Sunday, 11 January 2015

Some thoughts for 2015

Happy New Year, readers!

This year the Historical Sew Fortnightly has become the Historical Sew Monthly.  It had become unmanageable for our hostess Leimomi, and to be honest I think a project every two weeks is a bit much for most people.  Certainly it was never achievable for me. 

This year, unlike either of the last two years, I’ve put some thought into my HSM projects in advance and I already have ideas for most of the challenges.  They are just ideas at this stage and some of them will probably change over time.

      January – Foundations: make something that is the foundation of a period outfit.

A shirt.  An easy choice, but more of a challenge than it looks.  I’ve tried this pattern once before, and it was not a success.  Will it go any better the second time round?  We’ll find out.

      February – Colour Challenge Blue: Make an item that features blue, in any shade from azure to zaffre.

Blue is one of my favourite colours and I have a couple of blue items in mind for this year, but at this stage I think I would like to learn how to make Dorset buttons, to go with my item for the March challenge...

      March – Stashbusting: Make something using only fabric, patterns, trims & notions that you already have in stash.

I have a meter of blue and orange fabric that I think really ought to be a 1790s waistcoat.  It’s not period at all (it’s synthetic), but boy is it cool.  And I have a great pattern to use, too.  It's double breasted, which is why making the buttons could be a challenge all to itself.

      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.

I'd really like to make a linothorax.  The guys who reconstructed the linothorax described in the previous link have a book out where they describe their research and how they made the armour.  I'd like to give it a try myself.

      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.

Last year I drafted a 15th century dress.  It’s not on the blog because I didn’t have the blog when I made it, but long story short it was made of synthetic fabric and fully machine sewn (because why bother spending all that time hand sewing something made of synthetic fabric).  Now I want to remake the dress properly in a period fabric using period techniques.  I've got some nice blue wool to make it in.

      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. 

I have Janet Arnold’s pattern for the Shrewsbury Mantua, which would be a great option for this challenge, but I have other ideas as well so we’ll see what happens.

      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.

I’ve got some dentalium shells on order, and I want to make a headband like this one:

Image found here.  Do check the site out, it is fascinating.

      August – Heirlooms & Heritage: Re-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.

Probably something from Bronze Age or Viking Age Europe.  I must look to see whether there are any archaeological finds from around Møn (where my family lived before moving to New Zealand) that I can do something with.

      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.

Actually, I like brown.  For this challenge, I think I’ll revisit my side-pleated skirt pattern.  There are some improvements I want to try and brown is a feasible colour for this garment.

      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).

No idea.  No idea at all.

      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.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of options here.  Overall, I think I would like to try something Egyptian, inspired by Theda Bara in the 1917 film Cleopatra.  I have a bit of a soft spot for Theda Bara, partly because my grandmother was named after her.  Mostly, however, I want an excuse to make a beaded dress.

      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.

Maybe a pair of greaves to go with the linothorax?


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  2. I would love to have an ancient Egyptian beaded dress, but I don't have the faintest idea how to go about making one. So I'll be cheering you on from the sidelines on that project. Best wishes for a fun and educational 2015.

    1. Thanks, and best wishes for 2015 to you too! Assuming the beaded dress does happen I'll be looking to do a tutorial on it. Preliminary research indicates it won't actually be that hard to construct - in fact the real problem is sourcing beads that look like faience.