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The Amalia Jacket: the inspiration

Jacket, ca. 1785, French, silk, linen, Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, Isabel Shults Fund and Millia Davenport and Zipporah Fleisher Fund, 1998, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.253.1

I thought you might enjoy a little insight into the inspiration behind the Amalia Jacket, and the design and patternmaking process.

After making the Augusta Stays pattern, Amber & I knew we wanted to do something 1780s that could be worn over them.

We discussed a couple of options and came up with a shortlist of things we loved that weren’t well covered by other patterns. I left the final decision up to Amber, and she settled on a jacket pattern with both a longer version, and a short pierrot version.

This was her primary inspiration:

1780s Caraco and Petticoat, Musee Galliera
Caraco and Petticoat, 1780s, probably French, cotton & linen, Musee Galliera
1780s Caraco and Petticoat, Musee Galliera
Caraco and Petticoat, 1780s, probably French, cotton & linen, Musee Galliera

It’s a great piece to work from as a patternmaker, because the design lines are so clear, and the stripes make the grainlines and angles very obvious.

Note the pleats on the jacket’s skirt, the higher, rounded neckline, the 3/4 length instead of elbow-length sleeves, and the cutaway front.

For a short ‘pierrot’ version she also looked at this jacket from the Met. It’s very similar to the Musee Galliera caraco, but with a shorter skirt. There are nearly identical skirt pleats, a similar cutaway front, and those slightly longer sleeves.

acket, ca. 1785, French, silk, linen, Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, Isabel Shults Fund and Millia Davenport and Zipporah Fleisher Fund, 1998, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.253.1
Jacket, ca. 1785, French, silk, linen, Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, Isabel Shults Fund and Millia Davenport and Zipporah Fleisher Fund, 1998, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.253.1

She also took looked to this charming pierrot that was sold by Christies, which inspired the long sleeves of View B.

1785-1795 Cotton Print Pierrot Jacket, Christie's Auctions
1785-1795 Cotton Print Pierrot Jacket, Christie’s Auctions

And this pierrot from the Kyoto Costume Institute:

Pierrot jacket, 1780s, silk, Kyoto Costume Institute

We really wanted a second front view, to maximise the mix-and-match potential of the pattern. A plain front was the obvious choice: while there aren’t as many examples of jackets with plain fronts as there are with cutaway fronts, they definitely existed. A plain front gives so many options for playing with design features, and let’s more adventurous sewers take advantage of those and really customise the pattern.

Inspiration for the second front view came from pieces like this pierrot from the Kyoto Costume Institute. It’s dated to the 1780s, but still has the short sleeves of the 1760s-70. It appears to have a one-piece center fastening front.

Jacket, 1780s, Kyoto Costume Institute

There’s also this cute cotton jacket from the 1790s. Note the horizontal sleeve stripes. Both are seen in the 1770s-1790s, which is why the pattern includes either grainline for the sleeves. Interestingly this one has almost entirely straight sleeves, with no curve at the elbow.

Jacket, cotton, ca 1790
Jacket, cotton, ca 1790

We also looked at other jackets, including a couple from Colonial Williamsburgs collection (unfortunately their online collection database is has been unavailable for a while), and ones representing regional styles from the Netherlands, where plain fronts and longer skirts were very popular.

With all that in mind, Amber took the most relevant elements and draped a pattern using 18th century methods.

She sent me the pattern, and I used CAD software to turn it into a digital pattern, and adapted the draped pattern to one that could be altered and graded using modern patternmaking techniques and software.

the Scroop + Virgils Fine Goods Amalia Jacket

Then we spent 5 months in intense pattern-tweaking, instruction-writing, and ‘if I do X to the pattern to make the fit more accurate as it gets graded into a different size range is that still 18th c accurate?’ mode.

Sleeve patterns flew back and forth across the world. Many unflattering fitting photos were taken in the midst of lockdown by somewhat exasperated husbands.

Miniature versions of the jacket were made to test construction techniques until we arrived at an assembly method that we agreed was the best possible blend of completely accurate, easy to alter and fit, and easy to sew.

And that’s how we got the Amalia Jacket!

Scroop Patterns + Virgil's Fine Goods Amalia Jacket scrooppatterns.com

I’ve also assembled a pinterest board of 18th century jackets with elements similar to both views, for fabric, and trim inspiration. Enjoy!

9 Comments

  1. Wohoo! I love these posts the most about your pattern releases. 😉 I suspected that Met jacket was an influence – I just couldn’t remember it was in the Met! So now I know!

  2. nofixedstars says

    with such beautiful inspirations, it is no wonder the pattern that resulted is authentic and makes up beautifully. it makes me wish even more that i could sew…i can see myself wearing a jacket like this in regular life. they are so flattering! i think we should bring back those delicious quilted petticoats, too…

  3. I’ll be honest…I will dream of making stays and fabulous constructed clothing but I live in a world of 5% lycra fiber content whipped up on a serger….
    That being said, As soon as I saw the first testers picture, I started to dream of those wonderful design lines and precision seaming

  4. I have the pattern and it’s just waiting on my bloating to get sorted so I can wear my stays again! I know I have suitable fabric in stash, plenty of linen in there in any case.

  5. I bought this pattern and the stays as soon as the jacket was available! I can hardly wait to get the stays done so I can get started on the jacket! It is just adorable! The pattern instructions look clear and well organized. I will certainly be posting pictures when I am finished! Good work ladies!

  6. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    I love the ludicrously perky “mallard tail” effect on some of these.

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