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This is my favorite guide to hand-sewn stitches.

http://www.perestroika.ca/html2/vest/handstitching.php

For fairly simple items I think it's not too difficult. I just made a skirt recently while my sewing machine was in the shop. I used overcast stitches for most of the seams and it went quickly. I sewed while talking to one of my friends on the porch and it was done in a couple of hours.

Also, it helps if you hem all the pieces first (like recommended on this page http://freespace.virgin.net/f.lea/petticoat.html), although I did not, since I was using overcast stitch. If you use modified period patterns its often easier because they were designed with handsewing in mind. Here are some free patterns: http://www.fmfcorp.com/familyspot/sewing.html

A half-circle drawstring skirt is easy and looks beautiful.

Also, if you do decide to get a machine, refurbished old ones are great! They're generally under $100 and sturdy. Right now I have a really basic one that is not refurbished (and I expect will die in the next year) that I picked up for five bucks at the thrift store. But it is good enough for my purposes, and metal.
 
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