★ In 2011, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) began a project to pull patterns from various pieces in their costume collection. Initially working with theatrical costume designer Thomas John Bernard, the Costume and Textiles department carefully examined and reverse-engineered several important pieces, before hand-drafting patterns of the “de-constructed” garments. Then, in a move which surely endeared them to historical costumers everywhere, they made them available online for free! As if I didn’t love LACMA enough already!
While I knew about the original 2011 pattern project, I didn’t know that in April 2016 they released even more patterns! Six from garments in the permanent collection (including a particularly lovely woman’s redingote from c.1790, above) and three patterns of fashionable men’s clothing in honour of the Reigning Men exhibition which ran from April to August that year. My favourite amongst the men’s clothing patterns is this rather fun 1770s ‘macaroni’ suit (below), in a then-highly-fashionable green silk with a coral-orange waistcoat.
Named after the Italian pasta dish they enjoyed while on the Grand Tour, a ‘macaroni’ was a well-to-do, fashionable young Englishman, who dressed in exaggerated French and Italian court fashions. A precursor to the ‘dandy’, macaronis even spoke in a highly affected manner, mixing Latin and English, delighting in puns, and generally laying themselves open to a great deal of satire. Still, with their slender-cut suits, high hair, and even higher opinion of themselves, these foppish figures certainly must have cut quite a dash in 18th Century England… Happy sewing!
PS. If you’d like to read more about LACMA’s vision of the ‘macaroni’, they have a great article on the topic, here.