Historical Sew Fortnightly

The HSF ’14: Favourites for Challenges 1-4

Hurrah, hurrah!  We’re well started on the HSF 2014!  Four challenges in, and Challenge Five almost due (only I’m going to be late, sigh).

Once again I want to highlight some of the things that really inspired me with each challenge, and that  I thought best represent the spirit of the Historical Sew Fortnightly; the quest to explore history, raise our skill levels and standard, stretch ourselves (or sometimes just get something done, rather than just procrastinating);  and  the spirit of the individual challenge.

Choosing is even harder this year: there are so many gorgeous creations, so many different time periods, so many levels of experience, so much prettiness and inspiration!  For every challenge I’ve tried to showcase a range of historical periods, ways of approaching a challenge, and levels of experience.  Inevitably, there were exquisite and amazing things that I simple couldn’t showcase, so do have a browse of the links through the challenge pages on my blog, and the HSF facebook albums.

Challenge #1 —  Make Do & Mend  (and  the facebook album  for the challenge)  

  1. Gouvernante Astrid’s 18th century coat – a beautiful job of re-making an old garment into something that is more historically accurate, and more attractive all round.
  2. A Modern Needle Through Time’s 1860s hat  — We simply can’t get leghorn straw hats today, so she ‘made do’ with a modern craft hat, and it is beautiful!
  3. Allison’s mid-19th century cross-stitch bedroom slippers  — So amazing and darling and prettily made – but too small the first time they were made, so her mend has made them perfect!

Challenge #2 —  Innovation  (and  the facebook album) Of all the challenges we’ve ever had in the HSF, this has been my favourite.  It was so fantastic that I’ve already showcased some of the most inspirational projects, but here are three more.    

  1. Diários Anacronicôs’ 1790s chemise a la reine  — a lovely version of what was, indeed, one of the most controversial garments in Western fashion, a perfect demonstration that innovations often bring controversy.  The blog is in Portuguese, but there is a very useful translate button on the left.
  2. Knotrune’s 1838 knee cap  — Published knitting patterns have been a hugely influential innovation, and I’m just tickled by the idea of a knee cap, and love that something so old can still be so useful for exactly the same purpose: warming and supporting a knee, and acting as a modern knee brace.
  3. Miranda’s 1540s farthingale  — A beautifully made garment, an excellent description of how the farthingale was an innovation, and it sparked a fascinating discussion about farthingales and clothes and our perception of history, so of course I’m madly in love with the whole thing!

Challenge #3 — Pink  (and  the facebook album)  aaaahhhh!  The whole album is so pretty!  They are all so pretty!

  1. Miss Nelly’s pink ca. 1785 round gown  — It’s the very epitome of pink, beautifully made and every so chic paired with black.  Delicious!
  2. Wearing History’s 1920’s combinations — Dainty, and delicate, and feminine, without needing to be frilly, these are pink heaven for me!  And they look as if they had come straight out of a fancy department store box direct from 1921.  Divine!  
  3. Wylde Hill’s mid 16th century doublet  — I know that some of the challenges are particularly challenging for some people, because the theme isn’t to their usual taste or wardrobe.  But I think it’s good to stretch ourselves in lots of different ways, so I’m particularly pleased with WH’s pink and black reversible doublet, because she rose to the challenge despite disliking pink and made a fabulous item that suits her historical wardrobe (and bonus, found that she might like some pink after all!).

Challenge #4 —  Under it All  (and  the facebook album)

  1. Isabel Northwode’s 1720s-30s undergarments — few of us are going to have the time or resources to make such detailed and accurate hand-sewn undergarments for one single challenge, but oh, the temptation when I see these!  They are exquisite!  And (as always) detailed construction information on her livejournal: such a boon t0 other costumers!
  2. Antonia’s 1620s chemise — One of my favourite periods (and sadly overlooked) and this chemise is just lovely (and, of course, one can never have too many chemises!).  I also like that it is part of a bigger ensemble.
  3. Kelly’s embroidered 18th century garters — Proof that even the simplest things can be works of the most exquisite beauty, and completely make an outfit, with extra care and though (and let’s face it, some mad talent!)  Check out the details on these!

And, since I don’t have illustrations of the items, here is a tiny preview of some work on my bodice:

Mariana Victoria Bodice thedreamstress.com



  1. I’m late with everything, pretty much…
    I love the idea of a kneecap as well! And Kelly’s garters are simply breathtakingly gorgeous.

  2. Oh, thank you so much for picking my kneecap! 🙂 That was a pleasant surprise when I logged in this morning. I have been using it when my knee aches and it has been helpful.

  3. Thank you for writing this! I think there were only two that I’d seen from the fb group, how did I miss so many?

    • Yes, me too. I know that I’m seriously behind with lots of things, but I didn’t realise that I’d failed so dismally to keep up with the challenges.

  4. There are so many amazing projects and so many talented people. Every time I revisit the HSF albums I see something awesome that I missed previously. It’s all so inspiring, and yes, the kneecaps are great!

    Your bodice pattern looks very interesting. I look forward to seeing some more progress shots.

  5. I haven’t gotten to participate in any so far this year yet but I loved seeing all of these! Everyone did such a great job, I love the pink challenge!

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