If you’re at all like most historical costumers, you tend to focus on the main part of a new costume – the dress. I know I do. Sure, you give a thought to the corset; maybe even make a new one which we know is the substance for a well-presented silhouette. Then you follow with thoughts of what to wear under that new corset.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a closet full of ready-made chemise & drawers sets without having to worry about making them at the last minute?
If you desire well-made undergarments – rather than spend the money on some shoddy, tacky thing from a foreign vendor who doesn’t know a thing about historical fashion –look first to this list of available patterns then apply your own sewing skills for a project you can be proud of.
No more crappy underwear!
From time to time we all get distracted by the bulk work of the project, letting the “little things” like basic undergarments fall by the wayside. But protecting your beautiful corset and dress from normal sweat and body oils is crucial.
Use this list of the many patterns available for the most basic of period clothing pieces. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. For suggestions on fabrics for undergarments read this post.
Also, let’s support these independent pattern publishers so they will continue to make patterns we can use to support our CADD (Costumer’s Attention Deficit Disorder).
Truly Victorian – well designed and generally easy to follow; a favorite among historical costumers. Please tell Heather I sent you!
#TV102 Chemise & Drawers – one of the easiest patterns to sew up; quick & to the point; can be used as basic undergarments for Regency through Edwardian. I have a couple sets of these as my “every day” wear.
Laughing Moon – JoAnn’s patterns are well done and full of additional information; a wide range of sizes are included
LM #100 Ladies Victorian Underwear – this is the pattern that includes her ever popular Dore & Silverado corset patterns. The chemise has nice styling.
Sense & Sensibility – Please tell Jennie I sent you! Easy patterns designed for the modern sewer.
Past Patterns – generally well drafted with sources listed and other period information
#002 Two Early Nineteenth Century Chemises – great for Regency, Romantic Era & Early Victorian
Past Patterns – Out Of Print (but Google for availability from other vendors)
#107 Two Edwardian Combinations
#117 Edwardian French Drawers
#CWSS-02 Country Wives’ Two Chemises 1805-07 (cutting diagrams only) – suitable for Regency through Romantic Era
Kannik’s Korner – great patterns with attention to historical accuracy (I have this one in linen for all my Regency & Early Victorian costumes.)
Period Impressions – can be hit or miss; fairly simple designs with basic instructions; pieces don’t always match or are cut differently than the drawing
Mantua Maker – garment sketches lack imagination but the sewing instructions are full of helpful details; sizes tend to run on the small side
Follow this link for Mantua Maker patterns not linked below.
#1800-1: 1600 – 1840 Chemise Pattern
#1810-4: 1800 – 1830 Pantalettes Pattern
#1880-1: 1870’s – 1880’s Chemise Pattern
#1880-2: 1880’s – 1890’s Open Drawers Pattern
#1880-7: 1880’s – 1890’s Underwear Set Pattern
#1880-8: 1880’s – 1890’s Combinations Pattern
Buckaroo Bobbins – good patterns printed on newsprint paper. Their site had gone away for a while but is back. The patterns are still available from a variety of vendors so do a Google search.
Ageless Patterns – for those truly advanced; little or no sewing instructions; most traced straight off period diagrams and produced ‘as is’ with period sizing, although some patterns are now multi-sized
Follow this link for all Ageless Undergarment patterns.
#1503: 1897 Ladies Undergarments
#1626: 1877 2 Ladies Chemises
#1627: 1877 Chemise Buttoned on the Shoulders
Simplicity – one of the “Big 4” commercial pattern lines
#2890 Civil War Corset, Chemise & Drawers (out of print but google it)
#7215 Civil War Chemise & Corset (out of print but google it)
Folkwear – decent patterns that produce period-esque garments
Harriet’s Patterns – not terrific patterns, but still options that are available
Follow this link and click on the time period you want.
21-L Day Chemise
22-L Evening Chemise
24B-L Civil War Drawers
24A-L Drawers, Late 1880s
Pattern resources from books
Period Costume for Stage & Screen: 1800-1909 by Jean Hunnisett – many basic and foundational patterns on grids
Voice of Fashion (1900-1905), Edwardian Modiste (1905-1909) and Fashions of the Gilded Age, Volume 1 (1877-1882) published by Frances Grimble – pattern diagrams from period sources that need to be drafted out with a specific ruler system (included in each book); a wide variety of garments to fill your costume closet
If you want something different try these here below. Most are either original patterns and/or available as pattern diagrams.
Elizabeth Stewart Clark – her free chemise and drawers patterns are simple PDF directions for drafting out patterns to your measurements. I’ve made the drawers (didn’t measure my fabric width first so make sure you do) and put in a front opening. But after wearing for years I’ve decided a back opening on drawers is so much better.
Both above links take you to the main Compendium page. Scroll down to Free Projects and Patterns section to find the PDF files.
Vintage Pattern Lending Library – these are original patterns that can be checked out (like a library) and some are available for purchase. Although you don’t really need to make a mockup of undergarments, being originals I would almost recommend a fitting session with these.
1860s Civil War Era Chemise Pattern from Peterson’s, December 1860 – an original diagram straight from a period magazine
What’s your experience been with any of these patterns? Do you have a favorite chemise or drawers pattern? Share your experiences below.