Sunday, 6 June 2010

The makings of a chemise

Earlier this morning, I realised with a shock that I'd sewn the side gores of my chemise wrong, according to the original plan. Fortunately, later I realised it could work that way, too - fortunately, because I really don't want to unpick those long seams and sew them again! Mostly I don't want to sew them again. I quite like ripping of seams.

Anyway, this was the state of affairs yesterday morning:

Main pieces, two sleeves, two underarm gussets, one side gore.
Now it's closer to finishing by one side gore. And it's shaping up nicely - I mean, it seems I'll really be able to sew the whole thing with French seams - that the process I came up with works! I'm still a bit worried about the underarm gussets, but it's certainly much better than last time I tried this squares-and-rectangles-and triangles construction method. (On a doll's shirt - it turned out fine in the end, but the underarm gussets are not French-seamed.)

Maybe - I guess so - French seams are not period for Regency, and even less period for Middle Age (which is the other eventual use for this chemise; namely the year 1437), but I'm not only going for accuracy (nobody's going to judge my undergarments anyway, only me), I'm also going for convenience, and this is very convenient. And very pretty. My French seams are tiny and unobtrusive. I feel accomplished.

I also keep feeling like a heroine out of Božena Němcová's books. When I started sewing it - with the shoulder seams - I kept thinking of the fairy tale "Seven Ravens", where the heroine had to save her seven brothers from an enchantment by sewing shirts for them (with other details to the technique that do not matter now) - she did, but couldn't finish the last seven or nine or so stitches on the youngest brother's shirt, so he had some feathers left on his shoulder.
I still keep being reminded of Němcová, so I also read some of her letters. More on that later, perhaps.


  1. I know this much (show thumb and index finger 1/2" apart) about sewing. What's a gore? What's a French seam?

    I googled "seven ravens". Is this the same that the Brothers Grimm collected?

    Looking good! I picked up some $1/yd cottons that I want to make a summer dress or two from. Gonna take inspiration from you!

  2. Gore is a piece of fabric - usually triangular - sewn between two other pieces of fabric to add width to the garment.
    It's also used for pieced skirts - 4-gored skirt, 6-gored skirt, 8-gored skirt, 12-gored skirt...
    French seam is this:

    The tale is similar, but not the same. In Němcová's version, the brothers turned into ravens even before their sister was born, because they kept disturbing their mother when she was baking bread. Their sister went to save them, but finding them was not enough: she had to seed flax, harvest it, make into fabric and sew seven shirts out of it, all this without speaking a word. (That means, for years probably!) It got even more complicated, but I don't want to make this comment too long. :-)

  3. It's looking good! And I wouldn't worry about the French'll probably help it to hold up better too, besides looking more finished!

  4. Yes, that's what I'm hoping, too!

    The period technique, from what I could gather, were flat-felled seams. But I was afraid it'd be more trouble to make - especially considering I have never made them yet!

  5. Well, I know the story about those seven brothers - ravens differently... I always thought that the youngest brother had an entire wing instead of his arm! Who would be bothered with few feathers, you know, think of a wing...! :) Great story, and someone made a great song out of it... can´t remember who.
    Jana T.

  6. Hm, maybe that was the original version and Němcová smoothed it out to have a really happy ending. :-) I personally think she smoothed out a lot of things. ;-)

  7. P.S. And it's actually reasonable, because after all the things Bohdanka's been through in her version, a remaining wing would really make it an awful ending...