1790s Shift

So as it says in my bio over there, I've done everything for my M. A. except my thesis/qualifying paper. In my program, there are a lot of options for that: you can do a strictly academic research paper, or conserve a difficult object, or put together an exhibition proposal - pretty much anything sufficiently complicated to merit a 30-50 page paper. My project is to sew an ensemble accurate to the period 1795-1805, when the main historicizing influence on fashion was the ancient world. (1805 is about when the Renaissance turns into the main influence, although you can still see neoclassical touches.)

The first step in any ensemble is, of course, the shift(/smock/chemise).  I already had the basic idea of how eighteenth century shifts work from previous research and from sketching the pattern of one in Costume Mounting Skills, but I looked around to see how short and tight sleeves could be, given that the sleeves of dresses were often short and tight.  Here are a couple.

- M974.38.1 at the McCord Museum
- 2005.368 at the Met

For the pattern, I combined the one in Fitting and Proper with the one I made in class, changing dimensions to suit my body.


Technically, I should have cut the body of the shift straight and then put gores in. However, the linen was already wider than it would have been in period, and I have a lot of sewing to do in this project, so I cut the body in a flared shape.


All of the seams were sewn with running stitches, then flat-felled with whip-stitches.


Unfortunately, I cut the sleeves a little too small, but it was very easy to piece in a bit of cloth and make it fit perfectly.


I turned all of the raw edges under twice and slip-stitched them down, which was the treatment used on the shift in the study collection. (I think this may have been what was done to flat-fell the seams as well.)


The last step was to cross-stitch my initials on the front. To be honest, it was the best part. I definitely need to make more time for embroidery in my life, and I'm going to try to do some on the dress as well.