Costume,  My Blog,  Renaissance Festival,  Sewing

The Chiffon Undershirt

When I decided to make my Elizabethan Whovian costume, I decided to make an undershirt instead of attach the sleeves to the gown. The reason is because I wanted the sides of the gown so it will still fit me as I loose weight.

You can see the lace up sides in my sketch of the drawing…


I don’t think it’s historically correct (For the 1570’s at least) to put lacing in the sides of the gown. Despite this, I’ve seen lacing in the sides of dresses in patterns for 10th through 14th century dresses and there is lacing in the sides of one of the dresses from season two of the Outlander. Since this costume is supposed to be worn during weight loss, I though being able to take in the sides by tightening laces as I loose weight is a very practical idea.

Although lacing in the sides solves my sizing problem, another problem popped up. The pattern I’m using for the costume, Simplicity 3782, calls for the sleeves to be attached to the gown. If I make the gown with the sleeves attached to it, tightening the laces on the sides will cause the sleeves to get distorted. There are ways around this, but all the solutions I though of are complex and I wanted to make the costume’s construction more simple. So, I decided to solve the problem by making an undershirt with the sleeves attached. That way the laces can be tightened on the gown without distorting the way the sleeves look.

I really hated the way the sleeves in the Simplicity pattern worked, looked, and fitted, so I made the sleeves look more Italian Renaissance inspired than Elizabethan. I decided to make the undershirt out of ivory polyester chiffon using a self drafted pattern.

When I started to cut the fabric and sew the undershirt, everything went together very nicely and extremely smoothly. Once I finished sewing the undershirt, it looked like this…


The idea was to use ribbon to gather the sleeves and create the puffy look to them. I considered sewing elastic in the sleeves, but I thought it would be too hard to sew it to the chiffon. I also added elastic to the neck of the shirt so it could adjust to my weight and size.

After finishing the shirt, I tried on the shirt and realized the neckline didn’t sit high enough so it would look right with the gown. The problem was I didn’t make the sleeves large enough so the neckline didn’t stretch past my shoulders. Since I couldn’t use the shirt with the costume, I wasn’t sure about what to do or what to use the shirt for. At the time I needed some new shirts and couldn’t find any long enough for my torso. So, I decided to turn the undershirt into an off the shoulder shirt.

I did this by shortening the sleeves…


And added a lining to the body of the shirt so it won’t be so shirt wouldn’t be sheer.

After I was done, the shirt looked like this…


undershirt-finished-3Over all I’m very pleased with the way it turned out. I’m still upset I cannot use it for my costume, but hey! I have a shirt with a longer body than the ones I saw at the store! I’m not sure when I’ll get to wear it out for the first time, but it’s done and wearable! As for the Elizabethan Whovian costume, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the sleeves. I have an idea, but I need to get new fabric before I start working on it.

That’s all for now and than you for reading!

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