I don’t remember exactly when or how I first stumbled upon The Dreamstress website, run by Leimomi Oakes, but I do know it was the happiest moment in my sewing blog searching. Leimomi, a textile and fashion historian runs one of the best resources for historic costuming and textiles. There’s a glossary of terms, in case you come across something perplexing in your own studies and searches, as well as some tutorials, and even a pattern to make your own seamed stockings! Really, there are all sorts of lovelies to find on the website (which just went through a re-design and will continue to see some changes for the next six months).
One of the things that has always intrigued me about the website is the Historic Sew Fortnightly – a year-long sewing challenge that urged participants to complete a new historic project every fortnight (that’s twice a month for the historic-term challenged). It’s meant to encourage research and historical accuracy, and I am amazed by the things people have created. While I loved the idea, and dreamed about following along with the wonderful themes, I knew I’d never be able to finish something new every 14 days. Of course, if that was the case, you could always aim for half a HSM year, and only shoot for half of the themes, but that somehow felt like I would be cheating. Nevermind the outstanding demand on my free time. 😛
It seemed that I would be stuck on my self-imposed sideline forever…until this year, when a few changes were made. It seems I wasn’t the only one overwhelmed by the challenge. It can get pretty time-consuming for the folks who are running it, as well, so Leimomi has cut the challenge back a bit this year and made it the Historic Sew Monthly.
I feel a little less overwhelmed by the prospect of that number, and I think I’m going to attempt the challenge this year. Of course, January is almost up, so I’ve got to hurry up and get a jump on the first challenge. Luckily, I have a couple of small items I’ve been meaning to pull out and work on, and I might be able to pull something together in the two weeks I have left.
If you’re interested in following along, or joining the challenge yourself, I encourage you to head on over to the website and see about doing so. In case you’re curious, here are the themes for the coming year:
- January – Foundations – make something that is the foundation of a period outfit
- February – Color Challenge Blue – make an item that features blue, in any shade
- March – Stashbusting – make something using only fabric, patterns, trims, and notions you already have in your stash (I’ve been trying to do this lately, anyway!)
- April – War and Peace – the extremes of conflict and long periods of peace time both influence what people war. Make something that shows the effects of war, or of extended peace.
- May – Practicality – Create the jeans and t-shirt get-the-house-clean-and-garden-sorted outfit of your chosen period.
- 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.
- July – Accessorize – Bring an outfit together by creating an accessory to go with your historical wardrobe.
- August – Heirlooms and 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 generation.
- September – Color Challenge Brown – Brown has been one of the most common and popular colors throughout history. Make something brown.
- October – Sewing secrets – Hide something in your sewing, whether its an almost invisible mend, or secret pocket, a false fastening or front, or a concealed message (such as a political or moral allegiance).
- November – Silver Screen – Be inspired by period fashions as shown onscreen (film or TV) and recreate your favorite historical costume as a historically accurate period piece.
- December – Re-Do – Re-do any of the previous eleven challenges.
For the purposes of the challenge, “Historic” refers to WWII-era and earlier…so nothing later than 1945 counts. I’ve been enamored of 40s fashions lately, so we’ll see how this pans out for me. Let me know if you’re following along with the challenge as well!