Jun 22, 2017

Tips for Choosing Fashion Plates: HSF Challenge July 2017

Creating a historically inspired outfit has many challenges. Even deciding what to make can cause a lot of headaches because sometimes the endless possibilities can be overwhelming. Where to start? Using a Fashion Plate as a starting point makes the decision of what to sew so much easier because it gives you a focus.

But what aspects should you consider when picking a Fashion Plate?

What follows are my tips for choosing the Fashion Plate to use as the design base for your outfit.

For me, I have approximately 3 methods.

 Firstly, let’s go guilt free - The Fabric de-Stash Colourway Method


Anyone who sews will know the twin emotions of both joy and guilt that the mounting fabric stash fosters. So Step One is: go to your stash and pick two complimentary fabrics.

For example, from my stash I’ve a plain green and a floral pink stripe that work well together. (pictured below)

Step 2: Start a Pinterest Inspiration board, name it it after your fabrics and start collecting and pinning any fashion plates that have similar colours.

For example mine is: Green and Pink Outfit

Step 3: Now, start adding sewing pattern references within that colourway pin board that are as close to the fashion Plate as you can find.

This may take some time, but there’s no rush. Eventually one out of all Fashion Plates will stand out to you as the perfect outfit, and hopefully you’ll have already find the suitable sewing pattern and be all set to go.

Easy, huh? 

Here’s the one I’ve chosen:

Of course there’s no need to be limited to matching your fabric stash colours to the fashion plates colours. It just makes things easier.

But if you want to ignore colours, I suggest the The Fabric de-Stash Fabric-type Method.

Step One: From your stash choose a distinct fabric type: floaty muslin, rich brocade, white linen, etc.
For myself, recently I’ve been given some green velvet fabric (old curtains).

Step Two: Start a Pin Board using that fabric type as your theme.
Rather than start a “green outfits” Fashion plates pinboard, I’ve started “Velvet outfits” pinboard that includes extant dresses and other resources as well as Fashion Plates.
And because I’ve developed a recent interest in 1890s styles, I decided to limit my search to this era.

Using velvet and 1890s as my search parameters I selected this Fashion Plate (below) as my source for the outfit to make from the green velvet in my stash.

The last method I use, is what I call The Spark of Interest Method


It’s basically you see a Fashion Plate and are drawn to it by some distinct element within.

For example, I was instantly drawn to this Fashion Plate – one, because I mostly make Victorian outfits, and two – the main reason truthfully, is the dog in the plate is the same colour as one of my greyhounds, so bonus re-creating points!

And below you can see my Seaside outfit work in Progress. It's to the point it's wearable, but needs a few tweaks.

1870s historically inspired seaside outfit from Fashion Plate - work in progress

1870s historically inspired seaside outfit from Fashion Plate - work in progress


If you're interested in making an 1870s seaside outfit, you may find the pinboard I created for bringing this fashion plate to life helpful.

Of course the trouble with the Spark method is, anything may catch your eye...

So, if you choose the Spark method, I recommend :

  • stay within your historical era comfort-zone. 
  • Also, unless you’re prepared to buy fabric specifically to match the outfit, concentrate on the silhouette, 
  • get the garments shapes right rather that worrying about the colours and fabric patterns.



Below are some helpful resources to completing your outfits:

1) I've been pinning Fashion Plates for a while, here's my selection of Fashion Plates from Regency to Edwardian Era

Vintage Fashion Plates

2) Jennifer Rosbrugh of Historical Sewing has a couple of wonderful blog posts: Bringing a Fashion Plate to Life and follow how she created her "Scotch and Soda" dress inspired by a fashion plate read about that HERE
Jennifer Rosbrugh of Historical Sewing
 3) What if you've found a Fashion Plate, but you want more info and the link to the original source is broken? Tin Eye is a reverse search engine for images.


This Post was written as an Inspiration post for the HSF Historical Sewing Fortnightly Fashion Plates Challenge July 2017. Learn more about the HSF and how to join in here

Sep 6, 2016

Darcy Hunting Season Open : Jane Austen Ball Dunedin 2016

If you're a Jane Austen reader you'll have imagined what attending a country dance must have been like. Imagine no longer!

A Jane Austen themed Ball is being held in Dunedin on September 17 2016.

Dress up and step back in time, try your hand (and feet) at tradional country dancing. There will be LIVE music, this is going to be a really fun night, an experience not to be missed.

Jane Austen Ball Poster designed by Kura Carpenter

Jane Austen Ball in Dunedin on September 17 2016

Sep 2, 2016

Op-Shop Score! Seventies Sheets

My cousin-in-law is a crafty minded person like myself, with a passion for 70s retro fabrics. Unfortunately there's lack of op-shops where she lives in Singapore. Therefore I've been gathering a rather lurid selection of seventies sheets to pass to her when I next visit. [Like I need a reason for op-shopping ;p ]

Mar 2, 2016

Lilliput Libraries

What are Lilliput Libraries?

They are part of global movement spurred by Little Free Libraries. Basically these are mini libraries (about the size of a large dollhouse) in neighbourhoods, usually located on their 'Guardian’s' fence, and passers-by are welcome to 'take a book now, leave a book later.'

In Dunedin Lilliput Libraries are the brain-child of Ruth Arnison, who's also coordinator for the popular Poems in the Waiting Room.  

Part of the success of these libraries is a constant supply of good-quality book donations. If you're in Dunedin, Otago, and would like to help please bring books to the Dunedin Resene store at 172 Crawford Street.

You can also Donate money at their Lilliput Libraries Givealittle page (I have! Be like me, I'm cool). Donations go towards the cost of constructing more Lilliput Libraries.

You can follow the progress of Lilliput Libraries popping up in Dunedin neighbourhoods via the Lilliput Libraries Blog and also on Facebook

I'm certainly going to try and be involved myself, other than wanting one in my neighbourhood, I really really want to paint one!

Lilliput Libraries need Book Donations

Feb 25, 2016

Fabric Review: Spoonflower's Cotton Spandex Jersey.

Recently Spoonflower had a Free Swatch offer for people to test out their new fabric, a 100% Cotton Spandex Jersey.

I used the offer to try out my new design Antique Roses in Minty and Pink and here's what my swatch looks like.
"Antique Roses - Minty on Pink" fabric design by Kura Carpenter, available via Spoonflower

The print-quality is fab, no surprises there, I've always been delighted with the Spoonflower print quality. The fabric is a stretchy and thick cotton, it feels durable, I'm very happy with it.

I plan to make this swatch into a pin-cushion. I'll post a tutorial soon.

Jan 25, 2016

Book Review: "Hecklinger's Ladies' Garments" by Chas Hecklinger (published 1886)

Victorian sewing book Hecklinger's Ladies' Garments -  by Chas Hecklinger

The 1886 Victorian sewing book Hecklinger's Ladies' Garments - A Text Book How to Cut Up and Make Ladies' Garments by Chas Hecklinger is a gem of a book.

This is the first Victorian sewing book that I have printed out the entire text because it has so much useful historical detail.

The section on draping skirts is worthy alone, and while the actual selection of bodice patterns are few, there are finished drawings to show styles, as well as pages and pages on possible trims. 

From pattern to construction to finishing, this text covers a lot more than many of its contemporary publications. I rate this book 5 out 5 stars.

 Hecklinger's Ladies' Garments is free to download through the Internet Archive HERE

 Image from Victorian sewing book "Hecklinger's Ladies' Garments" showing bodice pattern

Example of skirt draping from Victorian sewing book "Hecklinger's Ladies' Garments"

Suggestions for finished dress styles, from Victorian sewing book "Hecklinger's Ladies' Garments"

Detailed drawings show interior of dress bodices, from Victorian sewing book "Hecklinger's Ladies' Garments"

Jan 15, 2016

Tutorial: How To Thread an Empisal Sewing Machine

 If the pictures don't explain it, please let me know.
all the best with your sewing!