Thursday, March 16, 2017

1790 - 1810 Shift

This past weekend's project was the innermost layer of an outfit - a shift! My old shift was made out of a rather heavy, draping "linen look" fabric from Jo-Ann's tennish years ago, sooo... time for a new one.

Inspiration? It is a pretty basic shift, like any number of shifts from 1770-1810. If I had to pick a particular reference I would offer this one: 

Shift, American, early 19th century, MFA, 99.664.51
Mine has no sleeve ruffles, partly because I don't have fine enough fabric (the fabric used for ruffles was often finer than the linen used for the body of shifts or shirts), and partly because I wasn't sure I would like the look (would they show under long sleeves? Would they look cluttered under sheer puff sleeves?) and partly because I just wanted to make a quick and basic project that was easy from start to finish. The sleeves are also slightly shorter. But the body is cut as one (without side gores), as shown in the MFA example. 

All seams are felled with a blind stitch, and the hems are stitched with the same. 

The drawcord channel is simply the neckline edge folded twice. At center front, I cut a slit and finished the edge with thread and a buttonhole stitch. Slightly below that, I embroidered my initials (the "D" ended up leaving a little more room for imagination than preferable, but not enough to rip out and restitch.) 

What propelled me to make this shift this past weekend was actually this little conversation in the Historical Sew Fortnightly Facebook group, about how to flat fell a gusset without puckers. I made a line-drawn step-by-step guide, which may not be less confusing than any other explanation... but it is one more something that might make sense to somebody! 

Exterior gusset construction.Side body seam and the sleeve seam in felled opposite directions just for aesthetic appeal.

Interior gusset construction - note the slightly elongated shape of the corners where they meet the side body and sleeve.

While I was hoping to enter a chemisette for the HSF Firsts & Lasts challenge, that probably won't be finished for a while yet, so this will be my entry (even though this is already way past the deadline!) These are the deets: 

The Challenge: Firsts & Lasts - this is the first garment to be worn on the body. Unless drawers are involved, in which case those might go on first. But I don't wear drawers with my Regency kits, so this counts as the first item put on! 

Material: This cotton/linen blend (I was in a hurry when I ordered and missed that the fabric was a blend, but I have it now so it will have to be used!)

Pattern: My own, based off of extant shifts. 

Year: 1780-1810

Notions: Cotton string, stolen from a length of drapery pleating tape I had in my trim box. 

How historically accurate is it? The fabric is not quite right, as it's a blend. The thread is poly and the primary construction seams were machine-stitched. However, the pattern is fairly authentic, and the secondary seaming (flat-felling) and hems are hand-stitched. I'd give this a 75%. 

Hours to complete: Around 8, and most of that was felling the seams and hemming. Actual pattern, cutting, and basic construction probably took 2-3 hours. 

First worn: Haven't worn it yet! 

Total cost: About $20 for the fabric, as I already thread and string (which would probably add up to around $4-5). So a decent estimate for this would be $25

Pictures on a body coming soon! 

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