HSM Challenge – December: An improvisation of the '20s

Historical Closet

I haven’t really participated in the Historical Sew Monthly Challenge this year, but we’re doing a ’20s themed New Year’s party, and I had some leftover woolblend fabrics from making trousers, and I had the idea of trying making a dress out of a challengingly small amount of fabric.

I’ve never done any 1920’s sewing before, which perhaps was a good thing, because it got me to improvise a pattern after looking at some fashion plates and pictures at Pintrest for inspiration. My first attempts at a new time period usually starts with the thought “how can I do this as a trial?” so this is dipping my feet into the ’20s, and if you’re more familiar with that decade, you’ll probably see all my errors!

The pictures in this post are quite grainy, since I took them with my back-up phone (due to an incident with my phone being dropped screen down onto gravel and dying), but I hope you can see enough of the process anyway!

The cut out of the improvised pattern. I used most of the fabric available for the dress, with very little scraps left.

Sewing the dress together was a quick job by machine, but trying it on made me realise something was missing. It needed some decoration, but I didn’t have much to add. Searching through my stash cupboard I found some ribbons, and improvised once again.

A ribbon rose, sewn onto a stripe of dress fabric on the side of the skirt.

Then, being a bit of a creature of habit, I hemmed the dress by hand. If you’re used to do more Viking/medieval clothes, this is the way…

Finally a picture that’s less blurry!

By the end of the evening, the dress was made, and since it fits into the last challenge of HSM, I’m counting it as an entry and a one-day-project!

Finished dress hanging on the kitchen door. Pictures of how it looked on me will come after New Years!

And now for the challenge facts:

The Challenge: December: On a shoestring

Material: Wool or wool blend

Pattern:  Very much improvised!

Year: 1920s-inspired

Notions: Ribbons

How historically accurate is it? Not much at all, this is more inspired than accurate. I’ve tried to get the general silhouette but it’s really a first time attempt at a new era for me.

Hours to complete: About 4 with hemming by hand

First worn: Tomorrow at New Year’s

Total cost: I’d guess at about SEK 75, or thereabouts, including the ribbons (the fabric was originally SEK 185, and it’s been used for a pair of trousers already). So below a take-away meal cost!

HSM2019 Challenge 2: The Short Shift

Historical Closet

Better late than never – my first challenge of the Historical Sew Monthly is finished! It’s a regular, common, unexciting, medieval/viking-ish shift apart from one thing – the shortness of it!

Some background info might be in place here: There have been too many events with rain in which a footlong linen shift has taken up the mud and wetness of the ground and resulting in a muddy, wet and disgusting shift from the hem up to somewhere around mid-calf. It’s restricting to walk in, and linen is much worse than wool in this case, as linen tends to transport the wet upwards…

So when the challenge was linen, I thought that enough is enough, I’m making a short shift! If this works, I’ll never do a footlong shift again. I’m wearing leggings in the photos because they end approximately where my other shifts end, so it’s easier to compare. I’m hoping this will make me a happy medievalist/viking, even when it rains! I have no idea how historically accurate this length may or may not be, but if it works, I’m going to claim that it’s historically plausible at least.

On a side note, I think it would be nice to have a proper photo shoot in the near future, to get a somewhat more fitting background. But until then, this is how happy it makes me to think of the misery I’m spared if this shift-length works well:


No more muddy shift hems!

The Challenge: Linen
Material: Linen fabric
Pattern: Geometrical figures
Year: Will be used as medieval/viking, but the pattern could well be rather timeless.
Notions: Flax thread and bees wax for hemming, sewing machine and cotton thread for the other seams.
How historically accurate is it? Not a lot, it’s mostly machine sewn and I have no idea if the length is accurate.
Hours to complete: Didn’t keep track, but a few days.
First worn: For trials and photos around the house, haven’t been properly tested at rainy events yet.
Total cost: Approximately 250 SEK, which should be around €25.


Back from the hiatus

Historical Closet

I’ve had a long pause from crafts due to lack of energy, but I’ve finally started to make historical things again! This time, I’m trying to remedy a thing that’s all too common on events with rainy weather: The disgusting, annoying, muddy and wet hem of the linen shift!

I can’t count the times I’ve heard the words of Mrs. Hurst in Pride & Prejudice in my head during rain at an event: “And her petticoat! I hope you saw her petticoat, brother. Six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain!”  To remedy this, my current project is as simple as a shift that ends somewhere mid-calf! (Which incidently also is the approximate place where the muddy wet shift stops being muddy and wet at the rainy events…)


Making do with what’s available – a shelf being used as a long ruler

I’m doing a classic geometrical figures pattern, and since I couldn’t find a wallpaper ruler, I found something else – a shelf we haven’t put up yet. It worked very well, so as long as we keep procrastinating on getting the shelf up on a concrete wall, it’ll be used as a ruler!

I’m doing all the invisible seams on the machine, basically because I want it to be quick, but I’ll hem by hand. Another blog post will come when it’s finished. I’m thinking of doing a half marathon with the Historical Sew Monthly this year, but I’m already a bit late…

The finished shift will have a test run at events this summer, and if it works well, I’ll never do a full-length shift again!