1790s Chemise en Robe - Solutions

So, when making this dress I only fitted it once, and it seemed okay - a bit tight, but I thought that was typical of the period - but when I tried it on at the end, it is very tight in the back and bust and gapes where the hooks and eyes meet. Stupid of me, I know, but I am a beginner to this particular hobby. I feel like if I sat down, the hooks and eyes would burst off and go flying everywhere, so not very practical! A bit disappointed, but I've come up with some solutions:

  • Alter it with two panels in the back. This would be a lot of work and look messy, so perhaps not...

  • Create a sleeveless 1790s open-gown to go over the top. It's the correct period, looks relatively easy (no more gathers in sleeves, yay!), and is really cute.

So I've come up with a design for the open-robe in my little notebook, thanks to a picture on Pinterest and my Patterns of Fashion 1 book by Janet Arnold. I'm excited! The back of the open-gown would hide the small gape in the back of the chemise, and the lack of sleeves means that I can still show off my puffed chemise sleeves! Plus, it fastens in the front with ribbon lacing, so it will be easy to take on and off myself. So many bonuses!
I'm planning on it being pale blue with black accents, to match my sash that may or may not go over the top of the whole thing. How cute would this be with a matching hat!

Here are the pictures that inspired me, and my sketch.

The colour and style I'm going for, but rather than draped bits at the back, I was thinking of a solid skirt and train for the back part, like the second image below.

This is exactly what I want, but in blue with black binding. Maybe I'll hand sew it this time?

The Janet Arnold Pattern I'm thinking of using in combination with Elizabeth Friendship's "Creating Historical Clothes" for the correct fit.

My sketch of how it will all look together, as an outfit. Sorry for the terrible photos, it's dark in my room!

1790s Chemise en Robe - Finished!

Copied from my original blog - Miss E Morris
Sorry it's been a long time since I last posted - I've been very busy working on one of my first 18th Century costumes, a chemise en robe! I've always admired the summery, dreamy feel of those chemise dresses (so informal and delicate), paired with coloured satin or taffeta sashes and a huge, feathery hat - and thus, I have wanted to make one for a long time!

This dress is made from what feels like miles of gauzy, net-like muslin, which is very soft and delicate to the touch. It is also unbearably hard to work with, so for future chemise en robes (of which there shall be many) I may resort to using linen, silk taffeta, lawn or voile, depending on how period I want to go. It rips so easily and probably won't last long, especially with how much unpicking I have to do. :) Still, I think it looks very romantic and flowing.

At first I found this project very easy making up the bodice and lining, but then came the difficulties with the fabric, attaching the bodice to the waistband, and measuring the length for the skirt wrong (and therefore I had to add another ruffle to the hem, but that wasn't too much of a sacrifice to make). The ruffle was something my grandmother thought up, to create a channel and feed some tape through to gather it; it was very long-winded gathering four and a half meters of muslin and then sewing it three times, but in the end I think it's worth the hassle.

I was also unsure what feel I wanted to give the dress. My pattern from Laughing Moon was for 1790-1800, and what I really desired was a mid-18th Century chemise en robe, not something more Regency in feel. I do like the Regency period, but the frippery, dresses and fun of the 18th Century is where my heart is; so, I wanted to make something that looked like it came from an earlier period. I think I may have managed that with the puffed sleeves and ribbons, but perhaps the empire waist and bust-line makes it clearly early Regency.
Either way, I love how it has all come together! My first costume! When I've had a bit more practice and built up a portfolio, it is my dream to open an online store selling bespoke historical garments from Medieval times to the 1950s - that, along with writing my books. :)

My grandmother helped me making this dress, so I'm very thankful for her help. It would have been very difficult to tackle without her!

I added a black taffeta sash that I made earlier and a muslin fichu as accessories for these photos.

1790s Chemise en Robe Part 5: Small Things - Nearly Done

Today I've been doing small things towards finishing this project, and I believe the end is nearly in sight. I've looked at some inspirational images and visualised how I'd like to customise my chemise dress, so we added elastic to the middle of the sleeves to create little puffs of muslin in the middle of the arm.

I also added a drawstring to the middle of the waistband, making it look slightly more period. There are also hooks and eyes sewn into the back, which I did one evening out of boredom and wanting to get this project done. There's still a gape in the middle of the back, but I'm hoping it wont be as significant once its on me. :)

From this blurry image you can kind of see what the final dress will look like; I just need to add a ruffle to the bottom of the skirt, but unfortunately I need to make a trip to Liverpool to buy some more fabric first. I also added ribbons to the sleeves, inspired by this image below.

I'm not sure where this image came from as I saved it on my phone, but I have a small hunch that it might be perhaps. Anyway, it's gorgeous - my chemise en robe dreams personified! 

1790s Chemise en Robe Part 4: the Skirt and Accessories

My progress has been halted recently due to some puckering in attaching the skirt to the bodice. Sometimes I think it would be easier to sew by hand, but nevermind, I've only got a few more things to do, like attaching a ruffle, hemming it, adding drawstrings, and sorting out some ribbons for the sleeves.
Here's what I've got so far:

I've accessorised it with a muslin fichu and a black taffeta sash that I made earlier this year, and you can see that one of the sleeves is gathered.

Sadly, when I put the hooks and eyes in the back, I realised that it didn't fit, even with my handmade stays on. I've got the correct silhoette, but my stays gape at the back. I'm hoping that when I get a proper pair of stays, then it will be okay. I'm dreaming of white silk stays! 
doll, pullip

1790s Chemise en Robe Part 3: Limited Progress

I've been really fatigued today, so only a bit of my dress was done. I'm disappointed because I meant to sew the bodice to the waistband and skirt so that tomorrow I could finish it off for good with the hemming and fastenings, but I couldn't keep my eyes open today.
So today I made up the skirt with three pieces, including a train, and gathered it - all ten miles of it - and then attached the waistband to the bodice, and finished up one side of the bodice opening at the centre back.

I never want to see another piece of muslin again. It's a frustratingly difficult fabric to work with. Maybe in the future I'll make my chemise en robes out of something else, and in another colour, a bit like the silky one Georgiana wears in The Duchess.

1790s Chemise en Robe Part 2: the Sleeves

Today was meant to be the day that I attached the sleeves and perhaps went on to the waistband, but disaster kept striking, so a lot of unpicking was done this day. I was tired and couldn't figure out how to attach the sleeve head to the armholes, even after trying many times and failing, so when I came to sew it - both my grandmother and I thinking it looked right - the sleeve was inside-out! Npt only that, but we noticed some odd puckering on the bodice, so that had to be unpicked too.

So, in short, today was not exactly successful. In the end, however, we got there and attached the sleeves with little strife. I also watched the Great Interior Design Challenge on TV and had some pancakes, even though it felt like I had been sewing and trying to figure things out all day!

Here's what it looks like so far:


1790s Chemise en Robe Part 1: the Bodice

Today has been rather productive, thankfully! I've completed most of the bodice of my chemise en robe, and rectified some silly mistakes that I made last time I was sewing - namely sewing the shoulder piece to the wrong part of the back bodice panel.

For making the bodice I gathered all the tacking stitches that my grandmother kindly sewed in place for me whilst I was busy on Saturday, did some more running stitches, and sewed the bodice to the lining across the top, bottom and armholes. You can see it complete here:

I love the feel of the delicate muslin against the lining - very soft and luxurious, especially for a dress that is meant to imitate the comforts of underpinnings!

I've done all my seams my machine, and the tacking by hand, as I don't want this project to take me too long (I've got the rest of my Florida wardrobe to sew!) - plus, I'm not that knowledgeable about historical accuracy yet; I need to get a book on making 18th Century clothing specifically, as that is one of my favourite eras. For my next historical garment - either a plain white linen petticoat or a chemise for underpinnings, I may do some of the seams by hand. That depends how much time I have! I'm planning on doing a photoshoot either of myself or of my sister at Tatten Park, a nearby-ish Georgian manor house owned by the National Trust, so I've got plenty of accessories to make to accompany this dress!

Regular Updates Here and 1790s Chemise en Robe

Hi everyone, I've decided recently that although I wanted this place to be an area that everyone can post to, I would like to post regular sewing updates to get this community moving a bit. I've been inspired by the journal of koshka_the_cat, where she posts regular updates on her projects - it makes me feel as though I'm there, watching her progress day by day, which is very interesting - so I thought maybe I could do something similar. I also have my main blog, but that is where I post about finished projects. Who knows, I might post some of my progress to Blogger too!
Once again, feel free to join and post your own updates and current projects!

Yesterday I started cutting out my pattern and fabric pieces of the 1790s chemise en robe by Laughing Moon. I've always wanted a chemise en robe with lots of beautiful silk sashes, and recently I've been really wanting to start one of my first costumes, so I couldn't resist beginning it yesterday with some muslin I purchased a while back from Abakhan. I've got clothing to make for my upcoming holiday in Florida, but for the moment I've put that on the backburner after making a dress and a top - my costume is calling!

Here's what the pattern looks like:

I'm hoping to create view B with the fully gathered bodice and a train. It would be heavenly to wear this around the garden in summer, or going to a costume event!

And my to-do list:

  • Purchase some white linen or cotton for the lining (it's the lining, so I'm not going for full historical accuracy).

  • Put together the dress

  • Make a chemise for wearing under the stays

  • Make or buy another set of stays. I tried mine on yesterday evening and I'm really not happy with how they look or fit - they don't give me a very defined conical shape, and some of the boning sticks into me, plus, they're messy and more Elizabethan than 18th Century.

  • Possibly make another taffeta or silk sash, maybe in pink or blue. I already own one in black that I made from the remnants of my 18th Century petticoat for another outfit.


elliemorris's 2015 Sewing Projects

Here are my makes of 2015; hopefully 2016 will be more productive!

A simple white muslin fichu as part of my ongoing Georgian project.

A Classic Lolita A-line skirt made from fabric from Ikea and white polyester taffeta.

A 50s/otome-kei striped dress, called Evangeline's Summer Dress. This was one of my first projects.

A black Georgian petticoat with ruffle.

A rather failing pair of Georgian stays.

A paisley top for my Mother.

A 20s cloche I made myself from leftover black velvet and some cordoroy.

Queen of Heart skirt made from Spoonflower fabric and inspired by Innocent World.

Another Lolita skirt, this time customised with lace and made shorter.

A jumpsuit for my sister (which she never wore).

A 1940s-inspired beach skirt.

A 50s dress for my dolls.

What have you made in 2015?


Hi everyone, welcome to Sweet Sewing! Due to a lack of thriving sewing communities on LiveJournal, I thought I might as well make one. I'm very curious as to what everybody is making right now!

Sweet Sewing is a sewing, knitting and crochet community for anyone of any ability to join. Feel free to join and show off your creations, ask for sewing or design advice, or seek out patterns.

To get the ball rolling I'll show my creations of 2015; please feel free to join in and show off what you've made in 2015!