Sunday, March 08, 2015

No-Pattern Wing-it Chemise Tutorial Part 2

If you followed along with me last time, you should have nine pieces that don't resemble a chemise: a front piece and a back piece, two identical sleeves, four identical sleeve gussets, and a front facing. Now it's time to sew everything together! I'm calling this my Wing-it Chemise because I really am just guessing at the whole thing. While I can follow a sewing pattern, I feel like I sew better this way.

Part of my costume research involved learning about Elizabethan seams. Generally and in a nutshell, each separate piece would be hemmed around all edges and then the appropriate edges would be whip-stitched together. I am using a sewing machine for this as I just don't have time to do it all by hand, but we can get the basic look of Elizabethan seams (and increase the life of our garment) with a machine too. If you have an overlock machine and want to skip hemming the seams for the Elizabethan look, go for it. I'm using a half inch seam allowance unless otherwise noted. 

First and with right sides together, sew the long, straight edge of the sleeves to the 10 inch diagonal cut on the front piece. Leave about half an inch at the bottom of this seam (where the front piece turns towards the rest of the body) unsewn to make adding the gusset easier.

Pin the front piece to the sleeve, along that 10 inch triangle we cut off for shaping.

Sew! 1/2 inch seam allowance.
Pin the gusset to the base of this seam, one edge will be on the body piece and one on the sleeve piece with the point of the gusset where the shoulder seam ends. Work slowly here, and sew the gusset to the body and sleeve - take care to make sure the fabric is flat on the bottom with as few little folds or accidental darts as possible. You will probably have at least one accidental dart, but that's okay.

Pinning the sleeve gusset. The center point should be at the base of the shoulder seam.

Sewing the gusset. Work slow, make sure you don't have any wrinkles underneath.

This is what the shoulder seam and two gusset seams looks like from the front.
There is a tiny dart in there. These are bound to happen.
To achieve the Elizabethan seam look, press these seams open, turn under the raw edges and press again, then straight stitch down the folds. Work slowly here as well, making sure you are as close to the edge of the fold as possible without going off. I suggest sewing the part of the seam that faces towards the gussets and the shoulder seams at this step. Leave the rest of the gusset seams (the part that would be sewn to the sleeve piece and body piece) for later.

Open the seams and fold under the raw edge. Sew slowly on the fold.

This is about what an Elizabethan seam looks like from the front.

Finishing gusset seams. Only work in towards the gusset for now.
We'll take care of that other half of the seam later.
Repeat these steps on the other three sleeve edges. I found that completing one side at a time made it easier to fumble around with all that fabric. I sewed the sleeves onto the front piece first and then to the back one at a time, finishing seams as I went along. Be careful that your garment doesn't get all twisted up. Take your time to make sure you really do have right sides together and are matching the correct sleeve side to the correct front or back shoulder.

You now have a vaguely dress-shaped, open-sided tube. Good job!

A vaguely dress-shaped thing that is way too big!
Next, let's handle the front facing. I took a lot of pictures for this part to help you through, so I'm going to put it in its own post. Come back next time!

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