The beautiful blackwork jacket inspiring my jacket project

In 2008, inspired by Laura Mellin and a blackwork jacket in the collection of the Museum of London, I decided to embark on the project of creating my own embroidered jacket. I spent several months working on a burgundy wool jacket that served as a proof of concept for the project. Creating a wool jacket first also helped me work out the kinks in my pattern until I had something I was happy with.

When it came time to design the embroidery for my jacket I knew that I didn’t want to copy a design from an existing piece but I did want to use a design from the period. So I turned to A Schole-House for the Needle for design ideas. A Schole-House for the Needle was a popular design book during the early 17th century. Published in 1624 and 1632 it featured both lace and embroidery designs. In fact, a smock currently residing in the V&A collection (T.2-1956) features 4 motifs from the book.

Due to the popularity of A Schole-House for the Needle it would not have been uncommon for a woman to use its designs in her own embroidery. I found looking through it that many of the vine designs felt reminiscent of the vine design of the Museum of London Jacket. So I chose a vine design from the book that I particularly liked and had not seen very often as I wanted to create a unique but period correct piece. I laid out the design (which can be seen to the right) similarly to the way the vines are laid out in the Museum of London Jacket, taking care to try to fill up as much of the space as possible. More pictures of the jacket in various stages of progress can be found in my gallery.


A Schole-House for the Needle. 1624 and 1632. Available from Downloaded Sept. 2008

Blackwork Jacket in the Museum of London Collection. Available from

Embroidered smock in the V&A collection (T.2-1956).

Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620. Macmillian. London, England. 1985

Special thanks to Laura Mellin for answering all of my silly questions.

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