Monday, April 25, 2016

Several Shift Dresses

What do you do when your sister want to wear her 18th century underwear all the time?  You make her more of course!

As part of a school presentation, my sister needed an 18th century costume (which I'll get around to blogging about one of these days). I decided she needed a shift to go under said costume. A quick google search brought me to this excellent tutorial for a regency shift. The shift went together in under an hour and my sister loved it! It was, quite possibly, her favorite item from the entire 7 piece costume.  She wore the shift as a night gown. She tried to wear it as a dress.  Yep, after a few days, I realized she needed a couple more shifts, just not to wear as shifts.

I cut two more plain white shifts out of a flat sheet in my stash (my favorite source of white fabric: flat sheets from the thrift store). These would be night gowns Then I dug around some more in my stash and found some green striped fabric and a blue print seersucker-ish fabric. These would be dresses.

Two days later all four shifts were done, complete with flat-felled seams and underarm gussets, just like the original. The underarm gussets were extremely easy to sew and make the shift very comfortable. The flat-felled seams also help with the comfort factor, but they took forever! Midway through sewing I remembered why I don't do flat-felled seams. They take forever. They look really nice when the garment is done and add lots of strength, but have I mentioned? They take forever! 

Now that that has been established, there were also a couple changes I made on these shifts compared to the first one. All four necklines are elastic, rather than the historically accurate drawstring. Easier and much safer for children's clothes. (plus, these four frocks are for everyday wear, not historical events.) 
Then there is the other "change". Trim, lots of trim. I made the first of these four, a white one, and decided it was a bit boring. So, out came the ribbon, ruffles, lace, rick-rack, and buttons for the next three. These were fun to trim!

I decided the yellow ruffle on the blue shift would be the perfect place to try out corded gathers, following this tutorial.

I zig-zaged over a piece of thick thread and it worked! So much easier than normal gathers.

The next shifts got trimmed with eyelet from my stash. A random band of eyelet fabric (that came from who-knows-where) finished off the hem of the remaining white shift. The green striped shift got trimmed with rick-rack and some apple eyelet I've had a while.

Shift. Nightgown. Play dress. Definitely a useful pattern!