Fabric Mishap, Decisions, & Goals – 18th Century Chemise – Part 2 [END]

I’ve spent a lot of time staring at pretty dresses, wishing to sew some myself. I knew I needed to cut down on the current fabric I have sitting in my fabric bin before I bought anymore, since I have the tendency to buy fabric and not use it. I knew that in addition to money, if I wanted to sew pretty dresses, I needed to have the right undergarment structure.

In past centuries, the ladies REALLY knew how to make their dresses look good, through their undergarment structure. 18th century ladies would have a shift (chemise in French), stays (an 18th century corset), a pannier or some type of bum pad, and a petticoat. Mid/Late 19th century ladies had various structural garments too: hoop skirts, bustle pads, lobster tail bustles, petticoats, chemises, corsets. Everything to make them look good on the surface.

Through my research, I realized too that there’s a bit of an order to the undergarment construction, based off of the layers required to create certain silhouettes. For instance, if I were to wear a bustle dress based on late 1880s designs, a chemise would go on first. Then a corset. After the corset is put on, then the lobster tail bustle would go on, followed by a few layers of petticoats. Then the actual garment would go on (the bustle skirt, the overskirt if required, the bodice).

That would mean I would need to make a chemise first, then a corset, then a bustle, etc. It has an order!

Since I realized that order, I decided that my first project would be making chemises. I would need one for the mid to late 18th century and one for the late 19th century. Some of you might be wondering why I would need to make two chemises and that’s because they’re both shaped slightly different – the 19th century silhouette is a bit slimmer, plus it generally has embellishments the 18th century ones do not. I mean, sure, no one is going to see them but me, but I want to be able to feel like I’m somewhat period accurate.

I was planning to sew them during this month, which I was going to have as a sewing month, but that got shafted pretty quick, just like I predicted. I did start work on the 18th century chemise, cutting out pattern pieces (I HATE cutting out pattern pieces, so I did them earlier than I needed them) and reading through the directions once to try and get a sense of what to do.

I was working on my back catalog of images during the time I cut out the pieces and decided that once I finished them, I would take a break from artwork by sewing at least the 18th century chemise, if not the 19th century one as well (depending on how long it took). I still have my website images to draw and colour, but since I just did a TON of artwork, I figured it would be best if I took a break.

I finished my artwork sometime this week (or was it last week?) and procrastinated a bit on working on the chemise. I did manage to push myself to iron a large portion of the fabric – which I kept feeling was a bit too small – and cut out the smaller pieces from the fabric. The actual chemise part confused me, so I kept putting it off, choosing instead to work on a large number of blog entries, a subsite of mine, and drawing a picture in celebration of my friend getting a new computer.


Finally today I decided to work on the final piece of the chemise. I had already taken a mental blow when I was desperately trying to help my friend reinstall FL Studio that kept failing because a .dll file was having errors being written on and failed to help him this time around. I’m being very impatient about it since I REALLY want him to make me music again. I keep getting the feeling that it’s not going to install for a bit and I shouldn’t be so impatient. I wondered if I should work on the chemise or the blog entries in the meantime and help me not be so impatient.

Sometimes I hate my indecision. I’m not always indecisive. This was just one of those situations though where I unfortunately couldn’t decide if I should work on more blog entries or work on the chemise. I DID say I would do the chemise after the artwork was done though, so I decided to go through with that.

I followed the directions, saying to fold the fabric length-wise and then crosswise fold it. I did so, pinned the parts to allow the long piece of fabric to stay in place, laid down the fabric…and realized my hunch was right.


The fabric was too small for the width of my fabric.

I’m guessing it shrunk in the wash.

I stared at the fabric and thought about it, folding it different ways in my head and wondering if I had got the folding wrong. I did some google searches to make sure I was right about the crosswise fold.

Alas, I had gotten it right and there was no way for me to fold it differently to fit the pattern.

I’m screwed.

I don’t have any other fabric to make a historical inspired chemise properly. The chemises were white or off-white, not any funky colours like orange (which is pretty much the only fabric I have enough of if I wanted to reattempt the chemise).

I’ll have to go and buy more fabric. But I can’t do that right now. I already have too much OTHER fabric to use up.

Now I don’t know what to do. Do I buy more fabric, particularly linen since that’s more historically accurate? Or do I just buy cotton again and be more careful when I wash it? Do I scrap this particular chemise project and just make my own pattern based off of researched chemises like I was going to do for the late 19th century ones? Do I just give up in general, shelve my dreams of having pretty dresses in my closet to wear, and finally admit that I got the sewing skills of my mother & grandmother, which are none? Heck, even I have to admit that I feel that I’m pushing myself a bit too much with such a sewing project. I feel like I need to warm up a bit.

Geez, where is all this lack-of-self-confidence coming from? I usually have it!

Actually, it’s probably from the number of blows I’ve had today:

Got sauce on my blanket I always sleep with –> Couldn’t help friend install FL Studio –> Got agitated over not being able to get my music –> Fabric too small for chemise

Also, I’ve recently had some blows to my happiness for a number of reasons, including that my lovely tavistock button boots don’t fit me at all. And I’ve tried two different sizes and they don’t make the sizes that might fit me. So my dreams of having a historically-inspired wardrobe with historically-inspired shoes has already begun to break.

Or maybe it’s from my one day of work I’ve had where I’m pretty sure I absorbed everyone’s energies and felt a bit appalled to be so welcomed and more or less forced in joining things.

With this failure, I have decided to take a step back and think.

First off, I need to stop being so dang impatient. I know I’m excited about my friend having a new computer and having a chance to make me music again, but he’s got so many other things he could do instead of it and I should just be patient. FL Studio will install in time. I am being impatient, selfish, and pushy trying to rush it. I’m excited and I REALLY want my music, but I know I have to wait for it. I need to be patient, not selfish, and not pushy.

Second, I just need to scrap sewing. At least, I need to scrap sewing for this year. If I do ANY sewing, it can only be drawstring bags. Most likely though, I shouldn’t do anymore sewing for this year. The failing chemise is a blow, plus I don’t like how much time it takes to work on a project when I have OTHER projects I need to get done. I still haven’t completed all my goals from last year yet. Sewing had been some half-baked thought I tried shoving in there, but I know it’s not right for me to do it.

I also haven’t sewn since 2009, or at least, not in the bulk it requires for me to not want to punch my fist through a wall. Every article of clothing I’ve tried to sew since then has been a failure in some aspect, either not being fully completed for one reason or another or just looking terrible. The only sewing I’ve even been satisfied with lately has been the drawstring bags I’ve sewn and the little bookmark holder I made.

So, unless my goal is suddenly reached where I can start pursuing other goals on my list, I shouldn’t be sewing. I don’t seem like I have much to do, but I have a lot considering the amount of time the goals take.


I should stick to cooking. It’s actually fun.

Hm. I wonder what would happen if I gave up on everything that causes me more frustrations and depressions than anything else – sewing, artwork, Japanese, sometimes writing. I probably would have to keep away from everyone though if I did that so I didn’t end up feeling conflicted because people would feel disappointed in me or I so I wouldn’t get jealous. Plus, do I really want to give all that up? Actually, yeah. I do. I wonder what would happen if I spent a year not doing any of that.

Okay, I just got off topic there.

The third and final thing I want to think about is related to what I was talking about before – my goals. I had three primary goals in 2012: finish my back catalog of images, finish my website, and complete my Genki textbook series. I had a subgoal of getting up to Kelly’s Journey episode 20, which I considered to not be too important in comparison to the other three (especially considering it was a goal from 2011 and it’s a fanfiction).

They’re only three goals, but they’re big goals in terms of time. They take a lot of time to complete. I managed to complete the first goal of completing my back catalog of images, which I feel kind of slightly incomplete about because I know that there are other images I could have included, but did not. I am mostly content though with what I have finished and feel even better seeing the favourites and comments of people seeing them for the first time.

I have two primary goals remaining, plus Kelly’s Journey, which I can integrate at anytime. I currently have a job and I know that ALL those goals can be achieved while I’m working without wearing me out. I can PUSH myself and BELIEVE in myself that I am NOT tired enough to not work on my goals. I CAN, WILL, and AM working on my goals regardless if I have work or not and if I’m tired or not.

My website stuff is partially easy, but also partially hard. The artwork drawing is theoretically the easy aspect of my website layouts, although there is A LOT of it. The actual website portion ranges from easy to hard – most of my layouts are pretty basic and are going to require me to only look up a few things and oil my mental gears for web design. I think the most complicated layout is going to be this very blog. However, I believe I am going to suffice and make my dream magazine-style layout. I’ve tried some other ones before, but nothing has the layout exactly as I want it.

The website stuff isn’t going to take a lot out of me while I’m working (or rather, work isn’t going to take a lot out of me while I’m working on my website stuff). Once my artwork is all finished, I can focus on creating the layouts, and shortly after, content. Then I can reopen commissions and start getting that extra money to pay for books and video games. And other things.

I’m sick of not having my website fully finished.

My final primary goal is to complete Genki II, which is the textbook I’m using to learn elementary Japanese. My method for learning Japanese takes a long time (and helps me remember everything longer), but because I break it down, it isn’t too hard. I’m just extremely impatient, so I get frustrated. Again though, it’s not something that work will distract me from (and vice versa). Learning Japanese is easy – it’s just the amount of time it takes that makes it feel harder than it really is.

My subgoal of the Kelly’s Journey episodes is important to me, but shouldn’t take a priority. I’m actually afraid I’ll lose my readership for it with how little I’ve been posting and I want to change that. I’ve been holding off writing episode 19 because someone wrote up an episode transcript that goes along with it, but she hasn’t sent it to me yet and I feel kind of bad knowing she did all that work and not having me use it. I want to start queuing episodes so I can post it much more frequently. Kelly’s Journey would actually be really easy for me to write in between all my other goals, especially as some type of break. 

Like, let’s say I decided to take a break in between doing my website images and the actual layout. If I wasn’t feel completely worn out like I needed a vacation, I could do an episode as a break (it does take me like…a week to complete episodes, after all).

I don’t know if I’ll do that though.

The only thing I know for certain is that I won’t let work take me away from keeping me mentally afloat. I am going to create a balance.

I’ll have to think about this more and when I make that decision, I am going to just do it.

Which is probably the hardest thing to do.

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