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Rate the Dress: A Glory of Green

This week we’re going from vibrant purple to restful green, and from a almost universally popular timeperiod, to one that’s a bit less of a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Can it score a hat-trick of 9.5+ ratings (without any hats involved)?

Last Week: a 1912 evening dress by Lucile

So many of you loved everything about this dress, and even those who didn’t rate it a perfect 10 only had the tiniest quibbles with its design: finding the colour not quite perfect, or the beads a bit clunky. Even so, it didn’t score a single rating under 8. A real crowd pleaser!

The Total: 9.6 out of 10

Just one point shy of the week before.

This week: an 1830s dress in morning glory patterned silk

Last week’s dress was an easy pick for popularity. Almost everyone loves the early 1910s!

The 1830s though? Up until quite recently they have been one of the least favourite decades for historical fashion. However, thanks to avid championing from rockstar costumers like American Duchess (and other talented costumers), the 1830s are seeing a definite rise in interest.

If you’re already an 1830s fan, will this week’s dress scratch your Romantic era itch? Or if you aren’t yet a convert, perhaps this will be the dress to bring you over to the bright-and-very-big-sleeved side? Or perhaps not…

Dress with gigot sleeves, jacquard woven silk, ca. 1835 Fashion Museum Bath
Dress with gigot sleeves, jacquard woven silk, ca. 1835 Fashion Museum Bath

This 1830s dress is made from pale green silk, with a jacquard woven damask pattern of morning glories.

Dress with gigot sleeves, jacquard woven silk, ca. 1835 Fashion Museum Bath
Dress with gigot sleeves, jacquard woven silk, ca. 1835 Fashion Museum Bath

It features the typical just-above-the-natural waistline of the 1830s, finished with a wide ribbon belt (possibly a styling addition by the museum, so you may choose not to put too much weight on it in your rating). It’s been paired with a delicately embroidered fichu: a common daytime accessory in fashion plates of the period.

Dress with gigot sleeves, jacquard woven silk, ca. 1835 Fashion Museum Bath
Dress with gigot sleeves, jacquard woven silk, ca. 1835 Fashion Museum Bath

The main area of design interest in the dress is that iconic feature of 1830s fashion: enormous gigot sleeves. These ones are gathered in to fit the armhole with narrow pleating, held in place with bands of ribbon arranged in poofs and secured with jaunty bows. Below the ribbon they fall in soft fullness, and are cut a little longer than the arm, so their extra length droops over the crisply pleated cuffs.

Dress with gigot sleeves, jacquard woven silk, ca. 1835 Fashion Museum Bath
Dress with gigot sleeves, jacquard woven silk, ca. 1835 Fashion Museum Bath

What do you think? Are you pro 1830s and think this one’s perfect? Or pr 1830s, but think you’ve seen much prettier examples? Or still not a huge fan, but can admire this as a lovely example of its type? Or just no-gigot no way?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment.  Phrase criticism as your opinion, rather than a flat fact. Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting.  It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste. 

As usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment.

Te Aro Testers Wanted Scroop Patterns

Scroop Patterns: Call for Testers for a knit pattern of awesomeness

I’ve got a new Scroop Pattern ready to be tested!

The Pattern:

This is my lockdown pattern: a design I created that’s as warm and cozy as a hug. It feels like wearing pyjamas, but fabric choice and finishes can take it from weekend casual to work appropriate to evening glam.

Te Aro Testers Wanted Scroop Patterns

It’s a versatile drop-shoulder dress and top designed for midweight knits. It has three different necklines (hood, shallow scoop, scoop), three different sleeve options (long knit, full woven sleeves with gathered cuffs, or short) and three hems (knee length with a knit band, shirt length with a curved hem, longer in back, and knee length with a dropped hem)

Testers:

For this pattern I need testers who are low-intermediate or higher level sewers with some experience sewing knits.

You will also need to:

  • be able to print patterns in A4, A0, US Letter or US full sized Copyshop paper sizes
  • have the time to sew up the item if you agree to be a tester for it
  •  be able to photograph your make being worn, and be willing for me to share your photos on this blog and instagram.
  • be able to provide clear feedback
  • be willing to agree to a confidentially agreement regarding the pattern
  • have a blog or other format where you share and analyse your sewing

I would hugely appreciate it if you would share your finished make once the pattern launches, but this is not mandatory.  I’m asking for TESTERS, not marketers.  The requirement of a blog/other review format is to help me pick testers.   I want to be able to see how you think about sewing, and that your experience level matches up to the pattern.

As always I’m be looking for a range of testers, in terms of geographical location, body type, sewing experience, and personal style.

There will be a Facebook group for the testers: joining it is optional.

The Materials:

I’d like to start testing in less than a week’s time, so I’d recommend that you already have the materials needed on hand if you apply to be a tester.

Body all views, sleeves views A & B, hood view A: midweight knit fabrics with 35-50% stretch, including midweight jerseys, lighter weight sweatshirting, waffle knits, heavier merino knits, etc
 Cuff & neck bands, all views: midweight knit fabrics with 35-50% stretch and good recovery.
Hood lining View A , hem facings view B & C: light-midweight knit fabrics with 25-50% stretch.
View C sleeves: lightweight woven fabrics such as chiffon, crepe de chine, rayon challis, voile, etc. 

Fabric Requirements in Yards:

Te Aro Yards Fabric Requirements

Fabric Requirements in Meters:

Te Aro Meters Fabric Requirements

The Timeline:

Because this is a very quick make, I’m doing this on a fairly compressed timeline.

Materials:
If you’re selected to test I’ll let you know and send you the full materials requirements, line drawings, and the full pattern description on, by 5pm NZ time on Wed the 12th of Aug (Tue the 11th for most of the rest of the world).

Patterns:
I will send out a digital copy of the pattern to testers by 5pm NZ time on Friday the 14th of August.

Testing & Reviewing:
Testers will have until 6pm NZ time on Mon the 25th of Aug (11 days, with two full weekends) to sew their make, respond to the testing questions, and take photos.

What you get:

Pattern testers will get a digital copy of the final pattern, my eternal gratitude, and as much publicity as I can manage for your sewing.

Keen to be a tester for the pattern? please email me with the following:

  1. Your name
  2. Your full bust and hip measures
  3. Your height
  4. A bit about your sewing experience – particularly knits
  5. A link to your blog/Instagram/Flickr/Sewing Pattern Review profile/something else sewing-y presence
  6. A link to a sewing make with a review (so I can see how you think about and analyse your sewing)
  7. Do you have any other skills that would really make you an extra-super-awesome pattern tester?  (i.e. experience copy-editing, cat pictures to bribe me with, 😉 )
  8. Where are you located (doesn’t need to be too specific – continent, country, state, whatever you’re comfortable with).

Email me to be a tester!

If you’ve already applied to/been a tester for Scroop Patterns in the past you are welcome to just copy and paste all the info into a new email, as long as nothing has changed.

Hope to hear from you!

A note:

With all the previous Scroop tester calls I’ve managed to respond to every application personally both when they applied, and once I’d chosen a tester group. Unfortunately due to the volume of applications I’ve been receiving I’m no longer able to do this.

I will only be responding to let people know if I’m able to include them in the testing group or not.

Evening dress, London, 1912, Lucile (1863 - 1935), Silk, embroidered & appliqued metal thread, glass beads, sequins (gelatin?), metal hooks & eyes, silk net, ©Victoria & Albert Museum T.35-1960

Rate the Dress: Purple personalities

After our discussions about makers & wearers with the last few dresses, I thought it might be interesting to see a dress where we know the wearer, and the designer, as well as a great deal about the actual makers of the dress.

Last Week: an 1880s velvet and satin frock

The brown velvet and satin dress was a smash hit, with a well-deserved round of applause for the maker. It lost a point here and there because of the bustle or the colour (and a couple of points for something that I think was a misunderstanding in construction 🙁 ), but overall you deemed it practically perfect in every way.

The Total: 9.7 out of 10

Fully three-quarters of the ratings for last week’s dress were perfect 10s!

This week: a 1912 evening dress by Lucile

I thought we needed a pop of colour after a few weeks of predominantly dark or white dresses, and this Lucile gown fit the bill perfectly, while also being a great example of a gown where the designer, makers, and wearers are all (more or less) known.

Evening dress, London, 1912, Lucile (1863 - 1935), Silk, embroidered & appliqued metal thread, glass beads, sequins (gelatin?), metal hooks & eyes, silk net, ©Victoria & Albert Museum T.35-1960
Evening dress, London, 1912, Lucile (1863 – 1935), Silk, embroidered & appliqued metal thread, glass beads, sequins (gelatin?), metal hooks & eyes, silk net,
©Victoria & Albert Museum T.35-1960

This very purple evening dress was designed by Lucile (Lady Duff-Gordon) for socialite Heather Firbank. Firbank was the daughter of a wealthy politician. She was in her early 20s when she commissioned this dress, and like much of her wardrobe it comes in a shade of purple to complement her name.

Evening dress, London, 1912, Lucile (1863 - 1935), Silk, embroidered & appliqued metal thread, glass beads, sequins (gelatin?), metal hooks & eyes, silk net, ©Victoria & Albert Museum T.35-1960
Evening dress, London, 1912, Lucile (1863 – 1935), Silk, embroidered & appliqued metal thread, glass beads, sequins (gelatin?), metal hooks & eyes, silk net,
©Victoria & Albert Museum T.35-1960

Firbank must have been a confident young woman: in addition to her distinct dress sense, she chose never to marry, at a time when that was an extremely unconventional choice for a woman.

Evening dress, London, 1912, Lucile (1863 - 1935), Silk, embroidered & appliqued metal thread, glass beads, sequins (gelatin?), metal hooks & eyes, silk net, ©Victoria & Albert Museum T.35-1960
Evening dress, London, 1912, Lucile (1863 – 1935), Silk, embroidered & appliqued metal thread, glass beads, sequins (gelatin?), metal hooks & eyes, silk net
©Victoria & Albert Museum T.35-1960

Firbank commissioned her dress from an equally confident and distinctive woman. Lucile started making dresses when she needed to support herself and her daughter after divorcing her drunken, philandering first husband. Although she wasn’t a self made woman in the true sense (she came from the upper classes and had family support as she started out), she always approached Lucile Inc as a business which was intended to make money, rather than as a hobby.

Evening dress, London, 1912, Lucile (1863 - 1935), Silk, embroidered & appliqued metal thread, glass beads, sequins (gelatin?), metal hooks & eyes, silk net, ©Victoria & Albert Museum T.35-1960
Evening dress, London, 1912, Lucile (1863 – 1935), Silk, embroidered & appliqued metal thread, glass beads, sequins (gelatin?), metal hooks & eyes, silk net
©Victoria & Albert Museum T.35-1960

As part of her businesslike approach to fashion, once Lucile got popular she didn’t design all her frocks: merely signed off on designs by assistants and sketch artists that fit her aesthetic. It’s possible this dress was one of those designs: a creation by an artist, perhaps with input from the client, that was merely looked over by the couturier at the end. Or perhaps it was entirely by Lucile!

Evening dress, London, 1912, Lucile (1863 - 1935), Silk, embroidered & appliqued metal thread, glass beads, sequins (gelatin?), metal hooks & eyes, silk net, ©Victoria & Albert Museum T.35-1960
Evening dress, London, 1912, Lucile (1863 – 1935), Silk, embroidered & appliqued metal thread, glass beads, sequins (gelatin?), metal hooks & eyes, silk net
©Victoria & Albert Museum T.35-1960

The business and making end of Lucile’s couture house is well documented, so we have a good idea of the craftspeople behind the dresses. For a number of them, particularly the fitters and sketch artists, working for a house like Lucile was a launchpad to their own atelier. Even for the lowest thread sweeper, a position at a couture house was enviable: eminently respectable, well paid by the standards of the time, and one of the few places a woman could build a career.

Evening dress, London, 1912, Lucile (1863 - 1935), Silk, embroidered & appliqued metal thread, glass beads, sequins (gelatin?), metal hooks & eyes, silk net, ©Victoria & Albert Museum T.35-1960
Evening dress, London, 1912, Lucile (1863 – 1935), Silk, embroidered & appliqued metal thread, glass beads, sequins (gelatin?), metal hooks & eyes, silk net
©Victoria & Albert Museum T.35-1960

Economic and social history aside, what do you think of the aesthetics of this dress?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment.  Phrase criticism as your opinion, rather than a flat fact. Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting.  It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste. 

As usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment.