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Posts Tagged ‘18th century’

One of my earliest attempts at costuming was a sacque-back gown, however – as is normal for one’s first attempts – not all aspects of the gown were historical. One of my first corrections of this was to make a set of 18th century stays that would more accurately shape the torso for the dress, but because the “stomacher” for this gown was embroidered onto the front of the previous stays that I used for this dress, it meant that the gown was left without one!

An embroidery pattern for a stomacher, by Margaretha Helm, ca. 1725.

I have made an embroidered stomacher before, to go with my caraco jacket, and I really enjoyed making it! It really stretched my embroidery skills, and ever since then I have wanted to make another to match my sacque-back gown.

Pattern

In my search for ideas for a pattern, I happened across several drawings from a pattern book by Margaretha Helm, on the Victoria and Albert Museum website. Here is what is written about the particular one I chose (pictured above):

This is a printed design for embroidery, with some drawn-thread work, for a stomacher featuring a floral pattern. Drawn-thread work is a form of counted-thread work in which the embroidery threads are used to pull the fabric threads apart. This creates an openwork pattern of holes and stitching. A stomacher is a stiff panel, usually triangular in shape and often heavily decorated, inserted in an open bodice to cover the corset in eighteenth-century dress. It is from a pattern book for embroidery (about 1725) by Margaretha Helm (neé Mainberger) (born in 1659 in Deiningen, died in 1742 in Nuremberg, Germany). Helm worked in Nuremberg as an embroiderer, a teacher of embroidery and a copperplate engraver who had her designs published by Johann Christoph Weigel. The V&A has a series of pattern books for embroidery in three parts by Margaretha Helm of which this volume is Part I. It is entitled Kunst-und Fleiss-übende Nadel-Ergötzungen oder neu-erfundenes Neh-und Stick-Buch or
The Delights of the Art and Industry of the practising Needle or the newly invented Sewing and Embroidery Book.

from Victoria and Albert Museum website

The design is symmetrical but not perfectly identical on both sides. I printed off the pattern and enlarged it to the size I needed to fit the front of my gown. I traced the full-sized pattern onto a large sheet of paper (as enlarging the pattern with the photocopier reduced its clarity), and then I traced it onto my fabric and began stitching!

Construction

The stitches I used are all ones that I have found before on extant embroidery pieces. Despite the V&A description stating that the pattern included “drawn” (or maybe more accurately, “pulled”) work, I did not do any of this on my stomacher. Instead I used laid work or various types of filling stitches that provided a patterned look to the finish.

The stitches I used were chain stitch, satin stitch, backstitch, seed stitch, long-and-short stitch, colonial knots, buttonhole wheel, laid work (called lattice work in this video), feather stitch, and stem stitch.

The beginnings!

I used a blue, water-erasable, pen to draw the design. This works well for me, although the colour does have a tendency to reappear after a while.

A flower, showing detail of the laid work, chain stitch and stem stitch.

A flower, showing detail of satin stitch, seed stitch and chain stitch.

More flowers, showing the detail of satin stitch, laid work, french knots, and chain stitch.

Flowers with satin stitch, laid work, and eyelet stitch (or buttonhole wheel), plus the chain stitch stems.

Once the embroidery was finished, it was mounted on to a boned base made from cotton broadcloth and synthetic whalebone.

The back of the stomacher, showing the boning channels.

The edges were bound with a bias-binding strip and tabs were handsewn on.

All finished, with a boned base and tabs handsewn on.

And some photos of it being worn!

I wore my stomacher for the first time to a Georgian High Tea!

I have a new embroidery project on the go now, so keep an eye out for posts about it later in the year!

Relevant Posts

Making a Stomacher

A Sacque-back gown (one of my earliest costumes)

A Caraco Jacket

Making 18th Century Stays

Sources and Relevant Links

Image and Quote Source: Embroidery design for stomacher, ca. 1725, from Victoria and Albert Museum

18th Century Embroidery Techniques, by Gail Marsh – buy on Amazon

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A man’s linen shirt, c. 1775-1800, from Victoria and Albert Museum.

I have made 18th century and Regency shirts before, for my husband and sons, but for a while I have wanted to make one entirely by hand. When my husband said that his current shirt was too short in length, I took the opportunity to make a new one.

One thing I have noticed as I sew more historical garments is that, whilst sewing with a sewing machine is lovely to do, sometimes you can discover new things by hand sewing those garments that were hand sewn during the era that they were worn.

In particular, men’s shirts, with their triangular and square gussets and the centre frill at the front opening, can be a bit tricky to sew with modern sewing machine methods. I found it much easier to flat fell those gusset seams while hand sewing than I did when I machine sewed them. In addition, roll hemming the front neckline and attaching the (already gathered and hemmed) frill with a whipstitch was a lot easier than figuring out what to do with those gathered raw edges on the inside.

Pattern

I relied heavily on the 1769 instructions of Garsault, reproduced by La Couturière Parisienne. These instructions contain a very useful “translation” for all of those terms and measurements given in the original version that are not easily adaptable to modern understandings.

I also used the pattern for shirts given in Elizabeth Friendship’s book, Pattern Cutting for Men’s Costume. She had some great tips on how to calculate the sizes of different panel pieces relative to the body measurements, and also things like the placement of sleeves.

I used white linen fabric, that was 150cm wide (selvedge to selvedge).

Construction Steps

Step One: Cut out the body of the shirt. I used a 240 cm (length) of material and cut it to be 80 cm wide. I folded the fabric half widthways (the fold-line being where the shoulders would be) and shifted the fold so it was slightly longer (1-2 inches) at the back. Then I cut a slit along the fold (for the neck) and a slit down the centre front (for the opening).

The shirt has been slit along the top fold (from pin-to-pin, which you can see at the top), and the centre front has been slit and a rolled hem done to the raw edges. (The pins at the side of the shirt indicate where the sleeves will come down to.)

The centre front slit was hemmed using a rolled hem.

Step Two: Cut out the sleeves. I had material left over from the shirt body (70 cm wide and 240 cm long). I cut the sleeves to be 70 cm x 60 cm. (Sleeves are 60 cm long and can be 70 or 80 cm wide.)

The bottom edge of the sleeves (70 cm edge) was gathered with stroke stitches. For some great instructions on stroke gathers, see Sharon Burnston’s article.

The top edge of the sleeve has two rows of running stitch, sewn parallel to the raw edge. This will be pulled up to gather the edge into stroke gathers.

Once the running stitches are completed, they are pulled up to form tiny pleats. I pressed each pleat with the back of my fingernails so they sat nicely, and then sewed them with a whipstitch to the cuffs of the garment. The other end of the cuff is then folded over the raw gathered edges and whipstitched in the same way to the other side of the stroke gathers.

The edge of the cuff is folded over and then whipstitched to the stroke gathers.

In the same way, the top edge of the sleeves (other 70 cm edge) was gathered and then attached to the shoulders of the garment. (The other side of the stroke gathers will be whipstitched to the shoulder binder later on.)

Both ends of the sleeve have been gathered and attached to the cuff and shoulders.

Step Three: The gusset is then sewn in place. I fold my square gusset into a triangle and iron it. Then I place it next to the sleeve so that the two open sides face the sleeve and the body of the garment. (This helps me not to get confused!) Once all the seams are sewn, they are flat-felled.

The gusset is sewn in and the side seam sewn. The seams are then flat-felled.

The shoulder binder is a strip of material that is a few inches wide. The raw edges of the binder are folded under and then it is sewn along the seam line at the head of the sleeve. It is positioned to cover the raw edge on the shoulder and reaches down to the point of the gusset. (When stitching the section of the sleeve with stroke gathers, a small whipstitch is used, in the same way the cuffs were completed.)

The shoulder binder is pinned ready to whipstitch to the other side of the stroke gathers.

Step Four: Along the neckline, the triangular gussets are sewn in. The neckline edge is then gathered with stroke gathers, as before (although these gathers are much looser than those in the sleeves). The collar is then sewn on in the same manner as the cuffs were.

Step Five: The frill for the front opening on the shirt was a straight strip of fabric, hemmed on one long edge (and the two short edges) with a rolled hem. The remaining raw edge was gathered with a rolled-whipstitch-gather and then whipstitched to the finished edge of the front slit.

These are the instructions that I wrote on how to do a rolled whipped gather. Others do it slightly differently, but the end result is the same. If your material is not “gathering” enough, make your stitches further apart.

The front frill has been gathered and is now being whipstitched to the rolled hem of the front slit.

The frill is shown attached to the centre front edge.

Once the frill is attached, it was common to sew a heart-shaped reinforcing patch at the bottom of the centre front slit. This prevents the slit tearing. I folded the raw edges under on a small piece of material and tacked it below the slit.

Step Six: The bottom edge of the shirt was hemmed, and then dorset buttons sewn on the cuffs and neck.

And then the finished product is ready to wear!

The front view of the finished shirt

The shirt, whilst it is hardly seen beneath all of the other clothing, was great in the end.

I am really pleased with how this shirt turned out. It took about 3 weeks to sew, and I did have to work quite solidly to get it done. However, there is something quite therapeutic about hand-sewing garments. It has become one of my more favourite ways to complete sewing projects.

Related Posts

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Shirt

The Making of a Midshipman: Shirt and Stock

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: A man’s linen shirt, c. 1775-1800, from Victoria and Albert Museum.

Making a Men’s Shirt – cutting and sewing instructions from 1760, reproduced by La Couturière Parisienne.

Pattern Cutting for Men’s Costume, by Elizabeth Friendship – buy on Amazon

Stroke Gathers – by Sharon Burnston

How to Sew a Flat-Felled Seam – by Craftsy

How to make Dorset Buttons – by Craftstylish

18th Century Men’s Shirts – a list of online collections and resources, by 18th Century Notebook

A reproduction of a man’s shirt, c. 1780, by Kannik’s Korner

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A robe a l'anglaise, with a matching petticoat, from MET Museum.

A robe a l’anglaise, with a closed front and a matching petticoat, c. 1785-95, from The MET Museum.

This year I have had a long list of costumes planned to make, but a Robe a l’Anglaise was not one of them. However, I quickly changed my mind when a friend decided to make one and it became convenient and easy to work on the project together!

The robe a l’anglaise was fashionable for an extended period of time during the 18th century. Literally, “the English gown”, it was characterised most generally by a fitted bodice, in contrast to the robe a la francaise which had a pleated-and-draped back that flowed free from the shoulders.

A gown cut en fourreau, from MET Museum.

A robe a l’anglaise, with the back cut en fourreau, c. 1776, from The MET Museum.

The Anglaise saw many different variations through the 18th century: open and closed bodices; long and elbow-length sleeves; worn polonaise style; etc… During this time, the Anglaise often had a long centre-back panel piece, extending from the shoulder to the floor. This back piece was then formed into a series of sewn-down pleats on the dress bodice (the “en fourreau” back) which were then released to form fullness into the skirt of the gown. Towards the end of the gown’s popularity, the bodice was cut separately to the skirts and attached with a waist seam.

Another transition in this gown was with the front. Gowns that had been worn open to reveal a stomacher earlier in the century, began to be worn closed, either pinned or closed with hooks and eyes. The skirts could also be closed in front (called a “round gown”), or be worn open to reveal a matching or contrasting petticoat.

For this particular costume, I decided that I wanted a petticoat to match the gown, and with a pinked flounce. It also needed to have pocket slits so that I could wear my new pockets!

The petticoat

The petticoat, c. 1775-1785, in Patterns of Fashion 1, by Janet Arnold.

Pattern

In looking for a suitable pattern for a petticoat, I went with one in Janet Arnold’s book, Patterns of Fashion 1. It is dated 1775-1785 and is part of a matching petticoat/gown set. It is a very basic skirt pattern, made up of a large rectangle of material (pieced where necessary).

The FINISHED WIDTH of the front panel of my petticoat (not allowing for seam allowances) was 62 inches wide (and then made as long as I needed it for my height). The back panel was exactly the same as the front.

This gown is made of a cotton printed material, and is completely handsewn.

Construction Steps

Step 1: After you have cut out the large rectangles that make up the skirt, sew the side seams together. I had to piece several pieces of material together to get the required width, but I made sure I had two side seams to make allowing for the pocket slits easier. The top 10 inches of the petticoat side seams were left open for the pocket slits. All seams are either on the selvedge or flat-felled.

Step 2: Pleat the top of the front panel onto a waistband. My pleats start from the centre front and go out to the sides. Pleat the back panel in the same manner with a second waistband. Often petticoats of this era could also be attached to a length of twill tape as a waistband.

Step 3: After finishing the waistband, attach ties to the ends of both the back and front waistbands. I made an eyelet through each end of each waistband and then tied a length of cotton tape to it.

The two halves of the waistband, with ties on each end.

The two halves of the waistband (back and front), with ties on each end.

Step 4: Hem the bottom edge of the petticoat. I inserted some cord into the hem to help it stand out better.

The hem, with a length of cord threaded through the hem casing.

The hem, with a length of cord threaded through the hem casing.

Step 5: Using pinking shears, pink the flounce with a scallop at the top and a zigzag at the bottom. Attach the flounce. My flounce is 9 inches deep, and twice the length of the bottom of the petticoat. It is box-pleated to fit the petticoat, and it should only just overhang the hem.

The flounce, box-pleated to fit.

The flounce, box-pleated to fit.

Step 6: Add any trim. My trim is just a piece of plain gimp-like braid with a ribbon threaded through it at intervals.

The trim; a length of gimp-like braid with ribbon threaded through it.

The trim: a length of gimp-like braid with ribbon threaded through it.

The finished pictures!

The front, shown over my hip roll.

The front, shown over my hip roll. The front half is tied around the waist first, and the back half is tied around the waist second.

The side view. Because the petticoat is not shown with my stays, you can see the pocket slits in the side.

The side view. As the petticoat is not shown with my stays, you can see that it doesn’t quite fit the dummy. There is normally a bit of an overlap between the front half and the back half. The pocket slits can be seen in the side.

I was quite pleased with the end result, though I do think I need another plain petticoat underneath (over the hip roll) to help with the skirt’s body.

Look out for the next post in this series, the closed-front gown to match. – coming soon!

Related Posts

Does my Bum Look Big In This? – Making an 18th Century Rump

An 18th Century Robe a l’anglaise – a very early and non-historical attempt!

How Heavy is Too Heavy for a Dress? – about a quilted petticoat

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Robe a l’Anglaise, c. 1785-95, from The MET Museum

Image Source: Robe a l’Anglaise, c. 1776, from The MET Museum

Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction, c. 1660-1860, by Janet Arnold – on Amazon

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The bum-bailiff

“The Bum-Bailiff Outwitted, or the convenience of Fashion” (1786)

In preparation to make a 1770 robe a l’anglaise, I decided that I need to have a bum enhancer of some kind. I have made myself a padded bum before, to wear with my caraco jacket and petticoat, but I really wanted to try a hip roll that curved all the way around my hips.

Padded clothes certainly can have their advantages! The caricature entitled “The Bum-Bailiff Outwitted”, depicts a lady so desperate to escape an unwanted pursuer that she is able to wiggle out of her self-supporting garments and take flight. The accompanying text puts the situation into verse admirably:

Suky like Syrinx changes shape,
Her vain pursuer to escape;
Ye Snapps; of Pans hard fate beware
Who thought his arms embrac’ed the fair
But found an empty Bum-case there.

So an empty Bum-case is what I need!

Monsieur Le Que Ladies Cork-Cutter from Paris (1777), from Demode.

Monsieur Le Que Ladies Cork-Cutter from Paris (1777), from Demode.

I found Demode’s post on “Bums, Rumps and Culs” very helpful, especially as she had tried out a number of different types of “bums” to catalogue their effects to the fashionable shape. After researching a little more, I decided that a hip roll or bum roll would be the best for my gown.

Patterning and Construction

Since I was not going to use a commercial pattern, I had to figure out exactly how to make it.

Firstly, I measured around the back of my hips, from my left front “hip point” to my right front “hip point”. (For want of a better term, by “hip point” I mean the part of your pelvis that sticks out at your side front, just across from your navel. It is often where your fingers sit when you put your hands on your hips.)

Once I had this measurement, this became the inner measurement of my bum roll. I laid the tape measure out on a piece of calico, trying to mimic the natural shape of the hips (that is, not a circle but a sort of oval). If you measure the space between your “hip points”, then you will know how much of a gap to have in the front of your “oval tape-measurey pattern”.

After I was happy with how my inner measurement sat on the calico, I used a pencil to draw the sewing line. Then I began to sketch the outer edge of the bum roll. I used the diagram of the “cork-cutter from Paris” to help in getting the shape fairly right, with a larger portion over the hips and a skinnier portion around the back. Then I cut it out, adding a fairly generous seam allowance, in case of mistakes.

These are my cut out bum roll pieces.

These are my cut out bum roll pieces; two layers of calico.

Then I simply sewed both layers together, leaving a hole for adding some cushion stuffing. Once it was stuffed, I hand sewed the hole closed and sewed some lengths of cotton tape to the front “hip point corners” so that it could be tied on.

The front view

The front view

You can see the cotton tapes tied at the centre front. I actually think – now! – that it probably reaches too far around to the front, just beyond my hip point instead of on it.

The back view

The back view

A bum roll like this is supposed to sit on your “high hip” line, not your waistline. In some of the pictures, mine looks like it is sitting a smidgen high, but that can always be adjusted when a gown goes on top.

The side view

The side view

Since I whipped it together in an hour, I was pretty happy with how it turn out. Hopefully, once its under a dress, it will give the necessary “oomph” to my bottom!

Stay tuned for my robe a l’anglaise; first part up, the matching petticoat.

Related Posts

A Caraco Jacket

Making 18th Century Stays

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: The bum-bailiff outwitted (1786), by Isaac Cruikshank, at The British Museum

Late 18th Century Skirt Supports: Bums, Rumps and Culs, by Demode

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A pair of linen pockets, embroidered with wool, from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

A pair of linen pockets, embroidered with wool, from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Recently I decided to make an 18th century pocket, and – after a little deliberation – I thought I should make a second one to match. Although there are many extant examples of a single pocket, I thought a pair might be useful. However, pairs of pockets were often not an exact match, as we generally desire today. They were often stylistically similar, but featured different arrangements of flowers in essentially the same design.

These pockets were not sewn into women’s gowns as they are often sewn into garments these days. Instead women had a pair of pockets – or a single pocket – attached to some ribbon or tape which was tied around their waist. The pockets were rather voluminous and were reached through a hole in the side of the skirts of the dress.

Once fashions changed at the end of the 18th century – with the popularity of the long, clingy dresses of the Regency – these large pockets were dispensed with in favour of the hand-held “Ridicule” or reticule. However, there is evidence to suggest that these larger pockets were still widely used, though possibly more by the older generation. I have even seen Regency “versions” of the tie-on pocket, which were smaller and easy to access through the front seams of a bib-front dress.

A pair of cotton and linen pockets, embroidered with wool, from the Museum of London.

A pair of cotton and linen pockets, embroidered with wool, from the Museum of London.

I have never really considered the necessity of making a pocket for my 18th century costumes before, but there are some great reasons to do it. Firstly, it gives you somewhere to hide your mobile phone and a purse! It is also fantastic for easy access to a fan while you are dancing. Secondly, it can be a really quick and easy project to whip up, especially if you are wanting a plain pocket. But it also gives some creative scope for the embroidery of a smallish project (by historical standards, anyway!).

Pattern and Construction

I used the same pattern and construction process as I had used on my first pocket.

As with my first pocket, this one was made with white cotton broadcloth and bound with printed cotton quilting fabric. The design was embroidered with cotton DMC thread (No. 798). The tie was made from a length of cotton tape (25mm wide), made long enough to tie around the waist. This project was hand embroidered and hand sewn.

Embroidery

Embroidery Stitches used:

The second pocket embroidered and sewn together

The second pocket embroidered and sewn together

The central flower, a carnation, embroidered with...

The central flower, a carnation, embroidered with backstitch, seed stitch and satin stitch.

This flower is embroidered with chain stitch...

This flower is embroidered with chain stitch, backstitch, buttonhole pinwheels and seed stitch.

This flower is embroidered with blanket stitch, chain stitch, ...

This flower is embroidered with blanket stitch, backstitch, running stitch, satin stitch, chain stitch and double feather stitch.

This flower has been embroidered with chain stitch and french knots.

This flower has been embroidered with chain stitch and french knots.

This flower has ben embroidered with chain stitch, long and short stitch, ...

This flower has ben embroidered with chain stitch, long and short stitch, running stitch and a buttonhole pinwheel.

This flower is stitched with buttonhole pinwheel, chain stitch, and ?.

This flower is embroidered with buttonhole pinwheels, chain stitch, and square laid filling stitch.

And here it is all finished!

The pair of pockets completed

The pair of pockets completed

The second pocket took a lot longer to finish than the first, largely because I had less time spare to sit and embroider. But I still managed to get the entire project finished within three months, which is pretty good.

The great thing about these pockets is that, when they are tied around my waist, my hands can reach right to the bottom of them to easily grasp any item that sinks there. Now I just need to make an 18th century dress with some pocket holes!

Related Posts

Making an Embroidered Pocket

An Embroidered Regency Letter Case

Making an Embroidered Stomacher

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: A pair of pockets – at Victoria and Albert Museum

Image Source: A pair of pockets – at Museum of London

Make Your Own Pocket – Victoria and Albert Museum

Pocket Research – by Sew 18th Century

An Embroidered Pocket – by American Duchess

Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy on Amazon

Costume Close-Up: Clothing Construction and Pattern, by Linda Baumgarten – buy on Amazon

Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials – on Rocksea and Sarah

How to bind your project – by HowToSew.com

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An embroidered pocket, done in monochrome, held at Victoria and Albert Museum.

An embroidered pocket, done in monochrome, held at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

In the 18th century, pockets were not sewn into women’s gowns as they are often sewn into garments these days. Instead women had a pair of pockets – or a single pocket – attached to some ribbon or tape which was tied around their waist. The pockets were rather voluminous and were reached through a hole in the side of the skirts of the dress.

There were a great variety in the types of pockets that were made. They could be embroidered, patchworked, and even made with plain or printed material. They could be bound with plain binding, contrasting binding, mismatched binding or patterned binding. The pocket holes were often centred and vertical, but I have seen horizontal and curved openings as well.

Embroidered cotton and linen pocket, c. 1775-1800.

Embroidered cotton and linen pocket, c. 1775-1800.

Once fashions changed at the end of the 18th century – with the popularity of the long, clingy dresses of the Regency – these large pockets were dispensed with in favour of the hand-held “Ridicule” or reticule. However, there is evidence to suggest that these larger pockets were still widely used, though possibly more by the older generation. I have even seen Regency “versions” of the tie-on pocket, which were smaller and easy to access through the front seams of a bib-front dress.

I have never really considered the necessity of making a pocket for my 18th century costumes before, but there are some great reasons to do it. Firstly, it gives you somewhere to hide your mobile phone and a purse! It is also fantastic for easy access to a fan while you are dancing. Secondly, it can be a really quick and easy project to whip up, especially if you are wanting a plain pocket. But it also gives some creative scope for the embroidery of a smallish project (by historical standards, anyway!).

An unfinished pair of pockets, at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

An unfinished pair of pockets, at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Pattern

I used the tutorial on “Make your own pocket”, by the V&A to get a sense of the manner in which pockets were constructed. There are patterns for pockets in both Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1, and Linda Baumgarten’s Costume Close-Up. I used both of these to get a sense of the dimensions of the average 18th century pocket.

The dimensions of my pocket are: height – 17.5 inches; width at bottom – 13 inches; width at top – 8 inches; and length of pocket hole – 8 inches.

I particularly wanted to embroidery my design in a monochrome colour, so I looked at a variety of extant items that used this technique.

This pocket was made with white cotton broadcloth and bound with printed cotton quilting fabric. The design was embroidered with cotton DMC thread (No. 798). The tie was made from a length of cotton tape (25mm wide), made long enough to tie around the waist. This project was hand embroidered and hand sewn. It took 2 and 1/2 weeks to do the embroidery (in my holidays) and a few days to sew it together.

Construction Steps

Step One: First I traced the shape of the pocket, the pocket opening, and the embroidery design on the fabric with an erasable fabric pen.

Step Two – Embroidery: Then I embroidered the design.

The design has been traced on the panel and has been embroidered.

The design has been traced on the panel and has been embroidered.

The embroidery pattern I have drawn up is a very classic 18th century design. I modified the embroidered pocket pattern used on the pocket in Costume Close-Up, and just changed some of the flower types. It was very common for pockets to have asymmetrical designs, and even for two pockets to be similar in design but different in the details.

Embroidery Stitches used:

The centre flower; stitched with backstitch, seed stitch, satin stitch, chain stitch, french knots, and fly stitch.

The centre flower; stitched with backstitch, seed stitch, satin stitch, chain stitch, french knots, and double feather stitch.

This flower is stitched with chain stitch and french knots.

This flower is stitched with chain stitch and french knots.

This flower is stitched with chain stitch, bullion knots, cross stitch, and buttonhole pinwheel.

This flower is stitched with chain stitch, bullion knots, cross stitch, and a buttonhole pinwheel.

This flower is stitched with buttonhole pinwheel, chain stitch, and ?.

This flower is stitched with buttonhole pinwheels, chain stitch, and square laid filling stitch.

This flower is stitched with chain stitch, back stitch, seed stitch, french knots, long and short stitch, and satin stitch.

This flower is stitched with chain stitch, backstitch, seed stitch, french knots, long and short stitch, and satin stitch.

This flower is stitched with chain stitch, blanket stitch, satin stitch, long and short stitch, back stitch, and seed stitch.

This flower is stitched with chain stitch, blanket stitch, satin stitch, long and short stitch, backstitch, and seed stitch.

Step Three – Assembly:

In order to stop things catching on the back of the embroidery, it was often backed with a layer of plain material. I laid a plain piece of fabric at the back of the embroidered panel and then slashed the pocket hole through all layers. The edge of this hole was then bound with printed cotton bias binding.

The embroidered layer is laid on top of a plain layer. The pocket hole is slashed and bound.

The embroidered layer is laid on top of a plain layer. The pocket hole is slashed and bound.

Then another layer of plain fabric was laid below and all the outer edges were bound with the same binding.

The three layers are put together and the outside edges bound.

The three layers are put together and the outside edges bound.

Finally, a piece of cotton tape was used to bind the top edge and also act as a string, which could be tied around the waist.

The top edge of the pocket bound.

The top edge of the pocket bound.

And here it is all finished!

The finished pocket, tied on to my mannequin!

The finished pocket, tied on to my mannequin!

I am making the second pocket, so look out for more pictures to come.

Related Posts

An Embroidered Regency Letter Case

Making an Embroidered Stomacher

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Monochrome pocket – “Pockets in the V&A Collection”

Image Source: Cotton and linen pocket – at National Trust Collections

A History of Pockets – Victoria and Albert Museum (Image Source: Unfinished pair of pockets)

Make Your Own Pocket – Victoria and Albert Museum

Pocket Research – by Sew 18th Century

An Embroidered Pocket – by American Duchess

Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy on Amazon

Costume Close-Up: Clothing Construction and Pattern, by Linda Baumgarten – buy on Amazon

Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials – on Rocksea and Sarah

How to bind your project – by HowToSew.com

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Chemise c. 1780, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Chemise with sleeve and neck ruffles, c. 1780, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Recently, I have been making some more stays to wear beneath my eighteenth century costumes, and I had the idea to begin work on a chemise for the same period. Since I have made my Regency Day Cap, I have been looking for something else to handsew and this chemise seemed to leap out at me to be a good option. As a result, this garment is completely handsewn and took about 3 weeks (with a few hours of sewing per day) to finish.

Whilst few chemises of this period survive, I was really keen to find one with some sleeve and neck ruffles, and even something with a touch of lace.

Pattern

The pattern I started with was the one provided on How to Make an 18th Century Chemise. There is also a helpful cutting diagram to help with pattern placement on the fabric.

My chemise consisted of four basic pattern pieces:

  • Main body: Cut 1 – 260cm x 80cm (This piece will have a hole cut in the middle for the head opening, which means there will be no shoulder seams.)
  • Sleeves: Cut 2 – 40cm x 35cm
  • Sleeve gussets: Cut 2 – 15cm x 15cm
  • Gores: Cut 4 right angled triangles – 80cm x 25cm (height x width of a right angled triangle)

Other optional pieces:

  • Sleeve cuff – a thin piece of material about 1-2 cm wide and 25 cm long (just make sure it will fit around your arm at the elbow).
  • Sleeve ruffle – I used a strip twice the length of the bottom of the sleeve and 5 cm wide.
  • Neck ruffle – Once again, twice the length of the neck opening and 3-5 cm wide.

I followed the sewing instructions provided at “How to Make an 18th Century Chemise” fairly closely, and have detailed my progress below.

The stitches and techniques I have used have been a running stitch, back stitch, rolled hem, rolled whipped gather, whip stitch, slip stitch, and flat felling.

Construction Steps

Step One: Assemble sleeves and gussets, flat-felling the seams with a slip stitch to neaten. All of my basic seams have been sewn with a running stitch (with a back stitch every so often to anchor the thread). For more information on how to sew a gusset, you can look at my previous post My Regency Journey: Making a Chemise for more detail.

The sleeve with the gusset, all sewn to the main body.

The sleeve with the gusset attached, all sewn to the main body.

The bottom edge of the sleeve can be gathered and finished with a cuff. For information on this type of finishing, go to “The Cognitive Shift” link below. I finished mine with a rolled hem (ungathered).

Step Two: Sew the gores (all four of them) onto each side of the main body, sewing from the hem upwards. Then sew the side seams of the main body together, upwards from the hem, finishing where the gores end.

Step Three: Sew the sleeves in position, then finish any side seams that are still open by flat felling.

At this point (before I attached the sleeves) I decided that an 80cm wide chemise was too wide for my body, so I trimmed the top of the main body so that it was a little narrower (60cm wide across the shoulders rather than 80cm). I sloped the new narrower width out to meet the gores, which had already been sewn in.

You can see where I have altered the width. Instead of the side seams going straight up, they go diagonal when they reach the gores.

You can see where I have altered the width. Instead of the side seams going straight up, they go diagonally when they reach the gores and then straight up again where the sleeves are attached. There is no neck opening as yet.

In “How to Make an 18th Century Chemise”, at the very end of the article under “Alternative Patterns”, the patterns provided are all 60cm wide at the shoulders. They also show that there were various ways to cut out a chemise to suit various figures.

Step Four: Flat fell all the side and gore seams with a slip stitch.

The gore seams being flat felled with a slip stitch.

The gore seams being flat felled with a slip stitch. The top one is complete, the middle one is being felled, and the bottom one is trimmed ready.

Step Five: Hem the bottom edge to mid-calf area using a slip stitch.

Step Six: Cut the neck opening and finish with a rolled hem. A casing and drawstring can be added if you need one.

My neck opening was done by trying on my chemise underneath my stays and marking the neckline with an erasable fabric pen. This did lead to having an opening which seems slightly too big, but which still worked well without a drawstring. For an interesting discussion on necklines and drawstrings of 18th century chemises, have a look at The Cognitive Shift; or, 18th Century Shifts: What I Know and How I Learned It.

Step Seven: For any sleeve or neck ruffles, do a rolled whipped gather on one long edge and a rolled hem on the three remaining sides that will not be gathered. Whip stitch the ruffle ends together and attach the gathered ruffle edge to the bottom sleeve edge using a whipped stitch. I sewed lace on to the bottom edge of my ruffle as well.

The sleeve ruffle attached. Very pretty, I think!

The sleeve ruffle attached. Very pretty, I think!

All finished!

All finished! I am still decided whether to attach a neck ruffle to it or not...

All finished! I am still undecided whether to attach a neck ruffle to it or not… decisions, decisions!

I love the feel of wearing cotton lawn undergarments. Whilst I know most (if not all) chemises of this period were made of linen, I have not been able to find any linen within a reasonable price range to do the job! And I find this is a very suitable alternative.

And hand-sewing has recently become my cup of tea!

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: Making a Chemise

A Second Regency Chemise

Making 18th Century Stays

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: From the Metropolitan Museum of Art

How to make an 18th century chemise – by La Couturiere Parisienne

Links to extant 18th century shifts – by 18th Century Notebook

Extant chemise with lace neckline and lace cuffs (c. 1750-1800), from Belgium Art Links and Tools (BALaT)

Extant chemise with woven lace neckline (c. 1780-1810), from Colonial Williamsburg

The Cognitive Shift; or, 18th Century Shifts: What I Know and How I Learned It – article by Sharon Burnston

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