The third stop on my Regency Journey is to make a chemise to go underneath the corset. The benefit of having a chemise underneath is that is stops the corset pinching, and it protects the corset from perspiration. The chemise is also easier to launder.
Another great thing about the chemise is that it is easy and quick to put together without a pattern!
Steps to Make a Regency Chemise
Step One: Measure! There are several measurements you will need. Firstly, a measurement from the shoulder to the knee, or the length that you want your chemise, allowing a little extra for a hem. (Mine was 105cm in length, but was too long and was trimmed later.) Secondly, you will need a measurement of the length and armhole-height of the sleeve. (My sleeve was a square, 20cm by 45cm, where 20cm is the length of the sleeve and 45cm was the distance around the armhole.) My gussets were 15cm squares. A bust measurement won’t go astray, either. Draw your pattern on your material with taylors chalk and cut them out, making sure you allow extra for seam allowances.
In hindsight, I should have added more to my bust measurement, as the chemise ended up a little snug.
Traditionally, the body of the Regency chemise was made up of two rectangles (front and back) with triangular gores inserted in the sides. Doing it like this might have solved the problem of the snug fit!
Step Two: Sew the shoulder seams of the front and back. For all my seams, I used felled seams to limit fraying.
Step Three: Iron the gusset in half to form a triangle.
Step Four: Sew one side of the gusset to the short side of the sleeve rectangle, making sure the diagonal fold is positioned as pictured, “pointing” to the end of the sewn “strip”.
Step Five: Fold the gusset along the ironed fold, and fold the other side of the sleeve rectangle to meet the gusset edge. Sew these edges together.
The sleeve should look like this when finished.
Step Six: Sew the sleeves to the garment, leaving the side seams open.
Step Seven: Sew the side seams.
Step Eight: Sew bias tape (or make a casing) around the neckline of the chemise. Hand sew two eyelets through the casing in the centre front and centre back, so that they are on the inside of the garment and are not visible on the outside. Thread with some ribbon and draw up. I anchored the ribbon at each shoulder so the back and front could be independently drawn.
Step Nine: Hem the bottom of the chemise and the bottom edge of the sleeves to the desired length. I ended up trimming my sleeves back almost to the gusset.
I am fairly pleased with it. It is probably a little too tight around the bust, as most chemises from this era appear a bit fuller. I am hoping that is not noticeable once the corset is over the top.
Next item on the Regency Agenda is a bodiced petticoat to wear over the top of the corset.
You can follow all these Regency posts in order at My Regency Journey.
Examples and pictures of Regency era underwear – Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion
Patterns for Regency underthings – Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion (I got some of my ideas for construction from the links on this page)
Jane Austen Festival – website