Join Historical Hand-Sewing Club!

Exciting news everyone! Beginning in February 2023, the Confident Stitch will be hosting a Historical Hand-Sewing Club, led by the talented Brooke Prusa, every Tuesday from 4:00 – 6:00 pm. Here’s what you need to know!

A little about Brooke...

A 1927 gown made of cotton and beaded by hand!
Brooke in a 1927 gown made of cotton and beaded by hand!

Hi everyone! I’m Brooke Prusa. Lover of historical and vintage fashion!

My interest in this pursuit began as a kid, when I learned some simple hand sewing techniques and hadn’t exactly learned how to use a sewing machine. I’ve always loved vintage and historical fashion, but for a long time, I had no idea how to access those kinds of pieces to recreate. There was even a period of time where – after acting as costume manager for several high school productions – I wanted to go to college to be a theatrical costumer. However, things change and life gets in the way. So instead I went to school for agriculture, and my sewing hobby fell to the wayside.

But then, at the beginning of the pandemic, (which happened to coincide with the realization that I had time for real hobbies again) I decided to pick up sewing once more. I was determined to teach myself the appropriate techniques to recreate historical garments, and over the past few years, I’ve dedicated my time to learning more and more about historical clothing.

I’ve dabbled in different time periods, and expanded to vintage and historical knitting as well. I do not have the knowledge base to consider myself an expert, but I do have a deep love and growing understanding of historical sewing. And, I am so excited to be part of creating a space where we can share knowledge about this type of making!

What you need to know about the club

Per Brooke’s vision, this Historical Hand-Sewing Club will be a place to come and work on hand sewing projects of any kind. Hand sewing takes exponentially longer, especially when your hands are not used to the actions of hand sewing, and this can be a little shocking, especially for those accustomed to machine sewing. So this weekly meeting will be a chance for members to swap techniques, patterns, and ideas, as well as share the progress they’ve made. Though Brooke would like to keep many of the projects historical in nature, she is also open to including people who would like to work on hand-finishings for more modern projects as well.

For those that are interested in hand-sewing, but don’t know where to begin, Brooke has devised a starting project that will help club members dip their toes into the world of historical hand-sewing: a detachable pocket!

Historical Pocket Project

A historical, detachable pocket.

There was once a time in women’s fashion when pockets were a separate garment! They could be either be worn tied around the waist under the skirts (accessed through slits located in skirt seams for security), or worn over garments for quick and frequent access. Aside from being very useful, these pockets were also a way to use up scraps of precious fabric or express personality through embroidery.

The pocket featured above is quilted from scraps of wool that Brooke had in her stash. She used a waxed linen thread in mustard to sew the squares and pocket together, and to create a detailed pop of color over the brown patterned wool. A silk ribbon was added around the bottom of the pocket using fine silk thread to protect the external seams, and the top was finished with a cotton woven tape that ties around the waist.

This pocket project is a great way to learn some simple hand-sewing techniques, and requires only a small investment of time and money. The supplies Brooke used to sew her pocket include:

  • Woven scrap fabric, 1/2 yard will be plenty
  • Ribbon or bias tape, no smaller than an inch
  • Cotton, linen, or silk thread
  • Beeswax
  • Additional ribbon or woven tape (enough to go around your waist and tie)
  • Sharps hand sewing needles
  • Scissors

Shoot for the Stars!

Though the pocket is certainly a good place to start for those attending this club, it is by no means mandatory. Those who already have experience with hand or historical sewing are more than welcome to work on larger or more difficult projects. Brooke, in order to hone more complex tailoring techniques, is currently working on a Regency Spencer jacket (using a pattern from the Costume Coalition based off of a jacket featured in the Broadway production of Hamilton).

We'd Love to See You There!

The first, weekly Historical Hand-Sewing Club meeting is Tuesday, February 7th from 4 to 6pm in The Confident Stitch classroom. The club is open to all those interested in hand-sewing, no matter their level of experience. Brooke would also like to stress that there is no obligation to attend every week. “This should just be a place where we gather to share our projects and gain appreciation for this amazing art!”

18 thoughts on “Join Historical Hand-Sewing Club!

    • Rachael Riley says:

      We’re so glad to hear, Vaun! The first meeting will be held next Tuesday, May 17th from 4-6pm in our classroom. We hope to see you there!

    • Rachael Riley says:

      Hi Alice! Thanks for your interest! The club’s first meeting will be in person only but we are working behind the scenes to make that happen for the next meeting. We’ll circle back and let you know once that is possible. Thanks!

      • Julia says:

        Yes, a zoom meeting would be wonderful. I am disabled and doubt that I can undertake projects that are complicated, but would just love to be able to attend the meetings on zoom.

      • Denise Mead says:

        Yes, I would love to be able to attend by zoom!! I live in AZ and have wanted to make a pocket for a long time. I have hand sewing projects in progress to work on also.

        • Maisie Gospodarek says:

          Hi Denise!
          Thank you for this feedback. We don’t currently have the means to set up a virtual hand-sewing club, however it’s something we’re looking into! Keep an eye on our newsletter and social media – we post updates about clubs and classes there.

  1. Mattie Rhoades says:

    Any chance this will be offered virtually? I’m in Oregon. My daughter and I sewed and took part in a historical living museum when she was home schooled-we both absolutely loved it!

    • Rachael Riley says:

      Hi Mattie! Thanks for your interest! The club’s first meeting will be in person only but we are working behind the scenes to make that happen for the next meeting. We’ll circle back and let you know once that is possible. Thanks!

    • Rachael Riley says:

      Hi Lori! Not for the first club meeting, but we are working behind the scenes to make that happen for the next meeting. We’ll circle back and let you know once that is possible. Thanks!

    • Rachael Riley says:

      Thanks for your interest, Donna! We will set up a virtual way of joining for the second meeting. We’ll reach out and let you know once this is set up. Thanks!

  2. Vee says:

    Love the blouse you are wearing in the “pocket” video. Did you make it? Where could I find the pattern? (If you didn’t make it, where did you buy it?)

    Thanks! I love you idea of historical sewing. Do you wear these garments everyday? Save for special occasions? Incorporate with “modern” touches into everyday life?

    I’m interested to see a zoom or similar experience of your club as well.


    • Brooke Prusa says:

      Hi Vee!
      The blouse in the video is from the wearer’s friend, so I’m not sure where it is from.
      I enjoy wearing historical clothing in everyday life, though they’re not always from the 1890s. I actually have a few weddings I’m standing up this year and I’m planning on making some 1920s dresses for those, having recently made one recently because I felt like it. I enjoy playing around with historic and modern silhouettes to develop a style that’s fit for me.
      We have discussed a Zoom experience in the past, and it is a consideration, but there are some behind-the-scenes bits that make doing so a bit difficult at the moment. We hope to have one, but right now that is not something we are able to do.

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