Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fashion Plate and Photo Sources...Oh, and Random Patterns, Too

Updated September 9, 2011

The Web is chock full of sources for period fashion plates and period photos. Folks on Elizabeth Stewart Clark, Truly Victorian, H-Costume and Sense and Sensibility have passed several sources around over time, and others I have uncovered myself. Lately Google Books has been offering increasing numbers of volumes of popular women's magazines in full, which is a true blessing since not only do we have the fashion plates, but the descriptions and the other magazine content...what a rich source!

Photo: A 1796 fashion plate from the Collection Maciet, with a handwritten note underneath, "Morning Dress".

I am cataloging these resources here for ease, and am adding to them as chances occur.

Right: detail from La Mode Illustree fashion plate, 1869. Collection Maciet, Bibliotheque des Arts Decoratifs
America's First Look into the Camera: Daguerrotype Portraits and Views, 1839-1864
More than 725 of them, mostly portraits, and mostly by the Mathew Brady studio. Wonderful for fashion research.

Arthur's Home Magazine (on Google Books) (Added October 1, 2009)
Entire volumes of Arthur's Home Magazine, digitized by Google books. Most volumes contain a half year or full year of issues. While more religiously minded than other magazines, Athur's still offered some fashion and needlework information. When you click the link, you will go to the Google search results list for "Arthur's Home Magazine". The search may not have garnered all that's out there, because if there are spelling mistakes or the book was titled with a different word or character, Google will not recognize it.

Belle Assemblee, La (on Google Books) (Added October 1, 2009)
Entire volumes of La Belle Assemblee, digitized by Google books. This is a super source for Regency fashion. When you click the link, you will go to the Google search results list for "Belle Assemblee". The search may not have garnered all that's out there; because the magazine name changed several times and it is entered into Google Books in several ways. Because of this, I could not use the Editions feature in Google Books, so many items farther down in the search results list will not be the magazine.

Bibliotheque des Arts Decoratifs, Collection Maciet
Very large database collection of fashion plates, with the occasional pattern. Marvelous for mid-nineteenth century. Photos zoom to very large size. In French. To view the plates:
  • From horizontal nav bar at top, choose "Recherche simple" (simple search).
  • A form will appear on the left half of the screen.
  • In "Termes de recherche" (search terms) field, enter "mode" (fashion).
  • Under "Type de document" (document type), check "Collection Maciet".
  • Under "Langue" (language), check "Tous" (all).
  • Click "Rechercher" (search) in the lower corner.
  • A database results list will appear. If you don't speak French, the citations will still make sense enough: just check the boxes next to the years in which you are interested.
  • At the bottom of the screen, click "Voir les notices" (view the citations).
  • One or more full citations (depending on the number of citations you chose) will come up in the right screen. To view the fashion plates associated with each, click "Voir les vignettes Maciet" (View the Maciet plates) at the lower right corner of a citation.
  • Thumbnails will load.
  • If you click on a thumbnail, a full-screen dialog box will pop up. It will contain a larger-size image, and along the left side, viewing tools.
    "Zoom avant" = zoom in
    "Zoom arriere" = zoom out
    You can also use the percentage box beneath. Note that it takes time for the images to resolve into their new zoom setting.
    "Selection" gives you a zoom selection tool. On the image, the pointer changes to a box with four arrows. Click and drag to create a selection box to zoom in on a particular portion on the image.
    "Deplacement" is a pan tool. Click and drag the image around.
    "Luminosite" and "Contraste" affect the color, as you might expect.
    "Garder les reglages" (keep the ??) probably means keep the settings
    "Configuration par defaut" (default configuration) returns the image to its original size
    "Impression" (print) allows you to print or save. A new print screen will show up with the image. In the box at bottom it says that you may insert your comments: they will print along with the image. Magnifique!
BFI (British Film Institute): Mitchell and Kenyon Collection: Edwardian Britain on Film
A superb way to see Edwardian clothing (mostly from 1900-1904) in action, as worn by everday people and celebrities. The films are usually just a few minutes long.

Dames a la Mode
Fashion plates. Especially useful for the Regency era. A blog maintained by Tayloropolis.

La Couturiere Parisienne
Fashion plates, patterns, and fashion history from an accomplished fashion historian in Germany.

The Daguerrian Society (this entry added 09/23/08)
A database of over 1,000 images. You may search the database or browse the images by thematically organized galleries.

De Gracieuse 1862-1936 (the Netherlands)
I noted that for 1868, anyway, the fashion plates are replicas of those in Harper's Bazar. Entire magazines have been scanned. Zoom doesn't appear to work, but as of September 2008, if you select an image, and choose "save" from the icons to the right of the image, you get a large enough scan to see details.

Diderot: Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers
There are a number of versions of Diderot's enormous encyclopedia out there, some translated, some in the original French, and some as images of each page. A quick Google search of the title will get you many of these. My preference is for the Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource version, since it includes both scans and a searchable text version, and the index to all the plates.
Also, see plates related to 18th Century dress from Denis Diderot's Encyclopedia, on the Costumer's Manifesto
Duke Digital Collections (This entry added November 19, 2008)
Earthly Angels: Cartes de Visite
A blog collection. Can be sorted. Sadly, the collection's editor hasn't, perhaps not being able to, included much in the way of information about the images.

Fashion (Category) in Wikimedia
Image archive divided out by category, with sections such as "18th century fashion" and "dressmaking. Warning: some categories are loaded with images, many without text description, and take forever to load. Proceed with care.

Flickr "Pools" of Historic Photographs and Images (added May 13, 2009)
Flickr is stuffed with contributers who love to share antique photos, postcards, and other images. Here are some of their "pools", groupings of photographs by subject. Be forewarned: some pools, such as one labeled "antique photographs" contain pinups and other images that may not be appropriate for young people (I did not include that pool in this list).
Godey's Magazine (on Google Books) and The Lady's Book (Added October 1, 2009)
Entire volumes of Godey's Magazine, and its predecessor, The Lady's Book, digitized by Google books. Most volumes contain a half year or full year of issues, and most are complete with their fashion plates and accompanying descriptions. When you click the link, you will go to the Google search results list for "Godey's Magazine" and "Lady's Book". The search may not have garnered all that's out there, because if there are spelling mistakes or the book was titled with a different word or character, Google will not recognize it. Also, note that some volume years were misstyped in Google; thus the "1886" issue is really for 1836.

Good Housekeeping Magazine (Added October 1, 2009)
  • Scans on HEARTH archive site.
    Run of issues in their entirety from 1885-1950, from Cornell University's HEARTH archive. Each page available as an image, a PDF file, or as searchable text. Scans are not great quality, but content is superb anyway. You can easily search all content from all issues at once.
  • On Google Books.
    Better quality scans than HEARTH resource, but not a complete run of issues.
Harper's Bazar Magazine
All the magazines from inception in 1867 until 1900. Each page available as an image, a PDF file, or as searchable text. Sadly, the pattern supplements aren't included, but a patient person might find a pattern match in De Gracieuse, which carried many of the same plates and patterns. That magazine's supplements have been digitized. See the entry for it in this list. On the Cornell University HEARTH site.

Historical Artwork and Fashion Plates
Includes Peterson's, Demorest's, The Delineator, New Idea, and more, from 1870 to 1918. Includes some Peterson's patterns. Posted on Festyve Attyre.

History of Corsets (in images)
From Wikimedia Commons. I cannot locate an author. Page takes ages to load, but there are tons of images.

Iowa Digital Library: Iowa Women's Archives and the Noble Photographs (This entry added November 19, 2008)
These two collections, part of the much larger Iowa Digital Library, contain fascinating photographs of women in everyday, work, and school settings. Chiefly Belle Epoque era and later. On the homepage, scroll down to choose either of the collections from the list.

Iowa State University Digital Collections: Fashion Plates
"Contains plates of general fashion dating back to the 18th century and continuing through the 20th century. Additional categories within the files include accessories, baby and beach fashions, bridal fashions and portraits, children's and communion clothing, footwear, inaugural gowns, maid uniforms, masquerade costumes, men's fashion, millinery, mourning dresses, negligees and undergarments. There are also magazine issues relating to fashion as well as magazine articles discussing fashion of the Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, and Modern periods."

LACMA Collections Online: Costume and Textiles
Fashion plates and online exhibits from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Large holdings.

Ladies' Companion, The (on Google Books) (Added October 1, 2009)
Entire volumes of The Ladies' Companion, an English woman's magazine, digitized by Google books. There is a very limited amount of fashion information, but enough to be interesting. Most volumes contain a half year or full year of issues, and most are complete with their fashion plates and accompanying descriptions. When you click the link, you will go to the Google search results list for "The Ladies' Companion". The search may not have garnered all that's out there, because if there are spelling mistakes or the book was titled with a different word or character, Google will not recognize it.

Lady's Monthly Museum, The (on Google Books) (Added October 1, 2009)
Entire volumes of The Ladies' Monthly Museum, an English woman's magazine, digitized by Google books. This magazine was published during the Regency and offers some fashion information. Most volumes contain a half year or full year of issues, and most are complete with their fashion plates and accompanying descriptions. When you click the link, you will go to the Google search results list for "The Ladies' Monthly Museum". The search may not have garnered all that's out there, because if there are spelling mistakes or the book was titled with a different word or character, Google will not recognize it.

Los Angeles Public Library: Casey Fashion Plates Index
"The Joseph E. Casey Fashion Plate Collection contains over 6,200 handcolored fashion plates from British and American magazines dating from the 1790s to the 1880s. All of the plates are indexed and digitized for online viewing."

McCord Museum, Canada: Costume and Texiles Collection
Zoomable photographs (one per ensemble) and explication of hundreds of items in their collection. Note that the museum has many other collections online, including photographs, plus fascinating games. A marvelous site.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Added January 13, 2009
Their entire collection is online. Not all pieces have photos. Not all photos are that good, and text information is limited. From the index page, choose the Collection Database link. It seems to be easist to find things if you search for a large category of garment, such as "dress" and then sort the results by date.

Mode Histoire
Scans of the fashion plates and patterns from nineteenth century magazines and transcriptions of all the original text that accompanied them. Currently limited to Peterson's 1863, but more to come. I have contributed my 1872 Peterson's to the effort.

New York Public Library
Period Resources Fashion Scans
From Digital Changeling's site. Including Paris Modes from 1909!

Peterson's Magazine (on Google Books) (Added October 1, 2009)
Entire volumes of Peterson's Magazine, digitized by Google books. Most volumes contain a half year or full year of issues, and most are complete with their fashion plates and accompanying descriptions, plus some garment patterns. Warning about the latter: they are not to scale, I hear, even if marked in images, so that you must drape the pattern pieces and alter them to fit you. . When you click the link, you will go to the Google search results list for "Peterson's Magazine". The search may not have garnered all that's out there, because if there are spelling mistakes or the book was titled with a different word or character, Google will not recognize it.

Powerhouse Museum Collection
From the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia. Photos of actual garments and accessories, including some ensembles with zoom feature. Warning: the accompanying descriptions can be poor and undated. For example, a search for "fichu" returned quite a list of photos of actual fichus, but almost all of the items were undated and information scanty. Further, not all items listed have photos, but you can filter those out. However, the breadth of objects is wide, and if you already know a bit about the type of item you are researching, the images can be of help. There is also an electronic swatchbook of fabrics from a narrow (but fascinating) selection of years.

Royal Lady's Magazine, The (on Google Books) (Added October 1, 2009)
Entire volumes of Peterson's Magazine, digitized by Google books. Most volumes contain a half year or full year of issues, and most are complete with their fashion plates and accompanying descriptions, plus some garment patterns. Warning about the latter: they are not to scale, I hear, even if marked in images, so that you must drape the pattern pieces and alter them to fit you. . When you click the link, you will go to the Google search results list for "Peterson's Magazine". The search may not have garnered all that's out there, because if there are spelling mistakes or the book was titled with a different word or character, Google will not recognize it.

Shorpy Online Photograph Archive Added May 13, 2009
An online archive of thousands of high-resolution photos from the 1850s to 1950s. Our namesake, Shorpy Higginbotham, was a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Many of the photos have been extracted from the Library of Congress, while others are contributed. The photo quality is extraordinary.

Tidens Toj
A Danish museum exhibition site containing high-quality, zoomable photos of actual garments, and often fashion plates and patterns to go along with them. Covers multiple centuries, but the nineteenth century is very nicely represented.

University of Washington Digital Collections: Fashion Plate Collection
"The database consists of 417 digital images chosen from a larger group of fashion plates"

Victoria and Albert Images: Heideloff Gallery of Fashion plates
A small selection of plates from the famous Gallery of Fashion, published 1794-1800 by Nikolaus Heideloff in London.

Why Not Then: Antique Garments section
Photographs of garments in author Stormi Souter's collection. Multiple photos per garment, with accompanying construction notes and measurements

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Two Trimmed Edwardian "Beatrix" Skirts Dress Diary, Part 2: Designing a Graduated, Shaped Flounce

Polly desires her Beatrix skirt to have a tall flounce. Skirts of this era often were flounced, although as 1909 turned into 1910 and then the 19-teens, flounces appear to receded in popularity in favor of bands of flat embroidered, lace, or pleated decoration.

Some of the prettiest flounces I've seen are graduated in height. A graduated flounce might start at, say, seven inches in height at the skirt's front panel, but incrementally become taller until it might reach some fifteen inches at the back of the skirt. Combined with a short train, the effect is of two curving lines receding from one another.

Another characteristic of Edwardian tall flounces is that they were frequently cut shaped and on the bias, so that the top of the flounce would be sewn on flat, while the bottom, being wider and on the bias, fluttered out. Such flounces are softer and more clingy than a flounce made of fabric cut straight of grain and then gathered.

Emma Ruth of the Sense and Sensibility described how to make a shaped flounce, and I followed her directions in making Polly's flounce, photographing as I went. Here is how it went:

First, I laid the skirt pattern pieces out on the floor, one right next to the other and matching the seam marks, as if they were making up the shape of half of the skirt.

Then I taped several pieces of waxed paper together and laid the resulting piece of paper on top of the pattern pieces.

In the first image you can see the pattern pieces laid edge to edge, and the waxed paper placed atop.


Next, I traced the line of the bottom and sides of the skirt pattern pieces onto the wax paper.

After this I drew the flounce line. Starting at front of the front panel pattern piece I marked a spot at 7 inches or so from the skirt bottom. Then I drew a curving line that increased in height as it went to the pattern pieces for the sides and then back of the skirt, ending at a position about 15 inches from the bottom of the final, back skirt pattern piece. I cut out the result. Now I had the basic pattern for the flounce, but...I needed to make it flare.

In the second image I have drawn and cut the basic flounce pattern. The front of the skirt is to the left; that's where the flounce is most narrow. The back of the skirt is at the right, where the flounce is widest. Like most pattern pieces, the pattern is for one half of the flounce.

So, on the base pattern I drew long vertical lines several inches apart, from the flounce bottom almost to the top. Then I cut each line with scissors, slashing the pattern pieces and spreading them at the bottom. The more I spread each slash, the wider the fabric would be at the bottom of the flounce and the more the resulting fabric would flutter and flare.

In the third image, a closeup, you can see the vertical lines drawn across the pattern, ready to be cut and slashed.



Finally, I laid another piece of wax paper over the slashed and spread pattern, drew a fresh pattern, and cut that out. Voila, shaped flounce pattern!

In the final image, I have cut and slashed the pattern to create the shaped flounce pattern, and have laid a layer of waxed paper atop, ready to draw the final pattern. Because slashing causes the pattern to curve, I had to add several little pieces of wax paper to fit the curve.


(Emma Ruth noted that if I wanted a gathered flounce I would have slashed each line from top to bottom to break the pattern into separate strips, and then would have spaced them out. Then I would have cut a new pattern from the resulting shape.)

Emma Ruth had another note about preparing the flounce: hem it before applying it to the skirt. Otherwise you're in for a lot of work.

Warm thanks to Emma Ruth for her kind direction. It all worked so well.

Sewing Mornings Continue

A few days later, Polly and I met to work on her skirt. We seamed the main skirt up, and Polly had her first experience using a treadle. She took to it immediately, even getting the hang of working the W&G wheel, which turns in the opposite direction of most sewing machine wheels.

Then I used the flounce pattern to cut out Polly's flounce from her navy and white stripe seersucker, and laid it on the plain skirt. What a nice effect! The stripes on the bias contrast nicely with the stripes on the straight part of the skirt. Can't wait until it's applied to the skirt.

That day's work was attended with a few technical difficulties, shall we say? I hoped to use my Singer handcrank's gathering attachment to make the small ruffle to attach to the main flounce, but it kept jamming, and then the Singer's tension went wonky, a condition from which it has yet to recover. Yargghh. So Polly gamely worked on a trimming ruche by hand...

A few days later we met again, and I demonstrated applying a period placket, using an original garment as a design guide, and we set the waistband, too.

Working on that fabric has been most interesting: did you know that working with narrow striped fabrics can make you dizzy, and ditzy? After several hours of cutting, sewing and ruching, both of us felt a little woozy.

And Rebecca's skirt? It's seamed up and has its waistband, and is ready for the lace insertion. I even found some true period torchon lace to use to trim it with!