The Historical Sew Monthly 2015

One year, a challenge every month (due by the last day of the Month), and at the end of it, 12 fabulous historical garments.


The Historical Sew Monthly 2015

How it works:

Every month in 2015 will feature a themed challenge and we’ll each sew (or knit, or crochet, or tatt, or embroider, or whatever it is you call making a hat, or otherwise create) a historical garment or accessory that fits the theme.

For the purpose of the Historical Sew Fortnightly, ‘historical’ is WWII era and earlier, so no later than 1945.

Because there are only 12 Challenges, Challengers are really encouraged to attempt to participate in every single challenge (though, obviously things do come up, and it’s better to participate in some than none!)

Your item can be as basic or elaborate as you want, from a simple fichu to fill in the neckline of a gown, to a full ensemble from the undergarments outward: whatever you need and can can handle time and skill-wise.

The HSF should encourage research and historical accuracy,  not fantasy or ‘costume’, but as long as the item is historical, the level of accuracy is really up to your needs, skills, and resources.

You can start your project as early as you need to get it done in time – it doesn’t have to be done in the challenge month.  However, as the HSF is meant to encourage new creations, your challenge item should be finished no more than one month before the challenge starts. (so the Feb Challenge can be an item finished Jan 1, but no earlier, etc.).

Feel free to blog about the process of making your project, or use the HSF as an excuse to finish a UFO/PHd that you have already blogged about.

I’ll post pages with inspiration for each challenge, perhaps with a tutorial or links to helpful sites.  Every month I’ll post my favourite creations from the previous challenge – not as a contest, but to recognize and highlight creations that really inspiring me.

Some background posts about the HSF:

The Historical Sew Fortnightly 2013

The Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014

How it started (or, the original post)

Tips and Tricks for doing it (without going crazy)

A discussion about the future of the HSF in 2015 – and my follow-up to that discussion

How to participate:

  • Join the Historical Sew Fortnightly group on Facebook. The challenges are listed as events, and you can choose to ‘attend’ them, chat with other attendees, get ideas, encouragement, and work through difficulties. Then, when your item is done, you can post photos in the album for each challenge, give a description, and link to an online photo album or a blog post if you have one. When you ask to join the HSF Facebook group one of the moderators or I will send you a message with a three questions for you to answer before we accept your request to join.  Please make sure your account allows you to accept messages, and check your ‘Other’ folder for our message.


  • Participate through the Historical Sew Fortnightly page on my blog. Leave a comment with a link to your blog to let us know you are participating (please note, I’ll be going through every couple of months and checking links from comments and will delete comments from those who haven’t participated, so there aren’t a bunch of links to people who aren’t actually doing challenges).  Grab the button below and post it in your sidebar.  Be sure to link it to this page.  With WordPress your html will look like this:<a href=””><img src=”” ></a>  (unless, of course, you save the image to your computer and re-upload it, in which case your image address will look different).

    The Historical Sew Monthly 2015
    There is also page for each challenge linked through the challenge list below (links may not appear until close to the due date).  Leave a comment on the page for the challenge with links to your blog post or online photo album to show off your creation, and so there is a record of what was created for each challenge.

With each post or photo be sure to give your item a name/title and tell us:

The Challenge:





How historically accurate is it?

Hours to complete:

First worn:

Total cost:

The Goals:

  • To encourage collaborations and interactions in the historical costuming community;
  • To encourage all of us to do more historical research, to improve our standards of historical accuracy, and to expand our historical sewing skills;
  • To provide excuses to sew amazing garments from throughout history;
  • To provide incentive to photograph and document these garments so they can be shared, appreciated and used for reference;
  • And most of all…
  • To have fun!

The Challenges:

  • January – Foundationsmake something that is the foundation of a period outfit.
  • February – Colour Challenge Blue: Make an item that features blue, in any shade from azure to zaffre.
  • March – Stashbusting: Make something using only fabric, patterns, trims & notions that you already have in stash.
  • April – War & Peace: the extremes of conflict and long periods of peacetime both influence what people wear.  Make something that shows the effects of war, or of extended peace.
  • May – Practicality:  Fancy party frocks are all very well, but everyone, even princesses, sometimes needs a practical garment that you can DO things in.  Create the jeans-and-T-Shirt-get-the-house-clean-and-garden-sorted outfit of your chosen period.
  • June – Out of Your Comfort Zone: Create a garment from a time period you haven’t done before, or that uses a new skill or technique that you’ve never tried before. 
  • July – Accessorize: The final touch of the right accessory creates the perfect period look.  Bring an outfit together by creating an accessory to go with your historical wardrobe.
  • August – Heirlooms & HeritageRe-create a garment one of your ancestors wore or would have worn, or use an heirloom sewing supply to create a new heirloom to pass down to the next generations.
  • September – Colour Challenge Brown: it’s not the most exciting colour by modern standards, but brown has been one of the most common, and popular, colours throughout history. Make something brown.
  • October – Sewing Secrets: Hide something in your sewing, whether it is an almost invisible mend, a secret pocket, a false fastening or front, or a concealed message (such as a political or moral allegiance).
  • November – Silver Screen: Be inspired by period fashions as shown onscreen (film or TV), and recreate your favourite historical costume as a historically accurate period piece.
  • December – Re-Do:  It’s the last challenge of the year, so let’s keep things simple by re-doing any of the previous 11 challenges.


  1. Deborah Lovegrove says

    I would like to join. I already have a number of costumes (I belong to a local historical group and we participate in local parades or fashion shows) I have sewn for a few people in the club but I’m not a professional sewer. I love to sew and the more intricate the better. One of my next projects is to make a 1914 dress and decorate it with beetlewing embroidery. My son has asked me to make him a costume for a musketeer with the cape and I just finished a bustle dress for my daughter. She wants a fancy outfit for her husband also. I already finished a pannier dress for me and a court suit for my husband (with the knee pants). Do I need to make the challenges or can I just show off my work? Thanks

    • Hi Deborah, Happy to have you! If you want to join the FB group you’ll need to send a request through FB.

      Yes, the HSF is specifically for the challenges, not just for showing off your work.

  2. I’m so happy to have come across your lovely blog and this fascinating sewing challenge!!
    I’ve already send a fb request to join the group!
    Is there anything else I need to do to join?

    • Just watch out for the message we’ll send you through FB, and make sure that you answer it when you get it! It might go to your ‘Other’ folder.

  3. I’ve been aware of the Historical Sew Fortnightly for a while, and I’ve always admired the work that everyone does, but I’ve never felt like I could participate myself (because I’m such a slooow sewer!) Now that your doing monthly challenges instead of fortnightly, I’d love to participate, if it’s not too late in the year! I’ve been really terrible at keeping my blog updated, so maybe being part of such a great community will help keep me on track 🙂

  4. Diane says

    Hi, I just discovered your blog and am enjoying reading your posts very much. I’d love to do a few of the challenges in what’s left of 2015, but I don’t have a blog and I don’t do Facebook. Ah well, I guess I’ll just let you know how it goes. Thanks!

  5. Mallory Marshall says

    I was reading about calico tonight in my continuing wish to return to India to go to the Calico Museum which we missed the last time we went due to the terrible tsunami. Your blog came up right behind the fabrics from the V & A. I am studying patterns and prints used on these 18th and 19th century pieces, and wondered if you can recommend any further reading. I while ago the V & A had an amazing exhibit to what came from the crossways of culture in GOA on the western coast of India with an astounding group of textiles. I live off the coast of the State of Maine, but still travel far and wide to see extraordinary things. I would love to hear from others who would rush somewhere to learn to make a “ruff” for instance!

  6. Benjamin Reid says

    Good afternoon: I am in school for fashion design and textiles. I am interested in learning the details of really fine sewing and fabrics and tailoring. Presently I am leaning about gauze, which has an amazing place in the history of fashion and textile industries. Any information to avail a better understanding will be greatly appreciated.

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