What is Pinterest Research?

I get asked from time to time what Pinterest is “for” or how it might be used (by people who aren’t looking for household how-to stuff).  I can’t speak for everybody, but I can say a little about when I turn to Pinterest.

I started using Pinterest because it worked as an aggregator for photos of items held in many, many museums across the world.  I enjoy searching museum catalogs, but I don’t always know which museums have good collections for what things, and finding that out can be a challenge in itself.

But let’s rewind a little– why do I need to aggregate photos of museum items?  You can probably guess from this blog that I do a lot of historical research, and much of it is about clothing.  I started using Pinterest for museum collection research when I decided to make a Regency ballgown– but I didn’t know anything about them.  I had a pattern, but I needed to buy fabric, and I didn’t know what colors were good choices, or what kind of trim was appropriate.  So I looked for pictures online, which led me to photos of museum items (extant clothes and portraits), which led me to a lot of Pinterest pages.

There are two main results of this first stage of costume research: I can find an individual piece that I like so much I want to imitate it, and I can look at hundreds of examples (and organize them however I like) and get an idea for trends, styles, and unwritten rules of a time or place or social group.

That information will then guide fabric shopping and design decisions, but usually I’ll come back to my hundreds of examples after I’ve started cutting and sewing– because there’s this inevitable moment of “How does this work?  How can I do this so it makes sense and doesn’t drive me crazy but is also correct?” –which is why one of my Regency boards is called “Dresses and Details”; it is (at least mostly) a collection of photos and paintings where specific construction details can be seen, such as the seams at the back of a dress, or the open edge of a glove, or the way a dress drapes over a foundation garment.

So, that’s a quick version of how I use Pinterest and “what it’s for” in my projects.

What is Pinterest Research?

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