HSM #1 – Shaky Foundations

I just barely made it, in terms of completing the first challenge for the Historic Sew Monthly. With the basement still in shambles (though less than the last time I posted), it isn’t all that easy to get in to my sewing machine. Or my patterns. Or a space to lay out and cut out fabric. Knowing I didn’t have a lot of space or time to work with, I racked my brain for ideas of what I wanted to/needed to/could conceivably make. It didn’t help that I wound up sick at home for a few days, due to dehydration and the common cold. I could have, theoretically, beaten the cold without much work, but the dehydration skewed my chances there.


Thankfully, there were a few simple items I needed, to kick off some of my historic costuming goals. The first was a pair of fun stockings that I could use with my caroling outfit.



The caroling outfit isn’t specific to any one particular year/style. It’s more of a suggestion of a general period, at the moment, though I’ve been hoping to make it a better representation of a specific era of fashion. Knowing that the stockings wouldn’t be seen by most folks (unlike the stockings I need to make for interpreters at the National Colonial Farm), I wanted to find the most ridiculous and fun color or pattern possible. I don’t have a lot of jersey-type materials in my stash, so I lucked out with the material I did happen to pull out. It was a stretchy fabric of unknown fiber content (most likely primarily polyester, but the burn test isn’t conclusive) that was contributed when my brother-in-law’s great aunt moved and got rid of a lot of her sewing notions. It has a truly ridiculous gray/pink on white print – I’ve stared at it for a while and still can’t really figure out what is really going on in the print. It would be perfect!

The pattern came together fairly quickly, though I caution folks to pay close attention to where the corners meet up at the heel, as it’s easy for the fabric to bunch under the presser foot. The right side of the pattern fits pretty well, despite the fabric not being as stretchy as it probably needs to be. The foot length is perfect, which surprised me, as I have rather tiny feet.

Then, you’ve got the left side. Due to repeated injuries to my left leg, my ankle and calf has a tendency to swell

Raven isn't sure how he feels about the fabric.

Raven isn’t sure how he feels about the fabric.

throughout the day. Even in the morning, when I’ve just woken up, the left side generally measures a little bigger than the right side. By the time I finished the stockings, the left side had swollen a little, so the fit wasn’t as perfect. I think it would have been okay if there had been more stretch to the fabric.

I was happy with the overall pattern, though, so I plan to make a couple more attempts to get this right. I’ll make a few adjustments to the pattern and re-make another stocking for the left side, and see if that solves the problem.


A new shift had been on my list of “to be made” items for some time. My old one, made out of a tight, gauzy material, had disappeared and I was in need of something to wear underneath a couple of the festival outfits. I had even gone ahead and cut out the pattern a couple of months ago, but somewhere – literally in the distance between the small cutting table and my sewing machine – the back half of the pattern was lost.

I still haven’t found the errant pattern pieces, so I figured it was time to try again. I picked out the hem on an old sheet (I think it came from years ago, when my grandmother was in the hospital…which means 20 years ago) and cut out all the pieces. When I went to start pinning them together, though, I discovered I was missing the first two pages of instructions for the pattern! Gah!

Luckily, I’ve sewn this pattern before, as well as another pattern with underarm gussets, so I had a general idea of what I was doing. I used flat felled seams to finish the edges, as I’m all too familiar with the way the shifts in the NCF clothing inventory literally comes apart at the seams after washing. I figured this will help extend the life of the shift, anyway.

I stitched a quarter-inch hem around the neckline, and then stitched a length of twill tape to the inside of the neckline, for the cord to feed through.

The Challenge: Foundations

Fabric: unknown jersey with pink/gray print (stockings); re-used bedsheet (60% cotton, 40% polyester).

Pattern: Rosalie stockings pattern (The Dreamstress); Simplicity 4052 (out-of-print)


Notions: white cotton thread, twill tape, braided cord

How historically accurate is it? Eh….I’d say the shift is maybe 80%. The fabric I used isn’t, what with the addition of polyester, but the pattern is a pretty good example of the period. The shift is hand-sewn, which I feel helps bump it up a little. The stockings….maybe 50%…and that’s ALL pattern. The fabric choice is not at all historically accurate, but that was sort of my point going in. 

Hours to complete: 1 hour for the stockings; __ hours for the shift

First worn: around the house, chasing after the cats.

Total cost: $2 for the twill tape! The fabric was all gifted to me, and the pattern was in the stash already.

The little shits (aka Alvin and Raven) sitting on the clean sheet and my new cowl, while I wait for the laundry to finish.

The little shits (aka Alvin and Raven) sitting on the clean sheet and my new cowl, while I wait for the laundry to finish.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s