Historical Sew Monthly – 2023

Pattern for a French Edwardian-era skirt

Jupe Courtisane skirt pattern

It’s been many years since I started participating in the Historical Sew Monthly projects, and as years have gone on, I’ve been able to participate less and less. For 2022, I only completed ONE of the twelve suggested themes, though given my mood, budget, Covid, and lack of participation in my local reenactment group (largely due to Covid, amoung other factors) I wasn’t really surprised to do so little towards the challenges.

However, each year I DO find the themes inspiring, so once again I’m making my “wish list” post, for the challenges for 2023.

My own 2023 – Destash

2022 Grandmother's Fabric Sale Shopping Haul

2022 Grandmother’s Fabric Sale Shopping Haul

My OWN theme for the 2023 challenges is “buy less” and “destash” – I have a considerable stash of fabrics, trims, and notions, and apart from things like needles, thread, etc, it’s my overall goal to use up what I have wherever I can, rather than buying new.

This means that I might use a synthetic lining instead of natural – because I have synthetic that colour matches well. It might mean skewing a colour theme slightly. It might mean trimming something with a braid that isn’t 100% perfect, even though the perfect trim DOES exist – just not inside my bin of trim.


My own 2023 – Capsule Collections & History Bounding

A long plaid bias skirt inspired by an Edwardian Historical Sew Monthly challenge for the November 2017 challenge - Inspiration.

Long Edwardian-inspired bias plaid skirt

My other objective for 2023 is  to make things that are “wish list” items for my historical capsule collections, as well as items that I can wear mundanely, not just at historical events.

This is a priority because I’m not really attending any in-person historical events at the moment.  This is because there really isn’t much happening locally.  Our monthly tavern nights shut down due to Covid, (There was one for December 2022, but I was too sick to attend) in-person A&S nights are not really happening (I think there’s been one in the past 6 months), and while the big events are happening again, A&S isn’t being featured (instead of workshops or classes or things it’s just “there will be space to talk” – which is fine, but isn’t worth the $30 admission cost.)  Also, nearly all of the bigger events are happening out of town (and city transit), and thus aren’t accessible for me.

My thought is to make items that although they are historically informed or inspired, are things that I can incorporate into my day-to-day wardrobe as well.   This means I may also shift a colour palette to something that suits my daily clothing choices better, rather than sticking to the brighter colours I often choose for historical garments.

The Historical Sew Monthly 2023 themes

Wearing the Viking Age style hood outside in the snow - over mundane clothing

Wearing the Viking Age style hood outside – over mundane clothing

(I’ve taken these directly from the word document loaded up onto the Facebook group.)

January: Back to the Beginning: Re-make one of your very first projects. Or make something that is the beginning of an entirely new outfit.

February: Reality is Unrealistic: Our modern, media-influenced perceptions of the past are often quite limited or inaccurate in comparison to the full picture that research reveals. Colourful peasant clothing? The prevalence of day caps? Bra-like garments in the Middle Ages? Make an accurate historical garment that defies our modern expectations of what was possible or commonly done!

March: Focus on the Fabric: Make something in which the fabric colour/ texture/print/material etc. is the central feature of the design.

April: Opposites Attract: Challenge yourself to make something that uses two or more colours which you would not normally use together, or colours which “clash” to the modern eye.

Selfie wearing the Bergère hat

Selfie wearing the Bergère hat

May: Hair Apparel: Make something worn in the hair or on the head.

June: Jack of All Trades: Make something that uses two or more different production techniques (sewing, knitting, embroidery, quilting, tatting etc.)

July: Once Upon a Time: Make something inspired by a fairy tale or folk tale.

August: All Tied Up: Make something that closes with ties, or something that uses knots/bows as a decorative feature.

September: The State of Fashion: Make something for which the fashion was influenced by political situations happening at that time in history (ex: sumptuary laws, imports and tariffs, protests, conflicts or social movements.)

October: HSM Lookbook: We have so many talented costumers in the HSM community! Make something inspired by someone else’s HSM project from an earlier month/year.

November: Style Starts At Home: Make something which would generally be seen only within the household (ex: informal at-home wear, nightwear, undergarments).

December: Paired to Perfection: Make something that comes in a pair (mittens, stockings, garters, braces etc.) Or make something in which the trim or construction prominently features sets of two.

What I might make…

Month Theme What I might make What I actually made
January Back to the Beginning For Aug 2014, I made a hood, and I have already started on another one, so this might be a good candidate. For Nov 2014 I made a Viking Age apron dress, and in Feb 2015 I made a Viking Age underdress. I have a number of fabrics in my stash designated to make more of these as well. Aug 2015 I made a sideless surcoat, and likewise I have stash designated for more of these too.
Embroidered Viking-style hood
February Reality is Unrealistic Not really sure what I want to do here. I think it’s hard to get my head around the “what I know that people don’t know except I do know and the people I hang out with know….”
How to get a fitted gown without princess seams and just straight seam construction perhaps?
What I actually made
March Focus on the Fabric Possibly the Burgundian dress in silk damask, or the herringbone twill Finnish underdress, or the diamond twill coat. Possibly another plaid Edwardian style walking skirt. The gold silk Houppelande in my work-in-progress bin might work here too.
What I actually made
April Opposites Attract This REALLY goes against my plans around History Bounding. All I can think of is the teal on tan embroidery I did, since it didn’t really work to my modern eye. The Purple Byzantine gown to go with teal accessories might also work here… if I have any of the purple silk I have in mind – not sure I have it in my stash, so I might also need to find some dye. The blue silk over coat (with orange/pink shot silk lining) I have as a work-in-progress might work here too.
What I actually made
May Hair Apparel My first thought is the Finnish basket headdress, even though it’s not totally “sewing”. Alternately, the Italian Renaissance reta headdress, or the cross-tree headdress. The starched linen ruffled veil in my work-in-progress bin might work here. I also have an Edwardian giant hat in my wish-list/ work in progress bin.
What I actually made
June Jack of All Trades Probably something with sewing and embroidery here, though if I get ambitious, perhaps the Finnish coils (metalwork and sewing) or possaments on Viking Age apron dress,  an embroidered Viking apron panel with whipcord trim, or sewn bag with whipcord trim and fingerloop strap. The shibori pleating for the Egyptian pleated dress I want to make might also come into here too.
What I actually made
July Once Upon a Time The only thing that really comes to mind is some of the embroidery I’ve been doing/planning, like the World Serpent, etc. The Egyptian Middle Kingdom gown I was thinking about, based off ideas from Daisy Victoria might also come into play here too.


What I actually made
August All Tied Up Kind of drawing a blank here right now too unfortunately. Perhaps the knotted reta? Possibly some sort of apron that ties at the back? A pair of pockets that tie on? I don’t really need any of those atm, so unless I just have some fabulous scrap material left over from something else…
What I actually made
September The State of Fashion Not sure here either.  My only real thought is the Chemise a la Reine, but I really don’t know that I want to make that this year. Possibly an Edwardian split skirt?  A parti-coloured sideless surcote would work here.
What I actually made
October HSM Lookbook The last time this theme came up, I made an Edwardian walking skirt, and I kinda want to do that again for this one…
I also really like Vanessa Désirée’s kirtle / bodiced petticoat from a 2022 challenge.  (You’ll need to be part of the group on Facebook to see this link)
For 2021, Anna Furå made a basic underdress, and I certainly could make more of these as well. (You’ll need to be part of the group on Facebook to see this link)
Also for the January 2021 challenge, Lydia Jane made a lace-front cotehardie/kirtle, and in 2020 Anna Furå also made a cotehardie, which I also want to make for myself at some point. (Not as wide of a neckline though, and long sleeves.) (You’ll need to be part of the group on Facebook to see this link)
Since it’s pretty far out – I might also see what inspiration comes up in the next 8 or 9 months to see what else might inspire me.
What I actually made
November Style Starts At Home I have no need for period night wear, and the eras I generally costume for don’t really do the sort of “house dresses” that are more common for later eras. Something like a chemise might be the best bet here.. though I don’t really know if I need another one. I have wanted to do a blackwork-embroidered chemise /camicia though… if I can find the time for that kind of thing.
What I actually made
December Paired to Perfection What really comes to mind is the handles for the Hedeby-style bags. Though it’s the handles that come in pair… not the bags themselves.
What I actually made

What are you planning to make?

Share your plans (or link to your plans!) in the comments below!

Keep reading

Close up of the beaded trim

I’ll update this post when I finish things for each of the challenges (for those that I’m able to do that is), but you can also follow this blog by subscribing if you have a WordPress account.

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