Historical Sew Fortnightly

The HSF ’14: the rest of the challenges

Last year I posted the HSF Challenge themes 8 challenges ahead: so that people had a bit of time to plan, but couldn’t see the whole year at one go. This year I said I’d post all the challenges for the entire year in January.  Good to my word, here they are!

Planning all the challenges so far in advance was really scary though.  Last year I had an idea of what each challenge would be, but could rearrange and adjust them based on feedback from the participants and the mood of the group.  This time, they are locked in!  We’ll see how it goes!

  • #1: Make Do & Mend  —  due Wed 15 Jan.  Let’s start of the year with a clean slate, and with a bit of a tidy up.  Use this challenge as an opportunity to get your historical wardrobe in order by fixing any little bits that have worn out and gone wrong.  Alternatively, you could focus on the  historical precedent of making-do by re-making something into a historical garments, whether it be a bodice from a worn-out skirt, a chemise from old sheets, a bosom-friend from an old cardigan, or a new historical hat from an old modern one etc.  Finally, you could just  those people who had to make-do by making something for a historical character who would have scrimped and saved and re-made and mended until the fabric entirely fell apart.
  • #2: Innovation  – due Sat 1 Feb.  To celebrate the way inventions, introductions and discoveries have impacted fashion, make an item that reflects the newest innovations in your era.  Be sure to share the research you did on your innovation, as well as your finished item.
  • #3: Pink  – due Sat 15 Feb.  Make something pink!
  • #4: Under it All  — due Sat 1 March.  Make the  foundations of your outfit: the things that go under it to provide the right shape and support, and to protect your fancy outer garments from sweat and grime
  • #5: Bodice  – due Sat 15 March.  Make a bodice — a garment that covers the upper body.  You can either abide by the strictest historical sense (see the blog post for history of bodice terminology) or can explore the idea of bodices in a more general sense.
  • #6: Fairytale  — due Tue 1 April:  imagine your favourite fairytale set in a specific timeperiod, and make a historical garment inspired by the fairytale.
  • #7: Tops & Toes  — due Tue 15 April.  Create an accessory that goes on your head, or on your feet.
  • #8: UFOs & PHDs – due Thur 1 May.  Use this opportunity to finish off something that’s never quite gotten done, or stalled halfway through.  Check out the post from last year for more information on how to interpret this challenge.
  • #9: Black and White – due Thur 15 May.  Draw on the opposite ends of the shade spectrum to create something in black and white, or black or white.
  • #10: Art – due Sun 1 June.  Make your own masterpiece based on a work of art.
  • #11: The Politics of Fashion – due Sun 15 June.  World affairs have both affected, and been affected by, fashions.  Craft something that demonstrates the interactions between dress and political history.
  • #12: Shape & Support – due Tue 1 July.  Make a garment that changes the silhouette of the human form through shaping and support.
  • #13: Under $10 – due Tue 14 July.  Whip up a fabulous item for under $10 (we’ll use US$ as the de-facto standard)
  • #14: Paisley & Plaid – due Fri 1 August.  Plaid is the most universal pattern, found in the textiles of almost all cultures and periods.  Paisley is more unique and recent, but has had a lasting impact on design.  Make something that utilises one or both of these patterns.
  • #15: The Great Outdoors – due Fri 15 August.  Get out into the weather and dirt with an item for outdoor pursuits.
  • #16: Terminology – due Mon 1 September.  Explore the etymology of fashion by make something defined in the Great Historical Fashion & Textile Glossary (new terminology posts and items will be added throughout the year).
  • #17: Yellow  – due Mon 15 September.  Embrace the sunny side with something in any shade of yellow.
  • #18: Poetry in Motion  – due Wed 1 October  Find inspiration for a garment in poetry and song.
  • #19: HSF Inspiration  – due Wed 15 October.  One of the best things about the HSF is seeing what everyone else creates, and using it to spark your own creativity.  Be inspired by one of the challengers item from HSF ’13 or HSF challenges 1-18 to make your own fabulous item.
  • #20: Alternative Universe – due Sat 1 November.  Create a garment from an alternative universe: fantasy, steampunk, dieselpunk, etc.  Your item can be perfectly historically accurate within our own universe as well.
  • #21: Re-do – due Sat 15 November.  Pick any previous challenge and re-do it (or do it for the first time).  It could be one that you didn’t finish, one that you wish you’d had more time for, or  any  time for, or one where you loved the theme so much you want to do it  again.
  • #22: Fort-nightliers Choice – due Mon 1 December.  This one is up to you!  In June I’ll ask for suggestions for a theme, and we’ll vote to pick the one you most want to do as our 22nd Challenge of the year.
  • #23: Modern History – due Mon 15 December.  Make something historical or historically inspired that is wearable in an everyday context.
  • #24: All that Glitters – due Thur 1 January.  Celebrate your completion of HSF ’14, and the New Year, with a glittery, glitzy, sparkly, shiny, something.

Oooh, all written down now!  That was scary!

And now, to figure out what I am making for each challenge!  Good luck with your own planning, and happy sewing!


  1. I am SO excited you posted all this ahead of time! It gets my creative streak going and helps me be on the lookout when fabric or notion shopping if I can plan things out in an orderly manner!

  2. oh my, oh my, I’ve never tried those challenges but now I really wan’t to do something, it’s soooo motivating 😀

    • I think we shouldn’t consider fashion plates as art for this challenge, because they serve a different purpose, and thus portray clothes and fashion in a different way.

      • Darn. Back to drawing board on that one. You’re bringing back memories of my costume class in college. One project was planning out the costumes for a play based on a painting. …. it was not my favorite project.

          • Oh there’s plenty of paintings I would love to be able to do (I’ve been going through images on Google going “want… want…. want… that too…”), but I’m trying to cross things off my incredibly long list. I think I found something that will work and be able to divide up one dress between challenges 9 & 10.

  3. Well, so far, I seem to be fairly well on track with the first two… which is very much due to the fact they were UFOs; but if these challenges make me finish my UFOs – and I see several that should work for that – then wonderful!

    Then there are others that make me think of fabulousness that I could hardly finish or even start making… like, could I make Amalie Auguste’s dress when I do not even have the fabric? That could be both Art and Yellow… hmmm…

    Politics are scary. Buuut… I’m going to use that as an incentive to make that 1848 kacabajka! Ha. Love your themes.

  4. This is so exciting! Especially the alternate universe one. I can’t wait to see what everyone makes!

    For #23, is everyday wearability a matter of opinion?

  5. Looks great!

    Just two wee things:
    #5 doesn’t have a due date
    #22 is missing a ‘t’ in ‘Fortnightly’

    Normally I don’t point out little typos, but since people will be referring to this post for the next year, I thought I’d let you know.

    Wish I could sew! 🙂

  6. Thanks for posting them all ahead of time. It will make it easier to plan and to find material for the projects, even if you don’t start them earlier than six weeks-a month before.


  7. With the re-do will it be for the 2014 challenges that you can redo or can you redo a 2013 challenge?

  8. Seeing it all laid out is really intimidating. And a bit exciting. Thank you for doing it this way, sometimes when you have a small stash and not a lot of access to fabric stores 8 weeks is not quite enough.

    Let the planning begin!

  9. I hope it’s okay for me to hop in after March, when I’m done with school stuff!

  10. Mackiavelli says

    I had a question for the challenges- can I use a pattern that I drafted, which is based on a period garment? I fall in the “broke college student” category, and patterns cost more than my life right now.

Comments are closed.