Historical Sew Fortnightly

The HSF ’14: Challenge #16: Terminology

Of all the challenges in the HSF 2014, Challenge #16, due 1 September, is  probably the one I’m most excited about.  The theme is Terminology: pick something that’s been defined in the The Great Historical Fashion & Textile Glossary, and sew it up!

Terminology posts aren’t the most popular things I write, but they have been my favourite things to write  the last few years.  I’m a serious history nerd, so I always want to know  exactly  what something means in a historical sense, and  why  it means that.   I’ve really enjoyed researching each of the terms, so that I could not only define it, but understand where it fit into the societal context of the day, and how the term would be used in relation to similar items of clothing.  I’ve also really enjoyed the guests posts which usually explore a term and a textile from an era I don’t usually work in.  Whether through my own research and posts, or through guests posts, I’ve learned so much in researching each term, and hopefully some of you  have found the posts enjoyable and interesting!

When it comes to the HSF challenge, there  are endless possibilities for what you could make.  There are dozens of different fabric (from  aerophane  and  alamode  to  viscose  &  voile), simple things like  buffons and fichu  (fichu en marmotte!), and complicated things like Chesterfield coats,  tea gowns  and  robe de cour.  There are shoes (Moliere & Cromwell), hats (bergere and  picture hats), and bags (reticules), outer-garments (burnouses  and pardessus), and undergarments (symmetricals  and  stays), to name just a few.

I’ll also be adding to more terminology posts over the next two months as well.  There are some exciting guest posts involving Bronze Age textiles in the works, and I’m almost done with a post on the difference between brocade, damask and jacquard (plus a discussion of all the other textiles made with a jacquard loom), and have a post on the difference between worsted and woolens close to publishing as well – both of which are good multi-period terminology posts.

To celebrate the challenge, I’ve renamed the glossary: it’s now The Historical Fashion and Textile Encyclopedia, because it’s so much more than a glossary at this point.  I’ve also made it its own spiffy new button, which will shortly go on my sidebar:The Historical Fashion & Textile Encyclopedia at thedreamstress.com

I like the hero image for the Encyclopedia.   She’s wearing a bergere and a fichu (almost fichu robings), and I’m thinking I should write a post about muffs….

Whatever the challengers make, I hope using the Encyclopedia broadens their historical understanding, and through making the item (and additional research), I’m sure they will broaden mine!  Happy creating!



  1. Lynne says

    I love your terminolgy posts. Like you, I want to know how terms developed, how they fitted in, how they changed. And I want to know this based on solid, reliable evidence. In all these respects, your posts make me happy!

    If they entertain me, teach me something new, and maybe make me laugh, so much the better. I think my favourite is still the one about the marmottes. That one ticked all the boxes, and is, besides, a glorious example of the sheer daftness of fashion!

    • My favourite post, too! For very personal reasons, too. 😀 It gave me a fashion accessory that I wear a lot (a “fichu en marmotte” tied in a way based on a 1797 plate I later discovered) that just happens to be related to my nickname. What’s not to love. 😀
      Which makes me think I have a very easy recourse for this challenge – I’ve been thinking that I need more scarves that can be worn like that. And since this challenge will be bringing me into cold months, I think it would be a very useful thing to make at the time as well…

  2. I really love your terminology post, I only never respond to them because I never have something clever/interesting to say (or qeustions, your post are very thourough 🙂 ) I think, toghether with your in progress costume-posts (I love a look into your ‘kitchen’ ) they are my favourite posts.

  3. Hmm… terminology posts may not be popular, but they are some of my favourites! I am a complete geek when it comes to textiles and clothing and I love how much detail you go into.

    Great idea for a challenge!

  4. The terminology posts are some of my favourites too, but I’m a history nerd. I can’t wait for your Bronze Age guest posts! I haven’t yet decided what I want to do for this challenge and I’m sure I’ll get some good ideas from the Bronze Age posts.

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