The HSF 23 – One afternoon tutorials

The Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #23: Generosity & Gratitude is due tomorrow, and I’m a bit frantic about it.  I’ve been so busy the last few weeks with the university semester ending and marking to be done, and parties to plan, and new sewing classes starting and planning to be done for the next round of sewing classes and everything else that I haven’t had any time to sew.

I’ve gone trawling through all the tutorials that I’ve saved for inspiration, and everything that I really want to do is extremely time-consuming, and at this point I’m time poor.  I’m still working on my frou-frou  française, which is based on numerous online tutorials, but it needs another 12 hours worth of work.  I want to make Jen’s Easy Italian chemise, but I haven’t designed a whole Italian Renaissance costume yet and don’t want to end up with an orphan, plus it mentions the phrase “obscenely time consuming”, so that’s not viable!  At this point I’m hand sewing all my pre-1860s shifts, which I really do need, but don’t have the time to hand sew, so that’s out, though there is tons of good research on that.  And I have boughten patterns for all my post 1860s stuff, so that doesn’t qualify.  etc. etc. etc.

I got rather frustrated trawling for ideas and ended up grumbling “why does no one but me post tutorials for items that can be made in an afternoon!”  I’m sure there are actually tons of easy one afternoon tutorials for a range of reasonably historically accurate or not-too-cheat-y items out there (and please do post them in the comments), but for now, here is a round-up of my quickest, easiest, least time-consuming tutorials for those who need some last minute inspiration!

1. How to turn a straw sunhat into an 18th century bergere style hat.  Not period accurate, but quick and fun and effective!

18th century inspired bergere

2. How to turn a modern fedora into a ’20s style cloche.  Super easy, and the result is actually pretty period accurate, depending on how you trim it.

How to turn a modern fedora into a '20s style cloche

3. How to dye leather goods, from shoes to handbags.  Super easy, takes less than an hour, and then you still have plenty of time to trim your shoes in a more period accurate fashion!
1780s shoe remake thedreamstress.com My 1780s shoe refashion  

4. How to ‘antique’ cheap gold buttons.  This isn’t period accurate, but is an instant way to make an outfit look a little older and more natural.

How to 'antique' cheap gold buttons & jewellery thedreamstress.com

I used this technique on my Polly Oliver outfit:

The ca. 1885 'Polly / Oliver Perks' Terry Pratchett inspired ensemble

5. How to make the simple 1930s inspired ‘Deco Echo’ blouse. Super fast and easy and totally do-able in an afternoon.

The Deco Echo blouse
6. How to make a drawstring petticoat to go over a hoopskirt.  Not accurate if you use the drawstring, but adapting it to have a waistband instead is super easy, and it can be made in an afternoon.

The petticoat gathered on to the waistband

7. Or, use my cord gathering tutorial and turn your petticoat into a real skirt.   I did this for a quick 18th century petticoat skirt to go with my pet-en-l’aire, and you could also use it for some 19th century applications.  It’s not strictly accurate, but it’s quick and effective.

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

Or you could just have a trawl through the Great Historical Fashion and Textile Glossary and find a period accurate term for an item you’d like to make, from a Balmoral Petticoat to a Buffon

And now, I’m off to go try to make something quick and easy based on someone else’s research, and to wish I had time to utilise all the fantastic research on elaborate items that is out there.


  1. I’m not going to be able to finish my project by November 18 either, and I’m not busy, as you are.

    Don’ t forget that one of the purposes of HSF is to have fun, and don’t be too distressed about missing a deadline. You’re creating a lot of fun and education for people, and that’s what matters most.

  2. Belinda says

    SO MUCH YES! Deadlines shouldn’t matter when you’re this inspiring and awesome and informative!

  3. reddawn.netrenaissancetailor.comrenaissancetailor.comfestiveattyre.comfestiveattyre.comI tried to look for “one afternoon tutorials” last night after I read your post, and it was hard because it’s not possible to Google them that way, since people do not label their tutorials as “one afternoon tutorials”. You have to read them and see whether they involve making a historical costume item that can be made in one afternoon.

    I did find some things that apply, though:

    Red Dawn’s page on how to make a sash (for “pirate” costume and the like):

    The Renaissance Tailor has several tutorials that would be doable in an afternoon, specifically the ones on partlets and Cavalier-era collars:

    And Jen Thompson of Festive Attyre has posted some good tutorials, particularly the ones on doing your hair 1790’s style and remaking straw hats into the styles of the 1910s (those do require you to wet the hat and leave it overnight with heavy items on the brim, but the actual work can be done in an afternoon):


    Nowadays a LOT of people post tutorials as short videos on YouTube, so you might want to look there for inspiration as well.

    Maybe I should do a post gathering a bunch of “one afternoon” type tutorials from all over.

      • For you, I grant, that’s going to be a considerable problem, since you know so much about sewing and costumery already…. 🙂

        Nonetheless, I think I’ll post a collection of these (including yours, which are neat!) on my blog as a public service.

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