Historical Sew Fortnightly

The HSF ’14: Challenge #6: Fairytale

And now, with a fanfare of trumpets and a wave of a wand, announcing the Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014 Challenge #6 (due Tuesday 1 April): Fairytale

Fairytales are full of beautiful costume imagery, from Little Red Riding Hood’s cape, through the dresses as golden as the sun, as silver as the moon, as dazzling as the stars, and the coat made of the fur and feathers of every beast and bird their was in Allerleirauh, to Cinderella’s famed slipper (whatever it was made from) and beautiful ballgown, and the Pied Pipers pied tunic.

In this challenge, imagine your favourite fairytale set in a specific timeperiod, and make a historical garment from the fairytale.  Your fairytale can be classic, modern, Western, non-Western: as long as you can articulate why you think it qualifies then it counts!

Rather than providing historical garments as inspiration, here are how some illustrators have imagined various fairytales over the years:

Here is a charming 1920s does late Rococo take on Little Red Riding Hood from Project Gutenberg:

Little Red Riding Hood from Project Gutenberg

And a medieval meets Grecian Donkeyskin from Lang’s The Grey Fairy Book of 1900:

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Grey Fairy Book. 1900

Anne Anderson did most of her illustrations in Medieval costumes, as with this version of The Swan Princes:

Old, Old Fairy Tales- The Swan Princes by Anne Anderson

Her Cinderella, though, like many Cinderella’s, was set in the 18th century

Cinderella, Anne Anderson

This cunning picture-changing Victorian Cinderella by Dean and Sons ca. 1875 filters Elizabethan fashions through a mid-Victorian lense, with a hint of 18th century.

Dean & Son Cinderella, Date	c. 1875

This illustration of the Twelve Dancing Princess as medieval maidens by Ruth Sanderson has been one of my favourite inspiration pieces ever since I recieved the entire image as a fold-out birthday card when I turned 10:

The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Ruth Sanderson

But I also love the 18th century twist that Errol le Caingave to the princesses:

Twelve Dancing Princesses by Errol Le Cain

And to finish off, here is Snow White as drawn by Franz Jüttner in 1910, in a simple Medieval inspired frock that reflects her youth and innocence:

Franz Jüttner (1865—1925)- Illustration from Schneewittchen, Scholz' Künstler-Bilderbücher, Mainz 1910

And the Queen, in the elaborate finery one would expect from her:

Franz Jüttner (1865—1925)- Illustration from Schneewittchen, Scholz' Künstler-Bilderbücher, Mainz 1910 2

Whether you go for simple or elaborate, I can’t wait to see what you make!


  1. I used to have a book of fairytales as a child…and knew them all back to front. Seeing the theme I can’t help but think of the Shrek ‘universe’. lol!
    My head is bubbling with ideas…Snow White in 1930’s style interpretation of her clothes from the disney movie perhaps?
    Or a 1920’s styled repunzel….long hair in a world of bobbed hair. 😉
    Or a 1920’s tinkerbell?

  2. I’m loving the styling in the final illustration, both for its color choices and line style, and also for its lovely depictions of fashion.

  3. Just had another idea..I could make my ‘nightgown’ and it could be from the princess and the pea. 🙂

  4. Elise says

    findlay.eduOh oh oh! Fairy tales (and their accompanying illustrations) are so so so neat. I love John Bauer’s moody take on them.

    Have any of you heard of the Mazza Museum? It’s fantastic. They collect *original* art from children’s books. Quentin Blake is there, along with original drawings from some of the most fabulously illustrated stuff out there, including some from Ruth Sanderson.


  5. These are gorgeous illustrations! I’m not part of the HSF challenge but I like reading about it and I think I’ll have to follow this theme closely.

  6. Regina says

    Did you mean for the due date to be April 1st? It says March. I don’t know if I like this concept…too many options!

  7. Lylassandra says

    Shrieks, swoons, dies….

    I love fairy tales so much, I cannot wait for this challenge! (My favorite is Beauty and the Beast.)

  8. Just this morning I was wondering if there would be a challenge that would allow me to explore Disney princesses in historical dress. AW YEEAAAAHHH 😀

  9. Geraldine says

    It may take me some time to figure which of the many dresses I would like to make..

  10. Melissa says

    I love fairytales, I’ll have to figure something out for this one!

  11. I’m planning either a 20’s Snow White or a pea green petticoat (for princess and the pea) if I get lazy…

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