Historical Sew Monthly 2016 – Introduction


On my first post for this month, I mentioned I was taking part in this year’s Historical Sew Monthly. The idea is to take clothing or accessories from the past up to 1938 and remake them. You can use authentic materials or take items from your stash. Each challenge can take up to 2 months to make and must be completed and entered by the last day of the month it is due. Items can be as simple, a bag or fichu or complex as you wish, up to a full period ensemble, complete with underpinnings, but must be researched and use authentic materials and techniques where possible. The Dreamstress, who organises the challenge has written a useful blog post, exploring what  historical accuracy means.

The Challenges this Year are as follows:

  • January –  Procrastination  finish a garment you have been putting off finishing (a UFO or PHD) or make something you have been avoiding starting.
  • February – Tucks & Pleating – make a garment that features tucks and pleating for the shape or decoration
  • March – Protection – make something to protect yourself (from weather or injury) or your clothes (from soiling etc.)
  • April – Gender-Bender – make an item for the opposite gender, or make an item with elements inspired by the fashions of the opposite gender
  • May – Holes – sometimes the spaces between stuff are what makes a garment special.  Make a garment that is about holes, whether it is lace, slashing, eyelets, etc.
  • June – Travel – make a garment for travelling, or inspired by travel.
  • July – Monochrome – make a garment in black, white, or any shade of grey in between.
  • August – Pattern – make something in pattern, the bolder and wilder the better.
  • September – Historicism – Make a historical garment that was itself inspired by the fashions of another historical period.
  • October – Heroes – Make a garment inspired by your historical hero, or your historical costuming hero.
  • November – Red – Make something in any shade of red.
  • December – Special Occasion: make something for a special event or a specific occasion, or that would have been worn to special event of specific occasion historically.

My Plans To Date:

January: Medieval Relic Bag – I’ve been putting off starting as they knitted on very tiny needles – 1 – 1.5mm

February: I’m still researching but its likely to be a baby bonnet with tuck pleating around the crown in crochet

March: A Sontag – A Victorian knitted Shawl that wraps over the front of the body and ties at the back, ideal for wearing out on spring days without having trailing bits to catch in my wheels

April – This is puzzling me, so I need to research this. Am wondering if an early male knitted cap might have been remade and restyled in late 19th / early 20th C for a lady who was interested in sport?

May – I have a couple of lovely tops that are just a little too low cut so I plan to make a crochet fichu / neck piece to wear with them.

June – I want to make something linked to travel for the wool trade: going to market, sheep droving, using a crochet method called shepherds knitting, gloves, a pouch

July – Monochrome, am thinking towards socks are there medieval examples of knitted socks and cushions with interesting monochrome patterns

August – Pattern, I’ve seen some beautiful beaded knit purses and reticules, with fantastic colour patterns!

September – Historicism – this will need research, ideally I would like to do something warm for the approaching winter or practical like a simple bag

October – Heroes – I bet you thought I was going to avoid naalbinding as I’d not said anymore about it! But my heroes are in part those medieval women who spent much of their time spinning, weaving and naalbinding clothes. There is an interesting pair of socks I would like to try to replicate!

November – Something Red – thinking back over my accessories, I don’t have gloves and I really like the long evening gloves so I plan to crochet a pair in red silk or cotton

December – Something Special – this is my tatting challenge, and I’m thinking I might make myself a collar, which could double as a necklace or adding a tatted motif to a simple, silk drawstring bag or pouch, brooch or hat band.

This will give me a range of accessories I can make over a number of eras of history and the opportunity to hone skills and develop new ones. In future years it is my intention to choose a period of history and make myself a full costume with authentic accessories, meaning that I will need to tackle dressmaking.

I’m assembling a Pinterest board and hunting through the Antique Pattern Library for inspiration and ideas. I also plan to do some reading in the local library and online to discover the techniques, yarns etc in use at the time each item was made.