Historical Sew Monthly 2020

Historical Sew Monthly 2018 logo. Click to visit the Dreamstress site.Well it’s already October – and only now am I thinking about the Historical Sew Monthly 2020 challenges. I used to LOVE working with the challenges, but in the couple of years… my life just hasn’t cooperated on multiple levels.

In fact… I don’t think  I even did (any? many?) of the 2019 challenges either. Even though I’ve still be sewing and making, I haven’t found the time to blog, research, photograph… the way that I used to.

Still I figured I’d record what I would have LIKED to do for each of these challenges – possibly to do in the future if I can play a little catch-up once my life cooperates with my desire to sew and craft.

I also LOVE that the 2020 theme that spans the entire year is Sustainability!

The challenges:

JanuaryTimetravelling Garments: Create an item that works for more than one historical era, or that can be used for both historical costuming, and modern wear. It could be an apron that could do 1770s or 1860s in a pinch, a shift that can work under many decades of fashion, or a historical cape you also wear everyday, etc.

FebruaryRe-Use: Use thrifted materials or old garments or bedlinen to make a new garment. Mend, re-shape or re-trim an existing garment to prolong its life.

MarchGreen: Make something in a shade or shades of green. If you can also make it ‘green’ in the figurative sense, even better!

AprilLocal: Support your local industry and your local history by making something that (as much as possible) uses materials made locally, or purchased from local suppliers, or that features a garment specific to your part of the world.

MayBasic: Make a garment that can be used for many occasions (like a shift, or the classic ‘Regency white dress’), or a simple accessory that will help you stretch the use of an already existing garment.

June: It’s Only Natural: Make something inspired by nature, or use natural fibres and materials in a way that stretches your usual practice (e.g. natural dyeing, using cane instead of plastic whalebone for corsets/stays etc.). Or challenge yourself and do both!

JulyNo-Buy: Make something without buying anything. Whether it’s finishing off a UFO, using up scraps of fabric from earlier challenges in the year, sewing entirely from stash, or finding the perfect project for those small balls of yarn, this is your opportunity to get creative without acquiring more stuff.

AugustCelebration: Make something for a specific historical celebration, make something generally celebration worthy, make something that celebrates a historical hero, or just make something that celebrates some new skills you’ve learned.

SeptemberSewing Secrets: Hide something in your sewing, whether it is an almost invisible mend, a make-do or unexpected material, a secret pocket, a false fastening or front, or a concealed message (such as a political or moral allegiance).

OctoberGet Crafty: Make use of your own skills or learn a new one to make something from scratch rather than buy material. The possibilities for learning and applying new skills and techniques are endless. Lace, pleated self-fabric trim, knotted fly trim, embroidery, dyeing, knitting your own corset laces, hand painting your own fabric…

NovemberGo Green Glow-Up: Be environmentally friendly and celebrate how your making skills have ‘glowed-up’ as you’ve used and practiced them by taking apart an early make of yours that no-longer represents your making skills, and re-making it so you’d be proud to use it. It can be as elaborate as a total re-make, or as simple as getting the ribbons or buttons you didn’t have time to source at first. You could even take something from a challenge made earlier in the year, and fix the tiny things you weren’t totally happy with.

DecemberCommunity: It is the season of giving. Create an item that honours or supports the communities around you, whether Real Life or online

HSM wish list

Now.. I don’t think I’m going to have time to get many of these done in the remaining months of 2020… but if I cross my fingers.. maybe one or two?


Theme Want to make Made
JanuaryTimetravelling Garments Likely a under dress – since I use the same basic design for my Viking age, Finnish, and 15th C European costumes.

Alternately, a 1950s circle skirt if 1950s falls within the guidelines of HSM (I can’t remember off the top of my  head, and it’s not on the main page.) since I’d wear that mundanely as well.

Veil for multiple eras
FebruaryRe-Use These days, nearly everything I’m using is thrifted, or reused from garments etc. I know there’s a gorgeous silver jacquard dress I wanted to use for a corset – though I don’t know that I’ll have enough time to make that.
MarchGreen I can’t think of anything I want to make that is green….
AprilLocal The closest I can think of for this is something naalbound that I make from wool I spin myself from locally raised sheep – but… I know I definitely won’t have the time for this.
MayBasic If I decide to make more garments for my Byzantine wardrobe, I need another set of wrist cuffs – which help make under dresses more versatile. Alternately, as January’s – an under dress would be versatile across many different costumes.
June: It’s Only Natural All of my naturally dyed wool would work so well for this – but again, I don’t imagine I’ll have the time to make anything – nor do I likely have enough yardage of any one colour (and I don’t really like striping) to make a full item either.

If I were to make another Italian Renaissance corded bodice, the cording would work well to fit this theme… but… erk.

If I had the time to shibori pleat the linen for the next Egyptian costume, this would be a bit of a stretch, since my last pleated garment was synthetic to keep the pleats in place…

I also just got some ‘hair canvas’ type material to use as sew-in interfacing that is wool, and another that is linen – which would definitely be a step up from using fusibles! LOL (Mind you, I rarely use fusibles for my historical costumes unless absolutely necessary…) This would work for German, Italian, etc.

JulyNo-Buy Since I recently was given swaths of new fabrics from a former teacher who is downsizing, I literally have an entire wardrobe’s worth of fabric to use for this challenge – pretty much anything I would want to make at this point would apply! Horned Hennin #4 (white linen)   AND Witchy Sherlock hat ..
AugustCelebration As we’re deep in covid-19 as I read this, the idea of making something for a celebration feels a little bittersweet – in the past I’ve made ‘celebration’ garments for when a friend was elevated to the order of the Laurel, and when two friends became the Baron and Baroness of our Barony – but that likely won’t be happening soon.

However, Avacal recently elevated a new Queen and King – Queen A’isha Rayhana al-Karim, and King Vik Vikingsson. Their reign will end in February 2021 (I’m not sure how they’ll be choosing their successors, if tournaments aren’t a viable option because of the pandemic), and they haven’t listed their preferences, nor is the “about their Majesties” part of the Avacal website about them – it’s about their predecessors.

While from their official photo (and names!) it appears that she’s likely Turkish / Persian / Arabic / Ottoman, and he’s Viking, her wiki page is blank so can’t confirm.

Soooo…. theoretically I could do something in honour of their step down by doing one or the other – continuing my Ottoman wardrobe, or adding more pieces into my Viking Age wardrobe. There are pieces I’d like to make for both, as outlined in my recent capsule wardrobe posts.  (Viking capsule, Ottoman capsule). It looks like Winter Crown in February is still being planned to happen in person – but who knows what that will look like then – so I don’t know who will be stepping up in their place, or if they’ll be asked to continue their reign until it’s safe once more to meet in person.

Finnish hat
SeptemberSewing Secrets Not sure here – my German Cranach gown has a unique secret opening – but I’m unlikely to do that one again.
OctoberGet Crafty  I have many ideas for this one – learning possaments for a Viking costume, learning tablet weaving for trim on Viking or Finnish garb…

Doing German Brick Stitch (I’ve never done it before but took a few classes recently) on a bag or although not period-correct (as far as I know) for a Viking apron panel.

Alternately I could make lucet cord for stringing Finnish coils, or work on the needle lace that my friend Lauren taught me – though I’d need to figure out when it’s appropriate for.

NovemberGo Green Glow-Up Hmmm, not sure about this one!
DecemberCommunity Not sure here either – though making largesse would be a natural fit – though I’m not sure if largesse is going to be needed any time soon.

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