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. […] I mentioned in my last post that I had decided to participate in the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge and as the deadline for the first challenge is today, I thought I’d better hurry up […]

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  2. […] Without further ado, I will jump right into the first challenge of The Historical Sew Fortnightly, a challenge held by The Dreamstress. […]

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  3. I think I’ll just bite the bullet and join! I need something to motivate me to sew for myself this year. I’ll probably do every even numbered one up till 10, and then every odd numbered one starting with 11. I guess it all depends on my time. 🙂

    Can’t wait to get started!

    Here’s the link to my family’s blog (where I blog as well):

  4. Rats, ONE day late! Regardless, I used the challenge to do some minor mending on a favorite smock that needed a little updating.

    It is a 16th century smock. Hand sewn of white linen fabric, fairly historically accurate, with gussets under arms and gores inset into sides. I made it about five years ago, (probably for Pennsic 2009). The original smock took about two days to sew, the mending job–shortening and re-hemming sleeves, checking for loose stitching–took about two hours. Completed today, Jan 16 2014.

    • I’ve added your blog to the blog list (welcome!), but could you go up to the list of challenges, click on challenge #1, and leave your comment with the link to the finished challenge items there? Otherwise I’m likely to miss it later!


  5. […] am participating in the Historical Sew Fortnightly this year. In the past 8 months or so I’ve been reading a lot of dress diaries and learned […]

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    • Welcome! It’s wonderful to have you and it’s exciting to see that you are basically learning historical sewing as your base for sewing!

  6. […] is my contribution to the second challenge in the Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014, which was “Innovation”. I’ve written quite a lot about why this dress is a sign […]

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  7. parvasedapta.chDear Leimomi,
    unfortunately and completely unpredictable I had to move my blog.
    I will post the link to the new one under the old blog adress, but would it be possible to change the adress in the list into (the www. is crucial or you will be led to the empty main page of my domain and not subdirected to my blog)?
    Thank you very much!

  8. I just found your site- what a wonderful idea!!!! I have a huge problem finishing projects, but I think having a deadline will help me get the challenges finished! This is going to be fun!

  9. I have only found this now and would like to join, even though I am quite sure to be unable to make all the challenges.
    I also asked via facebook.

  10. Helene Illervik says

    I sent a membership request to the Face Book group, some time ago, I’m still not a memeber, I can read, like, probably comment, but not post.
    I do think I was accepted here in December or thereabouts.
    Due to life I’m still on challenge 1, but once I find my dark, dark blue thread, or buy one, it’ll be done in less than an hour.
    I have plans for 3 and 4, though.
    Hoping I’ll soon be able to post on FB and show my very small, make do and mend.

    • You weren’t accepted to the FB group because you were sent a message asking you to respond before your request would be approved. But now I know to expect you I’ll check and let you in 🙂

  11. I love historical sewing and fashion but as a broke college student, I have neither the funds nor the opportunity to make so many historical lovelies. I’m trying to work on fashion illustration on my own though; could I participate by drawing all the things I would create if I were able to? I’d love to do the research and the imaginative part–I just can’t do the real creation aspect. I love seeing everyone else’s beautiful creations though!

    • I’m certainly not going to say no to people participating in the HSF any way they wish to! I probably won’t feature sketches as a favourite, but you never know if there is enough research to support it (I love research!) 😉 So feel free to leave comments with links in each challenge post as they come up.

  12. I wanted to join the challenge last year, but things just didn’t work out. I really want to participate in the challenge this year. I may not meet all of the challenges, but I will create as many as I can.

    My new blog is:

    Thank you,

  13. I have not completed a challenge yet but I am super excited to participate I am making a Schiaparelli Evening Cape from 1938. It is perfectly shocking pink!

  14. Mireille Weller says

    Oh just found this just in time to miss chalange 3.

    I don’t blog or well wright if I can avoid it.

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  15. Jocelyn says

    Is a blog or website required? I can upload photos to Sew Fortnightly of finished items if I am able to do so but not via a website or blog as I do not have one. Please let me know. Thank you!

    • A blog or website is not required. There are plenty of people who participate through Facebook and upload photos there, and do not have a blog, so you’re welcome to participate that way. Or you could upload photos to a photo sharing site (Photobucket etc) and link to them.

  16. Julie says

    Just wondered if it’s too late to join in, or if it would be better to wait for next year? I would probably join the FB group, and post pictures there. Thanks in advance! – Julie

  17. […] this blog to track my sewing progress making and remaking new garb, because I wanted to join the Historical Sew Fortnightly group. I’m late to the game, but I’m going to do what I can in the list of […]

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  18. melinda says

    I would love to participate in challanges as finances allow… But I make a great cheerleader and have pretty good ideas and advice… I am a member of a couple other historical costuming groups… And follow a few seamstress on line. My favourite era would be the 1700-1900. Kinda a big span… But it is so hard to narrow it down.

  19. That is can you please update my info! My brain was moving faster than my fingers.

  20. Hi!
    It has not been long since I joined the HSF facebook group and community. I am currently taking part in the Terminology challenge but I haven’t made my mind up about what to make yet. Then I saw that the next challenge would be making something yellow! When I was making something yellow! I finally completely finished it so here are the links to the two articles concerning the garment:
    Hope you will enjoy it!

  21. Could you add my blog to the list? Thank you for hosting this wonderful “sewing challenge.” I am hooked!! 🙂

  22. […] I already planned to make this dress, it fits in perfectly with the Historical Sew Fortnightly #16 – Terminology — due Mon 1 September. Explore the etymology of fashion by make something defined in the […]

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

  23. Hello!

    New to all this but I would like to participate when I can. Perhaps the 15th of each month! Thanks a million!

  24. I’ve participated since the beginning of this year, with some pause the last months because of my ordinary life taking time from sewing. Now when routines are back to normal I’ll do my best to complete at least three more challenges before the year is past.

    Here is a link to my no. 7 entrance.
    Thanks for organising this!

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