Saturday, January 18, 2014

Final Thoughts on 2013 - No New Fabric and Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenges

I've learned a lot in the past year about costuming, blogging, and deadlines.  I successfully abstained from purchasing fabric for a full twelve months! ...And I less-than-successfully followed the Historical Sew Fortnightly year-long challenge.


Looking ahead, I have a clearer idea of what types of costuming goals I should set for myself and how to go about achieving them.

I decided not to join the 2014 HSF, mainly because I think this type of sew-along is not really for me.  I loved it for the first half of the year, but then the challenges stopped fitting so nicely with my own schedule (haphazard as it may have been) of planned costumes and events.  And then I moved.  Twice.  Not surprisingly, it all went downhill from there.  Out of the total 26 challenges, I completed only 9.  So rather than once again set myself up for failure, I'm going to concentrate instead on the Accessorizing Head to Toe and the 18th c. Court Ensembles challenges that I had already signed up for, as well as running my own Year of Foundations sew-along.


This is not to say that the Historical Sew Fortnightly was a total disaster for me!

What I loved about it:
  • The creative ways in which each challenge theme could be interpreted
  • Seeing everyone's finished projects and getting inspired
  • The collaborative community of costumers from around the world
What I would do differently next time:
  • Get organized and plan out my year of costuming in advance
  • Break up large projects into smaller pieces that can be achieved in two weeks
  • Research my planned garments more thoroughly

As for the self-imposed No New Fabric challenge, I would call it a rousing success!  It worked well for me mainly because I already had such a large stash of fabric to begin with.  :p  I kept it up by avoiding fabric stores and by putting off any projects that called for fabric I did not own until this year.  Which brings me to this year's goals!

Year of Foundations

This will be my primary focus in the coming year.  I've already posted about my specific plans concerning the YOF, so I won't go into detail here.  Briefly, I am planning two full sets of historical undergarments - 18th Century and Victorian.  This means I need to buy a substantial amount of linen for shifts and chemises, and I've already purchased coutil for stays and corsets.  For petticoats and skirt supports, I will be using old sheets from my current stash.


This is the main category of costuming that I have been putting off until I could buy fabric again.  I want to start making Regency men's clothing so that Brian the Engineer can come with me to future RSV events.  I currently have nothing in my stash that is appropriate for this endeavor, especially now that I've been working at Colonial Williamsburg for nine months and have learned to appreciate natural fibers even more than I already did.  This means more linen for shirts, and some nice wools and heavier linens in dark, muted colors for trousers or frock coats.  Fortunately, I have several fabrics in my stash suitable for waistcoats.

18th Century gowns

I already have the fabric for several gowns which I had planned to make last year but never started because I never finished my stays!  This will be rectified shortly, thanks to the YOF.

Regency gowns

According to the RSV schedule of events, I have a Valentine's social, a tea, a luncheon, a picnic, an ice cream tasting, a nature walk, and at least one ball to plan for in the coming year!  I clearly need to add to my meager wardrobe of two day dresses, one sheer ballgown, two bonnets, one spencer, and two reticules.  I have plans (and fabric) for at least two bodiced petticoats, and I want to make two more sheer gowns to wear over them.  I have already done some pre-shopping on fabric for those sheer gowns, and they're going to gorgeous!  :D

Now of course I don't want to start buying fabric like crazy just because I can, so I came up with a couple of new rules for myself:

When new fabric is purchased, it must be used within a month, or I have to donate it to the bargain fabric table at work.  

This should prevent me from returning to my old habit of buying fabric because "it's such a good deal!" or "it's so pretty!" or "I might need it someday!"  

For the purposes of this rule, "used" will mean something has been cut out from said fabric.  This will keep me from waffling about what I want to make from a particular fabric, and will also get me to be more productive rather than just accumulating yardage.  Cutting out is my least favorite part of sewing, so once that's over with I am much more likely to finish a project.  It's not fool-proof though, so my second rule is:

When I start a new project, I have another month to finish it.  

So this means that the beautiful blue velveteen I bought last week at that very bargain table must be cut for a Regency bodice by no later than February 8, and sewn together by March 8.  

However, I can still buy large amounts of fabric that is useful for multiple projects, like muslin or coutil, and I don't have to use it ALL in a month.  I have to cut out at least one thing, but the rest can be stored until it's needed.  And if a project is one that takes more than a month, it's ok as long as I'm working on it continuously.  I'm just not allowed to cut something out and then abandon it, as I've done so many times in the past.

So, onward!  I have fabric to buy!  :D  


  1. Good rules to follow for the fabric stash. Is the RSV open to anyone? I live in North Carolina and was planning on visiting Richmond VA for a weekend sometime this year - might as well add a costuming event to it if I can.

    1. Many of our events are open to the public, yes. If you'll be going to Richmond, I would recommend coming in May for picnic at Maymont. It's $5 for non-members, and everyone is asked to bring a period-appropriate dish to share. More info here: It would be really cool to meet you in real life, so I hope you can come to something! :)