So many components go into creating clothing from the 19th Century. Going beyond the basics of line, proportion/scale, color and texture, these 5 Elements are crucial to successful historical costuming. Start with these Elements and adapt them to your specific project.
Element #4 – Fabric & Trim
The physical components of your design.
The right fabric can take your garments from historical “costume” to period “clothing.” Using cheap and/or modern fabrics like polyester, nylon and spandex can lessen the impact of your design. For successful 19th Century sewing and the best period “look”, use natural fiber materials of cotton, linen, silk and wool and, for later years, rayon.
Strive to find high-quality, natural materials. Search out vendors who specialize in natural fiber fabrics. Know that these fabrics will usually be more expensive than the modern selections found at most fabric stores and plan accordingly. But you will not be disappointed.
Also look for period appropriate trims. Embellishments play a HUGE part in defining a style and time period. Sometimes a gown may be perfect in every way, all five elements executed perfectly, but it still feels something is missing. Check the trimmings. Even a small braid or a few tassels can make a significant difference in the completion of a design.
Resources: Fabrics & Trims
Forward to Element #5 – Construction