Tuesday, December 20, 2016

HSM 2017! It's happening again! The plots thicken...

As you may have guessed by the title, the Historical Sew Monthly is happening again, and this is my second year helping run it--I'm quite looking forwards to it, although some of the challenges are giving me trouble.

For those who do not know, the challenge is to make or finish a historical (up until 1939) piece of clothing (or accessory) by the last day of that month, and is meant to support and encourage period methods.  The piece can be finished up to two months before that--meaning the January challenge could be finished as early as December.  The link to how it works can be found HERE, at the Dreamstress' page.

January: Firsts and Lasts - Create either the first item in a new ensemble, or one last piece to put the final fillip on an outfit.

February: Re-Make, Re-Use, Re-Fashion - Sew something that pays homage to the historical idea of re-using, re-making and re-fashioning. Turn one thing into another. Re-fit or re-fashion an old gown into something you would wear again. Re-trim a hat for a new outfit, or re-shape a modern hat to be a historical hat. Re-purpose the fabric from an old garment (your own or a commercial one) into a new garment.

March: The Great Outdoors - Get out into the weather and dirt with an item for outdoor pursuits.

April: Circles, Squares and Rectangles - Many historical garments, and the costumes of many people around the world, use basic geometric shapes as their basis. In this challenge make a garment made entirely of squares, rectangles and circles.

May: Literature - The written word has commemorated and immortalised fashions for centuries, from the ‘gleaming’ clothes that Trojans wore before the war, to Desdemona’s handkerchief, ‘spotted with strawberries’, to Meg in Belle Moffat’s borrowed ballgown, and Anne’s longed for puffed sleeves. In this challenge make something inspired by literature: whether you recreate a garment or accessory mentioned in a book, poem or play, or dress your favourite historical literary character as you imagine them.

June: Metallics - make something in silver, gold, bronze, and copper, whether it be an actual metal, cloth of gold or silver, or lamé.

July: Fashion Plate - Make an outfit inspired by a fashion plate, whether it is a direct replica, or a more toned down version that fits the resources and lifestyle of the character you are portraying. If you want to stick to a period prior to the 17th century advent of fashion plates, either re-interpret a Victorian ‘historical’ fashion illustration as period accurate, or use an image from your period that depicts and idealised and aspirational fashion.

August: Ridiculous - Fashion is sometimes a little silly, and historical fashions can look particularly odd. Make something that was considered outrageous in its own time, or is just utterly ridiculous to modern eyes.

September: Seen Onscreen - Be inspired by period fashions as shown onscreen (film or TV), and recreate your favourite historical costume as a historically accurate period piece.

October: 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.

November: HSF Inspiration - One of the best things about the HSF is seeing what everyone else creates, and using it to spark your own creativity. Be inspired by something that has been made for the HSF over the years to make your own fabulous item.

December: Go Wild - You can interpret this challenge as an excuse to make something that incorporates animal print, or wild animals in some way, or to simply make something wild and over the top.

January's First or Last is not too difficult—as it shouldn’t be, since people have much less time to plan ahead. I believe the hat for my 1570 s outfit would be perfect, as it is the last required piece for the wardrobe.  As a recap, the outfit is based on the image above...Currently all the main garments are done (saving the shaub, which will be more general), except the hat.

The remaking challenge is somewhat more difficult for me, as I don't think I actually have anything which I can remake into another garment.  If nothing else I can make a new hat of some kind from a commercial coat.

March's Outdoors is one of my challenges--I requested it specifically.  So I had better come up with something good.  I am currently thinking that my thigh high boots based on those from the Mary Rose--not yet started, since I have to make a period last--would be perfect.  Alternately, if I don't manage to finish my gestalt rock by the beginning of February (which is a distinct possibility), that would also work nicely.

April is difficult.  Extremely so....And why? No trapezoids or triangles are allowed, which means no shaping, and no gores. I don’t like this, at all. A Skjoldhamn hood applies, as do pillbox type hats. Coptic tunics.  That was me just brainstorming....but I believe that some of the historical Japanese clothing is entirely rectangles....at least, I think so.  I'll have to look into it, but that should work, plus there is usually a Japanese themed event sometime around April most years.

Literature is somewhat difficult for me, actually.  I read a lot, but the majority is not historical (Fantasy, mostly).  So I have two options--make a historical version of something from Fantasy, or dig through my historical fiction novels for something suitable; actually...maybe I can use it as an excuse to finally start on my Baron von Munchausen outfit...which would tie nicely with December's challenge as well.  There are some fairly specific descriptions in there.
The Miraculous Andventures of Baron Münchhausen. Translated by O. I. Rogova - 3rd ed. SPb.

June's metallics is another I wanted in there, as one of the few "colour" challenges we haven't yet done.  Happily, it lines up perfectly with Summer Coronet, when I am hoping to debut my 16th century Irish--where I am hoping to use gilt leather applique on the inar.

As for Fashion Plates...there are so many options.  A new overcoat or maybe house coat would be absolutely wonderful.  Or sporting wear.  Maybe a sporting morning coat?
1900–1919, Plate 001. Fashion plates, mens 1880-1939. The Costume Institute Fashion Plates The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Like fashion plate, there are so many options for this...many historical outfits--especially cutting edge court clothing--look decidedly ridiculous to us.  It might be a good excuse to make a peascod doublet; maybe the as the leather fencing doublet.... alternately, it may be a good use for that silk canvas.  Make a court suit in that style...maybe something along these lines, although without that idiotic pout.
Alonso Sánchez Coello. Archduke Ernest of Austria, 1568

September?  Another one which the Baron Munchausen fits beautifully into, since there is also the movie produced by one of the Monty Python guys.  And there are at least 3-5 articles needed for it.

Out of your Comfort zone is somewhat tricky, and I'll have to think on it to find a technique I've never done (and want/need to) or find a new period (which I want...).  But I have some time, since it is the October challenge.

HSM inspiration is another I will have to think on, and probably have to go through the back files to find something which jumps out at me and makes me want to do it!  However, that really shouldn't be an issue, since there have been so many excellent entries over the years.

Going wild may or may not be an issue...maybe I could make a leopard print waistcoat!  ...or something.  Another option might be to carve something (Norse buckle, likely) from moose bone...something which I have on hand, and is definitely a wild material.  Munchausen's waistcoat is also applicable, although problematic....it's specified as being made from the skin of his favourite pointing hound; while I have no real issue with wearing that material, I certainly hope my favourite hound doesn't die any time soon.

Well, there you go, folks--my tentative plan for this year's HSM.  Like this last year (2016), I hope I can get every challenge done, even if it is by the skin of my teeth and some fast talking to make it fit.  What are some of your plans for HSM 2017?  Let me know in the comments below!

© John Frey, 2016. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.


  1. May I suggest using curtains for the remake challenge? Lots of fabric...

    1. Excellent point. Especially if I can find one in a nice 18th century type print.

  2. This sounds so exciting! Makes me really want to sign up finally. 😂