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Rate the Dress: insertions, tucks & ruffles by Hallée

Doing Rate the Dress while the blog comments were down seemed pointless, and I’ve also been ridiculously busy for the last few weeks, so I’m behind on posts. But I’m back, and will try very hard not to miss another week!

My Rate the Dress choice for this week is both a direct progression from the last Rate the Dress I posted, and a photographic negative: its mirror, and complete opposite. It’s only three years later, and also a day dress, and so similar, and yet so different. How will it fare in comparison?

Last Week: an 1897 day dress in deep blue

Such interesting comments on the previous Rate the Dress (and hurrah, you can see them all now!). I particularly liked how people looked at it for what it was: a dress by an extremely competent dressmaker for an upper middle class woman: not a couture creation. Some of you felt it was a little heavy, and not everyone was on board with the rosettes (agreed), so it lost a point here and there for that.

The Total: 9.2 out of 10

An impressive result! And it gets a bonus point because my Mum loved it. It reminded her of a blue velvet dress her childhood best friend had when they were 5 or 6 that she loved and envied.

This week: a ca. 1900 afternoon dress by Hallée in lace and eu de nil

Last week’s Rate the Dress was a day dress for autumn and winter. This week’s is suitable for spring and summer. Last week’s was beautifully made, but not couture. This week’s, by Hallée, is definitely by the highest echelons of dress creators. Last week’s was in dark blues. This week’s light ecru (probably darker now than it was originally) and eu de nil.

Last week’s dress was an arrangement of solidity and smoothness, a sleek accumulation of warmth and structure: every texture giving the impression of solidity. This week’s is all about frills and tucks: all the ornamentation and fabrics working together to emphasise lightness and froth.

Dress, Jeanne Hallee (French, 1880–1914), ca. 1900, French, silk, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2009.300.3098a-b
Dress, Jeanne Hallée (French, 1880–1914), ca. 1900, French, silk, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2009.300.3098a-b

Look beyond the contrasts, and the dresses are incredibly similar. The same overall silhouette, the same use of strong horizontal lines and angles. As a costumer, I could start with the same base pattern for both dresses. With more tucks and ruffles, and smaller sleeves, last Rate the Dress becomes this Rate the Dress.

What do you think? How does it do on its own, and how does it do as a comparison.

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.

Scroop Patterns + Virgil’s Fine Goods Call for Testers

UPDATE: Applications are now closed.

Amber and I have a fabulous new 18th century pattern almost finished, so we need testers to help us make it as 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:

A fashionable jacket suitable for 1775-1795, with two skirt options, two sleeve options, and two front options, all of which can be mixed and matched!


This is an advanced pattern, and we’re looking for testers with prior 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 1775-1795 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 one week to sew a toile and check the initial fit, and a further three weeks to make a finished jacket, photograph it, and provide feedback (for reference, Leimomi was able to sew View A by hand in 16 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 12 noon NZ time on Friday the 16th of October.  This is Thur the 15th 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 Monday the 26th of October.

Testing & Reviewing:

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

Testers will have until 10pm NZ time on Mon the 2nd of November to do an initial toile of the jacket and respond to the initial set of testing questions.

We’ll need testers to be finished with their jacket and provide photos and feedback by 10pm on Mon the 23rd of November

What you get:

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

Hope to hear from you!

A Chintz Robe for Lynne

Hurrah! Comments are back! Thanks to some awesome work by my brilliant webmaster, who figured out what the error was and did the way-beyond-my-capabilities fix that was needed, you can now see comments, and have conversations, and do all that stuff that makes blogging good.

To celebrate, a blog post about someone who I met because they are an awesome commenter & community member.

Lynne’s been following my blog and commenting and supporting since the very early days of my blogging. She joined back when the blogging world was tiny, and you felt like you knew everyone. It was so long ago going to meet an internet person in person was totally normal and not scary and potentially dangerous!

So when Lynne asked me to come visit her, I went – and she’s been my costuming fairy godmother ever since. I had two lovely long visits amidst her beautiful gardens in Ashburton. I’ve since made lots of things from the gorgeous fabrics she’s gifted me (like this fur muff, and the wool for the fantail skirt I’m wearing in these photos, and the wool for my Waiting for Bluebells dress).

She moved up to Christchurch and I’ve been wanting to go visit. At the end of August a work trip and minimal Covid restrictions in Wellington & Christchurch came together to allow me to spend four fabulous days with her.

In addition to lots of talking about books, enjoying her new garden, and sharing recipes and film recommendations, I made her a robe.

Making Lynne wrappers is what I do when I visit her. I like a good tradition!

A chintz robe

She’s been tinkering with a robe pattern for years, getting it just right. I used her pattern as a base, and made some further adjustments she’s been thinking of. The fabric is a lush Indian block printed chintz.

A chintz robe

It’s heavily based on traditional Japanese kimono patterning, but with more of an overlap, alterations to the sleeves, and all machine sewn.

A chintz robe

I’m an active relaxer, and I prefer hanging out with people and doing things. It was perfect to be sitting in her lounge cutting or stitching along on her lovely Bernina while chatting.

We taught Jack, her cat, how to be a sewing cat.

A chintz robe

He had no experience in that area, and wasn’t sure about this new role, but he caught on quickly He mastering the basics of lying on fabric right when your person wants to cut it, rucking up the neatly spread out fabric, trying to eat the sewing scissors, and chasing extra fabric strips.

A chintz robe

Clever boy!

A chintz robe

I hope Lynne enjoy’s the robe in Christchurch’s hot summers.

A chintz robe