Historical Sew Fortnightly

The HSF/M: Favourites for Challenge #5: Practicality

After a big drop in submissions between Challenge #3 & Challenge #4  (the  HSM War & Peace challenge), submission numbers held steady for Challenge #5: Practicality.  Perfectly steady in fact – there were exactly the same number of submissions for both challenge, which does please my sense of order (though I’d like it even more if there were more submissions!)

I was really excited about the entries for the Practicality challenge, because I think practicality is so often overlooked in historical costuming: we forget that people had to live and work in their clothing, and that most people actually worked really hard.

I made an item that didn’t seem that practical from a modern viewpoint – a white 1910s blouse, but which was actually a revolution in practicality (Separates!  Washability!  Ready-to-wear!  Ease of fit!).  And I road tested it’s practicality by wearing it to clean the house, 1910s style.

Obviously I love what I made, but I’ve also been delighted with the other entries – I’ve learned things, been inspired, been envious, been motivated to make my own!

For my favourites  I select items that really represent the spirit of the challenge, by demonstrating knowledge, research, and a thorough exploration of the idea behind the challenge.  I like things of all skill levels, as long as they tell a story and demonstrate the goals of  the Historical Sew Fortnightly/Monthly as a whole; the quest to explore history, raise our skill levels and standard as creators and historians, stretch our comfort zones, and occasionally, just to get something  finished.

Because I can never, ever show you all my favourite things, and this was one of the hardest challenges ever to pick items for* (The quality of submissions was SO high.  I looked at almost every item in the FB challenge and went “Oooh, that one!”, and every item linked under the challenge page and went “Definitely that one!”) I do recommend you check out the comments under  the blog post  and  the photos in the FB  album  (yep, you do have to be a member to see it, yep, if you ask to be a member we’re going to ask you some questions, and yep, it might take us a few days to answer, but if you are really interested in the HSF, as a participant or  active  cheerleader, we’d LOVE to have you) to see the rest of the amazing things that were made.

And now, favourites!    Entries with photos link to FB, entries without link to the blog post of the maker.

  1. Patricia’s 1370s gown    A  particularly practical garment, from an era when fashion was still hugely practical: garments were versatile and layer-able, there was almost no fabric waste.  And all the pieces Tina wore with this were completed for other challenges, which hugely impresses me for practicality!

    5 Patricia's 1370s dress

  2. The Dreaded Seamstresses 1880s bustle-era wrapper:    Just the thing to do a bit of housework in before ‘dressing’ for the day – as long as you can do housework in a bustle!
  3. La Malle de Madame Mime’s 1660s basque jacket.   You must go see the photoshoot that goes with this jacket – it’s phenomenal, and shows how perfectly the jacket fits the challenge!
  4. Lina’s 1900s maid’s wash dress.    Lots of great research, a well put together outfit, and all the accessories.  Fantastic!
  5. Wanda B’s padded helmet cap:   I tend to think of practicality as working on farms and being a servant, but this cap is a great reminder that there are really practical aspects to knights clothes as well.
  6. Tina’s 1770s shortgown.   Although they weren’t worn everywhere, shortgowns are under-represented in historical recreations compared to how often they appear in visual records (especially considering that they weren’t the sort of pretty dresses that were documented in portraits and fashion plates) so I always love seeing them made up.  And they are so practical!

    5 Tina's 1770s shortgown

(and a bonus mention to Mirelle’s swaddling cloths.  They are actually my absolute favourites, but I try not to post photos of other people’s children on my blog unless I am certain they are OK with it, so you can only see them if you are in the FB group).

For the rest of the favourites posts see:

Favourites for Challenge #4: War & Peace

Favourites for  Challenge #3: Stashbusting

Favourites for  Challenge #2: Blue

Favourites for  Challenge #1: Foundations

* So hard I couldn’t narrow it to 5!


  1. I’m really sad that I haven’t been able to finish any challenges lately. I’ve had to prioritise other sewing that didn’t fit into any of the challenges… I will perhaps have a late entry for Accessorise (or at least I’m making it with the challenge in mind) and I will definately make something for Heirlooms & Heritage.

  2. These all sound like great projects.. I’m particularly interested in the short gown. I’d like to make one, sometime The idea really appeals to me; 18th century authenticity that’s simple to sew!

Comments are closed.