2018 Historical Sew Monthly Challenges

Historical Sew Monthly 2018 logo. Click to visit the Dreamstress site.

I started thinking about the 2018 Historical Sew Monthly challenges in early November when a friend of mine started a Stitch and Bitch group, with the hopes of having monthly garment-making challenges. The organizer hopes we’ll create documentation for a garment in one month, and then create the garment in the next month… with the goal of having 6 projects done and ready for an A&S competition by the end of the year.

I was up for the challenge… but honestly know that I can’t duplicate my efforts, so I wanted to tag-team this group with the Historical Sew Monthly challenges as well!

(update: the Stitch and Bitch monthly garment challenges have been cancelled)

The challenges for 2018 were announced December 27, 2017 (http://thedreamstress.com/the-historical-sew-monthly-2018/) , and include:

January: Mend, Reshape, Refashion: Mend or re-shape one of your previously made historical clothing items, or refashion a new one out of something not originally intended as sewing fabric.

Feb: Under: Make something that goes under the other layers.

MarchComfort at Home: Make something to wear around the (historical) house.

More great gothic buttons from Button Button in Vancouver, BC

Gothic buttons from Button Button

AprilButtons and Fastenings: Create an item where the closures are the star of the show.

MaySpecific to a Time [of Day or Year]: Historically, some garments were worn year round, and for a range of events. Others were exclusively for certain times of year, or specific times of day. Make one of the latter.

JuneRebellion and Counter-Culture: Create an item that pays homage to fashion rebels and clothes that flaunt their place on the fringes of standard sartorial society, or that was signature to a rebelling cause.

JulySleeves: There are some amazing examples of historical sleeves styles out there. Put the focus on the arms and shoulders in your creation for this challenge.

AugustExtant Originals: Copy an extant historical garment as closely as possible.

Photo credit ©Mysticus Photography - Me in my steel grey wool hood, along with other elements of my Viking Age Norse costume. These include my red and black coat, my plaid apron dress (hangerock), my green wool dress (serk) and my hand-spun naalbound wool mittens.

Photo credit ©Mysticus Photography – Me in my steel grey wool hood, along with other elements of my Viking Age Norse costume.

SeptemberHands and Feet: Create a fabulous accessory for your hands or feet.

OctoberFabric Manipulation: Take fabric to the next level with any kind of historical embellishment or manipulation: smocking, shirring, embroidering, beading, pinking, ruching, printing, painting, dyeing etc.

NovemberPurses and Bags: You’ve got your arms covered in July, your hands in September, now make something amazing to dangle from them.

DecemberNeglected Challenge: Was there a challenge this year (or, if you’ve been doing the HSM for a while, in a previous year) you missed? Or didn’t create quite what you’d wanted for? This is your chance to make it up!

My never-ending wish list

Looking back at my 2017 plan, I know that there are a LOT of things on my wish-list. Things I’d like to make… at some point.

I also have things from my capsule collections posts from earlier this fall… I decided to break this down into high priority, mid-priority (only to be bumped if a theme is really super relevant) and low-priority.

High Priority

My new Finnish Iron Age outfit, minus the underdress.

My new Finnish Iron Age outfit, minus the underdress.

(Icelandic/ Finnish) Viking Age

  • Basket-bag
  • naalbinding bag, shawl
  • Heavily coiled Finnish apron (stretch goal)
  • Finnish herringbone linen under dress

Laurel elevation celebration outfits

Two acquaintances/friends will be elevated to the order of the Laurel in 2018, so just like many of us did to celebrate another elevation and two friends becoming Baron and Baroness – I proposed that a small group of friends make costumes to celebrate these elevations.

Philippe will likely be elevated at Grand TUA, (April 7, 2018) (date to be confirmed) and portrays 1431 Paris. Philippe is portrayed by Anne, so we were discussing cross-dressing, while her partner suggested something like a Cotehardie or a Houppelande.

Dorothye will have a Heian Japanese at her vigil and Tudor (1530s) for her elevation at Spring Champions (May 12, 2018).

Until I talk more to the group, my current thought is to do a male Tudor costume! Two birds/one stone! (where stone=costume) Unless of course some of the HSM challenges work out well to do something else fitting.

Mid Priority


  • Purple dress (UFO from the 2014 yellow challenge)
  • Cocoon coat (that purple devore velvet?)

Like the Edwardian costume, I don’t really have a place to wear a 20s era costume at this point.

The complete "Celebration" Italian outfit from the front including the hat

The complete “Celebration” Italian outfit from the front including the hat

1480s Italian Renaissance

  • Blue and silver under-dress with silver lacing rings
  • Overdress to coordinate with blue-and-silver under dress
  • Large-scale damask over-dress (currently ivory and black, possibly over-dye)

1500s German camp-follower

  • Gown in navy & brown perhaps?
  • Coordinating amazing starfish hat
  • Coordinating gollar (need to figure out acceptable colour schemes)

15th Century

  • V-neck Burgundian gown
  • Truncated hennin like the one I made for Kadie


  • Pleated linen Egyptian Middle Kingdom gown
  • Egyptian necklace with Faience and semi-precious beads


  • Gold silk Houppelande (needs new collar)
  • Red silk Bliaut with fancy trim
  • Starched linen ruffled veil

Low Priority


  • Edwardian walking suit – skirt
  • Edwardian walking suit – jacket
  • Edwardian walking suit – blouse
  • Edwardian walking suit – hat
  • Option: Edwardian walking suit – purse
First French Hood, side view. This photo shows the difference between the base and the veil.

First French Hood, side view. This photo shows the difference between the base and the veil.

I started the Edwardian costume before my weight loss, so the skirt I started is likely far too large now. I might need to alter it, or re-cut it entirely 😦  I also don’t really know if I have the opportunity to wear the Edwardian anymore, as the event I was planning on making it for has kind of faltered.


  • Simple ‘everyday’ kirtle
  • Petticoat (red?)
  • Gown (stretch goal) to coordinate with French Hood(s)
  • Finish 2 French Hoods

UFOs & others

  • Victorian red velvet suit (another that probably doesn’t fit anymore)
  • Late-period sack-back Spanish gown (Alcega mourning gown)

Tentative plans…

Month Theme Ideas What I made (follow up post)
January Mend, Reshape, Refashion Red horned hennin – skirt recycled fabric (refashion) .Horned Hennin
February Under Black and grey open-front Viking Age Norse apron dress (goes under the apron panel)
Red Tudor petticoat
Finnish herringbone linen underdress
Blue and silver Italian renaissance under dress with lacing rings
.Grey and black open front apron dress
March Comfort at Home Tudor kirtle in anticipation of elevation in May
Pretty much any Viking Age Norse thing…
The gold silk Houppelande.. since it’s going to be comfy to wear – but does it fit the theme? It would be workable for Philippe’s elevation too…
Early 1400s kirtle for the April elevation
April Buttons and Fastenings Blue and silver Italian renaissance under dress with lacing rings
Ottoman empire garment with silver ball buttons
May Specific to a Time [of Day or Year] Late-period sack-back Spanish gown (mourning gown from Alcega)
Fur-trimmed burgundian gown (winter?)
… outfit to celebrate the elevation? Kind of a stretch there in the theme.
???? Not sure here… this theme seems to better fit later periods rather than early periods. If anything else I could make something outerwear for winter.
June Rebellion and Counter-Culture Cross-dressing outfit? Not sure here either… The documentation on this seems like it would be more relevant for later periods rather than earlier periods.
German camp follower?
Parti-coloured heraldic surcote?
July Sleeves Tudor menswear? Fancy Italian sleeves?
Finish either of the two UFO bliauts – red silk or green diamonds
August Extant Originals Heavily embellished Finnish apron? .
September Hands and Feet Viking Age Norse leather shoes?
… Not really sure. I don’t need/want another set of naalbound mittens, and am not really interested in making a set of naalbound socks right now.
October Fabric Manipulation The pleated linen Egyptian gown would be super-relevant here…
The ruffled veil, the panned slops for the Tudor outfit, and embellishment on the Italian overgown will also play in here.
If I use block-printed fabric for the truncated hennin like the one I made for Kadie…
November Purses and Bags Naalbound bag
… an Edwardian bag is also on the list – but it’s really only worth making if I make the rest of the walking suit outfit, which is a super low priority.
December Neglected Challenge The 1920s purple dress is probably my longest-neglected challenge to date….
I never finished the hem on my German Cranach gown – I could finish that off for this challenge too…
The only challenge I didn’t meet for 2015 was Sewing Secrets – where I planned to do the sack-back Spanish gown
OR for 2016 I missed Tucks and Pleats, Gender bender,  and Historicism.
OR for 2017 I missed Great Outdoors (cocoon coat?)
Literature (not sure)
Fashion plate (German wood cuts?) and
Ridiculous (not sure)

Historical Sew Monthly 2018 logo. Click to visit the Dreamstress site.Stay tuned to see what I make! If you want to see all of my previous Historical Sew Monthly (or Fortnightly) challenge entries, click the category link!
Want to join in the Historical Sew Monthly? Visit The Dreamstress’ website, or join the Facebook group! While you’re there.. consider joining my Facebook page too, where I post all of my blog articles, plus photos from my Instagram feed and interesting articles I find online.

4 comments on “2018 Historical Sew Monthly Challenges

  1. A couple of points:
    Comfort at home is for items which would /only/ be worn informally and at home. Or makes you comfortable at home. Pyjamas, dressing gowns, house dresses, slippers are all simple ones which come to mind. But things like bedding and aprons are also thoughts.

    On Specific to a Time (of Day or Year), Seasonal wear is probably the best bet for pre-17th century. Inspiration from a Book of Hours also came to mind.

    And for Rebellion and Counter-culture, I would let you get away with the Germans, if you did some research and argued how they are counter-culture. Wild Irish (Irish for everybody!) is an option, as is intentionally rebelling against sumptuary laws.

    December’s Neglected doesn’t have to be an UFO–it’s meant to let you re-do a prior challenge which you wanted to, but couldn’t manage for whatever reason (ran out of time, money, inspiration…).

    (And the Stitch and Bitch link is broken)

    • Dawn says:

      Thanks for the note on the broken link- turns out that the hostess has cancelled it 😦 She’ll be focusing on the elevation of her partner as well, so she won’t have time this year – I’ve asked her to join the HSM instead… for when she does have *extra* time. (Or after the elevation)

      Unfortunately I don’t think that there’s any evidence for house-clothes (slippers, dressing gowns, pjs) for the very early periods that I usually create for… which is why I’m a bit stumped. (And the Finnish apron I want to make is likely ceremonial and formal -not something actually worn while puttering about the house. LOL) The other thing I was THINKING about for it would be the Elizabethan Loose Gown, which MIGHT be the item reported to be in an inventory of nightgowns and house dresses.. need more research there. You’re doing the inspiration post here I think you said? I’ll need it I think!

      I hadn’t thought of Books of Hours for the time challenge… that’s an interested extrapolation for sure! I’ll likely go seasonal though… If I can crawl out of the rabbit holes the other challenges send me into!

      Most of my UFOs are unfinished challenges actually.. LOL Or ones where I was making something for a challenge.. and then made something else for that challenge instead.

  2. […] you missed it, I posted about the challenges for 2018, and what I hope to […]

  3. […] Unfortunately, the cap wasn’t finished in class… so I took it in parts home, and then promptly forgot all about it. Then, for the February edition of the Historical Sew Monthly, the topic is “linen”, and while there are more elaborate linen items on my to-do list, this seemed like an accomplishable project given how few projects I was able to accomplish in 2018. […]

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