By Skill and Valour: Chemise

Noio's chemiseAs promised here’s a guide to the chemise Noio wears. A chemise or smock is the shirt worn under the bodice or dress, in case of the Renaissance style a loose piece with a folded neckline.

Look here for a great compilation of smock/chemise examples from the 13th to 17th century. You may notice that they all have sleeve darts. I didn’t make some, but it still worked out. If you were to make a chemise with darts, in this case you’d sew in a diagonally folded square into the corner under the arms, though.chemise front

Choosing your Material

For undergarments I’d recommend soft, light fabric, while more off-showy chemises could also be made from brocades. I used cotton, crinkled for the upper half and plain for the lower. Fine linen or wool would be an option, too, or if you want it to be really, really fancy you could also use soft (not stiff!) silk.

Making a Pattern

(if you want one; or getting the right shapes and sizes)

First, think about how ruffled you want your neckline to be. This decides how wide the un-ruffled neckline will be. Measure how far you want the hem to drop down – I made mine knee-long but you could make it floor-length, too.
My favourite (and in my opinion the easiest) way to make ruffles is zig-zagging over a strand of yarn to make a “tunnel” and then shove it together on the yarn to make the ruffles. The best trick I discovered for myself there lately? Dental floss. The stuff is nigh tear-resistant and because of that perfect to sew the yarn-tunnel over.



As I had a crinkly fabric I decided not to ruffle the top. Should I ever make a second chemise for Noio I’ll do it (and it was the plan before I found that rest of crinkle in my stash…) so I included it here.

sleeve detail


If you have a top and bottom part (for example when you have just a bit of a fancy fabric and want that to show, you use it for the upper half), join those first, then make shoulder and side seams. For my sleeve hems I simply gathered the fabric again and then turned it over twice and stitched it to create a sort of bumpy, three-dimensional hem that my hands still can get through.

Chemise front

Finishing Touches

I added a length of lace in the front to hide the seam between top and bottom part and waist ties, but those aren’t exactly historical. Also, my photography skills weren’t really on point when I took those pictures but I really, really wanted to get this post done at some point.
I made all visible hems by hand, but that’s really optional when you sew for everyday or LARP.

I hope this tutorial/pattern is somewhat helpful to at least some of you. As I said before, at some point I’ll make a second one with ruffles on top, but for now I’m happy with this one.

Have a nice day everyone! ♥


8 thoughts on “By Skill and Valour: Chemise

  1. Wow, das Teilchen sieht ja wundervoll aus, und dann noch so tolle Bilder! Der Trick mit der Zahnseide ist genial, das muss ich mir mal merken!
    Liebe Grüße!

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