Saturday, 9 January 2016

HSM2016 Challenge 1: Procrastination

The first challenge of the year is done. For this challenge I chose to do an 18th century shift/chemise. I have two shifts that I've used since I started to do historical costuming, one in linen and one in cotton. Since they were among the first things I did, and since they are supposed to be worn so that nobody can see them I never really cared what they looked like. Instead of hemming I just zigzagged the edges and the neckline was decided by a drawstring. Now the drawstring has its advantages, since that has made it possible for me to wear them with a wide variety of clothes, both Star Wars and historical, but it didn't look too good.

Some years ago I bought some linen with the plan to make a new shift, but shifts are boring, and the ones I had were decent enough and functional. I used the linen for other things, not the least the caps I did for HSM2015.

When the first challenge turned out to be procrastination I decided that I had procrastinated enough and it was time to finally make a new shift. Now I had used some of the fabric, but I managed to square off the uneven edges and I had a piece that was 110x190 cm. The problem was the length, so instead of the shift reaching almost to the knees I had to settle with one that just go the thighs. Still it would be long enough to serve as protection under the stays, so I figured it would be ok to make a short shift.

Since the pattern is a combination of squares I didn't use an exact pattern but I was inspired by the shift in Costume Close-up and the instructions from La Couturière Parisienne and Sharon Ann Burnston. The latter was especially used for reading up on getting a good neckline that didn't let the shift slide off the shoulders. One mistake I made, since I didn't use a pattern, was to make the underarm gussets too big so the shift is a bit bulky where the sleeves meet the main body.

Since this was still supposed to be a quick project I planned to sew it on machine. But since it was still holidays and I had enough time on my hands to sit in front of the TV I switched plans and decided to do it fully by hand, I even felled all the seams.

I wore it the first time for the winter photoshoot, but I hadn't hemmed it or finished the sleeve cuffs properly then.

It fit well enough at the neckline, but the bulk under the armpits made it a bit difficult to get the pierrot jacket on, since those sleeves are really tight.

I then procrastinated a bit before finally finishing the hem and cuffs as well.

What the item is: A shift

The Challenge: Procrastination

Materials: 190x110 cm linen

Pattern: Mostly the shift from Costume Close-up

Year: Late 18th century

Notions: Waxed linen thread

How historically accurate is it? I think the linen isn't quite fine enough to have been used for a fine shift, but maybe a simple one. Still somewhere around 90%.

Hours to complete: 12

First worn: for a photoshoot January 4

Total cost: It was all from my stash, and I bought so long ago that I can't remember the price of the fabric.

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