The Midnight Chemise a la Reine – Done!

1780s Chemise a la Reine by American Duchess

Well that was quick. This gown definitely holds the title of quickest full dress project I’ve ever completed. And I’m *so glad* I undertook it!

To recap, the gown is one huge rectangle of cotton voile, 165″ long and 60″ wide, gathered around the waist with one channel, and along the neckline edges.  It’s tacked to a cotton muslin underbodice at the back, shoulders, and under the arms.  Here’s Fresh Frippery’s diagram again:

Click through for Fresh Frippery’s post on how to make this Chemise a la Reine

I used a two-piece shaped sleeve pattern from my wedding gown, but with so little fabric left, I set the two pieces back-to-back at the upper arm. This is like the usual three-quarter length 18th century sleeve pattern, but extended to the wrist.

Shaped sleeve pattern – placing a two-piece sleeve pattern back-to-back

The last little bit was the collar. I’m glad I decided to add it, even though it was the most time consuming part of the project. I went bin-diving for some extra voile, and thank goodness I’m a packrat, because I found just enough to eek out the collar. It’s a strip about 100″ long and 5″ wide, hemmed by hand on the outside edge, then whip-gathered to the neck edge of the gown. To get it to lay right, I spritzed it with water, a good trick for taming the drape of these fluffy cotton gowns.

The ruffled collar on the Chemise a la Reine – optional, but I feel it gives it a finished look. Plus it covers a lot of my sins!

Finally, the accessories. I liked the black sash quite a lot, so plan to pair it with the black bow corsage, black “Dunmore” shoes, and a black silk bonnet.

Most importantly, it fits! It’s adjustable, too! Good thing, because one of the gowns I planned to take wouldn’t close for love nor money, so if I hadn’t made this chemise, I’d be one gown short for the trip! Now I will stay cool and comfortable in the steam of Virginia.

I leave for Williamsburg in the morning, and will be sure to take pictures of this gown in action and share them with you when I return. 🙂


    • Lauren Stowell

      June 2, 2015 at 5:43 AM

      Thank you! Yes, it's can be dressed all sorts of ways with different accessories. That's part of the fun 🙂 I'm looking forward to having this one a long time, too, as it's so adjustable.

  • DLM

    June 2, 2015 at 12:22 AM

    The white with the slash of pure black strikes me as very "now", actually. And it's such a crisp, cool dress in every way it can be. So beautiful (and probably the only thing I could ever hope to (a) make or (b) FIT!).

    • Lauren Stowell

      June 2, 2015 at 5:44 AM

      I think this is a fantastic 18th century gown to start with. It's really really easy and very adjustable. The only real fitting is in the shoulders and sleeves, and even the sleeves can be bloused and full (I just chose to do more fitted).

  • Anonymous

    June 2, 2015 at 2:31 PM

    It's fantastic! And you'll be the most comfortable person in Williamsburg, I bet. I grew up in the steamy Virginia summers and volunteered at Mount Vernon Estate in period costume, and all I can say is: uck. And maybe: bleh. But Williamsburg is worth any amount of discomfort!

  • Time Traveling in Costume

    June 2, 2015 at 5:14 PM

    That's so pretty, and sounds so easy! I've always wanted to make one of these after seeing a bunch of them at CoCo a few years ago. But I never had a chance to, or anywhere to use it. It's one of my *someday* projects.

  • Tilda

    June 9, 2015 at 9:35 AM

    It's so beautiful!
    I made a chemise a la reine as my first 18th century gown a couple of months ago and it did go very quickly (about three days) but I'm certain I mucked up. I was just wondering where you put the opening? I'm assuming down the front?

  • Paige @ Very Paige

    August 21, 2018 at 4:19 PM

    Lovely and informative post! I do have one questions as I'm in the midst of sewing my own currently. Is the collar ruffle stitched flat to the neckline when it is ungathered or tacked down while it is gathered on the dress form?

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