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. fabricoftime.blogspot.comI will be participating again this year. The HSF helped me accomplish a lot last year (though I didn’t participate in many challenges). I think it’s a fantastic way to be motivated and inspired!

    The Fabric of Time:

  2. I’m going to give this a try this year, why not? I don’t know if I can do everything, but I’ll do the best I can.

  3. […] will continue the historical sewing this year and have once again accepted the challenge of the HSF14. And there are quite a lot on that […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  4. I would like to join in! Two of my goals this year are to sew more and to build a better wardrobe. This may be the kick in the butt I need 🙂

  5. I’m in. I probably won’t be able to complete every challenge but I’ll do as many as I can.

  6. […] Today I have finally gathered my mojo and signed up for the Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014 for real. I think it will be much […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  7. Just a small note that my blog is called costumekullan, not costumekullen. It’s a common mistake, and something you get when choosing a Swedish dialect word in the name of your blog. (kullan means girl, kullen means hill)

  8. I know I said that I wouldn’t be able to participate much this year, but guess what? When I looked over what the 2013 HSF had inspired me to try, I knew that I had to have a go in 2014 as well. Count me in!

  9. I’m participating again this year, hope to make it past the halfway point this time!

  10. Please add me as well. My blog is so far in swedish, but I will add a sewing section in english with my first finished item, I promise. 🙂

  11. Hi, I just joined the Facebook group, but I also want to add my blog to the list so I can participate that way. It sounds great fun and also useful motivation 🙂 (which I really need, my blog is even more neglected than I realised! Oops)

  12. Not sure if my first request went through so Im submitting again. I am taking part in THSF 2014 and would like to be added to your list.


    • With your first request none of your blog links worked, and I couldn’t find it through searching. It’s working now though your blog is very slow to load.

  13. […] also want to learn knitted cables and finish more things. And I want to participate in this excellent challenge to make historical clothing which will be a useful motivator to get my kit in order for re-enacting, which I’d love to do […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  14. Sarah Grace says

    I would like to participate & I will try for the whole year. I have wanted to take part for a couple years, but I was uncertain about being able to take on such a challenge. This is such a great way of inspiring & motivating. Thank you for putting this together every year.

    Sarah Grace

  15. Hi, newbie here with a question. I’ve just completed Challenge #1, repaired/mended one Victorian and two Edwardian vintage petticoats, but can’t find the place to post it. The project journal on my blog along with photographs along the way. What is the next step? Thanks!

    • The next step is to find the list of challenges, click on Challenge #1, and leave links to your blog post as a comment on that challenge.

      • Sorry to appear such a dolt, but that’s exactly where I’m stuck…finding the page so I can click on #1. I don’t use Facebook, so I clicked on the link. But it took me to the HSF 2013 page. I’ve done a site search for combinations of HSF 2014 challenge #1 page, but no luck. And I’ve looked through the sidebars and the page tabs. I have all of the info ready to go. Help!

        Until then, here is the link to the first post regarding HSF #1:

        It took a few entries to get to the finish. 🙂

          • Ummm…now I really feel foolish! You made it so easy!! HSF #1 is now entered in the right place with a link to blog. Thanks for being so patient! *blushing furiously*

  16. […] ball.  This, however, happened to dovetail perfectly with the first challenge of this year’s Historical Sew Fortnightly, which is Make Do & Mend.  So as not to be over ambitious I decided to do the “half […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  17. I’m still trying to figure out how to add the link into a blogspot-blog, it seems impossible, but I want to join the challenge.


    • Welcome! I hope I got your blog name correct on the list.

      It’s definitely possible to add a link as I’ve seen lots of blogspot blogs with it added. Perhaps ask someone who has a blogspot blog and has managed it?

  18. I’ll definitely be posting on the FB group, but I’m also going to restart my actual blog.

  19. Is it okay to not be entirely historical for those of us just getting started? Or historically focused on perhaps our mending; can I mend things I use on a daily rather than historical basis?

    • Hi Megan

      I’m not entirely sure I follow what you are asking, but I’ll try my best to answer anyway. I’d really like to encourage people to be as historical as possible: obviously some people are aiming for as close as we can get to perfect accuracy, and some people simply want to make garment that look historical. I guess it’s up to the individual seamstress to answer for themselves whether something is historical enough to count!

    • Great! If you go to the list of challenges on this post, and click on Challenge #1, you’ll go through to the page for that challenge. Leave a comment with a link to your project there please 🙂

  20. Randy says

    This sounds like it will be very inspiring. I am looking forward to the challenge.

    • I can be a bit slow at getting things on the web but I am enjoying the challenge. I have been posting on the challenges though.

      Basically throughout the year I will be focussing on the parts of two major outfits, a 1930s and a tudor outfit The tudor is for arscarvi’s Sherwood forest birthday party.

  21. Christine Gunning says will be in. We shall give it another shot. I think better planning this time…


    • Yay! Remember to leave comments on the blog posts for the challenges with your finished project. I think I missed some of your projects at the end of the year with all the rush!

  22. Does the item you work on have to be for us specifically, out can it be for someone in our household?

    • Someone in your household or a friend is fine. For professional sewers, I do ask that they submit at least 5 non-commission/sale projects for every 1 commission/sale project they do own.

  23. Rebecca says

    New to HSF and need some clarification.

    I’m a little confused about challenge start date and due dates as the list above gives only due dates.

    So if the challenge is due on the 15th, we have between the 1st and 15th to post the results? OR, we can start posting the 15th ?

    We can start whenever we need to for more time consuming, but whenever we started, ideally we finished within 4 weeks of the due date, eg Feb 1 for something due Mar 1? The idea being (with possible exception of UFO challenges) that we’re not digging out something we started 2 or 10 years ago, right?

    For example, if I started a bodice in December, and finish it in January, that is outside the time frame for challenge #5?

    • Your projects can be started whenever, as long as they are finished within 6 weeks of the due date. It’s fine to dig out a 2 year old UFO and finish it for a challenge – as long as you are doing significant finishing within 6 weeks of the date.

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