Garment Sewing Inspirations from British Fashion Museums

Sewing clothes for myself is the biggest reason I got into sewing. And for any one who is interested in sewing garment, seeing fashion pieces in a museum setting is an unforgettable moment.

I still remember going to Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective exhibition back in 2016 and how blown away I felt. But that will be another topic, so I’ll probably dig up the photos to share in another post.

But today, I’d like to share some photos I took during my recent London trip. I went to two fashion museums in this trip: Victoria & Albert Museum and Fashion Museum in Bath.

I’m not a huge photo taker and wants to be more conscious on digital clutter , so I decided to only take photos that I want to reference later on. With that being said, I find all photos I shared below inspiring, and want to share with you here in case they spark any ideas in your garment sewing journey.

Asian influence

One theme emerges as I was walking though those two British museum is how some western fashion style was influenced by Asian aesthetics. This influence is often displayed in beautiful textiles which were imported to Britain from Asia such as China, Japan, India, etc.

Before sharing any influenced western garment pieces, I thought I’d share an original Asian I saw at Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

This woman’s robe was probably worn by someone in the royal family in Qing dynasty, given it is displayed right next to the King’s robe (which you can peek at the right corner of the above photo)

I love the floral design in this piece. It is just very elegant. Although the pattern is using pink and green which can be quite contrasting, the textile designer selected the colors so carefully that these two colors just go so well together.

When sleeves were rolled up, the details inside is just stunning. Truly a beautiful piece with high Asian craftsmanship.

The blue dress underneath the jacket had a strong Chinese influence. Besides the subject matter(pagoda, willow tree and clouds) its embroidery depicts is very Chinese, the strokes itself is inspired by Chinese traditional drawings as well

I also like the asymmetric neckline and waistline.

This is a robe made in cotton floral prints which is very much Western. However, the shape and how to wear this garment is very much inspired by China and Japan traditional clothes.

I have been thinking about making some Asian inspired wrap dress for a while.

This beautiful garment used Indian textile, which makes the entire piece looks so fun and refreshing!

Another piece with Indian inspired pattern embroidered around collar and sleeves. Such a good place to add ethnic patterns and details!

It’s all in the details

When seeing historic pieces, one thing always caught my eyes is the attention to details. Those details add unique personalities to each garment and really shows how much thought went into making these clothes.

When I saw this dress, I was astonished. The pale lilac, high waist and interesting sleeve details immediately got me.

I especially love balloon shaped top portion of the sleeves. It was made of a few bows, and connected them together to go around the entire puff sleeve.

For this velvet dress, the details is all in the fabric! Embroidered flowers with petals coming out of the fabric.

What I love about this dress is the ruffled edge. It is less common to see ruffles like this with boxy shape and sewn though the middle of the ruffle. I’m excited to add this detail for my future sewing projects.

Soft, floral, and pastel

One thing I really love about historical clothes is the soft and pastel look. So here are a few displays I found very beautiful and inspiring for modern sewing and fashion design.

This soft purple dress is so elegant. I love needle work around neckline, sleeves and waistband. A simple dress like this can easily be translated to modern garments.

I like how this dress is made of layers of white fabric with the outer layers more sheer. It adds a romantic feel to it. I can imagine making a top inspired by this construction.

Creamy yellow with flowers, but doesn’t screen country side at all! And love the tailored sleeve shape.

Inspirations on construction

What I found inspiring of this dress is the waist details. How contracting the waist is in terms of volumn compared to skirt and shoulder. What’s more, the gathered fabrics is brought to the front and center, making the waist even tinier by illusion.

After seeing this piece. I realized there are quite some inspirations to take from historical men’s wear! Those garments usually comes with elegant details but not overly complicated.

For example, this collar flare can easily be seen on a woman’s blouse, and how elegant that would be!

This dress is relatively modern compared to some period pieces I shared here. I really like the crossed collar and how it was achieved by a single piece of fabric – some garment construction genius over there!

I’m sharing this fashion piece here because of the use of fabrics. What a smart idea to use the symmetry of the fabric and mirror that on the garment. The execution is also on point!

I hope you enjoyed these garment sewing inspirations from UK’s fashion museums from my last visits. I feel so inspired by them and will definitely incorporate some of those ideas into my future sewing projects.

Save it for later

Garment sewing inspirations from period drama clothes items or period fashion.

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