Fashion Plate Fun


Today I thought it would be fun to browse through a variety of fashion plates!  I mean, who doesn’t love a little gown envy?!  

I decided to share a few of my favorites starting around 1830 and going up to 1940.  Ranging from daywear to evening wear, these fashion plates are just the thing to get your fashion juices flowing!  

Let’s get started!

This 1830’s evening gown is in the most amazing color of blue I have ever seen!



These 1850’s gowns are perfect examples of visiting or afternoon gowns.


While it is a toss up between the two, I am in love with the yellow 1860’s ballgown with red floral accents.


While I am sure walking was very difficult in this particular creation, I still love the color and pattern combinations of this 1880’s gown.


A lovely array of turn of the century shirtwaists.  


Sigh….I adore every single one of these 1910’s outfits.  


Perfect for summer vacations, these 1920’s outfits are just made for an ocean resort.


This soft blue 1930’s gown looks wonderful with or without the jacket!


The pleated floral dress on this 1940’s fashion plate is adorable!


So whether you love 19th or 20th century fashion, are a seamstress or costume designer, or simply appreciate the look of the past, I hope these fashion plates offer inspirations and a few day dreams!




Historical Housekeeping: The Weekly Cleaning Schedule

I don’t know about you, but sometimes life can get in the way of c lean house.  Maybe I can spend a few minutes each day tidying up here and there, but, for the most part, I end up binge cleaning on a Friday evening or a Saturday morning.  While I may resent the hour upon hour long event of cleaning , I can’t seem to discipline myself to do one thing each day with the intention of spreading out the work.  But it is a goal I plan to focus on…especially if it means less work at one time.  My mother was very good at maintaining a pretty steady cleaning routine, which just adds to her awesomeness and my intention to continue to try to implement a schedule of my own.

But if one looks back a hundred and fifty years a weekly cleaning schedule was a must if a household, with a lack of our modern appliances, was to maintain order and keep the family feed and clean.  Throughout my research I have found several authors who provide well organized and efficient weekly schedules, and I have to say, the cadence of the proposed days sound rather appealing.  With each day given a specific task, one is able to avoid the too often feeling of dread at the thought of six loads of laundry…and thats just in sheets and towels.

Such an example is the 1855 book entitled The Young Housekeeper’s Friend: or A Guide to Domestic Economics and Comfort, which provides a very suitable and typical cleaning schedule.  Written by a women who addresses herself as Mrs. Cornelius, this 100 plus page book gives tips, recipes, and good old-fashioned advice on how any respectable, middle class woman should maintain their house…of course, assuming that the reader has at least one domestic.


Here is her recommended plan:

1855 Weekly Cleaning Schedule

“On MONDAY have the house swept and dusted, the clothes for the wash collected, and such articles mended as should before being washed.

On TUESDAY wash….If there is but one domestic, she is of course to do the washing; but, unless the family is small, she should be excused from doing the cooking or the other ordinary work of the family.

Therefore, on WEDNESDAY, bake and fold the clothes.

On THURSDAY, iron.

On FRIDAY, have all parts of the house that are in constant use, swept and dusted again, the brasses rubbed, and if there are windows to be washed, closets or sleeping rooms to be scoured, let it be done on this day.

On SATURDAY, bake, and provide such a supply as shall supersede the necessity of cooking on Sunday.”


Wish to see a proposed modern cleaning schedule?  Visit Clean Mama.  I may be implementing her schedule myself…

So while we may not all have domestics to help us, we can still create an orderly system so cleaning doesn’t take any more of our precious time then is needed.

And don’t forget to have a magazine or cup of coffee waiting for you when you do finish that sixth load of laundry…I know I will!


Fashion Plates Galore…

When I reach a designing block, I often take to the internet to scour through the vast resources it has to offer.  I have learned that the internet is a marvelous tool for the historical costume designer, with large amounts of free scanned in collections!

Here is a link that has dozens of color fashion plates from the 19th century!  Simply scroll through to find the desired fashion plate, click on the image and it will take you to a screen where you can view the image in amazing detail and focus.  Enjoy!!


Fit for a Queen…

I discovered these three pictures of a gown that was given as a gift to Queen Victoria around 1850, and is currently in the process of being prepped for display!

In addition to the delicious sheerness, I love the embroidery along the front and bottom of the skirt.  I am surprised that there isn’t a matching design on the bodice, but that’s just me!  Notice the clean, simple lines and the extravagance of the lace along the neckline and the sleeves.  Drooling!!  I also like that you get a real sense of the height and size of Queen Victoria compared to the other women who are adjusting and fixing the gown.   Barely standing at 5′, Queen Victoria was very petite, and I’m sure, quite stunning in this gown!

Kensingtion Palace HRP

Kensingtion Palace HRP

Kensingtion Palace HRP


The Model Cottage: 1840

I have decided to dedicate this week to the 1840’s, with all blog posts relating in some way to this wonderful decade!

To start?……Constructing the ideal 1840’s cottage.  I found these examples from several 1840’s Godey’s Books and am pleasantly surprised at how our decorating magazines of today create this same setup on their pages.  What I especially enjoy about these examples are the extra rooms described and the assumption of the author that the majority of their readers could afford such a home!  Pay close attention to any descriptions of bathrooms…..:-)




The 1840’s Dress Cont…

So here is a little update on the corally-peach 1840’s pleated gown!

I added piping along the bottom edge of the bodice:



And then began working on the skirt.  Due to the point in the front, it is important to adjust the skirt panels to accommodate the dip without messing up the hem:



I only had enough time to put in one row of gathering stitches.  Hopefully I can complete the other row this week!




Have a great day everyone!!

The Metropolitan Museum

I thought I would show you another book title on my “Must Get Soon” list, this time from the Metropolitan Museum.



With beautiful photographs and paintings of not only jewelry but also close up of gowns, this book is perfect for learning and examining details.  Here is the link to the shop: Read More

The Victoria and Albert Museum

I am in the process of researching new books on historical fashion and dress making, with the idea that I will begin to invest in as many as financially possible.  I have completely exhausted the books I have now, and am looking forward to finding new sources of inspiration and knowledge.  I was browsing through the V&A museum and found their book shop with a slew of various types of books on fashion, textiles, and jewelry.  But here were the top two books I put on my list:


Based on the book covers, you get an idea of what is inside.  X-rays of the foundations, the shapes, and the stitching lines of beautiful 17th century gowns… I am in love and very excited!  While I have only made a few gowns from this time period, I am still extremely interested and can’t wait to place my order!  Here is the link to the museum where you can also visit the book shop:

The  online exhibits have beautiful photographs of many different gowns from a variety of eras.  But to show many of the gowns to you in a fun little way, I found this video!

 Hope you enjoy!