Historical Sew Fortnightly

The HSF ’14: Challenge #15: The Great Outdoors

I’m a bit behind on the Historical Sew Fortnightly inspiration post thanks to my flu, so I’m trying to catch up this week.

Challenge #15, The Great Outdoors, is due 15 August.

This challenge celebrates nature, the great outdoors, and all of the things we do in wide open spaces.

The oldest outdoor pursuit, is, or course, walking for which you might make Roman sandals, (though these were probably used for long hours spent building walls):

Shoes, Roman, 139-141 A.D, discovered during archaeological excavations at Bar Hill Fort on the Antonine Wall

Shoes, Roman, 139-141 A.D, discovered during archaeological excavations at Bar Hill Fort on the Antonine Wall

Or a smart Regency walking ensemble:

Morning Walking Dress, April 1812

Morning Walking Dress, April 1812

Walkings more exciting cousin is mountaineering, which must have been even more exciting in a corset and heavy wool skirt:

Thyra of Denmark in mountaineering dress

Thyra of Denmark in mountaineering dress

Another ancient and perennially popular outdoor pursuit is riding.  I think 17th century riding habits are a thing of beauty and a joy forever:

Madame La Comtesse de Saint Géran by Joseph Parrocel,1675 - 82

Madame La Comtesse de Saint Géran by Joseph Parrocel,1675 – 82

And 18th century riding habits are also frequently depicted doing double duty as walking wear:

The Countess of Effingham with Gun and Shooting Dogs by George Haugh 1787

The Countess of Effingham with Gun and Shooting Dogs by George Haugh 1787

More modern riding ensembles are no less adorable, and infinitely more practical

Madge Bellamy, 1920s

Madge Bellamy, 1920s

In winter, one can go skating, either on ones own two feet, or in this cunning skating chair:

Winter,  Jean-Baptiste Pater, 1725

Winter, Jean-Baptiste Pater, 1725

A more recent outdoor speed invention is bicycling:

Raleigh bicycle poster early 1920s

There are also practical sports, such as archery (though this Medieval depiction shows some rather improbably impractical gowns):

Évrard de Conty, France, Cognac, 1496-1498. Illustrated by Robinet Testard, Paris, BNF, Département des Manuscrits, Français 143, fol. 116

Évrard de Conty, France, Cognac, 1496-1498. Illustrated by Robinet Testard, Paris, BNF, Département des Manuscrits, Français 143, fol. 116

And competitive pursuits, such as croquet:

Fashion plate showing a croquet ensemble, 1860s

Fashion plate showing a croquet ensemble, 1860s

Croquet skirt, England, c1870, 1947.505, Manchester City Galleries

Croquet skirt, England, c1870, 1947.505, Manchester City Galleries

And tennis

George Goodwin Kilburne (English painter, 1839-1924) A Game of Tennis

George Goodwin Kilburne (English painter, 1839-1924) A Game of Tennis

Or golf:

Golfing ensemble, 1917

Golfing ensemble, 1917

Alternatively, you could be inspired by all the ways we have sought to protect ourselves from outdoors and the elements, from timeless garments like cloaks:

Woollen cloak with silk lining worn in Mobberley in Cheshire by a country bride arriving for her wedding, ca 1800, Manchester City Galleries

Woollen cloak with silk lining worn in Mobberley in Cheshire by a country bride arriving for her wedding, ca 1800, Manchester City Galleries

And the significantly more specific and exotic items like chopines:

And calashes:

Calash, ca. 1790, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.2889

Calash, ca. 1790, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.2889

Whatever you choose to make to get out and about in, I look forward to seeing it!

21 Comments

  1. Imagine trying to play croquet with that enormous crinoline, sweeping the balls out of the way! I love female ingenuity however, finding a way to get out and about in the face of the most ridiculous of fashions!

  2. Love those Roman sandals! Beautiful, elegant, a total 10 on the Historical Coolness chart — and they can even pass the teenage son approval test. (He’s also a history obsessive, but in the “arms and armor” section.)

    I wonder something, though … if they’re really Roman soldier sandals, what’s up with the size difference? Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear all went trooping off to the legions together? It’s seems like a good bet that 1 or 2 of them are women’s sandals. Presumably there were camp followers, and/or wives or women living in the vicinity, and/or women workers. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if legions employed what we’d now call child laborers, so the smallest (or two of them) could be from children. Just guessing — but unless the image is photoshopped to put them together, those can’t possibly all be from adult male soldiers. And unfortunately the link doesn’t shed any more light on that …

    • Morag says

      It does say on the website cited that they found shoes belonging to men, women and children, so they were probably for a child.

      I have to admit: the association of kids’ shoes with the Roman army kind of makes me think of Caligula… that is, before he went crazy.

  3. Ellen says

    For a little more outdoor clothing inspiration, check out Fly Rod Crosby, the first woman hunting and fishing guide in Maine (USA) from the late 1800’s. Lots of pictures online so you can see the clothing she wore.

  4. Now to get the green and red wool and make the 1790s Prague redingote… ha, ha.
    I’d love to, but I don’t see it happening. But I’ll think of something. I’m thinking of walking/hiking, because that’s what I do most often and that’s what pretty much every Czech that can does!

  5. Geraldine Mitchell says

    How about bathing ? My daughter would love to have a vintage one! I would like one that covers from head to toe. LOL

  6. I’m working on this challenge, but due to other challenging life things this will be late : ) Ah well, it’s the spirit of the thing that counts, right? It will be lovely in the end.

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