Knitted Undergarments: Knit a Lacy Camisole

Looking for a lacy project to add to your summer knitting queue? Vicki Square’s knitted camisole, which was featured in the May/June 2016 issue of PieceWork, will add a touch of retro elegance to any ensemble. The design takes its inspiration from Edwardian-era knitted undergarments. Here’s Vicki to tell us more:

The fashion transformation from chemise to camisole traveled a long historical road. During the Middle Ages, the chemise was basically an ankle-length smock with long, full sleeves. French for “shirt,” a chemise was an undergarment worn with a gown over it. Although undergarments have changed shape and sometimes function through the years, one thing remains the same: Undergarments are worn with another layer, or more than one, over them.

knitted undergarments

This luscious camisole features a lace rib to hug the body, a beautiful lace with picot edge at the lower edge, and a lace inset at the neckline. Photo by Joe Coca.

Over time, the chemise became more like a slip—shorter, more closely fitted, and sleeveless. In the brief Edwardian era (1901–1910), the lace featured on the chemise at hems and necklines was worn exposed and visible for pleasurable feminine appeal and to display the beautiful lace artistry. Slips became separated from their lower skirts, or petticoats, and bodices and corsets enjoyed significance in both fashion and function. A corset was shaped architecturally with whalebone or wood and designed not only to fit but also to shape a woman’s torso. In fact, the process of tightening the corset to achieve maximum shapeliness could squeeze the breath right out of the wearer.

Our penchant for multilayering is rooted in fashions of the past, where artful and exquisite layers were visible for aesthetic appreciation. All of these elements coalesced for me into design inspiration for this camisole. My camisole features a lace rib to hug the body, a beautiful lace with picot edge at the lower edge, and a lace inset at the neckline. Knitted with a fine pima cotton, it feels like lingerie against the skin. Wear it as a top or layer it and allow a bit of lace to show, leaving much to the imagination. Just like an Edwardian!

—Vicki

Vicki Square cross-trains her knitting passion with drawing, painting, and writing. Contributor to many knitting books and magazines, she is the author of The Knitter’s Companion Deluxe Edition eBook and PieceWork’s Vicki’s Vintage Vacation blog series.


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