I trained as a nurse back in the 1980’s at Barts, otherwise known as St Bartholomews in London. I have to admit that one reason I chose to train there was that I liked the uniform!! When many hospitals were going over to a shapeless dress with a cardboard hat, Barts was still starched aprons and hats. Lesson one in nursing school was how to make your hat out of a square of starched linen. They taught us to make it on a head but in practice everyone made them on a shortbread tin! We still had the black wool capes with a red lining to keep us warm in winter, I loved my cape!
The theme of the Great British Sewing Bunny ( run by Cool Crafting) round 2 was heroes. I decided to make a Barts nurse outfit as a tribute to all my nursing friends (and family) who have worked so hard over the last twelve months. I managed to miss both waves due to self isolation and post-op recuperation so I have a huge respect for those who worked throughout. Some even came out of retirement to work!
I made the dress first, I needed a simple front fastening dress so I used Archie’s shirt as a basis with a dress pattern overlaying it. The white apron is just two rectangles stitched together, held in place at the back with a pin! The navy ribbon with a shiny button makes her petersham belt and silver buckle. In those days when you qualified you could get a fancy silver buckle, mine is beautiful, made in 1901, such a shame we can’t wear them now. We used to wear our hospital badge in between the collar points and we always had a pair of scissors in our top pocket…
I made the cape next, using a cape pattern from one of the Luna Lapin books, I just needed to change the hood into a collar and add some red ribbons to tie across the front.
The final part of the outfit was the cap. I cut a square of cotton, formed the brim by folding the fabric about four times and securing it round a bead pot which turned out to be a perfect bunny head size! The top is meant to have five pleats down each side, I didn’t manage that many but it still looks pretty neat. The tails were then turned up and everything secured with a bit of judicious stitches rather than the safety pins and hairgrips we used to use. Violet wasn’t too keen on the pins I used to secure it on her head either!
Violet didn’t win a place in the final but it was fun to make. It was Nurse Appreciation Day this week too so it was pretty apt.
Next weeks theme is Bridgerton Bunny, a reference to a period drama on TV, but it is basically for any period dress outfit. I’m sitting this one out as I know I haven’t got time this coming week.