How to make a simple chemise without a pattern

How to make a simple chemise without a pattern

Instructions for a simple chemise. Great for 18th century costuming. Can be sewn with french seams.


Chemise Width

Measure around the widest part of your body, usually at the bust or hips.

Your chemise width = _____________

The following formulas are an exercise in using the golden ratio to calculate length. The first 1/7 isn’t counted because the chemise isn’t going to sit on the top of your head. No hem allowances are added because the chemise starts halfway between the 1/7 and 2/7, which gives the extra 4” – 6” of fabric needed for rounding and hems.

Chemise Length

Thigh length: Height / 7 * 3
Knee length: Height / 7 * 4
Ankle length: Height / 7 * 5

Example: I’m 59” tall. I want a knee-length chemise
59 / 7 = 8.428
8.428 * 4 = 33.714

Drop off the decimal. My chemise length is 33”.

Your chemise length = _____________

Sleeve Width

Measure around the top of your shoulder through the armpit. Do not tighten the measuring tape. Add 3 inches for seam allowance and ease. If you want pirate-poufy sleeves, add 10 more inches.

Example: Shoulder measure = 16”. 16 + 3 = 19”. My sleeve width is 19”.

Your sleeve width = _____________

Sleeve Length

Short sleeve: Height / 7
Mid-length sleeve: Height / 7 * 1.75
Long sleeve: Height / 7 * 2.25

Example: I want a mid-length sleeve
59 / 7 = 8.428
8.428 * 1.75 = 14.75= 14 3/4”

Your sleeve length = _____________

Shopping List

Multiply chemise length x 2. There should be enough left over for sleeves.

  • I recommend lightweight linen, cotton voile, or cotton lawn. Buy either 45” or 60” wide fabric.
  • One roll of 5/8” wide ribbon, one package of 1/4” wide elastic or ribbon and thread.

Total amount of 45” wide fabric: _____________

Cut the fabric
  1. Wash, dry and iron fabric. Cut or rip fabric in half width-wise. This is your chemise length.
  2. With the two pieces together, cut or rip to half your chemise width measure plus ten inches.
  3. Sleeves: Cut or rip two rectangular pieces based on your sleeve width and sleeve length measurements.

Sew sleeves to chemise

Right sides together, place each sleeve on opposite top corners of chemise body. Sew a diagonal line of stitching 7 inches in from each corner. Sew the other chemise body to the opposite side of sleeves in the same manner. Cut inner sleeve seam allowance down to 1/2 inch. Press seams open.

Sew side seams

Fold chemise at the middle of the sleeve, right sides together. Sew with a 1/2” seam allowance from outside bottom corner of sleeve to the bottom of chemise.

Neckline casing
  1. Start at center back. With right sides together sew ribbon 1/8” away from edge all around neckline, around sleeves and towards back. Overlap ends by 1/4”.
  2. Press ribbon up. Press to inside of chemise.
  3. Sew ribbon to chemise 1/8” away from ribbon edge.
  4. Thread 1/8” elastic or ribbon in the casing.
  5. Put on chemise to determine width of neckline. The neckline width is based on your aesthetic and comfort. Add an extra 1” to desired elastic or ribbon length and cut. Overlap elastic or ribbon edges by 1/2” and sew together. Push inside casing.


Press up bottom of chemise 1/2” then another 1/2”. Sew close to edge. Sew a narrow hem on sleeve edges.

Posted by | Last update 11/25/2014