The first things I made for my 1860s Zelda project were my base layers: a linen chemise and drawers. These were usually linen, sometimes cotton, and go next to the skin to absorb sweat and body oils, because they can be washed much more easily and frequently than the outer clothing layers. I used handkerchief-weight linen from Fabrics-store.com and Truly Victorian 102. For some reason, despite being perfectly capable of reading that I should buy 6 ⅝ yards of 45″ wide fabric for both pieces, I bought 3 yards of 58″ fabric instead. That left me with a bit of a challenge cutting it all out, but I did succeed! I had to cut most things on a single layer, which I often do anyway (or I fold the fabric in specific ways rather than cutting on one singular “the fold”.) I also had to piece a smidge of the chemise that wouldn’t fit. That’s historically accurate—piecing is period, and fabric is precious!
The chemise has buttons at the shoulders, which can be folded down for more revealing ballgown necklines, and beading lace (that’s the name for the kind of lace with openings to run a ribbon through) at the neckline. I initially tried to use a lace the seller claimed was cotton, but unfortunately, cotton doesn’t melt under an iron. After that I got much more careful buying lace on the internet. You can tell the difference if you know what to look for (many of the more complex designs are nylon, and cotton lace doesn’t have any sheen and is more expensive.) The neckline and sleeve lace and silk ribbon are from Sew Vintagely.
I sewed all of the construction seams on my machine, and finished a lot of stuff by hand. I even did hand-worked buttonholes for the first time, thanks to an excellent and timely tutorial in Threads magazine. My enthusiasm for the project, which I’d only just begun, made me want to handsew, which isn’t my default state of being at all. I sewed all of the lace on by hand with cotton thread.
The drawers have a split crotch—this is because there’s no way you’re removing any items of clothing just to answer nature’s call. (No, you don’t wear anything underneath, that just makes things much more difficult.) The front and back were close to identical, so I sewed a little lace motif at the back to serve as a “tag.” I also sewed lace from Petite Coco Crafts at the hem of the chemise and the hems of the drawers, just for a bit of pretty. These are, after all, garments for a princess.
Next up: corsetry.
Chemise and drawers
Pattern: Truly Victorian 102
Fabric: IL020 bleached white linen (3oz) from Fabrics-store.com
Hem lace: Petite Coco Crafts
Neckline/sleeve lace and silk ribbon: Sew Vintagely