(507) Hand-Sewing a 19th-century French Chemise

Students will re-create a 19th-century French chemise. The group will study an extant 19th-century chemise from the teacher’s private collection and cut out and hand-stitch their own chemises. This class is designed for both historical and modern sewists looking to root themselves in a hand-sewing practice. The recreated chemise can be worn in the 21st-century as a nightgown or dress/tunic.

The hand skills you will practice in this workshop are cutting out a garment without a paper pattern, hand-sewing two types of felled seams, hand-sewing a neck casing, hand-hemming, and cross-stitching a monogram. This class will connect you to the lineage of sewists and ground you in a mindful hand-stitching practice.

Want to learn or brush up on hand sewing skills before our in-person class?
MAFA has scheduled a virtual Hand Sewn Summer Tunic class with Sarah on May 20/21, 2023.  Details and registration are on Lessonface.


Sarah Woodyard

Experience Level:


Maximum Class Size:


Student Supplies:

  • Fabric: 3 yards of 45” to 60” wide, 5 oz-6oz linen or hemp. If wanting to make an historical recreation, use a white textile with a white thread. 
  • 2 yards 1/4 inch cotton twill tape.
  • 2 yards 5/8 inch or 3/4 inch wide, plain, woven linen tape.
  • Medium weight linen thread 100/3 or 100/2 weight. If wanting to make an historical recreation, use white thread with white fabric. If making for modern wear, you have the option to use contrasting threads to make the hand-sewing visible.
  • Beeswax.
  • Red cotton embroidery floss.
  • Hand-sewing needles size 9 sharps.
  • 8- to 10-inch dressmakers shears.
  • Small embroidery scissors.
  • Pencil or tailors chalk.
  • 1 1/4” dressmakers pins.
  • Seam gauge.
  • Measuring tapeYardstick.
  • Optional, but encouraged: Thimble.
  • Optional, but encouraged: Magnification lamp.


If possible, students should come to class with their chemises cut out ahead of time for maximum sewing time in class. Instructor will provide a PDF cutting diagram and supporting video instructions. Students will also have access to video instructions of each step of the process to complete the chemise after the workshop.