The Historical Sew Fortnightly: Halfway done!

Well historical sewers, we’re halfway there!

My  Challenge # 13 (Lace & Lacing) is done, and I’m hard at work on Challenge #14 (Eastern Influence).

It’s been an amazing six months for me. Last December, as the Sew Weekly wrapped up, I looked at what I’d accomplished in 2012, and what I wanted to do in 2013, and I had this mad idea that I should devote myself to my historical wardrobe: making an item for it every fortnight.  And then, of course, I thought, “Hey, would anyone else want to do this?”.  And some of you did!  And the rest of you have been great as cheerleaders & coaches, which is just as important!

So, with the challenge half done, it’s time to take a breather, look back at what I have done so far, and review how things are going.

1813 Kashmiri Dress, thedreamstress.com

What’s gone well:

– Finishing up the UFO pile (without creating new UFOs)!  I’ve finished the three big UFO’s on my pile (Luna Moth, the pet-en-l’aire, and the Polly/Oliver jacket), and am about to finish the skirt to go with it.  Plus, I’ve got two big fabric UFO’s started or out of the way (1813 Kashmiri dress & Frou Frou Francaise)

– Stashbusting: So far, with the main fabric/notion for every garment except the Seersucker Sherbet frock, and the Pretty, Pretty, Princess Pearl Bracelets, has come from my stash.  And, in using my stash so assiduously, I’ve identified pieces I am unlikely to every use, and have culled them.

– Making pretty things.  It’s happening!  Every two weeks!

What hasn’t gone as well as I’d hoped:

– My modern wardrobe.  I know I said I didn’t need any more of it, but it turns out there are quite a few basics that need to be refreshed/replaced, and I haven’t had time for them, and I feel guilty when I see the fabrics for them in my stash.

– Coordination & facilitation.  Wow.  That takes a LOT of my time!  I spend almost as much time updating things and managing the facebook group as I do sewing.

– Everything takes longer than I had anticipated!  I just can’t get a full phenomenal outfit done for every challenge.  On the bright side, that means that I’m getting a lot of small basics and accessories done, and those are just as important for an outfit.

What have I learned so far?

– The online historical sewing community is amazing!  You guys have been so enthusiastic, and supportive, and it’s great to have you participating, and learning, and teaching.  You inspire me!

– Just getting something, anything, done is important for keeping the momentum going, and for the sense of accomplishment.  Once you miss one thing, it gets harder to get back in the fortnightly groove, but even a little item (like my pearl bracelets) keeps the momentum going, and will be important in the end for the overall look of an outfit.

– The amount of little things that I need is endless (and I imagine it would be the same for most historical costumers) so it would be quite easy to do the HSF entirely out of chemises and accessories, without making anything you didn’t need.

– I want to make all the things!  The problem with the HSF is that I see the amazing things everyone else is making, and want to make them myself, and don’t have time!

Are we meeting the goals?

  • To encourage collaborations and interactions in the historical costuming community; (Yes!)
  • To encourage all of us to do more historical research, to improve our standards of historical accuracy, and to expand our historical sewing skills; (Yes!  There are discussions all the time in the Facebook group about research and techniques, and people are trying new things and making new things)
  • To provide excuses to sew amazing garments from throughout history; (Yep!  I’ve heard “I would never have made this if not for this challenge” more than once!)
  • To provide incentive to photograph these garments so they can be shared and appreciated; (Personally, this is the one I need to work on most)
  • And most of all…
  • To have fun! (Yes, yes and yes!)

In short, I think so!  I hope those of you who are participating are finding the challenge as inspiring as I am!

1780s pet-en-l'aire and pleated petticoat

If you haven’t done a challenge yet, please jump in!


  1. Elise says

    I second everything The Marvelous Dreamstress has said! When I get to pop in to cheerlead, I’m consistently gobsmacked at the sheer joy of it all. So many wonderful people helping, showing off, encouraging, experimenting. Three Cheers for HSF! Hip Hip–Paniers! Hip Hip–Paniers!

    • fidelio says

      Hip Hip—Paniers! Hip Hip—Paniers!

      Once I finish dying laughing I’m stealing this.

      • Ditto! This is the best thing ever!

        And I am so grateful for the cheerleaders, and so glad people are enjoying this both as participants, and as watchers!

  2. Polly says

    I am a cheerleader too! I LOVE all the learning that takes place due to discussion within this group. I have introduced my students to the idea of being on an online discussion group about your interest and they find it interesting that so many people are signed up to this group. I LOVE the range of creations completed and LOVE the range of people making those creations.

    In all, I LOVE this group!

    • Wow, thanks Polly! I love that you are using this to introduce new ideas to your students, not just in terms of history and costume, but in terms of technology connecting interests! I’m so thrilled that this can spark all kinds of learning!

      Any chance you could get your students to collaborate on research and creation and produce something for a challenge, like the students who do their own WOW creations? That would be AMAZING!

  3. Even though I’ve only done a few of the challenges – thank you so so so much for coordinating this! I would love for it to continue into a second year, but even if it doesn’t, I will be returning to the challenges for inspiration when I go to sew any historical projects.

    • You’re welcome! I love what you have done so far, and hope you are able to participate in a few more challenges.

      I still haven’t decided whether there will be a HSF 2014, but knowing that there is demand helps!

  4. I think it’s been a really fun and motivating experience! So interesting and inspiring to see the wildly different projects all done around the same theme.

    The hardest part has been having the deadlines so close together. Like you I’ve found everything takes longer than expected and when I have sewing goals outside of the HSF I’m even more pressed for time. I really wanted to participate in every challenge but sadly, have just not had the time.

    • Your projects so far have been fantastic!

      I know what you mean about the sewing goals outside the HSF – I’m finding that hard to balance. It could be a monthly thing, but I’ve found in the past that I loose motivation over longer periods of time, and end up procrastinating because I have a month. Then, it’s only a week away and I panic and end up making something that is less-than stellar, and which I would have done a better job on had I had only a fortnight. My personal solution has been to balance big full-outfit projects with much smaller, easier projects. It’s a balance I’m still working on though! And something I’m thinking about for next year…

  5. Wow, the year is going by so quickly. I am having a great time with this challenge. Every time you announce a new theme I get so excited!

    I have created a few UFO’s, and been forced into nearly exclusive stashbusting due to lack of funds, and missed some challenges, and had a bit of a problem with deadlines. But I’ll try to do better in the second half.
    It’s actually been really fun trying to find ways to meet the challenge requirements with the materials I have. I’m a terrible procrastinator and this challenge has gotten me to sit down and work, and it’s the reason I finally got around to starting a blog.

    This challenge is so very motivating and inspiring! Thank you so much for hosting it.

    • You’re welcome! I’m so pleased it’s motivating another procrastinator (I’m the queen of it), and encouraged you to blog.

      Hasn’t the year gone by quickly though? It feels like January was just last week! On the other hand, I’ve started keeping track of what I’ve made so far, and it’s pretty impressive and feels like I’ve had a lot of time!

      Hopefully the remainder of the challenges for the year will give you an opportunity to finish up the UFO’s you’ve created.

  6. Lynne says

    I’m another cheerleader who has been having a wonderful time watching this wonderful group of people making so many fascinating and diverse garments. Hats off to all of you, especially The Dreamstress. As Elise said, Hip Hip – Paniers! (Love that, Elise!)

    • Thank you Lynne! You’ve been the best cheerleader! And there is going to be a challenge later this year that is all about you 😉

  7. Stefanie says

    I’m planning to join from august/september, when I’ll finally have time to sew (after working for school most of the time the last few years). I really love this project and I’d love to participate in a similar project in the next few years!

  8. I haven’t been able to take part personally, given too many competing life priorities, but have sure enjoyed following along. The best part has been watching folks learn from each other and enjoy each other’s company. Though we’re scattered worldwide, this set of challenges brings us together. A warm bravo and thank you.

    Very best,


    • The learning is the part that makes me happiest too <3

      I know you are super busy but I live in hope that one challenge will correspond with something on your to-do pile and you'll be able to participate. Your work is so amazing and inspiring!

  9. The HSF is one of my favorite things about 2013! The themes give me an idea of what to sew, without being too specific, and I am learning so much more about historical fashion. Even though I can’t always execute as accurately as I’d like, I’m thrilled with all the new information I’ve collected. Thank you for taking the time to coordinate all of this!

    • Really? D’aww! You have no idea how happy that makes me! I’m really grateful for your participation and support of this!

      I too find that having a bit of a theme/guidance gives me a prompt on what to make, which is weird because I’m setting the themes!

Comments are closed.