The Cognitive Shift, or 18th Century SHIFTS,
WHAT I KNOW AND HOW I LEARNED IT
© Sharon Ann Burnston 2005, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2017

Introduction
Choosing Suitable Materials
Cut and Construction
Custom Fitting Your Shift
Shift Neckline Woes
Sewing the Shift
Stroke Gathers
Ruffles
Monogramming A Shift
FAQs
Replica Shift

RUFFLES

The shift examples I studied, and most of the specimens I own, do not have ruffles. I believe that ruffles were not put on work shifts, and should be used only on "dress" shifts. If you do choose to add ruffles, you should add them to both the cuffs and the neckline. The shift ruffles are nearly always made of a finer fabric than the fabric of the shift itself. To put this another way, I cannot recall ever seeing a shift on which the ruffles are not made of finer fabric.

Cut the ruffle twice as long as the edge to which you wish to sew it, and in width roughly 1 1/2" - 2" for the neck-edge, and 2"-3" for the cuff edge. You will turn it under twice for as small a hem as you can manage, or roll the hem if you prefer, and slip stitch, around all four edges. On original ruffles, the fabric is cut across the grain, so any selvedges are at the short ends of the ruffle. Selvedges might be butted and whipstitched together if the ruffle needed to be longer than the fabric was wide. Once the edges of the ruffle are hemmed, you will gather and whipstitch them to the edge of the cuffs or neckline. In the first half of the 18th c., however, shift cuff ruffles might be deeper than this, and shaped.

For a shift of the first half of the 18th c., the cuff ruffles are cut in a shape like a sine-curve, deeper over the back of the elbow and shallow over the crook of the elbow. You should cut your ruffle from the following diagram, of fabric finer than that used to make the body of your shift. You should hem it all around with as tiny a hem as you can manage, and then stroke gather the long straight edge and whipstitch this to the completed edge of your shift cuff. Or, you can make your cuffs detachable by sewing them to narrow tape bands which can then be basted to the shift cuffs. So far, there is no evidence for rolled and whipped gathers on body linens in the first half of the 18th c., so this technique, while convenient, is not recommended for early 18th century sewing.



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Introduction
Choosing Suitable Materials
Cut and Construction
Custom Fitting Your Shift
Shift Neckline Woes
Sewing the Shift
Stroke Gathers
Ruffles
Monogramming A Shift
FAQs
Replica Shift

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