Saturday, December 21, 2013

Year of Foundations: Intro And Sign-Up

It looks like there's a fair amount of interest in my Year of Foundations challenge for 2014, so I'm going to go ahead and make it an official sew-along!  This is the first one I've ever attempted to orchestrate, so bear with me as I muddle through this.  :p

First of all, what is the Year of Foundations?  Quite simply, it is a commitment to creating/assembling one complete set of historical undergarments in one year.

I've decided to keep it rather simple to encourage you to join without feeling overwhelmed.  I'm not going to have any sort of set schedule of deadlines, as your personal goals for this challenge will be different from mine.  I will talk about my own goals in my next post.

Let's define foundation garments.  I have broken it down into categories, with the objective being to complete at least one from each category in order to assemble a complete set of foundations.

#1 - Basic Undergarments

This should be the very first layer of any historical costume, a basic T-shape composed of rectangles and triangles.  Depending on the time period, you can call it a smock, shift, or chemise.  Basic undergarments can also include drawers/pantaloons.  

#2 - Bodice Supports

Whether it's a pair of bodies, stays, half-stays, or a corset, every historical bodice from the Renaissance through the Edwardian era requires support and structure to create the proper silhouette.  

#3 - Skirt Supports

Bum rolls, farthingales, hip pads, panniers, pocket hoops, crinolines, bustles - all those lovely wide hips and giant rumps!  The shape of fashion wouldn't be the same without them, and they all conspire to make our waists look smaller.  ;)  

#4 - Petticoats

Petticoats are essential for hiding the bones of your skirt supports and adding extra "floof" at the hem.  You can add as many as you want to give your skirts all the fullness they deserve.  

#5 - Legwear (Optional) 

Hose/stockings and garters could also be considered accessories, but I am counting them as undergarments for the purpose of this sew-along.  After all, a proper lady would never go without them!  (Fortunately for those of us who do not knit, American Duchess stocks everything from 18th-Century silk stockings to vintage nylon seamed stockings!)  

So to participate, all you need to do is challenge yourself to assemble one complete set of foundation garments in the coming year.  You can start from scratch if you're new to historical costuming (like me) and have no proper old-time undies yet - or if you're interested in expanding to a decade of style that you previously haven't explored.  If you are an experienced costumer you can use this year to complete or replace your existing foundations wardrobe.  You can be as ambitious as you want.  Make one pair of embroidered garters or make several full sets of undergarments from different time periods!  It's up to you.  

Leave me a comment with the details of your personal Year of Foundations goal(s):  
  • Time period of focus
  • Number of garments to be made
  • Any inspiration or patterns you wish to share, etc.  
Add the Year of Foundations icon on your own blog, and link back to this post.  

I'll make a list of the participants on my Year of Foundations page, where I'll have links to helpful resources and tutorials as well as all of my posts on the challenge in the coming year.  

(Also, if you have any advice on running a sew-along or if you think of anything that I've missed, feel free to let me know!)  


  1. Ooh! Count me in, I'm joining! I'm definitely a newbie to historical costuming, so bear with me as I start from the inside out this year. As for goals, I am going to start off very ambitiously as I may have the chance to work at a living history museum for the upcoming summer season (I'm so very excited - and your challenge came at the perfect time!):
    Time period of focus: mid-1800s (possibly even early 1800s)
    Number of garments to be made: as many as I can! For mid-Victorian, I'd like to start with a basic chemise, drawers, corset, corded petticoat, tucked petticoat and maybe even a cage crinoline. For Regency: a basic shift and short stay.
    Any inspiration or patterns you wish to share, etc: I'll make sure to post these along the way!
    I can't wait to start! Anneliese :)

    1. Excellent! I'll add your goals to the list!

  2. You can count me in, too! :) I will focus on the 18th century, as usual, but I'm hoping to get into the 1860s in 2014 as well! These are the garments I'm going to make for sure: 1780s stays and yet another bum pad, large pannier for the court gown along, 1860s chemise, corset and hopefully crinoline and petticoats, too.

  3. Count me in too...I'm just going to have to buckle down and do this anyway, so I might as well look official while doing it ;) I need: a shift made out of linen rather than the non-breathing, itchy, stiff cotton one I have, new stays for the 1740s-50s, this time with straps, panniers for the court gown-along, and mountains of under-petticoats. Bummer for all that, but yay for you starting this!

    1. Yay, another fellow court gown participant! I think there's going to be quite a few of us making panniers together. :p

  4. I'm definitely in :) I've got plans for a full 1830's set of undergarments!

  5. Oh dear, count me in as well! :) I'll be definitely doing 1880's undies: chemise, corset, lobster bustle and a petticoat or two, but I'm also considering taking part in the court gown challenge, so that would mean some panniers, shift, a pair of stays and few petticoats probably.

  6. Sorry, I fudged my my first comment and left off the period I would focus on. Firstly I joined the Historical Fortnightly group and my first project is an undergarment from the early 1870-75 period. As to the full under garment wardrobe I wish to create this year I am a bit complicated. I will complete a full Victorian under garment set between 1860-1880. I also hope to do undergarments for another era, that at this moment I can not say what that era will be. And again, sorry for buggering up my first comment and please disregard it!

    1. No worries! I don't think I actually got your first comment, so no harm done!

  7. Count me in too :) Now i'm working on 1780's stays, so i'll make full undergarments of this period. I mean stockings, bum rolls or hip pads and some petticoat, i already have a chemise.
    And hm.. My Jane Eyre's gown wants to be finished, so maybe i'll sew some victorian corset, petticoats. I have chemise and drawers ;)
    And, my blog is empty, today i decided to get it, but don't worry, in few days i'll post some photos of my old costumes ;)

    1. Welcome, Lina! I look forward to seeing more of your blog. :)

  8. I wan to participate too! :) Last week, I've made a chemise, a bum roll and I'm finishing my XVIIIth century corset. I plan to make a petticoat to match and then I'll be probably making a set of mid-XIXth century undergarments - corset, corset cover, new bum roll, and a corded petticoat. :)

  9. I just found out about this and definitely want to join! For now, I'm going to do various items: 1830s corded petticoat, regency corset, regency chemise, 18th century court pannier. I need to do so much, but those are going to be my start. Hope it's not too late to join!

    1. Not too late at all! Welcome to the tribe. :p

  10. I came across your lovely blog on bloglovin' and this came at the perfect time. I am still pondering if I would like take on the Historical Fortnightly Challenge this year, but I am sure on participating in the Accessorize from Head to Toe as well as your challenge. I would like to work on several undergarments and accessories for quite a lot of the 19th century. I really need new stays for the 18th century as well as one for the Edwardian and WWI as well. I would like to work on some hand painted leg wear for the 1890s as well. This challenge will truly motivate me!

  11. I'd love to join this! Since I do multiple periods, here are my lists...
    Regency Era (1810-1815)
    1 shift
    1 petticoat
    2 chemisettes
    Georgian Era (1770-1785)
    1 pair of stays
    1 linen shift
    2+ petticoats
    1 bum roll/other skirt support
    I'll be posting at my blog,! Thanks for this awesome opportunity!

  12. Oh what fun! Is it too late for me to join? I would love to play along even though I have already made a shift for my Regency Era that I would use for my 1830s outfit. If that is ok with you then I would love to be a part of your sew-along!

    For an 1830s Romantic Era wardrobe I plan on making:
    -corded petticoat
    -perhaps a bodiced petticoat
    -bum roll
    -perhaps embroidered garters

    This will be fun!

  13. Hello there! Gina again...I forgot that I was going to use my Regency stays for the 1830s wardrobe..but then remembered that I need sleeve stays! So, I'll trade those out if I get to play along!!

  14. I just found your blog and please count me in as well! I am already part way thru my set of 1880s undergarments. Have chemise. bustle and 1 petticoat completed since the first of the year. Currently in progress are another petticoat and drawers and the corset is planned for the coming months. I may also try to do a late 18th century set of stays, panniers and chemise later in the year. Details and other random sewing projects can be found at I am excited about being part of this sew-along!

    1. Excellent! It seems that my timing for this challenge fits well with lots of people's plans. :)

    2. If you're interested, I'm keeping track of my progress for this at:

  15. I have to change my plans... Instead of 1860s underwear, I'm going to make regency underwear: Transitional stays, chemise and a bodiced petticoat. I'm still planning on making the 1860s undies but it seems less likely I'll get them done this year because I don't have events to go in the 1860s costumes so that's why they always get rescheduled for later...