Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"Five Foundations" Challenge

Reading through the posts on the Historical Sew Fortnightly Facebook group, the Historical Sewing page, and on quite a few other pages, I couldn't help but notice how many people said something along the lines of, "I really want to work on X outfit, but I have to make all the undergarments first". I, too, have a bunch of undies on my to-do list for the year, like court panniers, the transitional stays, a bustle petticoat, etc. Maybe it's just time for all of us to update our undies wardrobe, or maybe we've been wanting to expand into other eras but don't have the proper foundations.

Well, I decided that since so many of us are needing new undies, and since 2014 seems to be shaping up to be the Year of Sewing Challanges, I'm going to create my own challenge for the year! For 2014, I'm going to challenge myself to make at least five of each sort of foundation garment that I need, from different eras. For example, for my Five Stays/Corsets, I'm going to be making the 1790s transitional stays (aka "Frankencorset"), some 1760s stays, a 1910 underbust corset, etc. For the Five Skirt Supports, I am going to make a set of court panniers, and elliptical hoop skirt, a new lobstertail bustle, a late 18th century bumpad, and a 1950s tulle petticoat. The number that you make for each challenge are entirely up to you, and you certainly don't have to stop at five! I know my list will grow as I explore eras I haven't sewn in before.

You can choose to work on each challenge all at once, or you can accumulate your pieces over the course of the year. For instance, if you have an event coming up that you have an outfit planned for, you could go ahead and make the pieces you need to support your new ensemble, therefore creating one piece that would count toward each challenge! Or, if you felt suddenly inspired to make corsets, you could do all your corset/stays pieces at once. It's up to you how you want to set it up, as long as you create at least one piece in each challenge set by the end of the year!

Challenge 1 - Shifts and Chemises

Camicia, kosode, shifts, chemises, smocks, any era you need, from any country, you make it for this challenge. Shifts keep your sweat and body oils off of your corset and upper layers, so they help give your clothes a longer life, as well. They also make up pretty quickly, so these easy projects are a good way to ease into the year of challenges!

This is one area I've been very lax in. I have made plenty of corsets and a few petticoats, but I've neglected making shifts, and really only have one, yes one, proper shift. (Which desperately needs to be replaced.) So, the first challenge is to make myself some proper shifts for all the periods that I do regularly. 

Challenge 2 - Stays and Corsets

Most of us have at least one corset or set of stays for the periods that we like to portray, but one can never have too many corsets, right? There are so many variations from one decade to another, and every era has lots of different styles, even varying from one country to the next. Use this challenge to add to your corset collection. Perhaps there's an era you wanted to try out, but didn't have a corset for. Now's the time! 

My corset collection definitely needs an overhaul. I've been wearing the same things for years, and while they're still holding up pretty well, I know that my drafting skills have improved, and I want some new things. There are also some new eras that I want to explore some more, like the 19-teens, and I have absolutely nothing that's even remotely close to the corsets of that era.

Challenge 3 - Petticoats

Petticoats are essential to keep our skirts looking soft and fluffy over their supporting structures. It's always so sad when someone is wearing something completely spectacular, and you end up being able to see the bones of their hoop, panniers, or bustle through the fabric of their skirt.

Petticoats also help add warmth in cold winter months. Quilted petticoats are not only functional, but can be really beautiful, as well! Many petticoats have cute little pintucks, lace detailing, or embroidery to give them that extra special something.

Remember that petticoats are not always just skirts. Many petticoats had attached bodices, like Regency bodice petticoats and Elizabethan kirtles.

Petticoats, petticoat bodies, kirtles...I have so few, and I need so many. I'm ashamed to say that, yes, my bones show through my skirts at times. It's not pretty, and there's no excuse for it other than my own laziness. 

Challenge 4 - Skirt Supports

Panniers, bustles, bumpads, farthingales, all the things that give skirts their shape.

While I don't exactly need any new skirt supports, I do want to make a new lobstertail bustle, and I need to make a set of court panniers for the court ensemble project.

Challenge 5 - Finishing Touches 

Corset covers, pantalettes, embroidered pockets, sleeve supports, and things that aren't covered in the other challenges.

I need some embroidered pockets like you wouldn't believe. 

How to Play:

Make a blog post about joining the challenge, and add this badge to your site, linking back to this post.

Next, join the Facebook group, and when you've completed a piece for one of the challenges, upload it to the group! In the description, please include the following:

Project name: What did you make?

Materials used: What did you use to make it?

Technique: How did you make it?

Hours to complete: How long did it take?

Total cost: How low can you go? XD

Once you've joined up, let me know here, and I'll add you to the list of participating bloggers!

Participating Bloggers:


  1. I'm totally joining. Will be doing my blog post about it soon.

    1. I'm definitely joining. This will be my first 'public' challenge ... perhaps it'll inspire me to complete something! I'm really itching to make a corset as I don't even have one! *gasp*