Sunday 6 September 2015

Danish Chemise Dress - Tutorial

Because I am so in love with this light, airy, elegant Chemise Dress and there is a free pattern available on the Museum homepage here

I thought I'd write a small tutorial how to assemble the dress - because all of the info on the pattern is in Danish.

So, after you've downloaded the pdf I suggest you do this to get something to work with:

1.Copy the museum's pdf into inkscape
2. Enlarge it so the boxes are 5cms wide (about 2 inches)
3. Save it as a .png
4. Copy that it into a Word Excel file (adjust the pages so there is hardly any margin, other wise you just have tons of overlap and waste paper...)
5. Print. I printed only the pages with the bodice pieces, and the top pleats of the skirt to safe paper, because the length of the skirt I have to determine anyway after finishing the bodice piece. And you can also measure that on the pdf.
6. Make a print-out of the Museum's pdf, too, so you know how to assemble your paper.
7. Don't forget to save the pdf to your computer, in case the museum's page goes down or so... :)

Now you've got a pattern for a lovely gown
- The underbust measurement is 67-70cms (about 26,5-28 inches)
- Chest is about 80-83 cms (about 31,5-32,5 inches)
- Length from underbust middle to floor: 115cm (45inch), back middle waist seam to floor about 136cms (53inch)
- bust point about 25cms
- back width about 30cms (12 inches)

Obviously, if these aren't your measurements, you've got to adjust the bodice. If you've never made that before, maybe this isn't the right project to start. You should know how to adjust stuff and have a bit of experience with sewing. I recommend sewing this by hand, it's easiest. also carefully mark and match.

Make a mock-up, at least of the bodice and the bodice-cover and the draping and sleeves, so you understand how the pleating works and where you might need to make further changes before cutting your nice favourite fabric. Especially the sleeves need attention, because they are set deeply into the back and have no folds or tucks to give enough space.

To be worn over appropriate underwear. (e.g. bodiced petticoat, short stays...)

Fabric required:
At least 6meters of thin cotton batist or voile or something comparable. About 50cms of thin canvas or thin twill or other suitable fabric for the bodice base.

Cut out the bodice cover and bodice base (don't forget the seam allowances).

bodice base assembly
center backs together. The original has a 6cms long piece of string or small band attached to the center back inside. Then proceed  with side back, sides and fronts. Attach shoulder strap only at the front.
The original has a tunnel with a string at the front, which I omitted.
Finish all visible (and if you want all invisible) hems. Sew the eyelets by hand. Use buttonhole stitch and poke throught the future-eyelet-hole with an awl after every stitch. Insert string. Try the bodice on before you proceed.

Bodice cover assembly
Center backs together and then sides. Attach shoulder straps at front only. Follow pleating guide to make it lie nicely on the bodice base and wing it a bit here. The front flaps overlap a little to cover the eyelet fastening. Don't forget to make the pleat "K". The double pleats are attached with only one seams on the bodice base as you can see on the picture.

Now the bodice base and cover should be assembled and you try them on and attach the shoulder straps together in the right place.

Finish remaining seams. 

Sew together sleeve and sleeve lining and treat as one. Set in sleeves by hand by easing them in, they go in quite wide into the back, but that's part of the fun. Finish sleeve hems.

Front draping
Again, make a mock-up first to understand the pleating. Then pleat the 2 sides, iron nicely and stitch together at the two lines "F" and just about "H".  Stitch Center Back (will be a slight V-shape) and mount on a piece of band, about 1,5cms wide, from "D" to "E". (I've used twill tape, Petersham should work nicely, too, something that gives it a bit of stability). Attach the back and sides to the Bodice where indicated on the pattern. Make sure to leave enough space at the bottom to attach to the Front Skirt. Finish all other hems.

Cut the skirts, sew back and front together and pleat according to pleating guide, to match back and sides. Attach the front panels to the Front Draping only, not to the bodice and make the seam wide enough to create a tunnel for the drawstrings. Then attach the back panel on the bodice from point B to C. Finish all hems, the original has a 7mm ribbon at the side "pocket opening" and at the bottom.

Insert string in front and attach.

I hope this could help you, if you have any problems, just ask.

Again, here is the link to my gown. (And I know already what I sould have done differently...)

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