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The inspiration behind the Angelica Gown

We thought you might enjoy seeing some of the inspiration behind the Angelica Gown.

Every Scroop + Virgil’s historical pattern starts with research.  We look at extant garments in private collections and museums.  We assemble huge inspiration boards of items from online databases, noting details and similar design and construction elements.

Then we start parsing and sorting.

What elements are commonly seen together?  What aesthetic features do we really want to include?  What construction features do we really want to include?  Is there a particular garment that is the starting point for the whole design, or are we mixing common elements?

Here’s what we ended up with for the Angelica Gown!

The Scroop Patterns + Virgils Fine Goods Angelica Gown 1775-1790

The Angelica Gown pattern is available as a digital download from, and as a paper pattern from Virgil’s Fine Goods.

View A Front:

This was an easy pick!  I absolutely love the neckline of this gown, and the waist edge, with its sharp curve and truncated point.  This shape shows up on other extant garments, and in fashion plates, so it was a great starting point.*

I’m fascinated by the tabs on one side of the bodice.  What’s the story there?  Why only one side?  I rather hope someone makes an Angelica with those silly tabs!

View A Back

The closest inspiration for the View B back is an Italian Gown that Amber was able to study and photograph in person.  Unfortunately we aren’t able to share those photos with you.  But it wasn’t the only dress we used as a basis:

We really liked the high back neckline of this Italian gown from the met, and the way the side-back panels match the straps – such an elegant design feature!

However, the very narrow back point panels of this dress are rather tricky to sew, and didn’t work well when graded out to a range of sizes.  So we looked at other gowns, with side-back seams with more exaggerated curves, set further towards the sides:

This Italian Gown is right here in Wellington, and it’s one I’ve been able to study in person.

View B Front:

Many of you will have recognised the inspiration behind the View B front:

Those spikey tabs!

This gown also helped inform the front-laced closure.

The long pointed front, sans points, shows up on some of the other inspiration gowns, including the silk brocade gown from Te Papa, and the chintz gown from the Met:


View B Back:

As beautiful as a four-panel back is, there are times when a simpler two panel back is just a better design choice: less seams to interfere with stripes or a print, and less work.

Look at that fabric above!  Obviously you wouldn’t want to interrupt it with another seam!

In addition to having a two-panel back, 1991.204a,b also influenced the overall design of the back.  We really wanted our Italian Gown pattern to have a very exaggerated, deep back point, just like this gown.

Other features:

While pinning was still the most common closure method in the last quarter of the 18th century, the number of extant garments that have a hidden front lacing closure suggest that it was reasonably common.    We thought that would be a really fun element to include!


(yes, the dress above is laced wrong)

We also thought it would be nice to have a one-piece sleeve, since the Amalia Jacket has a two-piece sleeve.

One thing we did keep from the Amalia pattern is the side seam.  It makes fitting and construction so much easier than a front panel that wraps all the way around to the back to without a seam, and it appears on quite a few of our inspiration gowns:

Being pale coloured was not a requirement for our inspiration gowns – that’s just a weird coincidence!  (the primary inspiration that Amber studied is actually a glorious red!)

The Angelica Gown pattern is available as a digital download from, and as a paper pattern from Virgil’s Fine Goods.

The Scroop Patterns + Virgils Fine Goods Angelica Gown 1775-1790

* (haha)

Rate the Dress: 1780s formalwear and fascinating embroidery

Inspired by all the 1780s sewing and research I did for the Scroop Angelica gown, this week’s Rate the Dress pick is a 1780s dress that showcases the inventiveness and playfulness of 1780s fashion, even within the framework of a very formal dress.

Last weeks (ish) rating: an 1860s formal afternoon dress

The scores for last week’s dress were very consistent: 9/9 for almost half the ratings, with a sprinklings of 7, 8s and 10s just to keep it interesting.

The Total: 8.9 out of 10

Just missing that tiny bit to make it 9!

This week: an 1780s formal gown in embroidered silk

I guess I’m in a very formal mood, because last week’s dress and this week’s dress are both quite formal, and have a certain stiff elegance to them.

Gown “robe parée”, 1780-85, France, silk with applique, embroidery and gauze flounces, Musée des Tissus de Lyon

Gown “robe parée”, 1780-85, France, silk with applique, embroidery and gauze flounces, Musée des Tissus de Lyon

Look closely though, and this dress isn’t as stiff as it seems.  The masterful embroidery on the bodice is asymmetrical, providing visual interest and movement, and leading the eye up to the face.  The trims and and skirt embroidery also evoke texture and movement in a way that is quite distinct from the frothy flirtatiousness of earlier rococo trim: more whimsical and quirky, less sweet and fluttery.

What do you think?  Could you imagine it being worn to court and making a favourable impression?

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.

The Angelica Gown: Tester Makes! (Part I)

It’s time for everyone’s favourite part of a pattern launch!  Tester makes!

The Scroop Patterns + Virgils Fine Goods Angelica Gown 1775-1790

Testers are fabulous!  They allow you to see what the pattern looks like in a whole range of fabrics, styled on in a whole bunch of different ways, on a whole range of bodies.

They also help us make sure we deliver you the best possible pattern.  They point out any bits that are rough or confusing.  They provide feedback on things we can’t decide between: we could include X or Y, but not both.  Which is better from their perspective?

So we are so immensely grateful to the people who are willing to pattern test.  Thank you so much!

There were so many AMAZING testers for the Angelica Gown pattern, and they took so many gorgeous photos, and some of them even made multiple versions of the gown (which has to be a very good sign about how good the pattern is!) that we can’t cover them all in one post, so here’s just a small sampling.  💛

View A:

Natalie of @time_traveling_native

We knew from the minute we thought about testers that we wanted Natalie as a pattern tester for the Angelica Gown.  Natalie’s fairly new to historical costuming, but she’s thoughtful, and meticulous, and checks and asks about things that are confusing.  So she’s the perfect example of the adventurous early intermediate historical costumer who could successfully tackle this pattern.

Image shows a woman with dark hair standing with her back to the camera, wearing a late 18th century gown made of pink and grey striped silk

Based on her make, we can say that she was very successful indeed in making it!  Look at those pleats…  And that bodice fit!


Scroop Angelica Gown by @time_traveling_native

Her fabric is a striped silk taffeta from Burnley and Trowbridge.  And she took her photos at Niagara Falls!  How special!

Scroop Angelica Gown by @time_traveling_native

Natalie made a Size 44.

More tester versions of View A coming soon…

View B

Dr Christine of @sewstine

I am waiting on tenterhooks for photos of Christine in her Angelica Gown, because it’s AMAZING!.  She’s reproducing one of my favourite dresses in the Metropolitan Museum of Art! Isn’t the reproduction silk gorgeous?

Scroop Angelica Gown by @sewstine

Christine will be sharing photos and a YouTube video shortly, but for now we have to content ourselves with how glorious her make is on a dressform.

Scroop Angelica Gown by @sewstine

Christine made a Size 34.  The fabric is from @summersunstories

Jessi of @mezzo.jessi

Jessi also chose the most amazing fabric for her Angelica Gown, and I’m dying of how fabulous it is!  It’s equally as brilliant as Christine’s while being totally different!

Scroop + Virgil's Fine Goods Angelica Gown by @mezzo.jessi

The ankara is SO AMAZING made up – it was birthday fabric and we’re beyond honoured she chose to use it to make up our pattern!

Scroop + Virgil's Fine Goods Angelica Gown by @mezzo.jessi

Plus, let us take a moment to appreciate her fabulous pocket commentary on the last few years…

Scroop + Virgil's Fine Goods Angelica Gown by @mezzo.jessi

Jessi made her View B in a Size 48.  There are more images, including beautiful detail shots of the making, on her instagram.

Jen of @festiveattyre

Jen was one of my inspirations when I first started historical costuming, so I was utterly delighted when she applied to be a tester.  I was not disappointed – her Angelica make is SO inspiring!

She styled it as pretty 1780s working wear:

Scroop + Virgil's Fine Goods Angelica Gown by @festiveattyre

Scroop + Virgil's Fine Goods Angelica Gown by @festiveattyre

She styled it as 1780s aristocratic elegance:

Scroop + Virgil's Fine Goods Angelica Gown by @festiveattyre

Scroop + Virgil's Fine Goods Angelica Gown by @festiveattyre

She styled it as romantic pastoralism:

Scroop + Virgil's Fine Goods Angelica Gown by @festiveattyre

Scroop + Virgil's Fine Goods Angelica Gown by @festiveattyre

Her gown is made of blue striped wool (thrifted!  As are most of the materials for her accessories!), and is a wonderful example of how versatile this pattern is with different stylings.

Jen made View B in Size 42.  See more of her gorgeous images on my instagram.

A huge thank you to these testers for all their work and feedback.  💛

More tester images coming soon!

Get your Angelica Gown here!