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

1 comment:

  1. OH. MY. GOSH. I had no idea about Tin Eye! I spend like hundreds of hours just trying to find where the heck they came from! Thanks!