Friday, April 29, 2016

Ruffly Fluffly

For the Regency Weekend I wanted something new that was easy and quick to freshen up my wardrobe. I've always wanted a chemisette, so I decided to give it a try! Chemisettes are quite common in day looks from the period, and are often made of very fine, sheer white cotton or linen. They fill in the neckline of a gown and create a high collar--usually with rather fabulous ruffles of some variety. I found a source for reasonably priced sheer cotton lawn on Etsy, so I decided to risk it and order a yard. It turned out to be very soft and lovely! Perfect for a chemisette.

I went with a simple double row of pleating for my collar, because this was an experiment, but in future I hope to make more with more fabulous collar treatments! Here are some of my favorites:

Eliza Schaum, 1816
Lina Groger, 1815
Jacoba Vetter, c.1816
Explore Anoniem / Anonymous:
unknown, c.1810s
For my chemisette, I started with a back piece and two front pieces. Each piece was angled along the shoulder seam, and the front pieces widened in a trapezoidal shape from the shoulders out to the underbust. I attached the front pieces to the back piece and the shoulders, and finished the other edges with a narrow hem. The bottom of each piece got a narrow channel for gathering with a waist tie. I made the neck ruffles by cutting strips of the selvage edge of my fabric (like I said--easy and quick project!) and pleating them into a neck band. Then I whipped the neck band by hand to the finished neck edge of the chemisette. 

I was bad and forgot to take pictures while I was working...but here are a few of me wearing the finished  chemisette with an old white day dress at the Regency Weekend:

the front of the chemisette is just open, so that I can pin it closed (as I did here) or wear it open. Options!
ruffles blowing in the wind

This was a great project, because it was easy, quick, and gave me the confidence to try future experiments! I love little things like chemisettes. I feel like they really "make" the look, and they're an easy way to add to an ensemble without making a new dress. Hooray! I look forward to wearing this chemisette again, and to making more.


  1. well done! I love the pleats. I keep thinking I should make some chemisettes so as to avoid looking like a completely immoral Regency woman, but every time I've tried one I feel so frumpy. And they make my short neck disappear completely, like all collared shirts do. I think I need to explore the possibility of a scoop-necked chemisette, although they weren't common.

    1. Thank you! The pleats were actually my second attempt (I tried gathering first, but that looked terrible) and I'm really happy with them! I do understand the frumpy feeling though. It took me a while to come around. If you end up making an open-necked or scoop-necked chemisette, I look forward to seeing it!

  2. Well, you did an amazing job, love the collar :)