Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Bedjackets and Sleepwear

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Knitted Nightingale, or convalescent's slip-on - early 20s

When I first started collecting vintage patterns, I thought, what is this with the bedjackets? There were so many books of bedjackets around. They were obviously a must have for decades, but you don't see or hear of them these days. That got me thinking, when did the bedjacket drop out of the well dressed woman's wardrobe?

I have bedjacket patterns in books from the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and the newest bedjacket pattern I can find is in a Patons book from the late 70s - early 80s.

They were considered lingerie, and a necessity for the bride's trousseau. They also feature occasionally in books of baby patterns. I thought about this for a while...why? Aha! Because a pregnant woman needs a new bedjacket for her impending visit to hospital, of course.

Book of Bedjackets and Baby Wear - 1940s
 Bedjacket patterns tend to be lacy, but not always. They are usually knitted in 2 or 3 ply.

Many would make beautiful cardigans or jackets. Here is one which I thought would do particularly well as a cardy, I just love it.
Sun-glo pattern from the 40s

Sun-glo pattern from the 30s

I think the bedjacket capes were especially beautiful. Here is one from my favourite Sun-glo book. This book was one of the first in my collection and belonged to my grandmother.

 Here is a more dramatic bedjacket cape from Patons in the 30s.

I have also found bedjacket patterns for children (but only for girls) and even one included in a layette for a baby in a very old book.

I remember knitting a bedjacket for my grandmother when I was a teenager, after her eyesight failed her. That's the last time I thought about bedjackets, until I started collecting with a vengeance earlier this year. Let's finish the bedjacket section with an entry from 1954.
1954 Bedjacket


But not just bedjackets...

 In a book I acquired last week I found this pattern for a knitted nightgown. Now that would be nice and warm. But not so sexy. And difficult to launder, I would think.

 The Lux Knitting Book for 1936 says: "And why not? - don't you think we've laid the old-fashioned bogey that woollen nighties are dowdy? Just look at those frivolous cape sleeves!"
I have also come across several patterns for knitted dressing gowns. What a huge quantity of wool must have been required, and how cheap wool must have been in those days. Surely they would have had trouble with the weight of the garment making it drop out of shape. And imagine trying to get it dry if you washed it in those cold houses, and having to dry it flat. Here is my favourite dressing gown pattern.

Loveliness Dressing Gown - 1930s

What a huge amount of labour with all that lacy knitting, but what a beautiful garment. This is from the same Sun-glo book as the lacy cape bedjacket above, from the 30s.

And finally, you couldn't be without these:
Bed Socks
My nana knitted me some when I was a child in the 60s. My daughter laughed when she saw these, and I thought, "Gosh, don't people wear these any more?" Of course they don't, 40 years have gone by, Joanne!

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