1780's Chemise a la Reine

The Chemise a La Reine ("Chemise for the Queen" in French) is a garment or chemise made popular by the Queen Marie Antoinette of France in the mid 1780's. The fabric consisted of a very lightweight cotton or muslin that was fitted around the neckline, sleeves, and cinched at the waist with a colored sash. It's a very simple but elegant gown even to this day.

With that in mind, I wanted to make one myself. Over the years, I've seen a lot of historical costume makers do it and make it look so easy. This was a perfect time to challenge myself with working on new fabrics and techniques. 

To start off, I ordered 3 yards of cotton voile from ebay for $2.99 a yard. I figured that if I make a mistake, I wouldn't feel too bad considering it was much cheaper than the finer quality which would be $14.99 a yard or higher. 

Next I did used a diagram made by Fresh Frippery. I found this to be very easy to work with and to understand especially since it's my first time making something out of my comfort zone. The only problem that I had was with the fabric itself: I didn't order enough. I actually thought 3 yards was what I needed. I was SO wrong. Not only did I had to shorten the 55 inches in between like it said in Fresh Frippery's diagram to 30 inches with a 12 inch gap for the arms, but I had to really really be sure there was enough room for the arm holes. The next issue I hated dealing with was the drawstring breaking on me in the back meaning I had to do the ruffle trick and pin the heck out of it to keep it in place. 

It was basically 12am and I was already feeling defeated and wanting to quit.

Buuuuut. I didn't. 

I went back online and did some research on other blogs and even went to ask American Duchess and Jenny Le Fleur for help. After their awesome advice on what I needed to do, I finally got it to look halfway decent. The easier parts were the shoulder straps fashioned some leftover cotton muslin.   

All that's left to do now, is make the sleeves and collar. As far as the waistband, I decided to just sew the opening closed, so all I'd have to do is put it over my head and tie the sash around it. The hem on the bottom was measured just a bit over 6inches and sewn (I'll admit, it's a pretty large hem, but it looks unique). Very soon, I plan to pick out a Cobalt Blue/Sapphire sash preferably made from 5 yards of  velvet or moire ribbon that's 4 inches wide.

 Despite of the little hang-ups in the beginning, this was a very easy garment to make, and can be made in a day! 


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