History of the Nightingale, 2 years in the making, now for sale online!


Earlier this year, I was thrilled to share that Piecework Magazine published my article on the history of the knitted nightingale (January/February 2017). I started by explaining that “The nineteenth-century wrap that became known as “The Nightingale,” a garment worn over the shoulders in bed, was the Victorian ancestor of the modern-day slanket (blanket with sleeves) or snuggie.

Florence Nightingale Jacket in "Harper's Bazar," September 5, 1885.
Florence Nightingale Jacket in “Harper’s Bazar,” September 5, 1885.

“Also called a bed jacket, dressing gown, shawl, wrap, cape, cloak, or sacque, the Nightingale was, over time, made from different fabrics.” The research was a fun romp through the early history of nursing and Florence Nightingale’s career, the Crimean war, wartime knitting, and yes, even Fashion History (an 1856 issue of Godey’s pictured a mantle called the “Nightingale” likely based on published images of Florence Nightingale).


Knitted Nightingale, Originally published in PieceWork January/February 2017.

My article also included a re-worked pattern for a Knitted Nightingale, which I’m happy to share is now for sale on the Interweave website. “This pattern is based on the Knitted Nightingale in Weldon’s Practical Knitter Sixteenth Series. With the exception of the choice of ribbon color, this knitted nightingale is true to the original Weldon’s pattern. The lapels on this Nightingale are fairly wide and are intended to imitate those seen in portraits of Florence Nightingale from the 1850s. They can easily be adjusted to your own preference. Extra length in the dolman-like sleeves allows for a generous range of movement and an added sense of coziness.” It was a long-time project that began July 16, 2015, and finished with a crochet edge on May 4, 2016.

*Florence Nightingale; Frances Parthenope, Lady Verney by William White watercolour, circa 1836 18 1/4 in. x 14 1/8 in. (462 mm x 358 mm) overall Given by Sir Harry Lushington Stephen, 3rd Bt, 1945 NPG 3246

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For Sale: 10,000+ Historic Clothing & Textiles

When the email announcing this sale arrived in my inbox late last week, I wished, just for a moment, that I had better access to the East Coast and it’s glorious auction houses. What is it about Massachusetts? It seems that more historic clothing is stored in warehouses there, than in just about anywhere. “More than 10,000 fashion and textile objects will be sold in this whirlwind, two-day sale” in Sturbridge, Massachusetts on May 10 and May 11. Preview the catalog here: August Auctions.

These objects are newly deaccessioned from major institutions such as The Brooklyn Museum (NY), Smith College Costume Collection (MA), The Chrysler Museum of Art (VA), The Goodwill Historic Costume Collection (OH), The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (CA) and others. It of course brings up questions of donor intention, as well as the quality, condition and importance of the objects themselves (See my post on Worn Through on Issues in Dress Collecting: Deaccessioning).

That said, the sale will apparently include a large selection of coveted designer names, and historical clothing from the likes of Worth, Doucet, Paquin, Chanel, Norell, Cashin, Givency, and Dior as well as:

1000 Victorian & Edwardian garments, American & European designer clothing, lingerie & whites, corsets, military uniforms, lots of gents clothes including the 18th C embroidered clothes pictured, paisley & export shawls, collarless shirts, boxes of collars & cuffs and other accessories, costume jewelry, French swatch books, Asian garments/textiles, 17th-20th C. lace & silk brocades & embroideries, ladies’ 18th C through 1980 garments, including many designer & couture, ladies’ sporting clothing, [and] huge accessory lots.

If anyone is willing to report back from the sale – I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.

*Images via Augusta Auctions

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