The Historical Sew Monthly 2019

How it works:

The HSM 2019 is a monthly historical garment challenge.  Every month  in 2019 will feature a themed challenge.  Sew (or knit, or crochet, or tatt, or embroider, or milin, (or whatever it is you call making a hat), or otherwise create) a historical garment or accessory that fits the monthly theme.

We’d love it if you did all 12 challenges, but how many you complete is up to you.  Push yourself and participate in all 12 challenges, do a half-marathon with 6, or just pick and choose the ones that fit your sewing schedule.

Your HSM 2019 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 are able to do time and skill-wise.

However, each item should be a complete, wearable item on its own: so an Elizabethan sleeve, which could be moved from one outfit to another, counts.  A Victorian sleeve, which was permanently sewn into a bodice, does not.

What does ‘Historical’ mean?

For the purpose of the Historical Sew Monthly, ‘historical’ is  Pre-WWII and earlier, so no later than 1938.

The Historical Sew Monthly is meant to  encourage  research and historical accuracy,  not  fantasy or ‘costume.’

Of course, for many  periods making a garment that is  identical in every respect to a period garment  is basically impossible.  Even getting close can be quite expensive and physically demanding, which isn’t possible for everyone.  Ultimately,  the level of accuracy is really up to your needs, skills, and resources,  as long as the item is in pursuit of greater historical understanding.  There are also many ways to consider accuracy (you may find  my post on how I approach it interesting), and we hope that the HSF will get people to think about  accuracy, and  how our relationship to what we wear and how we make it  has changed over history.

The Challenge deadlines — starting & completion times

You can start your project as early as you need to get it done in time — it doesn’t have to be made from start to finish in the challenge month.  However, as the HSM 2019 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.).  Note that this is finished, not started, so you can start a project as far before a challenge as you wish.

Feel free to blog about the process of making your project, or use the HSM 2019 as an excuse to finish a UFO/PHd that you have already blogged about.

Challenges are due by the last day of each month.  However, we know that life sometimes derails the best planned outfit, so you can still add your item to a Facebook album or blog about it months after the challenge ends.  Challenges finished within the deadline do tend to get the most attention and comments.

Inspiration & more info:

The other moderators & I will post pages with inspiration for each  challenge, perhaps with a tutorial or links to helpful sites.  These posts will be linked through each challenge (below) and shared on the FB group for the Historical Sew Monthly.

Some background posts about the Historical Sew Monthly:

How to participate:

  • Join the  Historical Sew Fortnightly group  on Facebook. You can chat with other participants, get ideas, encouragement, and work through difficulties. 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. You  MUST  answer the questions in order to join the Facebook group.


    • Participate through this page for the Historical Sew Monthly  2019 on my blog.Leave a comment with a link to your blog to let us know you are participating. 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).

      Historical Sew Monthly 2019Or…

  • Participate on Instagram!  Follow  @thedreamstress, and tag me in your finished item posts using  #HistoricalSewMonthly2019  and the monthly challenge hashtags suggested with each challenge.  I’ll share your finished images on my account.

 No matter where you are participating, with each post or photo be sure to give your item a name/title (be creative!) 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:  Dressed to the Nines: make something fancy so you’ll be ‘dressed to the nines’ – whether its the full outfit, or a little accessory. Or look at the challenge in a different way, and make something from a year ending in 9 (find a portrait or fashion plate or mention to support the date), or even an item with 9 major design elements (9 buttons down the front, 9 tucks in a petticoat etc)
IG #HSM2019JanProgress (for works in progress) and #HSM2019Jan (for your finished item)

February: Linen/linens: make something out of linen, or that falls under the older definition of linens: ie: underclothes (lingerie literally means linen)
IG  #HSM2019FebProgress (for works in progress) and #HSM2019Feb (for your finished item)

March: Sewing Kit: create an item that makes use of your favourite sewing tool, instrument, or gadget; or an item made for your historical sewing kit (huswif, pinball)
IG  #HSM2019MarProgress (for works in progress) and #HSM2019Mar (for your finished item)

April: Upping your game: make something that really stretches you and that works on the bits that you tend to rush through or skimp on.
IG  #HSM2019AprProgress (for works in progress) and #HSM2019Apr (for your finished item)

May: Florals: Create an item that features flowers in some way.
IG  #HSM2019MayProgress (for works in progress) and #HSM2019May (for your finished item)

June: Favourite Technique: make an item using your favourite sewing or embellishment technique.
IG  #HSM2019JunProgress (for works in progress) and #HSM2019Jun (for your finished item)

July: Unexpected: make an item with an unexpected feature. Will it be a snazzy lining, a hidden pocket, or something else? Surprise us!
IG  #HSM2019JulProgress (for works in progress) and #HSM2019Jul (for your finished item)

August: Out of a Portrait: lift a garment out of a portrait, and make it up to include in your wardrobe.
IG  #HSM2019AugProgress (for works in progress) and #HSM2019Aug (for your finished item)

September: Everyday: It’s not all special occasion frocks. Make something that would have been worn or used for everyday.
IG  #HSM2019SepProgress (for works in progress) and #HSM2019Sep (for your finished item)

October:  Details: Sometimes the little things really make something fabulous. Focus on the details of your garment, to create something that just gets better the closer you look.
IG  #HSM2019OctProgress (for works in progress) and #HSM2019Oct (for your finished item)

November: Above the Belt: No hitting low! Let’s keep things on the up and up as the year closes, and make something worn above the belt.
IG  #HSM2019NovProgress (for works in progress) and #HSM2019Nov (for your finished item)

December: On a Shoestring: It’s an expensive time of year, so make an item on a tight budget (say, under $15, or less than you’d spend on a reasonable priced takeaway meal for one person in your country – and no ‘stash’ doesn’t count as free: you still have to count what you would have originally paid for those items )
IG  #HSM2019DecProgress (for works in progress) and #HSM2019Dec (for your finished item)