Condo Blues: Elizabethan Chemise (Shift) and Friday Favorites Week 528

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Elizabethan Chemise (Shift) and Friday Favorites Week 528

I'm trying to be productive during our quarantine lock down by sewing the personal historical costume projects that got pushed way down my To Do List when paying gigs came my way and took precedence. My latest Quarantine Costuming project is a square neck linen Elizabethan Chemise which is also called a Shift.

Historically women of all social classes wore a chemise or shift as their first layer of clothing to keep the more expensive to replace and difficult to clean layers (namely their corset and dress) from getting dirty more quickly from sweat and body oils up until the end of the Edwardian area. This is long before washing machines and when Laundry Day took ALL. DAY. LONG. to do. So if you want to take a quick reading break to go hug your washing machine - go for it. I'll wait.

Welcome back!

The necklines and sleeve length of chemises changed with the fashion of the time. In Elizabethan England square necklines where all the rage and arms where covered to the wrist although most historical performers including myself, where a rounded German style gathered neck like the one below because it is easy to make. Last season, after spending fourth months quilting a new jester costume I made do with a shift I already had. The short sleeves aren't period but I can get away with it because I'm a jester and as an ad for one of the faire's vendors. Also it is stinkin' cute!

 Most of the time I wear this shift as a peasant shirt with jeans in the off season.

Unfortunately when it came time to sew a new period long sleeve square necked shift,the pattern I wanted to use was out of print. Time to hack a pattern! Instead I used the chemise from Simplicity 8579 (you can find it here) and cut the fabric so the end of the sleeve hit my wrist after hemming instead of the pattern's original 17th century elbow length sleeves. I also shortened the shift to above my knee (scandalous!) so it is less likely to tangle during physical comedy. Lately it seems that almost every pattern is drafted with a neckline that causes the sleeves to fall off my shoulder and Simplicity 8579 isn't any different. I fixed it with two subtle tucks in the back that the bodice I wear over it will hide quite nicely. (Disclosure:I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience)

It was either this or take the whole thing apart. I chose the easier of the two evils.

I showed you my project. Now you show me yours!

Time to link up your fantastic and creative craft and DIY projects, recipes, and ideas!

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Lisa from Condo Blues chose Wood Framed Flower Vase from DIY Vibes

Jerri at Simply Sweet Home chose

Upcycled Texas Barn Stars from Love My Little Cottage

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Icing 

Amy at A Day of Small Things and Penny at Penny's Passion chose Applesauce Cake with Caramel Sauce from


Jennifer at Busy Being Jennifer chose A Fun DIY Tropical Leaf Plant For A Wall Vase from Pillar Box Blue

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Pamela @ DIY Vibes said...

Isn't nice to be able to work on something you WANT to do instead of something you HAVE to? Your chemise turned out really nice. Also, thank you for featuring my framed flower vase. Have a great weekend!

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Thanks so much for continuing to host during this health crisis, spreading beauty, laughter and information!! Stay Safe, Healthy and Happy!!

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! said...

Thanks for hosting! Have a great week.

Jen said...

Hi Lisa - thanks for hosting. Love your jester dress. I don't know a lot about historical dress (just admire it when watching my fav period dramas on tv), but my 8-year old and I recently watched a great Livestream video from the Northeast Georgia History Center (NEGAHC) Facebook video. My daughter had a LOT of fun questions (Girls couldn't wear pants? Why did girls wear so many "skirts"?) #68 this week

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