Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Collection of "One Afternoon Tutorials"

This afternoon, my friend The Dreamstress exclaimed, in frustration, "why does no one but me post tutorials for items that can be made in an afternoon!” We all know the answer; many people post costuming tutorials, but they are usually labeled by what kind of item they make or by the period of history for which they are appropriate, and not by how quickly they can be made.  If you are more interested in how quickly a particular item can be made than you are in the particular period to which it might belong, Google is unlikely to be your friend.

Since I'm not going to manage to make my himation for the Dreamstress's Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #23 "Generosity and Gratitude," by November 18 (tomorrow), I figure I can at least continue sewing tonight, and spend some time this afternoon collecting tutorials for quick historical costuming projects. This post should show up on Google if one searches for "One Afternoon Tutorials" and may make it easier for costumers in the future to search for some interesting quickie projects.

Let's start with The Dreamstress's own short project tutorials. There are quite a number of them:
1.  Turning an ordinary straw hat into an 18th century bergére.
2.  Converting a straw or paper fedora into a 1920s style cloche.
3.  Making a 1930s "Deco Echo" blouse.
4.  Making a drawstring petticoat to go over a crinoline.
5.  Using cord-gathering techniques to turn a drawstring skirt into a proper period (17th-19th century) skirt.
6.  Dyeing leather goods to make them look more period.
7.  Antiquing cheap metal buttons to make them look period.

From Jen Thompson of Festive Attyre (she has a few more tutorials on her blog, but I'm sticking to the "one afternoon project" type of thing here) we have these:
8.   How to turn a modern brimmed straw hat into an 1910s hat.
9.   Wrapping a 1790s style turban and achieving the hairstyle that goes with it.

There are some wonderful tutorials from the Renaissance Tailor (who calls them "Demonstrations"):
10.  How to make a 16th century partlet.
11.  How to make a 17th century Cavalier collar.
12.  Making cloth and thread buttons.
13.  Making a Tudor style flat cap.
14. Making a Mongol, Rus, or Viking style hat. (Carolyn Priest-Dorman shares a simple, similar pattern, without a lot of instructions, about how to make a specifically Viking style of hat here).

From Dawn's Costume Pages, we have:
15.  How to make a sash, which would be useful for "pirate" costume, 17th century, and 1920s styles, among others.

Lauren Reeser of American Duchess (who calls them "How-tos") has quite a few tutorials, I've just picked a few specimens from her blog:
16.   Making a simple 1920s slip.
17.   Tying a Regency-style turban.
18.   Making 18th century style ribbon cockades.

From Paul Andersen of the New Varangian Guard in Australia, we have:
19.  Quick Ancient Greek Costume that's a step or two above the "bedsheet and safety pin" level.

Kass McGann of Reconstructing History has at least two very interesting short projects:
20.   A 20-Minute Vionnet evening dress from the late 1910s.
21.   And what Kass says is an even quicker Vionnet dress from the late 1920s.

22.   Finally, check out How to Make Your Own Period Aiguillettes, which is one of the "Historical Resources" that I list on my sidebar.

In light of how long it's taken me to put this collection together, I'd say that the best way to find a "one afternoon tutorial" is to Google for "historical" (or the name of the period of your preference) and "tutorials" and "how-tos",  and read through the ones that look interesting to you to see whether the instructions describe something you would be capable of doing in an afternoon.

Have fun hunting! If you find an interesting tutorial for a short project, please feel free to add a comment about it.

EDIT:  (11/20/2013) In general, tutorials about how to make accessories--hats, scarves, sashes, collars--are very likely to be "one afternoon tutorials".

EDIT:  (6/10/2017)  The Vionnet links to Kass McGann's Reconstructing History site no longer work because of a site reorganization.  I will fix them if/when I find the content again.

EDIT:   (3/3/2018)  Fixed the Vionnet links via the Wayback Machine!  Also fixed the link to Dawn's tutorial on sash-making.


  1. Thank you! These are great links. I like participating in the HSF, but as a self-employed programmer I have limited free time so I'm often trying to think of projects that don't take too long, but are still awesome and fun.

    1. Hi, Stella! Welcome to my blog. I hope you find some projects you like.