I’m sure that you can all call to mind an image of a classic Izannah Walker doll, wearing a charming print dress with a neckline that gently hugs her shoulders. Layered under her dress will be a chemise, petticoats and pantalettes.
When you are dressing your Izannah Walker doll it is important for her undergarments to have the proper fit. If your doll will be wearing a low cut dress then her chemise must be cut to match.
It has been speculated that Izannah Walker was making dolls as early as the mid 1840’s. Low shoulder baring gowns were fashionable for young children beginning in the late 18th century through the mid 1860’s. After the Civil War necklines on children’s dresses and chemises rose. The doll shown on the left, in the photo above, wears her original chemise that shows all of her shoulders, right up to the top of her arms. The hem line of this chemise falls below her knees. The doll on the right also wears her original chemise, but it’s neckline and hemline are both higher, with the bottom of the garment ending just below her hips (click here for another view). Both chemises are made of cotton sheeting.
The fit of the doll’s chemises are very true to life and match the fit of corresponding real chemises of the period.
A chemise is the garment that was worn closest to the body. Stays/corsets were worn over the top of the chemise, followed by petticoats. Pantalettes, once they were introduced in the early 19th century, were worn under the chemise to cover the legs. If a chemise fits properly, even though the neckline is off the shoulder, it will easily stay in place without falling off.
If you would like a closer look at any of the small photos, you can enlarge them by clicking on the image.
Directions for making the Izannah era heart shaped pin cushion and emery that the dolls are holding are on my 18th Century Home Journal.
Happy Valentine’s Day!