Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekend Project: Italian Chemise

I have about 100 pairs of pajamas. I like to see people dressed comfortably.
Hugh Hefner

Another project from my queue completed! I made myself an Italian chemise, following directions written by Jennifer Thompson and posted here. The pattern was pretty simple - a series of four rectangles (front, back and two sleeves), with gussets at the underarms. Stitching these pieces together left a LARGE neck opening, which was to be closed up by gathering and then binding... It would be difficult to exaggerate how LARGE the neck opening was. I'm not sure if even this picture does it justice - when I held this garment at the neck with my arms fully outstretched, it still sagged in the middle...

Here is a shot of the gussets on one underarm. With regards to these gussets, I followed one bit of advice that I shouldn't have followed, and skipped one bit of advice that I should have paid more attention to. Sigh... ;)

The advice that I shouldn't have followed was to make French seams. It's probably just my lack of experience, but once the gussets were attached with French seams, I had a difficult time sewing the side seams. I should have sewn all of the seams normally and then finished them all after the garment was completed.

The advice that I should have paid more attention to had to do with the size of the gussets. Jennifer said that the original pattern called for 10 inch gussets and she made 7 inch gussets to fit her body more closely. She warned that the gussets are the critical sizing element and recommended experimenting with them to find the best size for your body before sewing the garment.

I made 8.5 inch gussets, for the deeply profound reason that this was the size of the piece of fabric that I had leftover after cutting the other rectangles. Turns out that this was possibly not the very best rationale to use... My chemise is a bit tight under my arms - I should have experimented a bit!

As for the gathering, first I tried to gather each rectangle separately, but that didn't work and I had to gather the whole garment as one. I used three rows of buttonhole twist thread (very strong), and (happily!) did not have any thread breakage.

Here is a shot after gathering - I don't know why blogspot keeps flipping this image - it is oriented correctly in my viewer...

Guess what? - I made my own bias binding! (For the first time!) This is 100% thanks to you guys and your advice on one of my previous "Friday Confessions." So, thank you! :)

Here I am modeling the final garment. The neckline is a bit large and the chemise has a tendency to slip down. So far, my husband hasn't complained... ;)

A few miscellaneous details - I kept the length of the robe unchanged (just a small hem), but trimmed eleven inches off each sleeve! Also, I gathered the neckline to about 40 inches, but after I put the binding on and removed the gathering stitches, it "grew" a bit. I guess I should have gathered it more than I wanted, in preparation for this expansion...

All in all, it was a quick, fun and easy project. I may make it once more, to fix up those little imperfections. But it is certainly good enough to wear and it's fun to wear around the house in the evenings! :)

Parting Shot: Sammy and Milly, the "kittens", begin to warm up to each other now that they don't have Jackson to worship and adore...


Christine said...

That looks so comfy! And I'm so glad to see the kittens warming up to one another. It's good that they have each other.