I took another try at a variation of a girl's chemise last night. The Workwoman's Guide (1840) mentions this technique for a lady's shift (chemise) on page 45, so I thought I'd try it for a little girl.
I cut this one out the same as the other chemise according to the child's chemise dimensions. Well, I did steepen my slope giving me more fabric to work with at the pointy end, but that, in the end makes the back slightly bigger than the front, but still workable (that probably doesn't make sense, but I don't think I'll take the time to figure out how to explain it).
So the body (big trapezoid) is basically 18" on the top and 25" on the bottom and 21" tall.
The shoulder straps are 4" x 11". The instructions just mention shoulder straps but never say dimensions, so I just made that up.
The sleeves are 4" x 16" with little triangles cut off the ends to mimic the shape of a gusseted sleeve. See, here I am cutting corners again!
First, I finished the edges of the sleeves as well as the tops of the body (just folded over 1/4" twice and pressed) and straight stitched along the edge.
Then, I folded the shoulder straps in half lengthwise and pressed and attached them to the inside of the body with a straight stitch. I made sure the folded edge was toward the center -- this makes it so you don't have any edges to finish later!
Next, I marked the centers of my shoulder straps as well as my sleeves, matched them up and stitched them together.
Then, I folded the whole thing in half, matching the side seams and the sleeves and stitched closed. Typically I finish my seams with a second straight stitch close to the first. If I remember correctly, that is period appropriate. You could zig-zag, but they didn't have that back then! I actually didn't do my second straight stitch on this garment, so I really need to go back and hand overcast my seams together.
Here's the garment right side out. Obviously it's too wide. If the arms were bigger, it would fit me!
A technique mentioned in the Workwoman is to run a string through the hem/casing of the neckline. It doesn't say to do it in these instructions, but I can't imagine NOT doing it.
So, I got my super long needle, some embroidery floss, secured one end on the inside by sewing a 1/2" loop over itself a few times, fed the needle through my little hem to the other side, pulled out the needle, secured the end, then did the same to the other side of the chemise. You can't really tell in the picture below, but I'm trying to show how I secured the ends of the floss.
It's a little big on her, so I had her hold her arms up for the picture so it wouldn't fall down too low. I believe the Workwoman said this size should work for age 5 on up; but, my daughter is only 4, well, for a couple days anyway ;-). It should fit next year. Had it not been 11:00 last night when I started this project, I would have had her try it on so I'd know how long those shoulder straps should have been! If I took about an inch off the total length of the strap (4" x 10"), it probably would have been perfect. I'll probably just sew a 3" piece folded in half along the inside of the front just for modesty's sake and ease of wear this year!
We all think it's really cute! How am I ever going to get her to wear the first chemise I tried yesterday that fits better?