The 1st Annual* NZ Sew & Eat Historical Retreat

Sew & Eat Historical Retreat thedreamstress.com

This time last year, when I realised that I couldn’t afford to go to Costume College 2018, I sobbed** about it to some friends, and the amazing Miss Priscilla said “Awww, we’ll throw a New Zealand CoCo for you”.

Which is a pretty amazing offer considering that Priscilla isn’t a historical costumer!

In wonderful synchronicity, Nina  of Smash the Stash had had me bring back a bunch of Regency sewing patterns from CoCo 17 so she could make a Regency wardrobe, and she started holding monthly historical sewing get-togethers.

So once a month for all of 2018 Nina, Priscilla***, Eloise of Linen and Lining, and Hvitr of Historical Living  (and sometimes Madame O) have been getting together and working on historical sewing projects, and planning a reason to wear what we were working on.  And our reason, while not quite NZ CoCo, was wonderful and lovely (and maybe even better).

We settled on a Labour Day Weekend sewing and dress up retreat, and found an adorable cottage on a beautiful estate just an hours drive from Wellington to hold it at.  It was the five of us, and Zara of Off-Grid Chic, who we have recently converted to the dark-and-involving-lots-of-handsewing-side.

Nina is also interested in historical food†, so the retreat grew to include historical food.

And, despite a last-minute broken foot, and a really talented truck driver†† who managing to crash his truck full of hazardous goods so spectacularly that he closed the main road out of Wellington for almost 24 hours at the start of Labour Day Weekend, meaning that I had to drive the extremely-scary-I’m-never-going-to-do-that-again-unless-it’s-life-or-death Paekakariki Hill Road  â€ â€ â€  we had an AMAZING time.

I’ll post a bit more about our menus, but for now here are some of my favourite photos of the event.‡

I’m hoping that the other blogging members of the group will blog about their garments soon, so I won’t post too many individual images of anyone.


Sew & Eat Historical Retreat thedreamstress.com

Sew & Eat Historical Retreat thedreamstress.com

Sew & Eat Historical Retreat thedreamstress.com

Sew & Eat Historical Retreat thedreamstress.com

Sew & Eat Historical Retreat thedreamstress.com

Sew & Eat Historical Retreat thedreamstress.com


Sew & Eat Historical Retreat thedreamstress.com

Sew & Eat Historical Retreat thedreamstress.com

Sew & Eat Historical Retreat thedreamstress.com

Sew & Eat Historical Retreat thedreamstress.com

Sew & Eat Historical Retreat thedreamstress.com

*Only we had so much fun we want it to be biannual, or triannual.

** Not really sobbed.  More ‘posted sad faces about it on Facebook’.

*** Who managed to sew four pairs of outrageously patterned pants, one dress she didn’t like, and no historical garments whatsoever.

†I’m blaming the fact that my Regency dress is too snug on the amazing Eccles cakes and other historical treats she trials on us every sewing get-together.

†† Don’t worry, he was barely hurt^ , so we can be suitably annoyed at him without feeling bad.

^ Except for his dignity, which I imagine was severely bruised.

††† And I’m from Hawai’i and have road tripped all over NZ, so my standard for ‘extremely scary’ is pretty high.  I’m totally OK with hairpin turns.  Hairpin turns with a sheer 200 meter drop on your side, and no guard rails^?  Not so fun.

^ And way-too-big for the road at any time muscle cars heading to a rally in Wellington on the mountain side.

‡ Taken by me if they don’t include me, and whoever isn’t in the photo if they do!

Sew & Eat Historical Retreat thedreamstress.com


  1. Deanna says

    Looks like a lovely time.

    And I just have to say, your footnotes are delightful. 🙂

  2. Yolande Jones says

    This looks so much fun . Wish I lived closer. I’m in Queenstown NZ. I know you had a blast. Keep up the good work

  3. What fun! And that feathered headdress is something else (particularly in a Wellington wind, I would imagine).

    Side note: may I present you with the words “biennial” and “triennial”? Meaning once every two years and once every three years, thus freeing up biannual and triannual for more frequent historical get-togethers 🙂

    • So it turns out that I have been mislead by my actual, physical dictionary (which dates back to the 1970s, and which we always have out for scrabble arguments), which says that biannual can mean twice a year, or every two years. I’m familiar with biennial, and thought that biannual was every 2x years, but thought I’d check before posting, and in checking, tripped myself up. So thank you for the lead towards a correction. :-/

      • Your dictionary lied to you??? I am now questioning everything I believe about words. :-S This is nearly as bad as the day I discovered that ‘referer’ is now a real word, having started life as a typo for ‘referrer’. (Tears may have been shed – o tempora, o mores, etc.)

        On a more positive note, I’m exceedingly impressed by Hvitr’s patience, having a considerably smaller supply of the virtue myself.

    • Oh, and if you think Hvitr’s headdress is good (albeit very impractical for our climate!), she HAND KNOTTED her entire net dress. Talk about phenomenal dedication! It’s based on one in the DAR museum.

      • Wendy says

        wow! as soon as I saw her outfit my immediate thought was, “where the hell-er-heck did she get that net!???”

  4. Elise says

    Making sure we all know that the driver was ok. You get me.

    Also, DOG!!!! SQUEEEEEE!!! deep breath SQUEEEEEE!!!!

    On a note slightly less important that the presence of a DOG, it looks like you had a lovely time with a satellite COCO of your own embellishing. Each and every one of you look so beautiful in your creations and all of you positively GLOW with happiness and fun. Thanks for including us!

    • Yes! If someone had been hurt, it would have been bad, but with only very minor injuries you can be really annoyed without feeling like an awful person!

      The dog belonged to the property and was very, very sweet. It found Eloise’s dress quite alarming though – a good gust of wind lifted her apron, and he bolted 🙁 There was also an extremely friendly and handsome orange cat, who refused to cooperate with photos – typical cat!

      And thank you so much! It was a lovely, lovely weekend.

  5. This looks like so much fun. I’m going to have to go through the pictures again a little later because there was so much fun to see.

  6. I love how you’ve used a photo of me where I look EXTREMELY excited. It pretty much sums up the weekend for me 😀

  7. Paula says

    Looks like so much fun, creating the past in a beautiful setting with a interesting group. Sad to see everyone engaged with their phones in the last image like the younger generations. When I am playing on my phone, nobody is getting my full attention or even a quarter of it.

    • It was delightful.

      The last photo is staged, but if a group wants to all be on their phones, that’s their choice, and it’s really not ours to judge 🙂 Every generation has had their own way of being introverted in a crowd – this generations just looks different, and is thus criticised more for it.

Comments are closed.