Let the Insanity Begin

Clearly, I should not be allowed to watch Youtube. It always gives me horrible, wonderful ideas.

After watching series from Bernadette Banner, and this series from Engineering Knits, I decided to take a stab at making my own Victorian undergarments: chemise, drawers, petticoat, stockings, and skeleton corset. By hand. No machine. With hand knitted/crocheted trim and insertion lace.

Because why not?

It started with the fabric. I wasn’t going to buy it. But then I found 7 yards of lightweight white cotton on sale at Joanns for $3.99/yard. It’s incredibly thin, gauzy material, which is why you won’t find any photos of me wearing the chemise. But since I mostly wear Victorian costumes in warm weather, I think this is for the best.

Woman in Corset 1898I’m not using a pattern, and I don’t have specific pieces I’m referencing for inspiration. I’m mostly winging it, making pieces that will work for about 1860-1890, which are the main eras I dress for. Also, in the later part of the Victorian period, combinations (see the videos above) were more common, and that is…not me. I spent a good chunk of my childhood wearing rompers at my mom’s insistence, and I detest them. I won’t even wear the modern equivalent. Hand making a garment I know I’ll hate wearing is just an all around bad idea, thus the chemise and drawers.

The first piece I’m starting with is the chemise. This is essentially a nightgown (in fact, historically it could have doubled as a nightgown). It’s the base layer for the torso. While an off-the-shoulder cut was more common, I prefer a something a bit more square necked, so that’s what I went with.


The top portion is now done, and as you can see I’m starting to add in the bottom portion. Confused by the raw edges? I’m doing French seams, which will be fully enclosed later on, don’t worry. I’m about halfway done with attaching it (the back is still loose) and then I’ll need to do the actual fancy bit for the French seams.

This is where I’m at right now. My plan is to do all of the sewing first, and then knit and add the lace later. I have sooooooo much knitting I need to do for the holidays right now, there’s no way I can take on more. I’ve been using this project when I need a break from knitting. Which honestly, I should be getting back to right now. I’ll update you when there’s more to show.

References (mostly used for images):

Vintage Dancer
Sew Historically

Like what you see? Check out What’s in my bag: 1890s