Regency chemise back closing

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Kay Morgan
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Regency chemise back closing

Post by Kay Morgan »

Hello.

I'm sewing a sleeveless Regency chemise with a fitted body, and I need to leave a center back opening of about 6 inches in order to slip it on. However, I don't know what to use to close the back gap. I'm worried that hook-and-eyes will dig into my back when I have the corset on (or that they may even get caught into the back laces).

Do you know of any practical and period-respectful solution for this?

Many thanks in advance.

Kay

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sally
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Re: Regency chemise back closing

Post by sally »

would a small tie at the top do the trick? The corset will hold the body part closed once you have it on
Last edited by sally on Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Shadowcat
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Re: Regency chemise back closing

Post by Shadowcat »

Not being difficult, but why do you need it to be back opening? All the extant, and documented Regency shifts I have seen, apart from figures in churches, have large enough necklines to get the head through easily, tightened with a draw string if necessary. Also I don't remember ever seeing a Regency shift with a fitted body and no sleeves. Are you actually talking about a so called "bodiced petticoat?"

S.

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Kay Morgan
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Re: Regency chemise back closing

Post by Kay Morgan »

Hello and thank you very much for your replies.

Sally, the tie will probably work, ¡thanks! I'll try that solution as soon as I get my Regency corset from the corsetmaker.

Shadowcat, the only notion I have of a "bodiced petticoat" is that pattern from La Mode Bagatelle of a boned, fitted-bodice chemise that doubles as chemise and corset, am I correct? What I am making is something similar to this: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/w ... ress-49958 The bodice is fitted and the collar and armholes are rather fitted to the body. I am the opposite of an expert in historical accuracy, but I've seen this kind of underdress worn both under and over a corset by reenactors.

The reason I went for this type of garment instead of a regular drawstring-neckline chemise is that I am extremely top-heavy (front and back) and the bulk of a gathered chemise with gathered short sleeves would prevent me from successfully making a frock with a fitted neckline and fitted 3/4 sleeves, which would suit my body type much better than a drawstring dress with puffed sleeves. The fact that I'm a poor seamstress doesn't help. :wink:

Maybe I'm getting it all wrong but I figured that certain very low and wide necklines from the Regency period, with very small and short cap sleeves, made it difficult to fit a drawstring chemise under them. I'm probably out of my depth here, sorry.

Thanks again.

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Shadowcat
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Re: Regency chemise back closing

Post by Shadowcat »

The kind of garment from the museum does not appear to have any stiffening for support, and would probably have been worn over stays and a shift. If you use a very fine linen or cotton (sshh - not everyone approves of cotton as early as this!) it will be so contained that you will not find it adds any bulk at all under stays. You will, in fact be more comfortble, especially if you use linen, as it will prevent your stays cutting into you, and absorb sweat.

As a professional costumer I have made bodiced petticoats, petticoats, shifts and stays for all kinds of shapes and really, the shift/stays, petticoat option works extremely well. I must say that I have not seen that type of petticoat worn under stays, but instead, over them. Howver, needless to say, I have not seen every costume in every museum, or on every re-enactor!!

S.

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Post by frances »

Hi,

I wear regency clothing a lot and also teach people how to make their own outfits, even if they do have minimal sewing skills.

1. When you are getting dressed will there be someone there to help you? A back fastening petticoat, like this example, has two tape ties - one through a channel under the bust to keep the body shape/silhouette neat and the other through a channel around the neckline to draw it up gently and stop it becoming so loose that a gentleman would have to avert his eyes when looking down at you!!

2. If you will be on your own I suggest that you sew up the back and have a front opening. Then you could have hooks and eyes - no problem with metal being pushed into skin here. Or you could go for the more authentic solution - a neck channel and an under-the bust channel.

Please use cotton or linen tape, not nylon ribbon which tends to slip out of its knot as you move about. There is very little fabric around the bust in this style. But you should be making underwear out of very fine cotton/linen so that there is very little bulk anyway in whatever style of undergarments you wear. Do not make the mistake that I did early on and make your chemise out of cotton sheeting. Ouch. The gathers form into little knife edges when squashed down under a corset/stays and that is very painful after a few hours of wear.

I assume that you are making a separate bust-length corset. If you are on the larger size you could let in little 'v's' under the bust, and/or sew lengths of rigeline under the bust to support you securely. I have seen far too many ladies not wearing a bra and thinking that this makes them period correct. This is definitely not period correct, makes lumps on one's front in an odd place stylistically and is also very uncomfortable and sweaty. Your bust should aim to be around 2" higher than today's normal position - look at the pictures; the ladies look as though they are about to fall out of their front bodices.

I agree with Shadowcat. This sleeveless petticoat is worn over the stays. You need a garment with short sleeves underneath to absorb underarm sweat, and a highish back to absorb the trickles that wander down the back-bone at intervals. Underwear gets washed very frequently, the dress and spencer much less often.

Are you in group? What event are you planning to attend?

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Alice the Huswyf
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Re: Regency chemise back closing

Post by Alice the Huswyf »

What you are copying is an underdress - the heavy white work decoration on the hemline is designed to be seen under a tunic length overdress.

Women of the period were exhorted that less than three layers was indecent:
- you are looking at a chemise (the shorter laundering layer that absorbs sweat and keeps the stays clean),
- over which are worn the the stays (whether long or short to support the bust and to suppress the curvier abdomen),
- then an ankle length petticoat to soften the line of the stay-edges at the bust (much in the shape of the underdress you are copying) to support the length of the skirt, to prevent transparency . In summer this is very necessary becuase of the predeliction for muslins and static from finer silks. In winter a fine flannel petticoat was substituted.
And then the dress itself.

'Bodiced' or 'stiffened' petticoats are tailored and reinforced to support the figure, but really only work for the smaller breasted. This is the period of the splendid cleavage, and frankly the amount actually seen on show is immaterial. Period stays don't lift the breasts like a modern bra, but support them in their natural position, creating 'float' - my normal modern bust looks far more spectacular in short stays that the best bra I have ever been fitted in.

Don't be afraid that having good embonpoint (bust and curves) stops you wearing regency fashons - the style adapts to the junoesque figure with a change of fabrics (silks and fine wools instead of muslins) and appropriate trimmings (silk type velvets intead of swansdown).

Hooks and eyes are used relatively late - dorset buttons mid regency, drawtapes and pins otherwise for earlier.

I can get into a backlaced long stay on my own but it is a wriggle; I have, however to be dressed in my petticioat as it has an open back with a neckline and bustline draw tape. A petticoat made in a fine linen, cambric or poplin with a drawtape that fastens on the inside of the front neckline and bustline would work very well and preserve a neat line under your dress. Again, don' worry about a chemise adding bulk - just choose a fine fabric without bulk.
Is it 'coz I is middewl clarse, aih?

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