Monday, December 23, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly year-end recap

So 2013 was the year of Historical Sew Fortnightly projects for me, and I'm happy to say that I finished them all!  Hooray!  I was pretty lax about the due dates on several of the challenges, but I did manage to make something for all 27 themes, which was the main goal that I was interested in.  I have to admit that I stubbornly declined to do the "just the facts" list that was supposed to accompany each project - mainly because I hate counting hours and pennies, and I always feel uncomfortable making statements about my own authenticity.  Plus, the rest of the facts were always included in the narrative of my blog postings anyway.  But I thought I'd make up for it by writing my own set of "just the facts" questions to talk about my experience over the past year:

My 1930s Hooverette is a great example
of  a project that was completely inspired
by a specific HSF theme
Favorite things about the HSF:  I LOVED challenging myself with this project!  I thrive on goals and deadlines and puzzles, and the HSF was big and difficult enough to really make me want to push myself to finish them all.  Figuring out ways to fit my own lineup of projects into somebody else's parameters wasn't always easy, but it kept me constantly thinking and sent me off on a few fun tangents that I never would have explored otherwise.  It also kept me moving forward instead of taking long breaks between big projects.  Even if it was just something small, it was nice to always be working on and thinking about something new.  I also loved following along with everybody else's projects on the Facebook group.  I discovered a bunch of really amazing costumers and bloggers thanks to this project, and it has been so fun having a big batch of new costumes to look forward to every 2 weeks.

The green pelisse ended up being a
couple of weeks late for its challenge,
but it was definitely worth the wait
Least favorite things about the HSF:  Having deadlines that didn't line up with my events very well.  That part was tough, and it's also why I finally gave up on meeting all the deadlines exactly.  There were a couple of times during the year when HSF deadlines were adding to my stress level in a pretty huge way, so I finally had to accept that my sanity was more important that an arbitrary due date.  I completed a couple of challenges out of order so they would work better with the events that I needed costumes for, but for me, the fact that I finished each challenge was more important than when I finished them.  I also hated having to put most of my post-1938 projects on hold for a year.  It is going to be such a joy to finally be free of date restrictions so I can make more quick and easy 40's, 50's, and 60's frocks again in 2014!

My 1930s beach pajamas ended up
becoming a favorite in both my
costume and modern wardrobes
Favorite challenge:  I looooved the "Peasants and Pioneers" challenge.  I loved the idea of making something less fancy, I loved the somewhat cheeky way that I bent the meaning of those words to work with 1930s fashions, and I LOVED the beach pajamas that I sewed for that challenge.  I ended up wearing that outfit to 3 different costume events this past year, and I never got bored with it.  The pants also became a staple in my modern wardrobe, and I plan on making a few more pairs from this pattern next year.  And best of all, I probably wouldn't have made those garments at all if it wasn't for the Historical Sew Fortnightly project, so I'm very grateful that this theme inspired me to make something different.

I love my natural form ball gown,
but it definitely didn't work well
for the HSF's 2 week deadlines  
Most challenging challenge:  The "Pretty Pretty Princess" challenge.  Making a "princess" worthy dress in two weeks?  Insanity!  Especially if you haven't had a chance to make all the appropriate undergarments first.  So this one ended up being a month late for me.  I probably could have given in and made an easy princess accessory just to meet the due date, but making an elaborate dress in such a short time frame is a bit nuts.

My "fairy from Lost Hope" literature
gown was very fitting for this year - I
definitely had my own "lost hope"
moments about the HSF project
Biggest success of the year:  Not giving up!

Biggest failure of the year:  My 1910's "separates" skirt only lasted long enough to take one picture, and then I ripped it back apart to remake at a later date.  I was burned out from Costume College projects and not in the mood to sew at all, and I didn't even really need that skirt for anything anyway. That was a real low point in the year for me, and the closest that I came to quitting.  But I'm stubborn above all other things, so I pushed on through and it got easier again after that.

I had actually started a seaside bustle
dress for the "by the sea" challenge,
but when I ran short on time, my backup
pirate bodice came to the rescue
Best tips for people doing the challenge in 2014:  Try to plan ahead and break your big projects into smaller pieces.  Most of my full costumes from this past year had pieces spread out over multiple challenges.  For example, my pirate costume used the skirt for "UFO", the hat for "embellish", and the bodice for "by the sea".  And all of these challenges were spread out over a few months, so that really gave me a lot of time to work.  My other tip is to remain flexible.  Some of my friends like to tease me about how often I change my mind when planning projects, but this actually turned out to be a real benefit with the HSF.  Things happen, time runs short, projects bomb... but if you always have a Plan B (and C and D) in the back of your mind, you can more easily switch gears and work around the difficult patches.

My 1913 dress was one example of a project
made completely from stash materials 
Stats from this year:  Thanks to this project I made 7 hats, 5 full dresses, 5 pieces of outerwear, 4 skirt supports, 3 corsets/stays, 3 pair of pants, 2 skirts, 2 bodices, 2 shirts, 2 waistcoats, and 5 misc. accessories that don't really fit anywhere else.  Out of those 40 garments, I ended up with 8 complete outfits, 2 sets of accessories to remodel old outfits, and a few odds and ends to be used with future projects.  And since I also had made a stash-only goal for myself this year, I managed to make 32 of the 40 garments completely from materials in my stash, and 4 more were made with a combination of new and stash materials.  The only garments that were completely new to me this year were the 4 long regency shawls that I just seamed together.  I count that as a definite stash-busting victory!

The Historical Sew Fortnightly has been such an incredibly rewarding project for me.  When I started the year, I never thought that I'd have the time or the stamina to finish all 27 challenges, so completing the full year is something that I'm very proud of.   This project really pushed me to manage my time better, think creatively to solve problems, and not be afraid of ambitious sewing goals.  So I want to give a huge thank-you to Leimomi for all of her hard work organizing the Historical Sew Fortnightly this year, and also to the online costuming community for all of your inspiration and support as you played along or cheered from the sidelines.  It's been a really fun year, and if you missed out on the project in 2013, she is doing it again for 2014.  Although I plan on taking next year off, I can't wait to see what wonderful HSF projects you all make next!


  1. I commend you for finishing, and they were all so lovely! So envious, I tried but just fell down on my time management...haven't done hardly any sewing since October in fact. Sigh.

  2. Well done on finishing the whole 27! I got a reasonable number done, but not all of them; partly due to repairs being done on our house and partly due to family and work commitments. Going to do it again this coming year; haven't yet finished my eighteenth century outfit so have to at least get that done

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