Historical Sew Monthly: February 2019



I’m a horrible blogger. I repeat, I am a horrible blogger. As you can tell from the title this post is all about the February HSM challenge, I actually did complete this in February, I just suck at blogging – in case those in the back didn’t hear me the first time. February’s HSM challenge was “Linen/Linens” as in make something out of linen or as in the other use of the word, underclothes. After the 1850 Winter Evening event at Cobblestone Farm, for which I made the last HSM challenge, I had already fallen in love with this new time period and volunteered my children to come with me for the next event at this beautiful site, the Spring Fling to be held on Sunday May 5th. This meant not only would I need another dress suitable for the warm weather, but my three boys would all need full outfits. GULP. That’s a lot of sewing! I’m probably crazy.

I started researching little boys clothes for the 1850s knowing that my youngest (just turned 4 at the end of February) would still be in frocks I decided to start there as information and patterns seemed readily available and easy enough to understand. I dug into Pinterest to look at extant frocks in museums and darling little boys in daguerreotypes (pro tip: center parted hair indicates a girl, side part a boy) and read as much as I could from amazing sites like Elizabeth Stewart Clark’s The Sewing Academy and the blog by Romantic History. I settled on the pattern the Elizabeth puts out, seeing as it seemed the most well researched and with a lot of bang for your buck in terms of everything you could produce with it.

Knowing that every time period requires the use of proper undergarments in order to achieve the look you want, I began drafting up a bodiced petticoat for my little Bug. To be honest this was one of the easiest little garments to make…ever. I measured the munchkin and using the bodice pattern I cut straight into my white linen, no time for mock-ups it’s a simple garment who has time for that lol. Once the bodice was sewn up and was semi-wearable I fitted on the Bug and realized hes actually a lot tinier than said bodice. Facepalm. Not wanting to make another and realizing eventually he will grow I made two vertical tucks at the center back closure of the bodice to take in the extra – when he outgrows it simply remove the tucks!

With the crisis averted I moved onto the skirts. I did some crazy maths and calculated how long the skirts should be and how many panels I wanted. I began sewing them up, hemming and working on the two tucks I had accounted for. I hastily gauged the skirts – no dread and terror this time- and was proud to have finished the petticoat in less than a day. I tricked my little guy into putting it on and SURPRISE I did the math wrong and his skirt was longer than I wanted. GRR.

So now I had to fudge another set of tucks while the skirt was attached to the bodice, what a pain. I managed to finagle it more quickly than I was expecting and decided to give everything a nice pressing – seriously is there anything more satisfying than freshly pressed tucks on a petticoat? **Note that the following images do not depict a satisfyingly pressed tucked petticoat**

With how quickly I put this together I immediately cut out a sweet frock for him and had it finished in another day. Seriously, this thing is darling. I decided to go with a lightweight cotton plaid/check because 1. it was on clearance 2. it’s always dreadfully hot during the summer events and 3. I saw a lot of boys wearing plaids and checks in dags. Once the gown was finished we sat down together and looked at how some frocks were trimmed – plain frocks are no fun and my little man isn’t afraid to be EXTRA. He really enjoyed the sash and belt look on a few extants so we went with that using some scrap brown worsted wool I had from another project. We decided to use that same wool for contrast piping and for a sweet little dagged trim on the sleeves. I think it really gives the frock a more masculine feel.

I’m really excited about the finished project and I can hardly wait for the event next month. I definitely think he’s going to be irresistible to photographers.

PS. Enjoy some photos of him in his adorable outfit, I couldn’t resist sharing them.


The Challenge: 1850s linen bodiced petticoat for a child

Material: White linen

Pattern: The Sewing Academy 220: Little Boys Wardrobe and Romantic History tutorial

Year: 1840-1850s

Notions: Metal hooks and eyes, beeswax, and thread

How historically accurate is it? It’s mostly machine sewn and it seems that cotton was a more popular choice for undergarments in the mid 19th century so I will say its 75% accurate.

Hours to complete: Total was probably less than 4 hours

First worn: Aside from pictures for this post and Instagram last month it hasn’t been officially worn yet

Total cost: $25 for pattern, linen fabric was from the stash

Day 1: Just the Basics


Welcome its the first day of our Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping series and today’s theme is Just the Basics! These are your reliable, go-to gifts that can be enjoyed outside of living history events by anyone. Your best friend in the hobby for the past 15 years? Perfect. Your Aunt Susan who doesn’t understand why you want to wear wool when it’s 90 degrees out? Perfect. Christmas party gift exchange? Perfect. Seriously, these are like the socks and candles kind of gifts you receive from well meaning relatives and new boyfriends except they won’t make you cringe and feign excitement upon opening.

Historical themed soaps can be a useful gift to give since everybody washes their hands, and if they don’t do you really want them in your life? LBCC Historical offers a variety of historical soaps that span the centuries and Living in the Past LLC has a handful of mid 19th century soaps in their shop to choose from. Shopping for the guys? Check out Long Rifle Soap for their great selection of historically themed shaving soaps!

IMG_4362Ok so I said these gifts weren’t going to be cringeworthy like socks and candles but hear me out, these Werther and Gray candles are amazing! These aren’t your mommas Yankee Candles with their interesting (and sometimes dark) historical themes like Film Noir, Reign of Terror, and Industrial Revolution. Plus they’re all made from Parasoy, a non toxic, biodegradable, vegan friendly wax which burns nice and slow so you can feel extra good about your purchase.

Our next gift idea is sure to please those with a sweet tooth. True Treats Candy has an AMAZING selection of candies and treats from the first sweets of the ancient world on up to classic favorites of the early 20th century. You can guarantee that your gift will be memorable in a good way with one of their original candy collections like the Civil War Collection and the Penny Candy Collection.

Looking for a cute way to package that candy? How about tucked in a new themed coffee mug from The Mug Co. We love their Votes for Women suffragette mug as well as their Jane Austen mugs. Just don’t forget to order early to allow for ample shipping time as they are a U.K. company. Want something a little different than you average coffee mug? Try a mug from stoneware artisan J. Henderson Artifacts, perfect for at home, the office, and around camp.

Mmm…brandy butter.

How about another yummy treat perfect for gift giving? One of my favorite parts of the holidays is getting to eat the delicious Christmas pudding, not a very common dessert in the states any more but something everyone should have at least once. While I prefer to make my own, you can actually purchase a traditional Christmas pudding online! The English Tea Store is a great place to shop for all your pudding needs including delicious brandy butter mmmmm.

Well there you have it folks, day one is in the books with a handful of ideas for when you just need a gift that doesn’t suck. Check back on Sunday for our next post sharing our favorite stocking stuffers this year.