In planning the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenges, I look for themes that can be interpreted in a number of interesting ways, can be used to create very basic, or extremely elaborate garments, and can fit across the many time-periods that we sew in. I’ll admit that I sometimes take into account my own sewing list, and schedule challenges that encompass a project I’d been hoping to do for a while.
I’ve got a confession though. Challenge #19 is the first time I’ve totally dumped the theme I’d originally planned, and completely themed a challenge around an item I desperately need to make (1860s hoopskirt), and which I couldn’t find a way to fit into any other challenge.
Still, I think it’s a pretty awesome theme, with lots of scope, so I hope you will forgive my selfishness!
Challenge #19 is ‘Wood, Metal, Bone’: Cloth may be the most obvious material in historic costuming, but wood, metal, and bone are just as important to creating the right look and silhouette. They are often, literally, the foundations of a period garment, with shoes made from wood; skirt supports made from wood, metal or bone; and bodies and bodices shaped with the same. Wood, metal and bone provided the finishing touches too garments too, in metal jewellery, wood and bone fan sticks, and straw hats. For this challenge, make anything that incorporates wood, metal, or bone.
In most challenges, I try to avoid being too didactic and specific, because I think it is more important that people get creative with a theme. However, I do have some specifics for this challenge:
Wood: also encompasses cane and straw. You may also count rayon and other wood/cellulose based fibres as wood (ooh, clever!), but only if they are appropriate to your period and garment (so no Regency rayon frocks, but 1930s is a possibility). Rayon was commercially available in many places (including New Zealand) from 1911 onwards, but researching what types of garments it was used for is up to you.
Metal: Pretty obvious. Metal is metal. Metal jewellery, metal lace (not just metallic coloured lace though), cloth of metal (still possible to find, very occasionally), metal boning.
Bone: includes any of the types of plastic boning (cable ties, featherboning etc) that are used as modern replacements to period use of whalebone (technically baleen, but you know what I mean).
To inspire you, here are a few images of historical wood-y/metal-y/bone-y garments that inspire me.