Fairely Well Maid

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Kate Holly Clark Chemise

Better known as the 20 Minute chemise, although she is the only one I know who can make it in 20 minutes.

I wanted one that I could close the sleeves with a draw string and one that would be off the shoulder.  It is about mid calf length but I have plenty of the material left to put a deep ruffle on it if I want it floor length.  OK, here we go.

Take your length of fabric and wrap it around your bust 1 and 1/2 times.  If you want floor length make sure the width is long enough to reach the floor from your shoulders.  This is your body piece.  For your arm you need two pieces that are long enough to reach from your neckline to your wrist, plus hem allowance, and wide enough to go around your arm comfortably.  Clear (yeah, I know, as mud).

Now take your body piece and fold it in 1/2 lengthwise, then in half again.  From the corner measure out 6 inches across the top and then down the length (or if you are generously proportioned like I am, 8 inches).  Cut that corner off.  Then, with the fold of the sleeve at the top, match up the sleeve bottom and cut a matching line.

The body is on the bottom and the sleeve is on the top right.
Unfold the body and you should have two sides with the corners cut off and one with an open side.  First thing you want to do is attach the sleeves.  Pin one side of the cut to the front of the body and the other side of the cut to the back, keeping the fold of the sleeve on top.  Do this to the other side and sew the sleeves on.
Sleeve pinned on.

Sleeve sewn on.
Once you have both the sleeves on you want to sew up the one side seam and the sleeve seam.

Sew side seam up to sleeve.
Turn the piece and sew up the sleeve.
Sew up the second sleeve, the one without the side seam.  Sew the sleeve seam then turn and sew a little corner so you don't have a hole in your underarm.
Sleeve without the side seam.
OK, here comes the hardest part.  The neckline needs to be rolled and the top of the sleeves become part of the neckline.  This part is hard to explain.  It took me a few tries and I still get weird gathers by the sleeve seams.  My friend Kate can not only do this without weirdness, but she can actually do it with the elastic in it.  I know, don't hate, she has been doing this for a while.  I want to be her when I grow up.

Just trust me.  Even with weird gathers, because it is either elastic neck or drawstring it comes out looking good.  Just remember to leave an opening for which ever you choose to be fed through.

Pinning the neckline.
Hem the sleeves, if you are adding a drawstring or elastic remember to leave the opening to thread it through.  Hem the bottom and you're done.  You can wear this on or off the shoulder.  You can do several different treatments with the sleeves.  It works well and is very simple to put together once you have done it a few times.  Just to show you that it does work, here are the bad mirror pictures.

Don't mind the bra strap.  See it looks right.

You can't even see the weird gathers.

I wanted drawstring arms.
OK...there you go.  Give it a try and you'll see it works.


  1. I can do it in 20 minutes because I do fast and sloppy and figure it's other people's jobs to trim threads. Also, I don't pin things. :)

  2. I pin things because if I don't I have a bad habit of sewing sleeves on backwards.

  3. Thank you! I have a event in 36 hours and the old chemise died. This is a life saver.