half if it is 140-150 wide
  • Make a mark in the middle of it at the top

l

  • Mark half the shoulder width on one side of the mark

m

  • Repeat this on the other side of the middle mark

n

  • Mark a quarter of the neck measurement on the side of the middle mark

o

  • Repeat this on the other side of the middle mark

q

  • Measure the length you want the chemise to be down the side and mark it

p

  • draw a straight line all the way from the shoulder mark to the bottom of the chemise on an angle (these will be your gores)

v

  • repeat on the other side

u

  • based on where your neck measurements are, draw your neck hole as wide as you need it to be – i.e big enough to fit your head in (don’t make it too wide – your chemise won’t stay on your shoulders if it is too big)

r

  • Cut these out

g

IMAGE  twelve:

linen cut out ready to mark out the next part.

  • with the left over material work out how big you want your sleeves to be based on your bicep
  • mark your arm length on the material
  • mark the next sleeve next to it

z

  • use the last part of the fabric for the gussets cut square

 

h

IMAGE fourteen: Gusset – The gussets that go under the arms make the chest of the chemise larger. The diagonal cut makes the chemise already wider, but if you need extra space enlarge the gussets – this gives more room .

A good size gusset is 3 -7 inches depending on what you need.

 

 

 

Construction: These are the instructions on how to make the Chemise with a sewing machine with hand finishing. 

  • Before you start – over-lock, or zig-zag the edges of all the pieces you have cut out.
  • Sew the shoulder seems together
  • Iron the seams flat
  • Find the middle of the sleeve and match it up to the shoulder seam
  • Pin
  • Sew
  • Iron these seams flat
  • Repeat for the other arm

 

i

IMAGE fifteen:

shoulder seams and sleeve seam sewn on

 

  • Take your gusset and sew onto the arm and the body as shown in the IMAGE below

 

b

IMAGE sixteen: Gussets sewn onto the body

  • One of your gores will be a complete triangle (cut on the fold), one will be two separate triangles
  • Pin and sew the two separate triangles together
  • Iron the seam flat
  • lay the gores down and pin them onto the sides of the chemise

NOTE: to make it match (and to make it period) you can sew a line up the triangle gore that was cut on the fold – to make it look like it is two separate triangles. 

a

 IMAGE seventeen: Gore ready to be pinned

  • Sew gore onto chemise
  • Iron the seams flat

e

IMAGE eighteen: you can see the gore sewn onto the chemise -this is the gore with the two separate triangles.

  • take the sleeve
  • Pin the sleeve along the edge to the other edge of the sleeve.
  • you will get to the gusset and see how it folds on the diagonal to attach to the sleeve and then the side of the chemise.
  • Pin this
  • Sew down the sleeve and then down the body.
  • Pin the gore onto the body
  • Sew down the gore and the body of the chemise

f

IMAGE nineteen: One side is sewn the other is waiting to be pinned and sewn

j

  • Cut the bottom of the gores even with the bottom of the Chemise if they overlap.
  • Finish off the bottom of the Chemise, the sleeves and the neck with invisible stitch

 

Blind hemming stitch/ invisible stitch:

This is done to finish off your hood. It is used to sew hems or to sew two pieces of cloth together at an edge so you can’t see the stitches on either side of the material.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mp-HcRTZQZ0

 

 

If you have any issues with what I have written  – or you disagree with/don’t understand what is written down here please let me know.

If there are any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes I also apologise – proof reading your own writing is always harder than proofing someone else’s.

Good luck!

 

Please note: If you wish to reproduce this in any way please credit me. We all work very hard and share our knowledge freely in the SCA. It would be a shame to find my work in someone elses name. Thank you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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