Sunday, March 18, 2007

Regency Chemise Made into Maternity Nightgown Brief Dress Diary

At long, long, last, I completed the Jenny Chancey's Sense and Sensibility Regency chemise...tweaking the pattern to make it into a maternity nightgown with lace and a ruffle.

Here is the gown on my dressmaker's form, with pillows added to simulate the, um, maternal, look. I howled at the result; maybe you will too.

Here is the gown from the back:

You can see that there is plenty of room. Indeed, when I wore it the other night it turned out to be a great fit: it doesn't bind or cling or bother your torso. Most maternity wear these days has a waistline and I find that soooooooo uncomfortable.

I used the Simplicity version of Jennie's pattern, which as we know has more ease. Then, per her instructions on this site, I added width to the front and back panels.

The gown made of 99-cent natural muslin. Sure, it's a low thread count, but it softens up in a hurry. Let's hope it doesn't disintegrate.

The gown is trimmed with cotton lace hand whipped on at the neckline; it is gathered with Offray pink cording. I added a ruffle at the bottom too, set on wrong side to wrong side, and overlaid with cotton beading threaded with Offray pink and white ribbed ribbon to hide the join. All seams are flat-felled. Sleeve hems are hand rolled and whipped and the hem behind the ruffle made using a machine hemmer.

The gown was sewn on two antique machines. For the flat felled seams I used a 1911 Wilcox and Gibbs treadle machine that you see in the background of one of the pictures. It looks very small up top and has the prettiest cast-iron legs, all scrolls and leaves. It produces remarkably tiny, perfectly precise stitches.

I also used a Singer hand crank of the same era. That machine you crank by hand, as the name implies. It's actually quite a fast, reliable machine, doesn't tire your arm, and can go literally anywhere with you.

I used a Singer ruffler attachment to create a fairly tight ruffle. Have attached pictures of the ruffler on the machine and the results. The ruffler is actually older than the machine: ones made after the 19-teens have more settings.

Here is the ruffler. The regular sewing foot is behind it so you get some idea of the difference:

and the results:

There are a few more photos of the gown minus those silly pillows at

Lastly, because I couldn't resist, here is Zip kitty, our darling who had bone cancer and a resulting amputation, napping in our laundry basket.

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