I am thrilled with your comments re: hand-embroidered eyelet (the thread that "travels" between motifs on the back side). I wondered if the eyelet I was seeing on my own eBay-acquired chemise could have been hand-done, yet could not really believe it, as it is so elaborate and so perfect!! How did these women DO THAT??? And how many HOURS of their lives were devoted to underwear??? Mine-boggling; thank you!
Totc, I don't know how many hours of their existence was spent on the busy work of underwear embroidery, but I've got some clues to how it was done. This book from 1909, http://www.archive.org/stream/howtoworkembroid00cart#page/28/mode/2up]How to work Embroidery Stitches has some pointers on how to do it and some amazing examples. This book, [url=http://www.archive.org/stream/eyeletembroider y00hemi#page/n7/mode/2up shows that first an outline stitch is made around the hole, then the inner part cut out, then the satin stitch completed.
Now, how they did this without ruining their eyes? No clue! But being nearsighted without glasses would probably help. ;-)
The chemise at the bottom of http://pds.lib.harvard.edu/pds/view/2574540?n=87&s=4 Style 17 is a good example of a chemise that would work for day wear. Another option for day wear is wearing a combination suit, or an undervest under the corset, and then a corset cover on top of the corset. I'll cover the layers in great detail in YWU this month, and the article will be repeated here on FR next month if you aren't a member of YWU.
It makes sense to use a machine to sew the embroidered trim on. Machine stitches are so much more even and attractive. Thinking as a 19th century woman, I would certainly use a machine if I were fortunate enough to have one. I think you have to look at the difference between decorative stitching and utilitarian stitching. One is fun, the other isn't.
There is an 1883 pattern almost identical to this in volume 1 of Fashions of the Gilded Age, along with patterns for 18 other chemises. The slanted sleeves version was contemporaneous with versions where the sleeves were cut in one with the body. There were a variety of necklines, which overall tended to the horizontal, whether rounded, squared, or heart shaped.
The Schiffli machine embroideries done with heavy thread were very good, quite similar to hand embroidery.