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18th century garb: A guide to making a chemise

The chemise was an undergarment worn by women as a first layer beneath their stays (precursor to the corset) in the 18th century. It is very similar to the shift in earlier centuries, and can be considered the forerunner of the modern-day slip. The garment should be made of soft muslin or linen that is available at fabric stores or fabric warehouses.

Taking measurements
-Measure the length of your arm from the shoulder to where you wish the sleeve to end. In this period, the sleeve will be rather short, like a short-sleeved shirt. Take note of this measurement, adding three inches. -Measure the width of your arm by starting from the very top of your shoulder, beneath your arm and to the top of your shoulder again. Write this measurement down, adding four inches. -Measure the widest part of your body, either your hips or your chest. Jot down the measurement down and add three inches. -Measure from beneath your arm to the bottom of the hem of the chemise. The lengths vary, so this is up to you. If can be mid thigh, beneath your knee, or wherever you prefer. Keep note of measurement, adding three inches. Cutting the fabric
-Cut two rectangles of cloth that match the measurement which you took of your arm. -Cut two rectangles of cloth that equal the other measurements (the widest part of your body and the length). Sewing the chemise
-Fold the sleeves in half, right sides together. -Lay the fabric of the body together, right side to right side. -Sew the sleeves to the body of the chemise, making sure to keep the sleeves open so that you can insert your arms. Make sure that the folds of the sleeves are on the top. -Sew the sides of the chemise together below the sleeves. Hem the bottom of the chemise. -Sew one side of a ribbon or bias tape to the right side of the hole for the neck. Fold the ribbon over and sew the other side to the wrong side of the neck hole. Leave a hole's space for the drawstring. -Pin a safety pin onto a ribbon and thread it through the channel on the neck hole. In this way, you will be able to adjust the neck of the chemise. You can do the same for the sleeves if you like, or leave them as they are.

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