HSF 3 – Under it all: A shift in the fashion of shifts

Sew fortnightly

Lo and behold, if I am not several days ahead of deadline in this challenge! I’m rather amazed, as I’m usually a dedicated follower of that old, noble tradition of last-minute-panic. It’s almost as if I should start with the other plan I had for this too…. But I also have a modern knits project to finish, so maybe it’s just as good to have the stays as a side project (though it would be really helpful to have them done before the stripes-challenge).

This is the story of a shift. The shift is based on probably one of the earliest garment-patterns in the world, using rectangles, squares and triangles. And, since I forgot a bit of maths when cutting the pieces 1½ years ago, some more triangles. As you may have noticed, I’ve had a lot of UFO’s and UFI’s (UnFinishedIdeas) for the HSF-challenges so far, and this was no exception.

The wrinkled UFO-shift

The wrinkled UFO-shift on the ironing board

I had put it all together, felled the seams, and then I didn’t hem it. A really good, solid plan considering the sheer cotton fabric… So the first things I had to do when taking it up again was to iron it and cut off the frayed edges. I also cut the neckline lower to prevent it from showing underneath the (planned) outer garments. Then, it was time for hemming, which was rather straight-forward, really. I did the neckline and sleeves first, and then evened out the skirt with really high-tech tools, seen in this post.

Dancing dress 1809

Dancing dress 1809 – one day I’ll make the whole ensemble.

This is thought to be a part of a regency outfit, which is a time period which I haven’t sewn anything from but have been interested in since first coming across Jane Austen a very long time ago. So it’s really a whole new thing for me, sewing in cotton… The sheerness of the fabric is not completely historically accurate I would think, since this was the undermost garment and should survive to be washed. My choice of fabric comes more of the idea I had for the regency ensemble, based on this fashion plate found on Wikimedia Commons. As you can see the dress is very sheer and layered, so my idea was to have the shift, the petticoat and then the actual dress in sheer fabric. I think that 3 layers should be good. The shift is very comfortable, but it’s also rather see-through…

I’m thinking about putting a drawstring in the neckline of the shift too, but I think I’ll wait a bit and see how the stays will fit before I decide.

The shifted door

The shifted door

You see how it bulks out a bit on the sides. That would be the extra gores. Possibly it would have happened historically if someone larger had inherited your shift. But shifts were apparently used until nothing remained, so it might be a longshot…. Anyway, I like them. Or rather, I like what they mean, which is the ability to walk in full stride…

Closeup on sleeve gusset and extra side-gore.

Close-up on sleeve gusset and extra side-gore made from two smaller triangles

One of the extra side-gores was made from a sewn-together triangle, the other from a whole. This is from a fabric-saving technique which I’ve used in medieval garments earlier, that you have a rectangle of fabric and making one full triangle and two half triangles of it. Despite these miscalculations and the sheer fabric, I’m quite pleased with it. It will be a good start to the dresses I’ve yet to make. And, like I said, it’s really comfy!

Shifting the facts

The Challenge: #3 Under it all

Fabric: Sheer cotton

Pattern: Made up, but based on the drawing of the regency chemise pattern on Nehelenia Patterns, and modified due to necessity.

Year: Early 1800’s. But the pattern itself might be rather older…

Notions: White polyester thread, because that’s what I had.

How historically accurate is it? About 60% perhaps? With the extra gores, the sheer fabric (though historically possible) and the polyester thread (not so possible) being the biggest doubts…

Hours to complete: Many long hours of handsewing in 2011. Not so many hours hand-hemming it in 2013…

First worn: Around the house today, just to see how it turned out.

Total cost: All stash. Not very expensive fabric either, from what I remember.


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Filed under Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge


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