The Historical Sew Monthly 2015

One year, a challenge every month (due by the last day of the Month), and at the end of it, 12 fabulous historical garments.


The Historical Sew Monthly 2015

How it works:

Every month in 2015 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.

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

Because there are only 12 Challenges, Challengers are really encouraged to attempt to participate in every single challenge (though, obviously things do come up, and it’s better to participate in some than none!)

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.

The HSF should encourage research and historical accuracy,  not fantasy or ‘costume’, but as long as the item is historical, the level of accuracy is really up to your needs, skills, and resources.

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 challenge month.  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 the Feb Challenge can be an item finished Jan 1, but no earlier, etc.).

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.

I’ll post pages with inspiration for each challenge, perhaps with a tutorial or links to helpful sites.  Every month I’ll post my favourite creations from the previous challenge – not as a contest, but to recognize and highlight creations that really inspiring me.

Some background posts about the HSF:

The Historical Sew Fortnightly 2013

The Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014

How it started (or, the original post)

Tips and Tricks for doing it (without going crazy)

A discussion about the future of the HSF in 2015 – and my follow-up to that discussion

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 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. Leave a comment with a link to your blog to let us know you are participating (please note, I’ll be going through every couple of months and checking links from comments and will delete comments from those who haven’t participated, so there aren’t a bunch of links to people who aren’t actually doing challenges).  Grab the button below and post it in your sidebar.  Be sure to link it to this 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).

    The Historical Sew Monthly 2015
    There is also page for each challenge linked through the challenge list below (links may not appear until close to the due date).  Leave a comment on the page for the challenge with links to your blog post or online photo album to show off your creation, and so there is a record of what was created for each challenge.

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 and document these garments so they can be shared, appreciated and used for reference;
  • And most of all…
  • To have fun!

The Challenges:

  • January – Foundationsmake something that is the foundation of a period outfit.
  • February – Colour Challenge Blue: Make an item that features blue, in any shade from azure to zaffre.
  • March – Stashbusting: Make something using only fabric, patterns, trims & notions that you already have in stash.
  • April – War & Peace: the extremes of conflict and long periods of peacetime both influence what people wear.  Make something that shows the effects of war, or of extended peace.
  • May – Practicality:  Fancy party frocks are all very well, but everyone, even princesses, sometimes needs a practical garment that you can DO things in.  Create the jeans-and-T-Shirt-get-the-house-clean-and-garden-sorted outfit of your chosen period.
  • June – Out of Your Comfort Zone: Create a garment from a time period you haven’t done before, or that uses a new skill or technique that you’ve never tried before. 
  • July – Accessorize: The final touch of the right accessory creates the perfect period look.  Bring an outfit together by creating an accessory to go with your historical wardrobe.
  • August – Heirlooms & HeritageRe-create a garment one of your ancestors wore or would have worn, or use an heirloom sewing supply to create a new heirloom to pass down to the next generations.
  • September – Colour Challenge Brown: it’s not the most exciting colour by modern standards, but brown has been one of the most common, and popular, colours throughout history. Make something brown.
  • October – Sewing Secrets: Hide something in your sewing, whether it is an almost invisible mend, a secret pocket, a false fastening or front, or a concealed message (such as a political or moral allegiance).
  • November – Silver Screen: Be inspired by period fashions as shown onscreen (film or TV), and recreate your favourite historical costume as a historically accurate period piece.
  • December – Re-Do:  It’s the last challenge of the year, so let’s keep things simple by re-doing any of the previous 11 challenges.


  1. Julie says

    Hoping to complete at least four of the challenges this year. I will most likely be posting to the fb group page, to make things easier for everyone else, since the blog has other things, besides costuming. If I do blog about my efforts, at some point, it would be found under the label, “FashionableEfforts”, over here…

  2. I’m going to try! After two years of watching from the sidelines, I’m throwing my hat in the ring as a complete novice.
    I don’t think I’ll be able to do all the challenges, but some of the things I’m planning work for more than one challenge. Is that cheating? Please advise!

  3. Juliette says

    Hi, I’m sorry if this is too early, but can I put my contribution in here? I am just aware that with a lot of schoolwork coming up I might not have a lot of time in the foreseeable future to post things or do a considerable amount of sewing.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this and am already working on February’s Challenge, just so I can get a bit ahead.
    Thanks for this opportunity; if you visit my blog I think you’ll find that I have been blogging about this Challenge and my February one!

  4. Gayle1154 says

    I am joining the Challenges for the first time in 2015. Therefore I’ll be keeping my projects to simple but practicable (and badly needed) items. Very excited to see everyone’s work through the year.

    Gayle in Maine

  5. I’m in! There’s no way a fortnightly would fit into my life, but monthly is great incentive.

  6. Marji Scriven says

    I want to try it! I might not finish every month’s project, but I’m going to try. I often have ideas in my head that I only note down in my idea journal. This brings together several of my interests. Too late for January, as I am moving around furniture, but will start thinking about February now.

  7. I started to make costumes about 2 years ago and one of the main things that spurred me on to finally do something I’d always dreamed of was reading other costumer’s blogs. I especially enjoyed seeing the things that people had made for challenges like the Historical Sew Challenge and I love the idea of sharing projects with a common goal. So, now that I finally have my blog up and running, I am really looking forward to participating. Unfortunately I have already missed January and as I am studying this year I know I won’t be able to complete all of the challenges. However, after careful contemplation of the list I think a minimum of four challenges is a good starting point…

  8. I’m in 🙂 I’m getting back into costuming and first project is a wardrobe of outfits for the Jane Austen Festival in Australia in April. And I have more projects in mind for after that!

  9. […] For the cotte, I went back to an older plan and decided to base it off of the 1370 Gentleman Effigy, at St. Bartholomeus Cathedral in Germany, along with a miniature (122r) in BNF Nouvelle acquisition française 15939 Miroir Historial (Vol 1)–which also has the hood I want. The cotte will be made in blue wool flannel, lined with linen, and sewn with period correct techniques (based on the Greenland and London finds). Hopefully, I will finish it in time as an entry into February’s Blue challenge for the Historical Sew Monthly. […]

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

  10. Jenna M says

    Oh, this sounds so wonderful! I just started a new blog, just to keep track of my projects:

  11. Dominique says

    I’m in, specially with the stash busting challenge. I got a ton of beautiful fabric that needs to be transformed in something I love to wear.

  12. C.A. Williams says

    I have always admired other people’s project the sidelines. Count me in for at least several of the projects. I’m excited to participate this year!

  13. I had some computer problems during month of January. I did finish the challenge on time, but it took so long to get my old computer back up and running, that I decided to wait for the Feb. challenge to post them both.

    Here is my entry for January. It is a man’s shirt / nightshirt for a friend that requested one.


    • Thanks Prentice! You might want to leave a link for it on the page for Foundations challenge, rather than on the general HSF Monthly page. 🙂

  14. I’m out. I promised myself a while ago that I wouldn’t set deadlines for myself anymore because they make sewing stressful and definitely no fun for me, and this sewalong provides a fresh deadline every month. I’ve realised I really don’t want that!

  15. Erin Myers says

    I know I’m coming in late, but I would really like to try and do this!

    I just set up the blog yesterday, and I’m worthless with that type of thing, so I’m going to get someone to help me figure out how to put your button in my sidebar!

  16. […] Vous l’avez sans doute remarqué, j’ai tendance à m’emballer en début d’année. C’est l’euphorie des Fêtes et j’ai plein de projets, que je mène très rarement à bien dans les temps. Malheureusement (ou heureusement) cet enthousiasme me caractérise et il est peu probable que je change, néanmoins j’ai essayé de me freiner sur les projets, de réfléchir à ce que j’ai VRAIMENT ENVIE de faire et de faire des choix. Par conséquent, le seul programme couture que je vais m’imposer est la nouvelle version du Historical Sew Fortnightly. […]

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