Saturday, January 2, 2016

Young Girl's Historical Underthings

Another post-holiday gift posting. In October, I started on a set of matched underthings for Lexie, the beau's younger sister. She had already received a dress and accessories, so I figured it was about time to outfit her with some proper underpinnings.

I did attempt to do some research for the project, but finding extant examples of undergarments for children is a hard thing to come by. The only things I found was this underdress from The Met.
Petticoat 1838 - The Met
It matched the pattern I had in my stash from Butterick - B5901 Girl's drawers, underskirt, and hoop skirt. While the style matches, there is no particular date attached to the pattern, so it definitely makes it usable across a broad date spectrum.
Butterick B5901
After obtaining my measurements, I started work on the pattern according to the instructions. The drawers were super easy to put together and match many of the patterns I've put together for full scale women's drawers. They have the split crotch seam, waist ties, and pin tucks along the eyelet lace at the bottom of the pantalettes.

The chemise/petticoat combo though, I decided to alter. Knowing that I wanted to make these usable over an extended period of time, I decided that I somehow I needed to get rid of the waistband. Instead of combining the two pieces together, I opted to split them apart.

A lot of times, the clothing of children mirrored the larger versions that were worn by adults. Going off that knowledge, I took the top of the chemise and started making adjustments. The back button closure was eliminated completely and to allow room for the garment to be pulled over the head, I added to the seam allowance under the arms. From under the arm, I angled the side seam out and took it down to the "hem." In other words, my approximate idea of where the bottom of the chemise would be at knee length.
Mapping changes to the back after eliminating the button closure
Matching the side seams and hem for the chemise back and front

I put the entire chemise together using french seams so that there wouldn't be any raw edges showing. The arm holes and hem were both finished with pre-made lace purchased from the store. For the square neckline, I finished it with some pre-made bias edging that I managed to pull from the same lace. This ended being a stroke of genius because the with was only 1/4" and would have been a pain to fold and iron by hand. Not to mention I didn't have to waste materials already available.

Removing the bias from the pre-gathered lace
Bias attached to front and sewn in by hand
For a finishing touch, I added a small bow to the front.
The petticoat was easy to adapt to my changes, since all I had to do was cut a wider waistband to accommodate the fact that the top was not being sewn directly into the petticoat. I did find however, that if french seams were used with the pin tucks, it created a large amount of bulk. This was discovered while sewing the drawers, so I eliminated the french seams on the petticoat in favor of regular seams that had the edges overlock stitched.

The nice bonus to the drawers and petticoat was I had some lace laying around that I had bought on super sale at one point. There was just enough to hem both garments.

I just got these photos today of Lexie in her undergarments. This is probably the only kid I've ever seen who was excited to get underwear for Christmas!

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Pattern: Butterick B5901 Girl's drawers, underskirt, and hoop skirt
  • Drawers - none
  • Chemise - heavily, used top portion to create a chemise separate from the petticoat
  • Petticoat - elimination of top, resulting in only minor adjustments to the waistband
Fabric: Premium cotton muslin
Notions: Metal hook and eye closures, poly/cotton bias tape, poly/cotton pre-made lace eyelet in 1" and 5" widths, 1/8" blue poly satin ribbon, matching thread

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