Over the years, I made many Edwardian chemises because the Edwardian era is my favorite historical era! 😀 I always try to make my Edwardian chemises as historically accurate as possible which means a lot of hand sewing and hand embroidery! But I love inserting lace by hand and making handmade lace! 😀
What Is A Chemise?
A chemise – also called shift or slip – is a type of underwear. Most chemises in the Edwardian era were knee-length. You usually wore the chemise under your corset as a protecting layer between the skin and corset. However, there also were chemises with a fitted waist in the Edwardian era: these fitted chemises were rather worn over the corset instead of a corset cover and short petticoat.
Historically Correct Edwardian Sewing Details
All my Edwardian chemises have the following historically accurate Edwardian sewing details in common:
- I insert lace either by hand or with straight stitches by machine
- I only use lace that was popular for Edwardian underwear such as cotton Valenciennes lace, cotton eyelet lace, cotton crochet lace & cotton bobbin lace. Valenciennes lace was the most popular lace for underwear in the 1900s
- I use pure cotton fabric – usually sheer cotton batiste fabric
- all seams are flat felled seams
- the chemises have historically correct Edwardian plackets & closures. Edwardian underwear was either closed with buttons or snaps
- ruffles are attached by following Edwardian sewing instructions. I usually use the Edwardian “receiving tuck” to attach ruffles
- I embellish the chemises with pintucks, hand embroidery and pure silk ribbons
My Edwardian broderie anglaise lace chemise is inspired by this pretty Edwardian chemise. To make the yoke I joined together three different broderie anglaise lace trims. Then I gathered the cotton fabric under the lace yoke. I also added a button closure at the shoulders because Edwardian chemises often had this detail.
For this simple Edwardian chemise I made an Edwardian scallop trim by hand. And the pattern is an exact copy of the antique Edwardian broderie anglaise chemise below. 🙂
This is actually a corset cover. However, I’m wondering if I should refashion the corset cover into a chemise because I like how it looks as a chemise.
Edwardian Chemises With A Fitted Waist
Because I had so many lace scraps leftover from other sewing projects, I recently made two Edwardian chemises with a fitted waist. I love how they turned: I even wear them today as summer dresses! 😀
And this is the first Edwardian chemise I made many years ago!
Combinations suits were an alternative to chemises in the Edwardian era. They could be worn over or under the corset depending on the other types of underwear you’re wearing.
I used sheer cotton batiste and cotton Valenciennes lace for my Edwardian combination and sewed countless of buttonholes on the bias to thread silk ribbon through!
Related: How To Sew Buttonholes On The Bias
Antique Edwardian Chemises
This is an antique chemise from the Edwardian era which I found on ebay! I love it: The hand embroidery is so beautiful! 😀 And despite its age, the fabric is still very sturdy – much sturdier than most modern cotton fabrics!
The chemise has handmade broderie anglaise embroidery at the front. The scallops at the neck and armscyes are also finished with buttonhole stitches by hand. There are three tucks at each shoulder: this is such a small detail but the chemise fits so much better with these tucks! 😀
The antique Edwardian chemise is slightly over knee-length. In the photo below I wear the chemise with my Edwardian cotton net summer corset.
This is another antique Edwardian lace slip. This type of chemise with a semi-fitted waist and a longer skirt was usually worn by young girls in the 1910s.
Related: Edwardian Princess Slip