Musings of a Lady

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Le Modiste: Chemise and Chemisettes - 1800-1816

My finished chemise.  This particular piece is completely hand sewn - no machine work at all. So, once again, a triumph for 'vegan' sewing.    I used a light weight, moderately loose weave linen.  I also embroidered my initials at the center front of the neckline.

Next on my list is to make another chemise but not by hand. Or at least not totally.  That will give me 3 chemises to use on the trip and for events coming up next year.  

I am also working on a boned bodice petticoat.  This one is based off the La Bagatelle pattern.  I just got the mock up fitted and will begin the process of putting that together.  Yes, I do have a pair of half stays, as well.  I like having the options of both types of boned underpinnings. It will look similar to this:

My next research adventure is into chemisettes.   What is a chemisette?  Similar to the modern 'dickey' it fills in the neckline of a dress providing modesty as well as variation options in your ensemble.  I have been looking at chemisettes or fillers on a diverse group of portraits and extant pieces.  But before I dive into those inspiring pieces, I have one that I have been using for most of my early Victorian wear that has come in handy for my Regency day gowns.

I made this a while ago and it has been a nice serviceable piece but I will need at least a couple more to fill out my wardrobe.

Before I do that, I wanted to do a bit of research and see what variations might work well with my style and be as 'period' as possible.  So far, I have come across the following images that intrigued me:
Lieder painting c 1810
I like this as it looks pretty but not to 'girly' which may be more because of the 'militaire' look of the pelisse.
Portrait of a Woman - Henry Inman, 1825.
Even though this is from 1825, a bit past my time frame, I do like the look of this.  It feels at ease and comfortable, yet very proper and tasteful.
Elizabeth Salisbury
My personal taste and comforts run toward collars and ruffs that do not 'choke' or encase the neck. I had surgery around the base of my neck and it is no longer happy with close, fitting high collars. I believe that the above 3 styles would work for me. Essentially, they have a 'V' neck opening with the ruffled collars - both feminine and structured.  Of course starching the ruffles will be necessary in order to look wilted. Any recommendations for that would be helpful.  At this point I have fabric spray starch which will have to be used after each washing.

Additional inspiring images, found mostly on Pinterest:
Portrait of a young lady seated by her work table -- Robert Home
I really like this one.  It is embroidered and has long sleeves which provides another fashion option.  However, this begs a question, is this a chemisette or is it an underdress? Looking at it closely, I think that it is possibly a sleeved chemisette.  Why?  Educated guess being that it has a closure that is surplice at the front (folded over the bosom and pinned?).  However, it could be an underdress of a sheer and lightweight material.  Any thoughts?
Adèle Laplatte, Portrait of a young woman wearing taupe dress, 1809
Again, my personal approach to historical dress is simplicity.  Let the fabric and details do the talking, that it is, 'I' who wears the clothes and not the other way round.  This is my personal taste of course.  In anycase, this portrait is just simplistic prettiness to me.  The collar of the white under gown or chemisette allows the pelisse's details to stand out.

Now, what shall I make?  I think I want to make one with a collar like in the Robert Home portrait - so I will refer to this one as Chemisette Casual. Additionally, I want one similar to the portrait of Elizabeth Salisbury - which I will refer to as Chemisette Frilled.  Now to do some reconnoitering for super fine linen - hanky linen?  What would you suggest?  Also, lace. Much of the lace we have available now is machine lace that has poly in it.  Cotton laces tend to be a bit heavy.  Any suggestions from my dear readers would also be welcome on this point.  Oh, and, should I use organdy for the ruffles in the collar of the Chemisette Frilled?  Again, all suggestions are welcome.  If you have any links to possible purveyors of said materials, I am open to that information as well.  

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, I am off to do some sewing.  Stay tuned for the next post.

Happy All Saints Day!


Kleidung um 1800 said...

It's such a good idea to start with the 'undergarments'. Can't wait to see which style of chemisette you're going to choose. I think most commonly are those with the very frilly collars (especially around 1813-1816)...I love that more and more pictures are found of chemisettes worn on top of the dress or even on top of the pelisse and spencer, makes them so much more versatile.

Angela said...

Sabine, after seeing you mention it on your blog, I started seeing them. How is the quilted gown coming?

Angela said...

Your chemise looks wonderfully soft and comfortable! Love the little touch of embroidery - :)