Historical Sew Fortnightly

The HSF ’14: Favourites for Challenges 21-24

Oh my goodness!  A month into the HSF/M 15!  Most of us are just finishing up our challenges for #1, Foundations, so let’s take a little break to look back and 2014, and some of the amazing things that were created in the last four challenges of the year.

There are always too many fantastic things to choose from, and I always end up with lists that are twice as long as what I can post.  I try to highlight pieces that have interesting backstories, that are well made, and show research, thoughtfulness, and a stretch on the part of the maker.  Most of all my favourites 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.

For every one piece I was able to feature, there are three or four fabulous ones with their own story that I couldn’t cover.    Have a browse of the links through the challenge pages on my blog, and the HSF facebook albums to see them all!

Challenge #21 —  Re-do   (and  the facebook album  for the challenge) The easiest challenge of the year to do, because we all ended up with UFOs, but the hardest challenge to choose favourites for, because there was such a variety of themes!  

  1. Sarah’s 1840s maternity gown  – Sarah may be a co-moderator of the FB group, but there is no favouritism going on here (except that anything paisley is going to be a favourite with me).  The gown is stunning by any standard, it’s fantastic to see historical maternity wear, and the fact that she made it while pregnant, with a young toddler, just adds another layer of impressive.
  2. Ninka’s Regency chemise:  There is something so beautiful and satisfying about a really lovely, well made chemise or shift.  This one gives me chemise envy!
    1 Ninka's Regency chemise for the HSF '14
  3. Vanessa’s Regency Era shift & bed gown  —  Like Ninka, Vanessa re-did Under it All and Black and White, but her bed gown is a bit of adorable ridiculousness, rather than the elegant simplicity of a chemise – and I think both options are fabulous!  And so nice to see something for totally indoor, private wear (but that still isn’t really an undergarment).

Challenge #22 —  Fort-nightliers Choice: Gentleman  (and  the facebook album)  Lots of amazing, amazing menswear!  So hard to choose, because there were so many cool things!  Surprisingly, there weren’t that many menswear-inspired womenswear pieces.  

  1. Brann’s cravat   — Sometimes the simplest things make an outfit, and a beautiful cravat certainly makes a gentleman’s look.  Plus, different cravat styles!
  2. Jamie’s military inspired spencer jacket  —  a fantastic piece illustrating the influence of military costumes on women’s fashions.
  3. Jeannette’s Gentleman’s Smoking Jacket  — Fabulously evocative, from the Mark Twain inspiration to the final product.

Challenge #23 — Modern History  (and  the facebook album)  I was really excited to see how people would interpret this challenge, and I was not disappointed!  From period pieces used in a modern wardrobe, to period inspiration for modern pieces, to periods (like the 20s & 30s) that are very wearable in a modern context anyway, there were lots of fantastic creations!

  1. Sophia’sSarah, Duchess of Marlborough‘ 2015 meets 1702 frock  —  I LOVE this!  The way it looks just like Sarah’s robe, but is also so now!
    Sophia's Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough dress, HSF '14
  2. Lisa’s Regency Chemisette  — What a fabulous statement piece worn under a cardigan!  And, of course, perfectly period for Regency wear.
    Lisa's Regency chemisette HSF '14

  3.  Dawn’s chainmail bracelet  –  The chainmail bracelet is a great way to use a period technique to create a modern fashion item.  Very effective!

Challenge #24 —  All  that Glitters  (and  the facebook album)  Oooh, sparkly, glittery, sequined, shiny beautifulness!  So exciting!

  1. Stephani’s 1794-1803 gown after portraits of Queen Luise of Prussia  —  A beautifully made frock that looks just stunning on Stephani (proof that Regency isn’t just flattering on the extremely tall and thin) and the luminous glow of the fabric adds just that extra bit of special.

    Stephani's 1794-1803 gown after portraits of Queen Luise of Prussia HSF '14

  2. Cathy’s Roman pearl bead necklace  & earrings  — Pearls are pretty much my favourite gem, and the appeal of this Roman necklace is timeless.  There is almost no period when this necklace and earrings couldn’t be worn and look right..
  3. Black Tulips ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’ 1900s ‘enamel’ necklace  — It’s glittery and shiny and has a wonderful historical backstory, and a wonderful tie-in to the Fairy Tale challenge.  Divine!

Congratulations ladies and gentlemen!  We made it!  You were a joy and an inspiration throughout the year!  Onwards and upwards to 2015’s makes!  (where I will be featuring favourites at the end of every challenge, rather than wrap-up posts every four challenges).


  1. Thank you so very much. 🙂 It’s a wonderful feeling to know someone else liked the bed gown as much as I do. And it definitely was a highlight of my sewing year as well.

  2. Kristina says

    Oh thank you! I can’t believe you chose my chemise! It’s the only challenge I was able to finish last year. I am really honoured 🙂
    And the other entries are so amazing.
    – Ninka

  3. Thank you so much. I am utterly astounded that you chose my spencer. *Runs away like an embarrassed school girl in a Japanese anime*

  4. Thank you so very much! My husband enjoys his smoking jacket, wore it on the Victorian Dance Cruise, and when I tell him it became a Challenge Favourite he will surely smile! All of the 2014 Challenges were fun and I learned so much. Thank you again for hosting this incredible group!

  5. Thank you so much for your compliments about my Roman necklace. I enjoy your posts about favorite HSF/HSM projects. I look forward to seeing many fine costume items come from the group in 2015.

    • You’re most welcome! I love what you make and am really excited about your to-do list. I look forward to watching it develop!

    • Yes you have: Favourites for Challenges 6-10 😀 But I think you’ve fallen foul of the ‘oh no, I can’t pick Sarah’s stuff, she’s a moderator’ for the last year, which is rubbish! 🙁

      You also got an inspiration mention in this one

      I do love all the things you make! They desperately make me want to look good in 1840s!

      • Ah, the Insanely Pieced Dress – still a favourite of mine. I don’t have any amazing projects planned right now though, so no perceived favoritism need be avoided in the future 😉

  6. Thank you so much for choosing my 1702 frock. It was a really fun project for me to be a little less strict with the history. As always I love checking out all of your favorite projects.

  7. I’m so flattered you picked my project as a favorite for Challenge 24! It’s my personal favorite in my closet at the moment.
    Everyone’s entries in all the challenges this year were so inspiring and creative–I can’t wait to see how 2015 shapes up.

  8. It never would have occurred to me to wear a chemisette as modern clothing, but it looks so elegant and modern with a cardigan.

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