1st Historical Sew of 2016 – Truly Victorian Chemise

I’ve finally completed my first historical garment of the year, a test chemise from TV 102 to match the test bloomers I made about a year ago. After five years? six? of historical costuming I finally have a complete set of undergarments. I did not make a chemise before now because 1) the previous pattern I tried to use was terrible 2) I got away with just proper split bloomers and a tank top. I can now move on to make the linen blend “heirloom” versions of both.

Making this chemise is very simple, unless you actually try too hard to follow the instructions. You can make the chemise with small “sleeves” or without. I chose to make a sleeveless version. The problem is, the pattern doesn’t really tell you what to do if you omit the sleeve. Well, ok, it does tell you, but way after when you really needed to know. Also, the pattern tells you to reinforce the straps and provides a little rectangle pattern piece to cut. Doing the reinforcing makes sense, but how you are instructed to do the reinforcing does not. All that is required is to make sure that your button hole and button are mounted through three layers of fabric and that all the edges of the reinforcing piece are sewn down. I’m being a little vague here but trust me this advice will make more sense if you actually make this chemise. It certainly isn’t any more confusing.

This underwear pattern must have been one of the first patterns released by Truly Victorian. That might explain the wonky instructions. I generally find TV patterns to be easy to follow. In the time I wasted trying to figure out what was being said, I could have probably sewn a 2nd chemise! Just trust your instincts. It will all turn out fine.

I could have shortened the chemise a bit but it’s fine and wearable as is.

chemise 1

The color got a bit off here. It’s more of a khaki tan check and ribbon than brown.

Fabric — Cotton Lawn from Fashion Fabrics Club / Insertion Lace — good ole Joann’s

I opted not to trim the hem. I figured it probably would just get rumpled in the wash. Who wants to iron the trim on their underwear!

I pinned my bloomers to the form just to get a feel for the two together. You can read about the bloomer construction over here. Cute!

chemise 2




  1. We are presently sewing this chemise and I was online looking for extra help with those stupid reinforcement strap pieces when I found your post! Thank you for “sort of” explaining the strap pieces – I’ll just wing it and I’m sure it will be fine! Yes the instructions are quite vague as to what to do if you aren’t putting in sleeves (which we aren’t) so we’re just going to wing that too. 🙂

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