The Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014

One year, a challenge every fortnight (due on the first & 15th of the Month), and at the end of it, 24 fabulous historical garments.  Or do the half-marathon, and do either the odd numbered challenges, or the even numbered challenges

The Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014

How it works:

Every fortnight in 2014 will feature a themed challenge and we’ll each sew (or knit, or crochet, or tatt, or embroider, or whatever it is you call making a hat, or otherwise create) a historical garment or accessory that fits the theme.

I’ll announce the first seven Challenges of HSF ’14 after HSF ’13 Challenges 20-26 close, respectively, and then announce the remaining 17 HSF ’14 Challenges  in one big lot in January 2014.  I’ll continue to do inspiration posts for the Challenges 8 challenges ahead throughout the year.

You can do as many or as few Challenges as you want, though I’d encourage people to aim to do either the full 24 (full marathon) or every other challenge (half marathon, picking either the even numbered challenges or the odd numbered challenges) just to give you a pattern and motivation.

For the purpose of the Historical Sew Fortnightly, ‘historical’ is WWII era and earlier, so no later than 1945.

Your item can be as basic or elaborate as you want, from a simple fichu to fill in the neckline of a gown, to a full ensemble from the undergarments outward: whatever you need and can can handle time and skill-wise.

I’m hoping that the HSF encourages research and historical accuracy, but (unless that is the nature of the challenge), but the level of accuracy is really up to you, your desires, skills, and your resources.

The dates for the challenges are the  dates that the challenge  is due (so post about it anytime between the challenge due date and the next challenge starting ).  You can start your project as early as you need to get it done in time — it doesn’t have to be done in the two weeks.  However, as the HSF is meant to encourage new creations, your challenge item should be finished  no more than one month before the challenge starts  (so 6 weeks before the challenge due date).

Feel free to blog about the process of making your project, or use the HSF as an excuse to finish a UFO/PHd that you have already blogged about.

Some background posts about the HSF:

The Historical Sew Fortnightly 2013

How it started (or, the original post)

Tips and Tricks for doing it (without going crazy)

How to participate:

  • Join the  Historical Sew Fortnightly group  on Facebook. The challenges are listed as events, and you can choose to ‘attend’ them, chat with other attendees, get ideas, encouragement, and work through difficulties. Then, when your item is done, you can post photos in the album for each challenge, give a description, and link to an online photo album or a blog post if you have one.When you ask to join the HSF Facebook group the one of the moderators or I will send you a message with a three questions for you to answer before we accept your request to join.  Please make sure your account allows you to accept messages, and check your ‘Other’ folder for our message.


  • Participate through the  Historical Sew Fortnightly page  on my blog. There is a page for each challenge linked through the challenge list below. I’ll post inspiration for the challenge, perhaps a tutorial or links to helpful sites, and, when the challenge comes due, my creation.  Leave a comment on the page for the challenge with links to your blog post or online photo album to show off your creation.  Every four challenges I’ll post my three favourite creations from each challenge.Grab the button below or the slightly larger version in my sidebar, and post it in your sidebar.  Be sure to link it to the Historical Sew Fortnightly page.  With WordPress your html will look like this:<a href=””><img src=”” ></a>  (unless, of course, you save the image to your computer and re-upload it, in which case your image address will look different)

    Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014

With each post or photo be sure to give your item a name/title and tell us:

The Challenge:





How historically accurate is it?

Hours to complete:

First worn:

Total cost:

The Goals:

  • To encourage collaborations and interactions in the historical costuming community;
  • To encourage all of us to do more historical research, to improve our standards of historical accuracy, and to expand our historical sewing skills;
  • To provide excuses to sew amazing garments from throughout history;
  • To provide incentive to photograph these garments so they can be shared and appreciated;
  • And most of all…
  • To have fun!

The Challenges:

  • #1: Make Do & Menddue Wed 15 Jan.  Let’s start of the year with a clean slate, and with a bit of a tidy up.  Use this challenge as an opportunity to get your historical wardrobe in order by fixing any little bits that have worn out and gone wrong.  Alternatively, you could focus on the  historical precedent of making-do by re-making something into a historical garments, whether it be a bodice from a worn-out skirt, a chemise from old sheets, a bosom-friend from an old cardigan, or a new historical hat from an old modern one etc.  Finally, you could just  those people who had to make-do by making something for a historical character who would have scrimped and saved and re-made and mended until the fabric entirely fell apart.
  • #2: Innovation – due Sat 1 Feb.  To celebrate the way inventions, introductions and discoveries have impacted fashion, make an item that reflects the newest innovations in your era.  Be sure to share the research you did on your innovation, as well as your finished item.
  • #3: Pink – due Sat 15 Feb.  Make something pink!
  • #4: Under it All – due Sat 1 March.  Make the  foundations of your outfit: the things that go under it to provide the right shape and support, and to protect your fancy outer garments from sweat and grime
  • #5: Bodice –  Make a bodice — a garment that covers the upper body.  You can either abide by the strictest historical sense (see the blog post for history of bodice terminology) or can explore the idea of bodices in a more general sense.
  • #6: Fairytale – due Tue 1 April:  imagine your favourite fairytale set in a specific timeperiod, and make a historical garment inspired by the fairytale.
  • #7: Tops & Toes – due Tue 15 April.  Create an accessory that goes on your head, or on your feet.
  • #8: UFOs & PHDs  — due Thur 1 May.  Use this opportunity to finish off something that’s never quite gotten done, or stalled halfway through.  Check out  the post from last year  for more information on how to interpret this challenge.
  • #9: Black and White  — due Thur 15 May.  Draw on the opposite ends of the shade spectrum to create something in black and white, or black or white.
  • #10: Art  — due Sun 1 June.  Make your own masterpiece based on a work of art.
  • #11: The Politics of Fashion  — due Sun 15 June.  World affairs have both affected, and been affected by, fashions.  Craft something that demonstrates the interactions between dress and political history.
  • #12: Shape & Support  — due Tue 1 July.  Make a garment that changes the silhouette of the human form through shaping and support.
  • #13: Under $10  — due Tue 14 July.  Whip up a fabulous item for under $10 (we’ll use US$ as the de-facto standard)
  • #14: Paisley & Plaid  — due Fri 1 August.  Plaid is the most universal pattern, found in the textiles of almost all cultures and periods.  Paisley is more unique and recent, but has had a lasting impact on design.  Make something that utilises one or both of these patterns.
  • #15: The Great Outdoors  — due Fri 15 August.  Get out into the weather and dirt with an item for outdoor pursuits.
  • #16: Terminology  — due Mon 1 September.  Explore the etymology of fashion by make something defined in the  Historical Fashion & Textile Encyclopedia  (new terminology posts and items will be added throughout the year).
  • #17:  Yellow  – due Mon 15 September.  Embrace the sunny side with something in any shade of yellow.
  • #18:  Poetry in Motion  – due Wed 1 October  Find inspiration for a garment in poetry and song.
  • #19: HSF Inspiration  – due Wed 15 October.  One of the best things about the HSF is seeing what everyone else creates, and using it to spark your own creativity.  Be inspired by one of the challengers item from HSF ’13 or HSF challenges 1-18 to make your own fabulous item.
  • #20: Alternative Universe  — due Sat 1 November.  Create a garment from an alternative universe: fantasy, steampunk, dieselpunk, etc.  Your item can be perfectly historically accurate within our own universe as well.
  • #21: Re-do  — due Sat 15 November.  Pick any previous challenge and re-do it (or do it for the first time).  It could be one that you didn’t finish, one that you wish you’d had more time for, or  any  time for, or one where you loved the theme so much you want to do it  again.
  • #22: Fort-nightliers Choice (Gentlemen)  — due Mon 1 December.  This one is up to you!  In June I’ll ask for suggestions for a theme, and we’ll vote to pick the one you most want to do as our 22nd Challenge of the year. And you’ve chosen the theme of ‘Gentlemen’ – make menswear, or historical women’s wear inspired by menswear.
  • #23: Modern History  — due Mon 15 December.  Make something historical or historically inspired that is wearable in an everyday context.
  • #24: All that Glitters  — due Thur 1 January.  Celebrate your completion of HSF ’14, and the New Year, with a glittery, glitzy, sparkly, shiny, something.

The Challengers:

Challengers are listed in reverse alphabet order.  I’ll add your blog once you leave a comment with a link to a post with a completed challenge item either on a Challenge post or on Facebook.


  1. Plunging too! I’ve just posted my first/intro into participating in the HSF. Thanks for letting me join!

    -Susie Q (Sarah Jane Smith)

    • SGard says

      Oh YES! I thought of this, too! I’ve had an idea for this in my head for a long time now and would LOVE to do the challenge for a doll!

  2. Kate Pickelheimer says

    I am in.. I am taking a note book to work and on the bus ride to and from and on breaks and lunch working on the projects in my head and hopefully on paper.. Hopefully I will get my basics done this year.. It is good to have a schedule and to owe someone accountability.

  3. I’m so excited for this. I have never done historical sewing before. Definitely count me in for the half- but I’m aspiring to the the full circuit.

  4. I’ve watched with envy the past years participants and their lovely creations! This is the motivation I need to get on with all my planned projects and take some time for me!

  5. Helene says

    I’m probably quite confused, and made my introduction under the Make do and mend post. I’d really like to participate in this. It’ll force me to start sewing again, something I used to do a lot, but haven’t done, in a serious way, in ages.

    • Yay! I think it does get easier – I’m getting much better with planning, and being on time (I’ll finish my Celebration entry tonight – woot woot!) I look forward to seeing your 2013 creations!

  6. count me in, and even looking into blogging about it all too.
    Most of what I will be making will be 1930-1945, due to having a few drafting books within that time frame.

    • Wonderful! Welcome and I look forward to seeing what you make. Hopefully we can tempt you to at least a few fully historical items, though your vintage stuff is gorgeous 😉

  7. Can I still be in if I’m a bad, bad HSF-er like I was this year? I don’t see myself being any better if I’m realistic… something always gets in the way.

  8. fashionthroughhistory.wordpress.comI’m in to.
    Although this year I will try not to be such a “good girl” doing whole outfits every second week – but will focus a litle bit on my own life aswell;-).
    I also noticed I’m not on the HSF 13 listing even though I did every singel challenge yet this year (maybe I forgot to singn up somewear?).

    Thank you so much for doing this for another year – Its so much fun!

    • Yay! Welcome back! I LOVE your stuff, but I totally understand that you can’t keep up the pace again for another year. So I look forward to seeing smaller, littler things.

      Sorry that you aren’t on the list for 2013 – I gave up on going through the FB albums for links to blog posts at some point, and I must have just missed yours by a few days. Or I was so sure that you must be on the list that I didn’t double check!

  9. I would like to give this a shot this year! Really looking forward to having a schedule to be accountable to get stuff done. Also, I am so excited to see what everybody else puts together for each challenge! It has been great to see the creative ways people interpret the different challenges.

  10. Add me to the list, please! I definitely want to participate this year, and regretted not playing along last year.

    Mistress of Disguise –

  11. Sigh.

    My 40% success rate this year has motivated me to strive for better in the coming year. Please add me to the list, if you will!

  12. I want to come back to the fold, wandering lamb that I am…count me in for this year again! Really, I promise I got more done than I posted! Cannot tell you what a fantastic kick in the pants this was this past year…I was far more productive than I ever have been before, probably because of the double-motivation of deadlines+inspiration.

  13. Paige says

    I am going to give this a go. I don’t do a blog but I can figure out a URL for my google + page.

    • Great! You can always do it through the FB group as well. If you do figure out a url, can you post it below this comment (rather than at the very bottom) to make it easier for me to organise? Thanks!

  14. I’m not sure how this miscellaneous post from my blog happened. My only defense is that it was obviously far too late for me to be trying to do anything technological. Sorry. :/

    • Oh, not at all! That’s a pingback, because you mentioned and linked to my blog from yours, and I allow them on these posts because they help people to find mentions of them more easily 🙂

  15. Must the items be human sized? The majority of my sewing is for doll clothes, and this sounds like a great motivator to finish things.

  16. cherishingmyrole.blogspot.comcherishingmyrole.blogspot.comI am certainly joining!!! Here is a link to one of the two projects I completed for 2013 (I came in very late) I am going to attempt the Full-Marathon! The era I work from the most is the Regency era but I’m going to try and expand my horizons, so to speak, as I also love the 1500s, 1770s, 1850s, 1930s and 1940s specifically. I’m so excited! Here also is the link to my blog not specific to any particular post:

  17. I loved participating this year, so I’m definitely in for the next! And this time I’ll be starting with challenge 1, instead of 10!

    • Oh yay! Sorry that 2013 didn’t work out, but it’s great to have you be part of the group for 2014, and it looks like you’re planning well!

  18. blogz.chWhen I discovered the HSF 3013 it was already running and I had lots of other things to do.
    Now, despite that next year won’t be less packed than the last one, I am determined to participate this time!
    Due to my job (somehow we are collegues, I am an art historian with special qualification in textiles 🙂 ) I will only run a half-marathon.
    You will find my blog here: but I will also join the facebook-group. Can’t wait to get started, love, ette

    • Wonderful! Welcome! I can understand the need to do only a half marathon. There is a lot else to do in life!

      And I’m so pleased to have another textile historian!

  19. blogz.chI already tried to comment yesterday, but somehow it didn’t appear until today.
    I would love to join. I discovered the HSF 2013 amidst finishing my MA-studies, so this was a time where I couldn’t participate. I hope next year will be less packed, so I will give it a try, though I might only be doing a half-marathon. Anyway, I am really looking forward to this challenge.
    love, ette ( )

  20. […] j’espère produire davantage en 2014. J’ai l’intention de mieux participer au Historical Sew Fortnightly de the Dreamstress en essayant de reflechir intelligemment aux challenges pour en faire le […]

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  21. I’m so glad you are doing this again this year. Last year I failed badly at joining in but this year I am all up for it and intend to get really organised and include it in my blog, that way I will have to c0mplete the challenges I go for. I will need a bit of a think as to how many? complete or half marathon. But I am definitely in.
    Thank you for doing this.

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