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Chemise Pattern Reviews

Hello darlings!

I've been wearing historical clothing every day for almost three years now, and the foundation of every outfit is the chemise. I also wear chemises for casual wear while working from home, so I have a unique perspective on the daily wear and comfortability (is that a word? It is now) of different styles of chemise. 

I've represented patterns suitable for a broad range of eras, from both books and modern commercial pattern reproductions. 

Georgian Chemise

The earliest style of chemise in my collection is from 'Period costume for Stage & Screen 1500-1800' by Jean Hunnisett.

It has a drawstring which is lovely as it can be adjusted to fit any neckline, high or low. A 'tucker' can also be tacked to it quite easily.

It has large sleeves to fill out the early (1730s/40s) sleeves. For later in the century, narrower sleeves would be more comfortable as tight sleeves were more fashionable, but the pattern can easily be altered to make them less bulky.

They're relatively long sleeves too, so sleeve ruffles can be tacked to them and they'll show from beneath the outer garment.

It has a wide skirt as there are four 'wheels' stitched into the skirt to give it more width.

There are also diamond gussets under the arms so there's a lot of movement in the arm area.

Rating: 7/10

The drawstring neck means that you can wear it under any neckline without having to worry about it showing. The 'wheels' in the skirt and gussets under the arm give you a wide range of movement. The wide, long sleeves aren't comfortable to wear under close-fitting garments. 

1840s Chemise

This pattern is from Jean Hunnisett's 'Period costume for Stage & Screen 1800-1909' (p.67).

There are a couple of variations in the pattern that you can change up to suit slightly different eras or to get slightly different looks. 

It's very simple to construct (basically all rectangles), with very large sleeves to fill out the large sleeves of the 1840s.

The pattern also includes a little in-built 'corset flap', so if you don't want the extra layer of a corset cover, this little flap can go over to soften the line of the corset.

Rating: 6/10

The skirt is very wide for ease of movement and I love the corset flap. The wide neckline means that it's not very modest to wear on its own without a corset/outerwear and, the same as the previous chemise, the sleeves are too large to fit under tight garments.

1850s Chemise

This is another pattern from Jean Hunnisett's 'Period costume for Stage & Screen 1800-1909' (p.134).

It's an off-the-shoulder chemise style (even though it doesn't really look like it in the line drawing!). 

It's quite a short chemise, especially when put next to the other styles. There's actually a surprising amount of fabric in this chemise, thanks to the gathers at the front and back.

The front fastening is actually constructed like a man's shirtsleeve placket so you can learn quite a good skill from making this chemise (if you want to construct a man's shirt at any point this'll really come in handy!).

Rating: 3/10

This chemise style only works when wearing an off-the-shoulder dress. When worn on its own doing normal tasks, or under a normal bodice it's quite uncomfortable. It has limited movement in the arms and is very short, but the construction of the neckline is a useful skill and it's essential if you do need a chemise for an off-the-shoulder dress.

1876 Chemise

This is the 1876 pattern from 'Period Costumes for Stage and Screen 1800-1909' (p.134).

I learned so much from making this chemise when constructing the collar and sleeves.

There's plenty of fabric in the skirt and the neckline is wide without gaping, thanks to the buttons at the front. 

The cute neckline and petal sleeves give it a beautiful look when worn on its own, and adds extra decoration without it being too flimsy or difficult to clean. 

Rating: 8/10

This chemise looks cute when worn on its own, has plenty of movement and fits under most clothing. If the neckline of your outer clothing comes down too low, you can undo the buttons and tuck the corners underneath your corset to bring the neckline down. The small sleeves also provide some protection against sweat for the outer clothing. The collar and sleeves can be bulky (although I think that might be the fabric I used/my construction methods- I'll see if it's still a problem when I re-make it in a lighter fabric!).

1878 Combinations

These combinations are from 'Period Costumes for Stage and Screen 1800-1909' (p.134).

It has small cap sleeves and a lot of fabric in the seat.

I initially had stitched the crotch closed, quickly realising how difficult it was then to go to the toilet. Since, I've split the crotch open with a small 'modesty' stitch about 7" down which keeps the front closed but allows the back to stay open.

Rating: 9/10

I adore these combinations. If you want a lower neckline, the buttons can be undone and the edges pinned back. The small sleeves provide protection against sweat. It's slightly more difficult going to the toilet when wearing these than a chemise, but not impossible. 

Edwardian Day Combinations

This pattern is from the Truly Victorian 'Edwardian Underwear' pack (A). 

These are 'day' combinations because the ruffles at the front fill out the pigeon-breasted shirtwaists worn during the Edwardian era.

The pattern is really well made, with a wide range of sizes and really clear instructions included. I am quite short, so if I were to make them again I would probably make the leg ruffles smaller so I'd be able to wear suspenders to hold up my stockings.

I used to have trouble with the skirt ruffles riding up underneath my skirts as I walked, but now that I wear a petticoat regularly with my skirts (as I should!!) it doesn't happen any more .

Rating: 7/10

The neckline can be lowered by unbuttoning the top buttons and pinning the sides back. Again, not as easy to go to the toilet as with just a chemise (especially with a lot of fabric and ruffles that can easily get displaced and create discomfort!). The ruffles at the front aren't practical for all outfits. 

Edwardian Night Combinations

This pattern is also from the Truly Victorian 'Edwardian Underwear' pack (B).

The sleek silhouette is better suited to Edwardian evening wear which had quite tight bodices and lower necklines. 

With the waistband, full skirt and frill along the top hem, these combinations could almost be worn as a outfit on its own! It looks very pretty under sheer bodices and there is absolutely no limitation of movement. 

Rating: 8/10

Most of my notes are similar to the previous chemise; however, these combinations could be worn with almost anything as there is nothing bulky about them. The loose armholes don't provide much protection against perspiration. 

Edwardian Chemise

The final pattern from the Truly Victorian 'Edwardian Underwear' pack (top left).

There isn't a massive amount of fabric in the skirt, but there's enough for a full range of movement without restriction (unless you wanted to do a high-kick, then I think you'd have trouble). 

The front panel sits close to the chest and the armholes are tight. 

Rating: 9/10

This is my favourite chemise of them all (save the best for last!). It's decorative and pretty while still being practical and easy to wash. The neckline is too high for some of my outfit, but the decorative lace means that it usually doesn't matter if it shows. 


Do you have any chemise patterns you'd recommend? Or any ones you want to try?

Until next time,

Aisha x

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