19th Century Shirts

I have a problem with shirtmaking; to whit, the length of the English gender clinic waiting list, and the inadequacies of a basic shirt to compensate for such.

Regency Shirt

Standard 18th century shirt, but worn by working men throughout the Victorian period. Online pattern adapted to fit me. Linen, hand-sewn 2017. Apparently, putting ludicrous ruffles on a shirt is more of a late 18th century thing than Regency, where things became more elegant and streamlined; but nothing about me has ever been mistaken for elegant, and consequently...I kinda hate this shirt, it's just never looked quite right. I think what I mean by this is, despite using notionally authentic fabric, I've never managed to make it look expensive, or done the extra work of accessorising it with all the extra layers that make up a full suit - and basically, i just don't look like Mr Darcy while wearing it. Somehow, I give off big Samwise Gamgee energy instead.

Victorian Dress Shirt

2nd hand bedsheet – probably poly/cotton –
Drafted from W.D.F. Vincent’s period drafting manual. 2018

Multilayer fronts and cuffs are designed to take starch for stiffening. Construction based on DP Coffin’s Shirtmaking, but with a newly adapted method to make cuffs which naturally hang in a cylinder. Hand-worked buttonholes. You can read my research at my personal sewing blog here.

Before and after: Vincent’s “average sized” Victorian man actually has my chest size, but the sleeves are still over-sized for me – the second picture shows the adjusted sleeve and cuff which are more proportionate on me. I experimentally cut the sleeve on the bias to see if this gave more dramatic billows; it didn’t work well.