Historical Sew Fortnightly

The HS(not)F 2015 – it’s on!

Thank you all for your input on the HSF ’14 and what you want from the HSF ’15.  I really appreciated your feedback, insights, and (most of all), encouragement.

I’m thrilled that so many of you are getting so much out of the Historical Sew Fortnightly, and that so many of you would like it to continue in some form next year.

I’ve really thought about the HSF, what I want, what you want, and what is feasible.  So here is what is going to happen next year, and a response to a lot of the topics that got brought up (since, much as I would like to answer all 100+ comments, that definitely falls in the not-feasible basket!)

There will be a Historical Sew Fortnightly 2015, but it will not be the HSF – we’re cutting the challenges down from 24 to 12, so 2015 will be the year of the Historical Sew Monthly,  with challenges due on the last day of every month.

Hopefully that means a lot more people will be able to participate, a lot more people will do EVERY challenge, and we’ll all be able to devote more time to really researching and making really beautifully made and thought out garments.  I can’t wait to see them!

If you really, really want to do more than 12 challenges, you can always go back and do 2013 or 2014 again!

Delegating & Crowdsourcing ideas

A lot of you suggested delegating, or getting the whole group to decide on everything, and while that sounds like a great idea, anyone who has ever managed a committee (or done group work in school) can tell you that unless you have exactly the right group, it’s way easier to do a lot of things yourself!

(I’m going to put myself out there a little bit and admit that some of the suggestions for getting everyone to do something  would be so much work to organize and coordinate  that I instantly started having mini panic attacks  and had to remind myself that I don’t have to take the  suggestions.)

But there will be a little bit of delegating and a small committee.  Sarah & Elizabeth have been fantastic to work with this year (So fantastic.  Even better than I could possibly have hoped.  Please pop over to their blogs and tell them thank you too!), so I am very, very pleased to have them onboard again next  year.  And we will be getting a few other people onboard this year as FB moderators and to fill other roles.  But it has to stay really small and tight, because me spending all my time answering emails and questions and managing people is way harder and less fun than writing inspiration posts.

How you can help

– Beyond the personal satisfaction of making a beautiful item, I think the biggest thing many of us want is acknowledgement for our work.  So the best possible thing you can do as a HSF participant is to follow links to finished items through the project page comments, and read and leave a comment on peoples blogs, and to comment on photos of finished items in the HSF facebook albums.  This also has the added benefit of making the HSF community even stronger, as you all get to know each other more, and that would be fabulous.

– Feel free to write your own favourites posts.  Anyone is welcome to make lists of things you think are awesome!

-If someone wants to volunteer to assemble  a list of participating blogs, and email it to me in HTML, I’m happy to host it here, but I won’t be compiling the list myself this year.

–  I’m going to write a post at the end of the year asking for participants to leave comments with links to all their finished projects – so we have a list of all the participants.  Please do come back and leave your comment when it comes up!

– I’m sure I’ll think of more, but I don’t want to overwhelm all of us all at once!


Unfortunately there will be no democracy at all in challenges this year, because the Fortnightliers Choice takes too much time and energy to coordinate.  Thinking up all the other  challenges for 2014 and writing descriptions was  easy, and took approximately 3% as much time as coordinating the Fortnightliers Choice challenge.  But we will be using lots of the ideas that were suggested for Fortnightliers Choice last year, so you’re all included that way!

And the challenges are meant to be CHALLENGES  – they are meant to push our boundaries as sewers/creators/historians, and push our taste and idea boundaries.  I  learned a lot having to make things I wasn’t keen on in the Sew Weekly, and I learn a lot having to make class samples for items I would never have thought I would wear or make.  One of the things I often learn is that I actually love the item, or am at least pleased I attempted it.

I really believe in the idea of trying things that you don’t like, and usually wouldn’t think to make, and not just staying within a usual, safe groove.  Unless we try things we don’t like, and challenge our ingrained perceptions, we can’t grow as people.  The HSF is meant to encourage all kinds of growth.  So in 2013 and 2014  there was a challenge I haven’t personally been keen on, but that I jump into to keep in the spirit of it, and next year will be no different.  And there will probably be ones next year you don’t like, but hopefully you’ll do them anyway, in the spirit of the HSF!

Facebook vs. Blogs vs. Message Boards.  

The HSF  will not and will never be a Facebook only group/challenge/event/thingumy.

Why not?  First, the FB group takes the most time, and is the least fun for me.  Running my blog is easy, and really rewarding, the FB group is a constant headache as FB changes things, spammers and trolls get in, and people ask the moderators to deal with personal spats.

Second, and far more importantly, the FB format encourages shorter, fluffier conversations, and doesn’t preserve information.  The same questions get asked multiple times, because the old questions, with all the links and information that people have supplied, disappear down the page.  Or a question gets asked, and people keep giving the same answers, or missing clarifications to the questions, because FB has hidden earlier replies.  Blogs are a MUCH better way to provide lasting information and references, and to have extensive, informative posts and really in-depth conversations, and I have seen a lot of that happen on HSF blogs over the last two years (you just have to get away from FB and look for it!).

Although I am frustrated by its limitations, I amm really pleased that the FB message board is so popular, active, and vibrant and I think that’s a great thing.  Thank you everyone who contributes to it!

I love the idea of a HSF message board, but I’ve seen too many historical message boards fade and die, and I’m worried it might do the same.  Unless I could afford to set up a website with its own message board (and 24/7 tech support, so REALLY, REALLY expensive) I’d probably pass.

And finally…

Now that you know there will only be 12, you are all probably wondering what the challenges will be.  Sarah, Elizabeth & I aren’t quite ready to announce them, but they will be out soon.  For now, you can get excited about  January’s challenge.

The first challenge of the year, due by the 31st of Jan, is Foundations: make something that is the foundation of an outfit (however you interpret that).


I hope some of you are excited about participating – I’m definitely back to being excited!


  1. Yeah! I’m happy you made that choice and I already LOVE the first challenge.
    Have a great end of the year. 🙂

  2. Mireille says

    Thanks for all the challenges. I have not been able to participate as much as I would have liked due to family circumstances. (Still pregnant, this little one is going to come Christmas day just to make things even more exciting) But the ones I have been able to participate in have been really fun and I have got some of my UFO collection finished.

  3. Thanks – This just fits my world perfectly. The F was killing me so a monthly thing is just my thing!
    And thanks for trying one more year!

  4. Marie says

    Great news ! I had some difficulties with the timing of the HSF 2014, even if I had plans for every challenge, I couldn’t make every outfit…But with one challenge/month, I feel more confident in my abilities ! Can’t wait to see the others challenge, the first one is already in mind…

  5. Ann Wass says

    Thank you SO VERY MUCH for agreeing to continue another year. I think cutting back the number of projects is a great move. I still probably won’t get to them all, but I’ll see what I can do.

  6. Christina says

    Thank-you so much for all the time and energy you have put into this wonderful project!

  7. I’m so happy you decided to continue with HSF! I haven’t participated in the previous ones because a fortnightly challenge was too much for me (and doing a ‘half marathon’ didn’t appeal to me, if I decide to do something I like to go all the way). But now with a monthly challenge I think I should be able to participate.

    Even if I don’t participate I still wanted to thank you so much for organizing this because I really enjoy seeing what other people have made!

    By the way, why not create a linkup/link party for the challenges? This way you don’t have to do all the work, you just create the basic linkup and then everyone adds a link to their blog with thumbnails themselves 🙂

    • Unfortunately experience tells me that anything on the internet that allows anyone to edit and add links goes VERY badly VERY quickly unless it is monitored like a hawk – which entirely defeats the purpose!

  8. Jeanette Murray says

    Thank you so very much for all your time, experience, expertise, and for sharing it in such a wonderful way! I personally was sad to think that HSF would be completely gone in 2015 and although I know I would continue sewing, I would miss sharing in the creations of others and learning from them as well. I look forward to the Challenges in 2015! Thank you again, Leimomi, Sarah, and Elizabeth!

  9. Diane Quist says

    12 challenges makes a great deal of sense to me, and am glad. Perhaps this will be an easier avenue for me to participate in and am glad for your decision. Thank you for all you have done for this group!

  10. I have a suggestion about the participants’ list. Couldn’t we open a Google doc with an html template so everyone can enter their own blog link and name, maybe up until a certain deadline? It’d distribute the work a bit.

  11. red razors says

    Thanks to you, Leimomi, to Sarah and Elizabeth, and to the new mods and helpers for keeping this going! I am really looking forward to my first year participating. Hopefully we can reward your efforts to keep it going 🙂

  12. Once a month sounds great! Hopefully I will be able to participate and not just enjoy other peoples accomplishments in 2015.

  13. Thank you so much for your hard work behind the scenes! I’m new to the group and I have to admit, a monthly challenge sounds more achievable for me! On to 2015 🙂

  14. I’m glad that things are a go for next year. I’m glad it is down to 12 challenges as well. It was a bit of a challenge bordering on struggle to keep up and I wouldn’t want this to become a chore for you or myself! I hope I’m back up to par again next year. I had managed to complete all the challenges until the last 3. A death in the family had a large part to do with it.

    I liked your comment about challenging yourself to do things that are in fact challenges! I like to think that all my projects have been challenging in some way…a new skill or new decade or something. In the coming year I will try to be more conscious of that. For myself, I will not be doing something that I am not keen on. Mostly because my costume community is so small (2-5 people) and because my life is not somewhere I can make and wear vintage – I just don’t want to make something that I will never use.

    Anyway, thanks for running this and blessings on a new year!

  15. Woo hoo! Monthly is much better for me- I’m glad you are continuing and maybe I can do better at participating with only 12 projects!

  16. Michelle says

    I’m glad the Challenges will continue. I don’t participate in them myself due to time constraints, but I always enjoyed viewing everyone’s work. I find it inspirational! Maybe this new year I’ll join in. If that’s ok with everyone?

  17. Hooray!! I love the new changes and will definitely be participating this year. 🙂 I can’t wait to start!

  18. Thank you so very much for continuing these wonderful opportunities. You are so generous and kind to put the energy and your experience to bringing together this group. I have learned so much and I feel so connected to folks who are like me. Who enjoy learning new old things. Who like to wear and encourage others to wear art from the past. God bless you and yours

  19. stephanie says

    Thank you so much for continuing this! it’s such a wonderful community!

  20. Thank you so very much for continuing! 🙂 I’m totally with you on info being lost with the FB format. FB makes me grumble every time I’m trying to access ‘old’ information. The photo albums with the format info, helps a lot, in the HSF group, though.

    I feel badly for those who felt that the monthly challenge wasn’t good enough, but for me personally, having challenges I wanted to do, and flat out couldn’t, was very discouraging. I don’t like skipping things on my to do list, and life wasn’t going to mold itself around my plans and self imposed deadlines. I really do need some of those projects done, for daily wear, so thanks for all the ‘foundation/under clothing’ type challenges! 😉

    Trying to participate in 2014 has taught me a lot about when I can drag my sewing gear/fabric/ironing board out into use, and when I can’t. Due to company. Now I can hopefully plan next year for the times when sewing related tools are inaccessible, except small hand projects that are pre-ready to go (and publicly viewable). (Nov. – mid Dec., and other times.)

    Again, thank you, thank you! I’m also looking forward to your terminology posts, those are my favorite. 🙂 I’m hoping to find a balance personally between what I research, and what I can actually use, and not get so angry/discouraged that I make nothing. Because modern clothing just really doesn’t appeal to me… Ahem, another long reply, sorry!

  21. Stephani says

    This is such fantastic news, Leimomi! Thank you so much for continuing what has become a truly valuable resource and incentive for research, study, and making. I think most of us recognize the amount of effort and work it takes to organize and manage it and that you do this totally gratis, out of a love of historical costuming.
    A monthly schedule is much more doable, and allows a deeper level of research and focus. I’m really looking forward to the coming year’s challenges, and I’ve just decided that I WILL participate in the first challenge. It will be my first foray away from Regency in a long time. I’m entering the bustle era (mainly as an extension of my interest in Steampunk) and my first attempt will be a Victorian corset. So, mind, boundaries, and skill set: expanding.
    Thank you!

  22. Yay! I’m so happy that you found a way to make this work! I think 12 challenges is perfect. I only manage to do about half the challenges anyways. I think I might have given up on historical costuming with out HSF. There’s not a lot of costuming events that go on near me and I’ve gotten to make things from new periods that I wouldn’t normally do because I had some place to wear them-for HSF photo shoots!

    And yay for the first challenge for 2015! Underwear is definitely a foundation and I have underpinnings to make (so I can get to the pretty pretty dress!). If there is one thing I’ve learned from HSF, it’s that you can never have too many corsets, chemises, petticoats, etc. No scrimping on the inside layers!

  23. Michelle says

    I’m so glad the Challenges will continue! I don’t participate in them myself due to time constraints, but I always enjoyed viewing everyone’s work and learning so much from them. I find it inspirational! Maybe this new year I’ll join in. If that’s ok with everyone?

    Though I’m not the best sewist or even that fast, I do like projects that make me think and give me a challenge. I’m also very new to “historical” sewing, though I’ve done some costumes in the past. My main challenge is to find patterns that are both historical, yet fit into my everyday life.

  24. This will be wonderful. I can understand why you think delegating would only be more work… but I didn’t realise the Facebook group took SO much work as well… I do agree that posts disappear etc.; I don’t like that about Facebook at all. But I think it’s a good, let’s say, aggregation platform. A crossroads. Something to that effect.

    With more time for challenges, I think everyone will have more time both for making and for the commenting and appreciation – I know I didn’t always find time to look through it all in a fortnight. I don’t even always find place and time to photograph things, even if they’re finished, now that I can’t take photos outside when it’s cold. 😛 So the monthly challenges should really make it more manageable in all respects.

  25. Helene Illervik says

    I’m so happy that HSF will continue in 2015, as HSM, I suppose. I haven’t participated, even though I’ve had plans for a lot of the challenges. I hope I’ll be able to make something of my plans next year and as I have a toille of a 1910’s stays almost done, I think the first challenge is perfect.
    I’m so greatful for all the work you all do for us!
    I’ve loved reading about all the garments other participants have made during this year, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve found blogs I would otherwise probably never have found, and I’ve had so much fun reading all the blogs.
    Again, thank you so much for all work done, and all coming!
    (Now going to look at the toille and tomorrow I will put some boning in it and really try it on.)

  26. I’m sorry I haven’t participated much this year, and I’m afraid that the same might well be true of next year. However – thank you for organising this and continuing to organise it! It’s such an excellent resource and I am constantly learning new things. I would have been very sorry to see it die.

  27. Pam Moore says

    Thank you for keeping up the good fight. And yay for 12 challenges. Imminently more doable. And yay for the first one. As someone else said you can never have too many underpinnings.

  28. Hello,

    I am happy to hear about the changes you propose for 2015. I have a supporting argument for not only posting on FB. It has been my experience that not all participants are FB users and they tend to feel shut out when such venues are FB only.

    I can also say I am ‘stoked’ as I have a project for the January foundation challenge!

    Wonderful Holidays to you all.

  29. Woo hoo. I will still be in remodel mode here in January, but one a month the is doable. I haven’t made much so most of it will be new…ready, set…goooo

  30. Michaela says

    I am soooo excited! Monthly works even better. I wanted to do all the challenges but wasn’t sure I could complete all of them, or I would end up coming up with something really dinky for each challenge because I am NOT a fast sewer.

  31. I am so thrilled!!!! I think it is a lovely idea to have it monthly – it gives you a little more time to sew and plan!!
    I can’t tell you how happy I am that there will still be a HS next year. And I’m super excited to do it!! I agree with you on the FB group subject, especially since I’m not even on Facebook.
    Thanks so much for hosting the HSM!

  32. Thank you so much for forging ahead, Leimomi! So many of us really love the HSF. It has been a remarkable learning experience for me. I wish I had time to participate more actively, but at least I can read about what everyone else does. I’m so glad you found a way to keep it going. Thank you!

  33. Lisa W says

    Thank you so much for your generosity of time and knowledge. I fully expect to complete at least some challenges this year, especially as I’m going back to university and will have more flexibility of time. The first challenge is perfect for me as I’m currently obsessed with slip-making. Yay all round!!

  34. Deborah Thomas-Wilton says

    Looking forward to challenges. 2015 is my own challenge to myself to redo my wardrobe for 1830-1870 especially. So I’ m hoping to combine both and actually get somethings done. I love seeing everyone else’s work. Thanks for coordinating everything.

  35. Brilliant! I’m so pleased you’ve come up with a plan that is viable for you. Thank you so much for all your hard work! I really do appreciate it and I know everybody else does too.

    You know, my favourite thing about the HSF/HSM is that it does challenge me and gives me a reason to make things I wouldn’t otherwise make (we’ll just ignore the fact that my submission for Challenge 23 was not remotely challenging and is something I would have made anyway 🙂 ). Most of what I’ve made this year would just never have happened if I wasn’t doing HSF, and it has been so interesting.

    Foundations eh? Hmmm…

  36. YAY! Thank you for hosting this again. I really appreciate everything that you do! Can’t wait to start again next year – I think the monthly will be perfect because my “fortnightly” projects always take that long anyway.

  37. Alyssa says

    Excited to get started on the new year! I was a little daunted at the prospect of 24 projects, so I’m another happy participant in the new monthly format. Thanks for all you do

  38. I, too, am excited that the challenges continue. And even more so with the monthly challenge. It is a big undertaking to try them all. Or part. I will definitely try for the “foundations” challenge in January. Learning how to make a corset last year was an awesome thing for me, now to build a complete ensemble. Alas, I need to find a place to wear said ensemble.

  39. Marilyn J. Hollman says

    It is a joy to read you and to see what you and others are doing.

  40. I’m so excited that this will be changed to monthly challenges–that means I can finally participate in more of the challenges! (So much of my effort this year was spent waiting for fabric to arrive, searching the internet for the correct beaded motif, etc., and by the time the deadline came and passed I had lost steam). Thankfully, I just cut into some mauve satin to make a 1920s brassiere, and am excited I can enter it in the first challenge!

  41. I’m so happy that it will be a monthly challenge, as it will be much easier for me to participate! I LOVE making costumes, and this challenge will keep me inspired to make more and better costumes, and to get old WIPs done.

    I love the first theme, and can’t wait to get started! Where do I sign up?!

  42. HSM – yay!
    and not Facebook only – double yay!
    Thank you so much Leimomi (and Sarah and Elizabeth) for doing this.
    I am probably the least able needlewoman in this comment section, but I think this year I might gird up my thimble finger and give it a go! I already have an idea for #1 🙂

  43. Kelly says

    I have to concur with everyone else! Thank you so much for all the effort you put in to everything we lucky people get to see from you. I wanted to do this years HSF but as a beginner it was a very daunting prospect. So a monthly challenge is actually an exciting prospect. I can use it as a good push to start making all the wonderful things I’ve been wanting to! And there’s no better way to start than with the underthings!

  44. WooHoo!! Thank you for continuing the challenges for 2015 and for doing all that you do behind the scenes. The new schedule it perfect, so thanks for that, too. Does this make it HS-EOM (Historical Sew Every Other Month)?

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