Thursday, April 12, 2012

Posing in Mah Elizabethan Undawears

I look dubious because I'm standing outside in only my shift! Good heavens! Mercy me!

I don't know if it's called a shift or a smock or a chemise, or all three are interchangeable, but here I am in mine. This makes me the Elizabethan equivalent of a centerfold. Only it's the awkwardest centerfold ever.

Close-ups of the details.

So yeah, I'm done with my shift/smock/chemise! Like the pair of bodies, it's made using Drea Leed's custom pattern generator (but with the construction directions given here), and like the pair of bodies, it's more hand-sewing than I normally do on a project. The collar and cuffs and neck slit are all done by hand with a combination of whipstitching, backstitching, and slip-stitching. I even worked up the courage to put in the ugliest underarm gussets ever. I can see that this is a technique I'm going to really need to work on before tackling those Vintage Vogue patterns in my stash. The resulting garment is exactly like every loose, mostly shapeless nightgowny thing I've seen, but it's super comfortable and the sleeves are excellent for being dramatic. Also, it makes an excellent base for a pirate outfit! Gosh, I really wish I could get away with wearing this out of the house on a regular basis. Dressing up is too fun to save for just one day a year.

With my red underbust corset, black boots, and a generic RTW gathered gray skirt. And unbrushed hair, because obviously pirate queens have better things to do than brush their hair. They're too busy buckling swashes.
I also need some giant gold earrings to make this work. And possibly a dirk between my teeth.

And in honor of my generic piratry, a poem from one of my favorite must-read-aloud poets:

Pirate Captain Jim, by Shel Silverstein

"Walk the plank," says Pirate Jim.
"But Captain Jim, I cannot swim."
"Then you must steer us through the gale."
"But Captain Jim, I cannot sail."
"Then down with the galley slaves you go."
"But Captain Jim, I cannot row."
"Then you must be a pirate's clerk."
"But Captain Jim, I cannot work."
"Then a pirate captain you must be."
"Thank you, Jim," says Captain Me.

Yucky underarm gusset. I think it would have made more sense to attach it
to the sleeve first, then sew the entire thing onto the body, instead of
this awkward fudging at the corner.
Fabric: Three yards of 35" 100% cotton muslin
Notions: None! Unless you count the very anachronistic satin rattail cuff ties...what is one actually supposed to use? Lauren or Leimomi?
Techniques: Hand-worked eyelets at the cuffs, hand stitches, underarm and shoulder gussets
Hours: About six, but again, that's mostly due to the hand-sewing.
Will you make this again? I would like to make one for my husband (but obviously shirt length and without the side gores) to wear for a pirate outfit, but then he's not into dressing up so that's pretty unlikely.
Total cost: $6
Final thoughts: Good? It seems a little large for me, but that's easily fixable for the next time. I'm also concerned about the billowiness of the sleeves when it comes to fitting underneath a kirtle/through armholes. But then, a quick googling reveals that there are definitely some similarly huge ones out there, so I guess it's okay?

Now it's on to the kirtle, which will be equally materially inaccurate, being made from an old blue bedsheet and lined in the linen-rayon blend that I originally got for the shift, only it was too stiff. I may make a slight detour for a bit of a sewing break, though, and whip up another more modern dress. I've been totally ignoring the Sew Weekly challenges in favor of trying to push out this Ren Faire outfit, but now that it looks like I have plenty of time...oh gosh, I just jinxed myself, didn't I?


  1. Arrrggggghhhhhh....ya make one fine pirate, matey! LOVE it! Looks like it is a blast to wear too!

  2. you're going to be the coolest pirate at the ren faire. :-)

    1. Thanks, Devra :) Although hopefully I'll get my kirtle finished in time; the pirate is a backup outfit.

  3. That is an awesome outfit!!!!

    1. Thank you!! Although not as practical as your recent ones!

  4. A totally fabulous outfit - I definitely think you could get away with wearing that out to the grocery store and whatnot - but only if you talk in a pirate voice ... and film it for the rest of us, because that would be awesome! Fantastic work, my friend!

    1. Meg, I'm pretty sure my husband would refuse to be associated with me if I went to Trader Joe's like this...but should I ever do so, I will be sure to let you know!

  5. It looks great! And I love the way you worded this whole post - I laughed the whole way through starting at the title, lol!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Brooke! I realized before I posted it that I should change my spelling of "underwear" and insert the word "Elizabethan" so that I wouldn't get all sorts of weirdo traffic!


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