Making a Chemisette with Lace Insertions
I was looking through my copy of the 1863 La Mode Illustre, when I ran across this beautiful chemisette. It is made with a lace and insertion section at the neckline which would fill in a half-high neckline. I do not read French, so I am not sure if this makes a dinner dress suitable to afternoon wear, or if it is merely a pretty way to fancy up a dinner dress. But I really like it, and want to make one up. I decided to go with black, rather than white, and to use an all over lace and some sheer ribbon
This project took me about 6 hours total time to make up. I used black cotton broadcloth for the chemisette body. I will say now that I made a big error in the logistics of how to put this together. I found out in the middle, that I missed a step I should have done at the very beginning. That step was to finish the closure BEFORE doing anything else. So the pics below show me not doing this until later.
Step 1. Cut out your fabric using a high-necked chemisette pattern. I am currently working on a new pattern for the 1860s and this is sort of the pattern test for that pattern (minus lower neckline.) You can also use the chemisette pattern TV104. After I cut out the pattern, I drew in the top square necklines to show where I want the edge of the lace to be. I then used the pattern TV440 as a guide as where to start the lace. I came in 1" inside the TV440 lines, so the edge of the lace would be 1/2" under the edge of the bodice.
Step 2. This is where I needed to have created the closure. But I didn't. So lesson learned. Create the closure as directed in the pattern!!!
Step 3. Get some sticky water soluble embroidery backing. This really helped make this project easy. Note: you can't get an iron anywhere near this backing or it turns into a sticky wrinkled mess. Learned that the hard way. Make sure that the backing covers all the area from below where the lace starts to the edges of the fabric. Trim the extra backing away around the fabric edges.
Step 4. Cut the fabric only, along the upper line. Then sew a line of stitching just past the edge of the fabric. This is just a way of easily marking the top line onto the backing. I used black thread, to it would be easily seen on the white backing.
Step 5. Sew through the fabric and backing along the lower line. Trim the fabric away, with about 1/4" to 3/8" allowance. (shown at left below) Then fold the allowance over the fabric, and top stitch the allowance down. Clip into the corners to get it all to lay smoothly, (shown at right below)
Step 6. Sew a piece of ribbon, or twill tape, just inside the stitching line for the upper neckline edge. This will provide you with a firm edge for the lace. And, it will keep the edges of the lace away from your skin. (I am fairly sensitive to scratchy fabrics around my neck) You will also see in the photos that I had finally put in the closure by this time. It was quite a logistical feat. I chose to make the center front edges of the lace meet, rather than overlap, so inset the lace section 1/2" from the fabric center front.
Step 7. Take a piece of your lace, and arrange it over the area. Line up anything that needs to be lined up. I noticed right after I snapped the pic, that the lace was angling downwards on the right side. I fixed that before moving on. The sticky backing really helps here, as it will hold the lace exactly where you want it.
Step 8. Sew the lace down along the openings, and trim away the extra. I trimmed the upper neck edge to be a little shorter of the ribbon edge. If you want to add any other ribbon or trims, like the diagonal stripes in the inspiration pic, add them now. Sew them down through all the layers, and trim away anything extra.
I chose to do a ribbon pattern which would parallel the neckline, which is best put on after sewing the shoulder seams. So I sewed the fronts to the back at this point. Then I layered on the ribbon in the long striped and sewed it down through the backing. I also placed a lace over the upper edge of the lace, and layered another ribbon over that lace edge.
9. Once you have everything sewn down, and trimmed, and the shoulder seams sewn, sew a ribbon or lace over the lower edges of the insert. And around the neckline, if you haven't done it yet. Then bind the edges of the chemisette and finish the waist as per the instructions of your pattern. I had a wider sheer ribbon that I used for the lower edge of the neckline, and for the waistband.
Step 10. Put your finished chemisette into a lingerie bag, and wash it. The water soluble backing will magically dissolve and disappear.
And here is the finished chemisette! I will use a small broach to hold the top edge of the lace closed. You can use this same method to make any shape neckline and trim pattern. There are no limits to what you can do. I saw several drawings of round necklines with lace above them in a round outline.
Created by • Last edit by on Jun 06, 2018
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