My 2020 Costuming Year in Review

This has indeed been a weird, challenging, rough year. I think I’ve left my house, like, 20 times max for 10 months. During this time I feel I sewed very little, but when I look back on what I’ve made I’m quite surprised by how much I accomplished, particularly with nowhere to go.

It’s perhaps because of being home significantly more, although motivation, inspiration, and energy were and are at an all-time low. Still, sewing helps look forward to and believe in a better future, so with that, here are the things I made this year, somehow…


I made an enormous petticoat for the 1630s outfit. Not very impressive, and only one piece of an ensemble as yet unfinished, but it technically qualifies as a finished garment. Also – dat ass.


After returning from Portugal and Spain, I finished the 1630s “lobster-bumble-bee” bodies. I *love* this project and its crazy construction, and I really need to pick up the additional ensemble pieces again. 


By this time we were all fully working from home. For whatever reason – maybe trying to recapture some sense of control – I tackled a whole bunch of UFOs, including these two 1930s dresses:

Simplicity 8248 (modern)

The above is Simplicity 8248, one of those modern “rereleased” Simplicity patterns that are troublesome to fit. I had finished this a few years ago and looked like a grandma in a sack (and not in a cute way), so I took it partially apart, narrowed the shoulders, removed the collar and faced the neckline into a new shape, raised the waist, and shortened the skirt.

Simplicity 3280 1930s frock

The next is original vintage Simplicity 3280 – late 1930s pattern. I adore original vintage patterns because they – gasp! – actually fit without having to remove 9 inches of easy. There were no issues with this dress; I’d just never finished it. I’m glad I finally did, though, because I adore it.

Truly Victorian TV494 1894 Blouse.

Lastly for April was this 1890s linen blouse – Truly Victorian TV494. I love it, but struggled a bit with it, and honestly don’t wear it all too often…it’s a little short and a little constricting, but it’s pretty fabulous style-wise. Looks great with a vest, too. I made a video about making this dress too, which you can watch here.


Simplicity 8578 Robe a la Francaise

The next finished garment was another UFO – the 1760s Robe a la Francaise from Simplicity 8578, with some alterations and corrections. I’m super-duper proud of this gown, one for actually picking it back up and pushing through to the end (so.much.trim!), and two because I just feel so so so pretty in it. It’s my gown for Someday-Versailles, and I can’t wait to wear it out!

Another UFO! This 1890s linen jacket had been sitting around for over a year. Made from Simplicity EA258101 Edwardian duster – shortened – I practiced many new-to-me tailoring techniques and am quite pleased with the result. It’s waiting for Spring of the AfterTimes to wear out in public (if I can muster that much fabulous)


A totally-new make of 2020, I threw together a black silk 1790s “Vigee-Lebrun” round gown from Simplicity S8941 in one weekend (though fixing the sleeves the following the week), for Halloween. This was also an opportunity to test out and make tweaks to this Simplicity pattern, so I can share those notes with you all. 


As for the rest of the year 2020 – November and December, I worked on a few things but didn’t complete anything. Those projects will have to wait for next year!


  • mamafrog

    January 28, 2021 at 4:01 AM

    You were way more energetic than me last year, lol. I haven't sewn in years and am having trouble even setting up my sewing area after a move, three years ago, no less. Love all your dresses, so gorgeous. Funny thing is, because I'm old, your "modern" dresses make me think of the ones worn by many of my teachers in grade school. That was the early 60's so it's not impossible some of them were wearing styles similar to that, especially if they were older women. now I find myself perusing patterns in thrift stores looking for similar era ones. Need to remember to look at pattern company websites, too.

    • Lauren Stowell

      January 28, 2021 at 10:02 PM

      Thank you! I hope you get your sewing area set up soon – it's taken me over a year to get mine even remotely organized and there are still big piles of random stuff thrown in corners…makes taking photos in there kindof hard!

    • Lauren Stowell

      February 1, 2021 at 8:58 PM

      thank you! gosh, I think they put that much ease in to "cover their behinds," if you will. They must intend us to fit is all out, and they hide the "finished garment measurements" somewhere on the pattern tissue, not where it's easily accessible on the envelope. Argh! (This is my soap box, can you tell? lol)

  • Unknown

    April 21, 2021 at 10:48 PM

    AHH, all your costumes look amazing! As a new historical costumer, I could never. Just curious, what stays do you use for your more fashionable mid 18th century gowns? I'm looking for a pattern haha. I can't wait to see more of your reenactments!!

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