Jane 1970's Shift: Sewing Instructions

You can sew your Jane entirely by machine, or by hand. But it is also possible to mix and match techniques to your liking. It is common practice for modern makers of historical clothing to sew the seams by machine but finish them by hand.

Extant examples are stitched very finely to allow them to stand up to harsh laundering practices. You can stitch your seams with a backstitch and then finish them with a felling stitch.

The shift Jane was based on is sewn with a technique called double felling or german hemming. This was a common technique for constructing shifts circa 1750s - 1850s so it is a good choice when making a historical Jane. The benefit of this technique is that it allows you to stitch and finish the seam at the same time.

How to double fell

  • Baste the seam allowance to outside on one piece. (good side)
  • Baste the seam allowance to the inside the other piece. (wrong side)
  • With good sides facing up, pin the piece with the edge folded to the inside over the top of the piece with edge folded to the outside, making sure to line the folded edge up with the raw edge.
  • Fell the folded edge on the outside down.
  • Fell the folded edge on the inside down.
  • Remove basting threads

It is important to line the weave up of the two pieces when pinning together. You can find out more about double felling here.

Step 1: Hem the neckline

Hem the neckline with the smallest hem you can manage.

Step 2: Prep the Sleeves

Fold the sleeve in half from the shoulder to the hem. Sew the sleeve together to create a tube, making sure to leave the width of the sleeve gusset open at the top. Finish the seam. Sew one of the sleeve gusset edges to one side of the gap left in the seam you’ve just sewn. Take the edge of the sleeve gusset that is adjacent to the one you’ve just sewn and sew it to the gap on the other side of the sleeve. You should now be looking at a diamond with the top two edges connected to the sleeve and the bottom two edges free. Finish the seams. Repeat for the second sleeve. Hem the bottom of the sleeves.

Step 3: Prep the side gores

Sew the two side gores together along the longest straight edges to create a kite. Finish the seam. Repeat for other set of side gores.

Step 4: Prep the Body

Mark down from the shoulder, along the side seam, half the total width of the sleeve + the sleeve gusset width. Sew the front of the body to the back of the body from the mark, down to the corner where the body runs parallel to the grain. Repeat for the 3 remaining side seams.

Step 5: Set in the side gores

Sew the side gore to the front and then to back along the edges that were left free from the corner to bottom of the body. Finish the seams. Repeat for other side gore.

Step 6: Set in the sleeves

Sew the sleeve to the body matching the notch to the shoulder. The sleeve should fit in the gap that has been left in the side seam. Make sure to not sew the sleeve shut when attaching. Finish the seam. Repeat for the other sleeve.


You may find it easier to turn the body wrong sides out for this. It will depend on your construction method though.

Step 7: Hemming

Hem the bottom of your shift.

Step 8: Enjoy!

Now go forth and wear it as a historical undergarment or however you like!