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Call for Pattern Testers for a 1770-90 gown!

Amber of Virgil’s Fine Goods and I have an exciting new 18th century pattern almost finished, so we need testers to help us make it as perfect and fabulous as possible!

We’ve already asked a number of testers with specialised skills, so we’re only looking for a few extra testers. If you’d like to be one of them, keep reading to learn more, and how to apply¦

The Pattern:

The pattern is a fashionable ‘Italian’ Gown with two bodice views.  The fronts and backs are interchangeable, and the skirt can be made with or without a train.  View B can made with or without the zig-zag trim.

Image showing line drawings of the front and back view of a 1780s 'Italian' gown in black and white. View A has a plain pointed bodice. View B has serrated trim on the bottom edge of the bodice.

It will be available in the full Scroop + Virgil’s Size Range of 30”/76cm bust to 52”/115cm bust.

Angelica Testers Wanted Sizing Chart


This is an advanced pattern, and we’re looking for testers with prior historical sewing experience, OR extensive non-historical sewing experience.

Testers MUST have the correct undergarments already. As part of the application you’ll need to have a photo of yourself in 1770-1790 suitable stays that you can send us a link to.

To be a tester you will 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. You’ll have 10 days to sew a toile and check the initial fit (this can be done by machine, and takes Leimomi less than 90 minutes from fabric to finished), and a further four weeks to make a finished dress, photograph it, and provide feedback (for reference, Leimomi was able to sew View A by hand in 18 hours)
  • Be able to photograph your make being worn, and be willing for us to share your photos on this blog and instagram.
  • Provide clear feedback
  • Agree to a confidentially agreement regarding the pattern

We would hugely appreciate it if testers would share their finished make once the pattern launches, but this is not mandatory.  We’re asking for TESTERS, not marketers.

As always we’re looking for a range of testers. We need a spread of geographical location, body type, sewing experience, and personal style.

The Timeline:


If you’re selected to test we’ll let you know and send you the materials requirements, line drawings, and the full pattern description by 6 pm NZ time on Friday the 13th of May.  This is Thur the 12th for most of the rest of the world.


We will send out a digital copy of the pattern to testers before 10pm NZ time on Friday the 20th of May.

Testing & Reviewing:

As this is a pretty time intensive pattern, testing will go for five weeks. We will ask for a toile check in one week in.

Testers will have until 10pm NZ time on Wed the 1st of June to do an initial toile of the dress bodice and respond to the initial set of testing questions.

We’ll need testers to provide final feedback by 10pm NZ time on Wed 22 June, and to be finished with their dress and provide photos by 10pm on Wed the 29th of June.

What you get:

Pattern testers will get a digital copy of all sizes of the final pattern, lots of thanks, and features on my blog and our IGs.

Testing also offers testers an opportunity to get group and 1-1 feedback, assistance, and sewing tutorials from Amber and I – similarly to what you’d get in an online sewing workshop.  We’re modelling our testing process after an online class, albeit one you don’t pay for, because you’re letting us beta test the pattern on you.  There’s an online group that testers can join as they wish, and we’ll be running a couple of live zoom events.  We’re committed to making testing as beneficial to testers as it is to us, and improve our testing process with every pattern we do.

Testers chosen from this open call are not paid, but we have asked a couple of testers who fit a very specific sizing/sewing niche that we want covered to test, and these testers will receive a small honorarium.

Hope to hear from you!

To Apply:

Follow this link and fill out the form!


Felicity the sewing cat

Songs for Felicity

Being a confirmed crazy cat lady I sing to my cat.  She doesn’t appreciate it (if you heard me sing you wouldn’t appreciate it either).

Felicity the sewing cat

Doesn’t stop me though.

Obviously I customise the songs just for Miss Fiss.

Felicity the sewing cat

Sometimes I croon the old hits:

I will be your hero kitty

I will feed you all the food

I will cud-dle you forever

You can catch my mice for me

Sometimes I get carried away with the possibilities of a really bad pun, and update the newest chart topper:

17 inch frame, RATs along her back
When she calls your name, you know she’s wanting snacks…

She told me she was out of food,
but when I checked her bowl it was all a ruse…

She told me she wanted pets,
but when I touched her tum all I got was bites…

We don’t talk about gatto, meow meow meow…

Oh, we don’t talk about gatto…


Felicity the sewing cat

(look at that magnificently unimpressed face.  She’s so adorably offended).

And then sometimes I go back to the old classics:

Furry tum, my little love

Furry tum I say

Fuzzy paws, my little love

I’m going to kiss them all day

Nose as pink as a summers rose

Eyes of changeable green

She’s the darling of my heart

Even when she’s mean

Some come here to get all the pets

Some come here to play

Some come here to get all the pets

I come for cuddles all day

(do I sing that second verse to her when she bites me, yes I do)

Felicity the sewing cat

What do you sing to your pets?

The Extant Kilbirnie Skirt: a ca. 1915 skirt

The Scroop Patterns Kilbirnie Skirt pattern is based on an extant ca. 1915 skirt in my collection.  Let’s take a close look at all the details of the skirt, from fabric to making.

Scroop Patterns Kilbirnie Skirt

The skirt is in very poor condition, but features a classic shape for the mid-1910s, with just enough design differences to make it interesting, and construction techniques that are absolutely typical of the era.  This made it the perfect candidate for a pattern.

Image shows an antique skirt made of very lightweight white cotton with purple stripes.

I found the skirt in an antique store in Richmond, Nelson.  The store sourced antiques from both New Zealand and Europe.  I inquired about the provenance when I bought it, and they were pretty sure it had come from a NZ estate lot, but weren’t absolutely certain.

There’s nothing in the extant Kilbirnie Skirt to give any further clues to where it’s from.  Western fashion in the 1910s was universal rather than regional.  Fashion plates, clothing catalogues, and pattern magazines from the US, Canada, Europe and NZ newspapers in the mid-1910s all show skirts with very similar designs, and very similar fabrics.

Eaton's Catalogue, Spring Summer 1917 pg 108

So the skirt could have been made anywhere, but I do know some things about the maker, and who wore it.

The skirt was homemade by an inexpert seamstress.  The seams wobble, the hem is decidedly amateur, and the belt application and hook/eye and dome/snap finishes are quite rough.

The extant skirt the Scroop Kilbirnie Skirt pattern is based on

It was made for a petite woman, possibly a teenager. It has a 26”/66cm waist, and is 32”/81cm from waist to hem.

The extant skirt the Scroop Kilbirnie Skirt pattern is based on

The hem is 6” deep.

38” was the most common finished length mentioned in mid 1910s skirt patterns and ready-made skirts.  The deep 6” hem would have been an easy way to shorten a skirt to fit a petite woman.

Rather than replicating the short length, the Kilbirnie Skirt pattern has a finished length  of 38” based on other 1910s patterns in my colleciton.

So the skirt was made at home, for a small woman or teen.  It was also made for summer wear.  It’s made from a very lightweight cotton fabric with a slightly open tabby weave and a slightly crisp hand.  The fabric is softer than an organdie, but crisper than a voile.

The extant skirt the Scroop Kilbirnie Skirt pattern is based on

The fabric has a pattern of muted purple stripes with small flowers in shades of orange or yellow scattered over them. The dye used for the floral patterning was fugitive, and has almost entirely faded away. It is possible that the stripes were originally black and have faded to purple.

There are numerous mends and patches on the skirt – see the mend on the lower mid-left of the photo above.  The mends look contemporaneous with the skirt: something like this might have been worn as home wear well into the 20s, especially in rural areas.

The extant skirt the Scroop Kilbirnie Skirt pattern is based on


One of the pockets has lost the cording that pulls in the gathers, and it hangs loose from the skirt – happily this, combined with the ability to measure the stripes to calculate size in the skirt, helped me to get the dimensions of the pockets exactly right.

The extant skirt the Scroop Kilbirnie Skirt pattern is based on

Note how low the pockets are on the skirt: halfway between the waist and hem.  The seamstress didn’t consider the height of her wearer, and just followed the pattern exactly as it was.

What else?  The skirt is primarily machine sewn, but the interior belt and fasteners are sewn on by hand.  This is typical of 1910s construction, where most everyday garments were machine sewn whenever possible.

The extant skirt the Scroop Kilbirnie Skirt pattern is based on

The belting is commercially made, with short lengths of baleen in a woven casing.  Similar belting could have been bought at any haberdashery in the 1910s.

No attempt has been made to place the boning symmetrically on the body and a quick tuck has been taken in one end, to facilitate sewing the fasteners on in a good position relative to a piece of bone.

No attempt has been made to place the boning symmetrically on the body. and 

All the fasteners are made of brass.

And that’s it.  One very simple, very modest skirt, which by its very simplicity tells us so much about its era, and who made and wore it.

The extant skirt the Scroop Kilbirnie Skirt pattern is based on

Scroop Patterns Kilbirnie Skirt